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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Singing (10/31/05)

TITLE: Inside Voice
By Larry Elliott


“Oh, great, look who’s here.”

“Yeah, Sam Wilson, I saw him when he walked in. Doesn’t he ever give up? He’s been at every choir tryout for the last, what, four years?”

“Yeah, I mean, the stutter isn’t the worst part. Most people who stutter lose it when they sing, but he can’t carry a tune to save his life.”

“Well I feel sorry for him just the same. He sure does want to sing in the choir.”

“Maybe he could help run the sound board. At least he would be doing something. Hey, who is that?”

“I don’t know but it looks like he’s about to tell us, and he’s carrying Brother Carter’s music folder.”

The newcomer approached the platform and began to speak. “Good evening everyone.”

“Good evening.” All present returned his greeting.

“I am Brother Ben. Your director, Brother Carter, has been called out of town.”

“I heard that his sister is dying in the hospital in St. Louis.” Someone interjected.

“Well, I don’t know where you heard that, but it is far from the truth. His sister is in St. Louis and she is getting married this weekend.” Allowing for a few murmurs the stranger continued.
“I have been asked to stand in his place for the tryouts tonight. I want to thank Sister Marshall for volunteering to sit in for Sister Carter on the piano this evening.” Ben acknowledged the silver haired woman who returned his smile.

“Now, I suppose we should go in alphabetical order.” He pulled a sheet of paper from a folder. “I have a list here of everyone that has signed up and it looks like we have about twenty seven, so let’s get started. I believe tonight we will use a standard everyone should know by heart. Mrs. Abbott?”

“Over here.” She waved.

“Ok, let’s start out with the first verse of Amazing Grace. I will signal you when to stop.”

Sam sat patiently, although fidgeting nervously, as Ben went through the list one by one. Eventually Ben called his name.

“And last, but certainly not least, Sam Wilson.”

Sam stood and said, “Heh heh heh hello, buh buh brother Ben.”

“Begin whenever you are ready, Sam.” Ben said calmingly and smiled.

There was a long hushed pause then Sam nodded to Mrs. Marshall who began the intro.

“Uh. Uh mazing… graeeace, how suhweeet the…”

Ben held up his hand to signal stop. Sam was now staring at the floor, as was most everyone else. Beads of sweat dotted Sam's forehead.

“Sam, I want you to look at me.” Ben said and placed his hands on Sam’s shoulders. “Now I want you to close your eyes and envision Jesus sitting on His throne at the right of the Father. Do you see them?”

Sam nodded, eyes shut and face lifted upward. He began to smile.

“Now take a deep breath and allow the Holy Spirit to fill your lungs and your soul. Now Sing to Jesus, just to Him, from your heart.” Ben signaled for the piano.

This time the music from Sam’s lips was beautifully flawless and soul rousing. Before he realized it he had sung the entire hymn, beginning to end.

When he opened his eyes they were wet with tears as was his cheeks, as was every face in the room- including Ben.

“Excellent, excellent.” Ben said. “Tryouts are over. I will leave my notes and the video of tonight on Brother Carter’s desk to go over when he returns on Monday. Thank you all for coming.”

After a few handshakes and a bear hug from Sam Brother Ben headed down the hall toward the choir director’s office.

Someone’s cell phone chirped.

It was Sister Marshall that addressed those who remained.

“That was Brother Carter. He wanted to make sure we all got his message about postponing the tryouts until next week. And he has never heard of Brother Ben.”

A couple of the men started down the hallway after the substitute director, but they knew in their hearts he would not be found.

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This article has been read 1111 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dan Louise Mann11/07/05
I love these kind of stories. Well done!
Donna Wilson11/07/05
This is a very good story. I enjoyed it "bunches"! Thanks for writing it.
Jan Ackerson 11/08/05
Very well-written! One small suggestion: when you start with just dialog, with no description, your reader doesn't know who's talking or what's happening. Takes us a while to catch up to you. Other than that, first-class writing: good plot, good characterization, "gotcha" ending!
Karen Rice11/10/05
My first thought after reading this was: DARN! If I had the skill and finances, I'd start up a Christian version of Twilight Zone. Maybe call it the Loading Zone. But I'd be contacting you for this story.(still smiling).
Marilyn Schnepp 11/14/05
Fantastico! Beautimous! What can I say...I thought it clever, touching and fulfilling. Congratulations!
Lauren Bombardier11/14/05
Congratulations on your win, Larry! You certainly deserve it.
Peter Thomas11/14/05
Nice story. A pleasure to read and a good message.
B Brenton11/14/05
Well deserved, Larry. It was wonderful, inspiring.
Michael Ales11/14/05
Engaging from beginning to end. My son and I both enjoyed reading it. Thanks!
Karen Treharne11/17/05
Congratulations, Larry. A well-deserved win. The title is perfect, your dialogue was clearly written with real words and sentiment. I enjoyed reading this and feel blessed for the opportunity. May God continue to use your talent for His honor.
Julianne Jones11/18/05
A great piece that brought tears to my eyes. Congrats on a well-deserved win.
Deborah Porter 01/16/06
Hi Larry. I'm just preparing the latest FaithWriters' Anthology, and am so glad that your story is going to be in it. What a treat of a read! Usually I can pick a story that is going to head this direction, but you got me on this one. It was wonderful.

I just need a couple of things from you. For starters, I need a three to four sentence bio note (written in the third person) to include in the anthology. If you aren't sure how to word it, you might like to take a look at some of the bio notes we've used at the bottom of articles at FaithWriters' Magazine:


When you've done that, if you could send it through to me by Private Message? Also, I'll need your email address, as I want to send a slightly edited version of your story back to you - for your information. It just needed a little tweak in a couple of spots to keep it flowing smoothly. So please remind me when you send your Bio note through.

Thanks for that Larry. I have to say that the singer in me found this story such a joy.

With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator and Editor, FaithWriters' Magazine)