Like an artist’s sketchbook, only using words.
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The foundling fought the urge not to glare the man’s way — lips pressed shut in forced silence — as the soprano aria filled the room like a bird at play.
The archived recording, decades-old, perfectly captured a grandmother’s voice in its glory days.
The grandmother, now seated on the couch in the room, didn’t even remember recording it. It hadn’t been her idea, but the idea of an ex who had been in love with her at the time.
The captured aria — longsince forgotten, yet recently rediscovered and transferred to digital — was being gifted to its singer for the holidays.
The grandmother’s eyes shone with wonder as she listened to the decades-old recording, picking up what tones she could through her hearing aids.
“This is me?” she asked, voice filled with wonder. “What did you do to the recording? I never sounded this good.”
“Yes, you did,” said the giver. “This is raw track. We just transferred it. You’ve always sounded this good. You still do.”
“A little off-pitch,” said the man off to the grandmother’s side. “But not bad. It’s alright.”
This time, the foundling lost the fight with the glare.
The moment was so ripe with perfection — family and children gathered around to hear a voice to which they were legacy. Everyone had been smiling.
Had been. Past tense.
Because, per usual, the man seemed duty-bound to assert his expertise in the moment like a fart cloud in a festive room.
The grandmother’s face fell at his assessment, her eyes casting down. “Well, I don’t hear so well these days. I’m certain I’m missing some of my mistakes.”
And, just like that, the foundling wasn’t the only one glaring. Everyone in the room was — well, everyone except two: the grandmother and the man.
The grandmother looked uncertain, as if debating whether the song should be shut off to save polite, loving ears from certain agony.
The man looked quite proud — the line of his brow cartoon-like with pretentious skepticism as he launched into a spontaneous lecture on tone quality while using his stage voice to talk over the song as it played.
The gift-giver interrupted. “Could you please save your thoughts for later? It’s rude to speak over someone else’s performance, even if it is a recording.”
The giver, in turn, was interrupted by the grandmother. “No. He’s right. We should turn it off. This is very sweet for you to give to me, but I’m sure not everyone wants to hear it at a party.”
And, in that moment, the foundling met all the eyes in the room in turn (except two) and saw the same question in each set of eyes.
“Why did she marry this guy?”
Seriously, the foundling thought. Why? When it came time to re-marry, what made this man feel right?
And question hung in the air for the rest of the night.
I’m toying with serialized audio books and would love to know what you think about “Trick Six” — a prequel novel with characters who will play key parts in the 4th Pimpernel novel.
Copyright: Sheralyn Pratt, 2019