Originally written for The Alchera Project, November, 2005
Deanna isn’t a novice at singing, really, though she feels like one as this is her first Christmas concert that involves an actual church. Oh, sure, she sang with school choirs, had solos, made her entrance into community theatre at the tender age of ten, but somehow, standing with the other choristers in the cold sanctuary, the music is different, her heart is different.
The mood is broken when the puffy-haired woman next to her opens her mouth. Sure, Martha is a sweet old woman, sort of grandmotherly, and not a little dotty, but some people just should not be able to sing. The notes she offers forth with a flourish are not known to human kind. (Deanna wonders, idly if Martha is perhaps an alien, attempting to communicate, or an exiled mermaid, unable to produce melodious sounds unless under several feet of water.)
Midway through the verse, the director stops the choir, and asks each section to sing their part. When he gets to the altos, he pauses near Martha and makes a face that, thankfully, the woman utterly fails to see, so focussed is she on singing the correct words, if not the correct notes. He glances past her at Deanna, and the two exchange a look, acknowledging the gravity of the situation.
The next week at rehearsal, Martha is positioned at the end of the row, where the microphone cannot pick up her graceless warbling.