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Smiling at the Simplicity of It

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I walk to the center of the stage, the microphone stand a mere three inches from
my mouth, taking the plastic between my fingers as the piano starts playing. I take a deep breath, tapping my foot to the beat, smiling to myself as I sing the first verse. I lose myself, forgetting for the slightest second that there are people in front of me listening to everything that comes out of my mouth. I’m in my own little world, singing solely for the pleasure that comes with expressing myself, never mind that people are actually watching me. Before I realize what’s happening, the piano stops playing and the crowd is applauding.

I smile, look down to the first row, and lock eyes with this little girl about six or seven years old, standing in front of her seat clapping up at me. I can’t help but stare. She looks more like me than anyone I’ve ever seen. She has the same dimples. The same brown hair down to the middle of her back. She’s jumping from foot to foot like I always used to do, her eyes somehow finding a way to watch everything in the auditorium at the same time. And I remember when I was that little. When I was learning how to do addition and how to write and how to sing.

And then the stage transforms around me. I’m back in this classroom with at least twenty-five other people, all first-graders except the man standing in the front of the room. I watch from the back as little me rushes to the magic carpet with all the other kids and sits somewhere in the middle of the only bench, around the exact same spot where I used to sit. The man presses the play button and the music starts, Phil Collins’s voice being over taken by the chorus of six year olds. I hear one voice in particular that I’ve come well acquainted with, one that I’ve come to love. And I can’t help but smile at where it all started. At how the simplicity of karaoke used to be enough.

The song ends and the singing stops, the room fading more and more back into a stage every time I blink. I look back to the front row, but the little girl is leaving, walking away hand in hand with her mother who looks nothing like mine, her small back to me, practically running just to keep up.

I walk to the edge of the stage and sit down, resting on my hands as the doors swing shut behind the last member of the audience, slamming the way they always have. I take a deep breath and smile, biting my lip as I remember the rush that came with singing. And the serenity that followed it. I run my fingers through my hair and push myself up from the floor, walking back towards the center of the stage, next to the microphone instead of behind it. I put my hands into my back pockets and sing as loud as my lungs will let me, my voice reaching the back of the auditorium with little-to-no effort. When I get to the final verse I stop singing and listen as the room becomes silent once again, smiling at the simplicity of it.



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