My Big Solo

My Big Solo

From Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul

My Big Solo

The day had finally arrived: the day of my big solo. Everyone was there; my mom and dad and my little brother. Uncle Scott and Auntie Tammy had even picked up my grandma from the nursing home so she wouldn’t miss the big event.

And it was a big event: the Spring Fling Choir Concert. The whole class was dressed up and I had on a new dress that went on sale just in time for the event.

My name was on the cover of the program in bright yellow with a daisy chain drawn around it. “Cindy Hamond . . . Soloist.”

I couldn’t believe it when I saw my name. Not that it was my name, but that it wasn’t Renee Swanson’s.

Renee and I had been classmates since kindergarten. She was always wherever I was and she was always ahead of me.

Dance-class recital needs a big finish? Renee was picked.

Selling Girl Scout cookies? “Oh, I’m sorry,” the lady at the front door would say. “I just bought twenty boxes from Renee Swanson. Such a nice girl.” Yeah, whatever.

Softball? She played first base while I watched her from my position in the outfield.

And the school plays? Renee would have the leads while I was cast as her mother or sister or neighbor. I even played her dog once.

The only time I ever came in ahead of Renee was at roll call. Hamond comes before Swanson. Every time! Believe me, I count that as a victory!

The day of the choir concert tryouts was nerve wracking. We waited in the library while Ms. Jenkins called us one at a time into the choir room.

When Ms. Jenkins got to the H’s, my heart sped up each time she came to the door. By the time she actually called my name, my whole body was shaking.

When I came back to the library, Renee smiled at me. Ms. Jenkins called her name and Renee calmly followed her. She was still calm and smiling when her tryout was over.

When Ms. Jenkins made the announcement at the end of the week of who had made the special choral group, I wasn’t surprised when Renee’s name was on her list and mine wasn’t. “So,” I said under my breath, “what else is new?”

Sudden clapping brought me out of my sulking. Everyone was looking at me. I’ve missed something here, I thought.

Ms. Jenkins beamed down at me and said, “Cindy, you will have to start practicing with me during your study halls. The solos take extra preparation.”

Solo? I got the solo? I glanced over at Renee. She grinned and gave me the thumbs-up sign. Oh, that’s another thing. She is always so nice.

Now the day had come. We filed onto the stage and took our places. I was front and center. Ms. Jenkins raised her baton and we began to sing. I could see my mother leaning forward in her seat, her camera already flashing for pictures. My dad was smiling and winking at me.

My big moment was here. The spotlight flicked over me and then circled me in its bright light. Ms. Jenkins nodded and pointed her baton at me. That baton must have shot out a secret stun ray because I froze right there on the spot.

I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. Most of all, I couldn’t sing. The note started up and then stuck right there in my throat. The choir kept singing softly behind me. Ms. Jenkins began to look a little frazzled.

“You can do it, Cindy,” Renee whispered from behind me. “I know you can.” I wasn’t as sure as she was.

My turn came again. I took a deep breath, opened my mouth and sang out as loudly as I could. All that came out was a rusty-sounding squeak. But in that same moment, from behind me, came the pure tone of the right note. Renee gave me a gentle poke. My voice lifted and matched hers. When the next note came, it was all me.

The rest of the solo went well. And when the concert was over, the applause was thunderous. We even received a standing ovation. Well, okay, it was our parents and they are easily pleased, but a standing ovation is a standing ovation.

When we filed off the stage my family met me with praise and hugs.

Renee was next to hug me. It felt awkward.

“Thanks, Renee,” was all I could get myself to say.

Renee flashed me her usual sunny smile. “It was nothing. You’ve always been there for me. All these years and all the things we’ve done together!” Renee gave me another hug. “What are friends for?”

Friends? Did she say friends?

“You’re right,” I said slowly, beginning to like the feeling of being her friend. This time I hugged her. “That’s what friends are for.”

Cynthia Marie Hamond

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