It had started out as an ordinary day...the usual persistent ringing of the alarm clock, rudely interupting an idyllic, romantic dream, and always, before its conclusion. Yet, this time, there had been an overwhelming urgency to discover the outcome, as if her very life had depended on it.
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Hazel fought the temptation to hit the snooze button and roll over again for an extra ten minutes of badly needed sleep, as was her usual wont, and bounded out of bed, nearly tripping over the cat, who lay prone beside the bed, in the process. "Darn Cat," she exclaimed, "That's all I need today...a broken toe. Go back where you belong!" She was allergic to cats, as well as dogs and other furry animals, but her parents had offered to care for the cat while her brother and his wife were on vacation. They had promised to keep the animal out of her room, but there he was! Already, she could feel her throat constrict and her eyes begin to water. She hastily reached for the allergy medication to stop the attack in its tracks. "This is the most important day of my life, why is everyone conspiring against me!" she cried.
Six months ago, her music teacher had entered her in a scholarship competition, for high school students interested in an operatic singing career. The winner would receive a year's training with a prominent vocal coach, and a partial scholarship to the college of her choice, provided that music would be her major. Following months of intensive training in technique, phrasing , presentation skill and new repertoire, she appeared before a panel of Judges for the preliminary round and was selected for the finals. This was the day she had waited for, all her life. Now, it was in her grasp and she prayed that all would go well.
Unlike other teenagers her age, Hazel had always known what she wanted to do with her life. As a three year old child, she would prance around the living room, pirouetting on her toes, mimicking her older sister, who was studying ballet. She would sing along with the radio, and sit down at the piano, pretending she was a concert pianist. She had an instinctive, natural rhythm and would perform at the drop of a hat...no shy violet she! When she was in the third grade, she studied piano with the school's music teacher (a nun,) who recognized her innate talent and discovered she had a lovely voice, with perfect pitch, and dedicated herself to nurturing it to the best of her ability, until Hazel would be old enough to study voice seriously. Hazel was very fortunate indeed, to have found her...if the voice is not handled properly and is pushed along too early in its development, it could be severely damaged by the time the child reaches puberty!
Hazel showered quickly, dressed, and preened in front of the mirror more than usual that morning, agonizing over what to wear and despairing over the state of her hair...she kept re-arranging it several times...until she was satisfied that it was the best that she could do. Despite her mother's urging to eat breakfast, Hazel was adamant about not being able to sing on a full stomach, and settled for a hot cup of tea. Her mother prepared a thermos with the rest of the tea, to take with her to warm up her throat, before she performed.
She and her teacher arrived a half hour early, to familiarize themselves with the surroundings, and to test the acoustics. Hazel was intimidated by the concert hall. So many times during the years, she had fantasized that she would be performing in that hall, and now, here she was, ready to go on! Suddenly, she felt herself go limp, her heart beating wildly, as she heard her name being called as the next soloist to perform. Her hands, holding the music score to be given to the accompanist, were sweating profusely. Her legs felt as though they were about to give way. Her voice...she was sure...would not leave her throat. Whatever made her believe that she could compete with the polished voices that she had just heard, competing before her? No, she would not possibly be able to go on!
As she turned to go backstage, she met her teachers eyes, nodding at her to go on, filled with pride and confidence, assuring her that she was ready and able to do it. Making the sign of the cross and saying a silent prayer, Hazel took the first step toward her future, and walked to the piano at the front of the stage, and handed her accompanist her music, smiled in the direction of the Judges, and waited for the introductory notes to her aria.
As she began to sing, she became completely at ease, sure in the knowledge that this was the culmination of a lifelong dream, this was what she had worked for, this was her moment of glory...whatever the outcome...she would never look back, for she had found her world. She was truly home!