Posted by Genie Gabriel
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Spotlights flashed in rainbows across the stage. Red. Green. Blue. Crisscrossing until they merged into one white-hot light on Geoff Chastain’s face, evoking memories of other times. The screams of thousands of teenaged girls washed through his memory as he pulled the microphone from its stand.
The first notes of his daughter’s favorite song filled the auditorium and his breath caught, jagged, in his chest. Pain pulsed through Geoff’s heart with each beat of the drum. He nearly dropped to his knees, longing to crawl back into the self-imposed exile where he had existed since his daughter died.
The faces of the kids in wheelchairs looked up at him with bright expectation. The whispers of the singers waiting in the stage wings curled around him in concern.
Daddy, promise you won’t let the music die. His daughter’s last request haunted Geoff. He never suspected life would become so desolate he would forget to eat and sleep, let alone lose touch with the music that had always flowed so easily from his soul.
A singer moved from the wings to stand beside him. Her presence drifted around him in silent encouragement. Her sweet contralto coaxed him to sing with her.
Focus, he ordered his brain, staring at the woman. Waves of auburn hair framed her face, then tumbled halfway down a lush body barely covered in spandex and sequins. A woman designed to stir a man to action.
Geoff’s voice rasped with disuse on the first verse; the woman’s harmony covered it. As he started the second verse, an image of his daughter swam before his eyes and Geoff’s throat closed. The woman picked up the melody without missing a beat, as if they had planned this duet.
He grasped at her hand and drew a deep breath. Her soft scent filled his nostrils, drawing his attention away from the pain. Giving him the strength to dig deep inside where the music had lain in silent mourning.
Geoff’s voice mingled with hers on the chorus, then soared as he soloed the third verse. Their voices chased each other through the final refrain, then their eyes met and held on the last triumphant note. Awed silence hung for a moment before applause erupted and the crowd was in motion.
A sea of well-wishers swarmed onto the stage. Not the frenzied near-riots of years ago, but the exuberant cheer of celebration. Smiles and congratulations wrapped warmly around Geoff as men pumped his hand and women kissed his cheek.
But the mysterious auburn-haired woman who saved his musical butt had disappeared.
(Copyright Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel)
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