i have always been in the back of the choir: voice reedy and thin, and i've always felt the negative space between me and all the other kids. i envied them, green and red-- wished i could be just like them, white and gold-- but since i couldn't join them i thought why not beat them instead?
when they went low, i strained up high and thought i could carry myself over and above all of them-- so they would hear me finally; so i could stop being just a last-choice backup singer.
and i could barely reach a certain impressive tone if i tortured my vocal chords, and didn't drink any milk: but there was always that one girl: she could stretch her voice into an effortless trill that soared so perfectly above mine.
and of course she had all the rhythm and knew the sheet music so well; and i could try as hard as i could and still not be good enough: i was decent, but still ever so slightly eternally off-key by just a little bit.
i couldn't seem to sing completely right. so instead of trying to fly, i thought i would go low, low, low. i thought i could sing all the dark and sultry tones,
but when my voice sank, so did i. and i couldn't hear the hum of my own voice in my chest, which felt so heavy, and muted, like the skin of a drum, that my heart beat so savagely and so incessantly on.
and i thought, there is no point in singing when i cannot be heard beneath the stage: when i am just another mediocre ordinary strain of background noise.
and i would watch the girl in the front stand and sing with all the glamor and glory and perfection and poise; and then i would compare my own soft tones with the deep and deliberate words of the low-toned girls and boys.
my voice petered out. volume going down, two bars at a time, until i was on silent. i stopped singing.
and i was mute for the longest of times: still and dumb. in its unuse, it was like i'd gone to a dentist: my mouth was flat and thick and numb.
but i still wanted to sing. and i had to tape my mouth over so i wouldn't hum, when i heard the song that everyone else was singing so well.
and eventually, the wanting to sing got to be too much, so i tried to sing again, but it was unexpectedly hard: i hadn't been practiced in far too long. i'd forgotten how to.
and it took me forever, it seemed, to learn how to use my voice again: hoarse and dry at that point, full of spiderwebs-- i'd never been the best, but at least i'd known how to open my mouth.
all that time wasted; i couldn't give it up again. i still wasn't the best, and i was still short of reaching the highest tier, and still incapable of gliding smoothly along the bottom notes,
but i had my voice back, and it was my own, still a little off the beat, a little quirkily off key.
i can't seem to hit all the right notes. sometimes i can't hit any. but i'm still singing. how could i give that up just because i'm a little bit off key?