Margaret Lindstrom surveyed the group of children standing obediently before her. Shirts were tucked in, ties straight, hair neat, and faces scrubbed clean. Perfect. Or as close to perfect as she could expect from a choir comprised of rambunctious nine and ten year olds. The Sanctuary lights dimmed slightly, signaling the beginning of the program, and causing a hush to fall over the two hundred audience members.
With a sigh of satisfaction, Margaret raised her arms and looked toward the piano, to signal her husband to begin. But all she saw was that one infernal raised eyebrow, and the look of disappointment cemented to his face. The same look she had seen the entire week. Why couldn’t he understand? She had done what needed to be done for the sake of the program. It couldn’t be helped. But George didn’t see it that way, and he had been boisterously vocal in his opinion. Their arguments still swirled about in her brain.
“How can you do this to Nicole? She’s just a child.”
“I had to George. She’s flat, and loud. I’ve worked on this program for six months. It has to be perfect.”
“There’s no such thing as perfection Margaret. Nicole is enthusiastic, but you made her feel inferior. You hurt her Margaret.”
“She’ll get over it. She’s still in the choir, she just isn’t singing tonight. Why can’t you understand why I did it?”
But he didn’t understand.
With a curt nod of her head, Margaret blocked George’s disappointment from her mind, and signaled both her husband, and the children, to begin. Sweet, angelic voices rang out. Blissful harmony. Every thing was perfect. And yet, something was missing. Something felt very wrong. She didn’t have to look at her husband to see that infernal eyebrow. But she’s flat, Margaret thought, as guilt continued to bellow above the angelic voices. She had made the right call. Hadn’t she?
Applause thundered, as the children concluded the first song. Margaret turned toward the audience with a pleased smile on her face. Then she saw her. And her smile faded. Margaret hadn’t expected her to come. But she had. Nicole, and her family sat four rolls back. Nicole’s unruly red curls bounced about her face, as she hopped up and down, clapping with complete abandon. Her smile lit up the room. Margaret’s eyes, held Nicole’s, in a guilt-ridden gaze. But Nicole’s countenance held only love and joy.
The applause faded. The audience waited in anticipation, which soon turned to confusion, as Margaret continued to stare into Nicole’s tender eyes. “Ladies and gentlemen,” Margaret finally said. “Our choir isn’t quite complete. Nicole, will you please join us?” Warm tears caressed Margaret’s cheek, as Nicole bound from her seat, and scrambled past the knees which blocked her path. Margaret knelt to the floor and caught Nicole in her embrace, both nearly toppling to the floor.
“I’m so sorry Nicole. Can you ever forgive me?” Margaret whispered in Nicole’s ear.
“Uh-huh,” Nicole giggled, choking Margaret in her embrace.
Margaret forced back a sob, which threatened to over take her, and laughed instead. “You get up there and sing proud Nicole. Sing so the angels can hear you. Okay?”
Margaret once again raised her hands, and looked to her husband. The raised eyebrow was gone. Turning to the choir, and with a wink of her eye, she nodded. Angelic voices rang out. And one voice stood out from the others. One, adorable, enthusiastic, flat, voice sang strong, proud and loud. Nicole indeed sang so the angels could hear.
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