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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bold (emotionally) (08/30/07)

TITLE: Under The Lights
By Karen Petty


Standing just off stage, Maria peered through the heavy curtains. Her eyes beheld the faces of learned professors and established directors. The thought of stepping before that table of judges made her want to turn and run. But she couldn’t. Not this time. This was her chance.

Her mind drifted back to the previous night’s conversation. “You have a beautiful voice, Maria” said her mother, as she ironed with quick precision. “But that life is not for us” she had protested when Maria had told her about the scholarship auditions to the Keaton-Davis School of the Arts. “Your father and I need your help at the restaurant. Now that you have gotten your diploma, you’ve got to start thinking like an adult. You’re just not good enough to have a career in music. You can still sing in the church choir like your Aunt Dina. Besides, Maria, your family needs you and that’s that!” Her mother’s stinging words hung in the air, unwanted.

Somehow she understood her mother’s way of thinking. Her grandfather had opened the family restaurant when her mother was just a girl. She had helped clear tables and even sang for the regulars. She had watched as her aunts and uncles seemingly put their every effort into the cozy café that boasted the best Mexican food in the city. Maria respected her heritage. She loved her mother too. But hers was not the life that she dreamed about as she lay awake at night. Maria knew that it was frivolous to think that way. Maybe even selfish. But she wanted more for her future.

A piercing noise cut through her thoughts bringing her attention to the present. A soundman adjusted the feedback from the monitor as she stepped forward. The spotlight shone down on her and highlighted her insecure frame. Maria whispered a prayer. She opened her mouth. A growing rest steadied within her as she sang the assigned musical pieces. Confidence began to flood over even her most frightening concerns. Her unique and striking tones reflected a God-given gift. Every ear in the room seemed to give heed to her flowing melodies.

Maria clutched her sheet music as she exited the auditorium. Her mind raced. She stopped at the market as she headed back to her apartment building. It was her job to pick up clothing from a few tenants who paid her mother to launder them. She made friendly small talk with her neighbors as she made the exchanges. But inside, all she could think about was the possibility of getting into Keaton- Davis. She would be the first in her family to enroll in college…if she could get in. What had she been thinking? Maybe her mother was right.

After depositing the laundry on top of the washer, Maria made her way to the kitchen to get something to eat. With sandwich in hand, she loaded the clothes into the washer so that they would be dry by the time her mother returned home. She heard a rattling noise behind her and stopped to find her mother stepping through the front door. She said nothing as she shed her coat. Maria braced herself.

“I’ve heard that you went to the audition today” the words slipped from her mother’s tongue. Without raising her voice, Maria replied “Yes, mama, I did. Singing is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I don’t want to make you angry, but I just had to go…” Maria’s mother held her hand up as if to stop her. “I know, honey” she whispered. “The school called me this afternoon” she revealed. “The man on the phone said that you have one of the loveliest voices that he has had the pleasure of hearing. They want you, Maria. You’ve been offered a scholarship. You’re going to college!”

Tears began to flow from both the older and younger woman. “Then I have your blessing, Mama?” said Maria. “You do my daughter. I was wrong to hold you back from going for what you really want. The restaurant will manage. We’ll manage. Go get an education, and do what God has gifted you to do” her mother said as she wiped at her runaway mascara. “Thank you Mama” Maria cried. The hum of the washer was all that was heard, as mother and daughter shared a well-needed embrace.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jennifer Johnson09/06/07
Precious story. There is nothing like the feeling of using God-given gifts. He always rewards us when we do. Good representation of satan creeping in just when a big break is about to occur, "Maybe mom was right..." The humility of the mother at the end is encouraging and proof that the Lord does change hearts.
Sherrie Jackson09/07/07
This was such a delightful read. You articulated Maria's thoughts and concerns extremely well, and I enjoyed reading the background on Maria's family.

Make sure to start a new paragraph each time you have a different speaker; that will also help spread your lines out a bit and keep from any confusion.

Very well done! Good luck!
Dolores Stohler09/09/07
I love this story of dreams fulfilled. It was well written--you're no beginner-- and it held my interest all the way. I'm so glad it had a happy ending. Blessings on you.