The Voice Recital was at the ALC Auditorium and there were lots of seats all filled with Realities who wanted to hear God-Given Gift singing. Even El Puma came.
“Your singing may be like a big net,” he said, “and when the chicks in the audience hear it, VUSH! You scoop up all their Love.”
I had worked on “Cupid” every week with The Voice Professor, and I was nailing it easily every time. I was even able to learn all the words without having to hear them. The Voice Professor didn’t know, but I was even nailing it without following The Rules of Singing. I never practiced cuz it was boring, and I Rocked Out hard every time I was in my car. It never seemed to affect my voice, and I wondered if I was just more Gifted than even The Voice Professor realized. I couldn’t wait for everyone to hear me and get The Chills and fall in Love with me.
Backstage everyone was singing their nonsense words to warm up. Including The Hottest Chick. She was finally all alone to talk to. I summoned my courage and trusted El Puma’s training would carry me thru.
“Hey,” I said, “you’re a really good singer.”
“Thanks,” she said.
“I’m in Private Voice Training, too. The Voice Professor says I have the Gift.”
“Good for you.”
“Are you also a Reality Traveler?”
“Yeah, isn’t everyone here?”
“I guess so, but I just got my Calling Card to the Reality Travel Training School.”
“I’ve known some Travelers who’ve gone there. How’d you get in?”
“I hadta MeToo a gritty down-and-out looking local truck driver.”
“I’ve MeToo’d a few truck drivers in NewYorkCity. Also truck drivers in Paris and Buenos Aires.”
“Sounds far off and exciting.”
“It was okay.”
“Next semester I’m going to MeToo truck drivers in Sidney with my boyfriend.”
“Boyfriend? Does he go here?”
“No way. He’s a NewYorkCity Reality originally from Australia.”
“Like Crocodile Dundee?”
“I don’t know. I don’t watch TV.”
Then she stopped looking at me, and I didn’t know what else to say to her. And the only thing to do was to start to pretend like I needed to practice my song. I was nailing it like always and vibrating air off all the right spots in my throat to make the right pitches. The Hottest Chick noticed and even raised her eyebrows. I wondered if my voice might be good enough to steal her away from Crocodile Dundee, but there was one little spot that wasn’t working right. I’d vibrate air off it, but it wouldn’t make a sound. I couldn’t even feel the air on it, and it was like it was numb and dead. But I really needed that spot, too, so I could hit the high and powerful “Cu” in “Cupid.”
“Dammit,” I said to the throat spot.
Then as I kept going thru the song I noticed other spots stopped working. It was like the numb spots were contagious, and soon I was missing lots of notes. It started to sound like I opened up my Gift and it was actually a wrapped up box full of poop.
I found the Voice Professor right away and told her about it. By that point even my speaking voice was coming out more scratchy and weak. She put her ear up close to my mouth, and I tried to sing for her.
“Uh huh,” she said gravely.
“What?” I said.
“It’s The Dead Voice.”
“Have you been following all The Rules of Singing?”
“Well, last weekend I did drive home to Ohio and sang a little bit in the car.”
“Really not too much.”
“Uh huh, The Dead Voice don’t lie.”
“Alright, I sang way hard for like the whole seven hours each way.”
“I thought it wouldn’t matter.”
“No one is above The Rules.”
“There’s nothing you can do now about it. The Gods gave you a Gift, and you didn’t take care of it, and now they’ve taken it away.”
“No, but it ain’t coming back tonight.”
“But there are so many Realities here I have to MeToo.”
“Uh huh, and you would’ve. But sometimes you have to get humbled like this to respect The Gift.”
Then I didn’t wanna be there anymore. I didn’t wanna hear anybody else sing if I couldn’t prove I was better. And then I just wanted to get back to Alone Reality in my room as fast as possible.
“Hey,” The Duckling stopped me on my way out. “When are you singing? I don’t want to miss it.”
“Just leave me alone,” I said.
It was the last thing I could say loud enough to hear, and it was the last thing I ever said to her. When I got back to my room I cried. Tears came out of my eyes, but no sound could come out of my throat.