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Tonight I sing!

There I was dressed in a dropped waist red velvet dress my mother had made, standing before 300 parents who'd come to hear their angels sing.  There I stood with the bright red bow causing my scalp to itch, and knowing that if I scratched my head it would draw attention to me.  There I cowered in front of the mic, having practiced my solo for MONTHS, knowing it inside and out.  There was my mother in the back of the room, beaming proudly at the shapeless 7 year old lump she'd dressed in her red dropped waist creation with a white crochet collar.  There was the entire school in attendance staring at me as I stood on the stage at the very front of the lunch room, ready to sing some Hanukkah song I'd never heard of before that school year. I looked and felt like I belonged on Santa's workshop floor painting toy cars, and here all these people expected me to sing instead.

I stepped up to the mic, and out of nowhere an angelic voice echoed through the halls of the school.  I froze.  That wasn't my voice.  That was the girl NEXT to me.  It had always been intended as a duet with the two of us opening the song together, but she was often a rather sick child (she had leukemia) and usually missed practice.  She said she wasn't going to sing.  She said she was going to let ME sing and she would mouth the words along beside me.  The roles had reversed in a split second.  I mouthed along beside her.  I swore it was a secret I would never tell.  That day, as I stood to give the performance of my short lifetime, I CHOKED.

I've looked back on that day many, many, MANY nights.  I often wonder if things would have been different had I been brave enough to actually sing beside her that day instead of fading into the background and letting her take center stage.  Would I have obtained better self esteem? Would I have done better in school?  Would she have turned out to be my best friend after that for several years?  Probably not.  Yet it's one of my earliest and very first regrets.  I regret not actually singing that day.  In the back of my mind I've always vowed to make up for that somehow.  But I always knew the next time would be different.

The next time, you see, I wouldn't be wearing a drop waist red velvet Santa's Helper dress my mommy had made.  I wouldn't have a short-bob haircut, crooked buck teeth or a bow that itched.  I wouldn't be standing in front of parents and I wouldn't have to share the mic with anyone else.  I had it in my head at 7 years old that the NEXT time, I would look like a princess.  I'd be beautifully dressed from head to toe, with some elaborate hairstyle and simply dripping with jewelry.  I would sing every note pitch perfect.  I've have a small, intimate audience, and someone out  there would be smiling at me.  That someone would be the person I'd be singing to.  The rest of the audience would fade away into the background and nothing else on earth would exist for  those three minutes.

That day has finally come.  Tonight is the night.  And though in some regard it may sound like I'm putting too much pressure on myself, I'm really not.  Remembering that backstory is actually providing me with the strength I need.  I'm prepared because I know what to expect of me and what I expect of the world.  If three people clap I'll see it as a success.  But no matter what, tonight I will get up there and finally have my solo.  It's been 30 years I've waited for this moment.  Good or not. I will SHINE.

Breakfast at Seppe's

<B>Breakfast at Seppe's</B>

Chapter One.

(Written on August 11, 2010)

As I stood looking at the lovely expensive handbags and dresses on the other side of the reflective window pane, I began thinking about the unexpected twists my life had taken in only a six month period. It hadn't been so very long ago that I would have been able to purchase anything I wanted from the designer boutique. My pockes were empty right then though. There was very little I could do to fix that at the moment. I sipped my coffee and took another nibble of my pumpkin bread before deciding I was full. I pulled my last cigarette from my jacket pocket and slid my finger over the grooved edge of my lighter, bringing it to life. The reaching flame was the brightest light around in that few moments before the sun peaked over the hills surrounding the outdoor shopping center. I marveled at the simplicity and beauty of the flame as it slowly turned the end of the tabacco into a glowing ember. 

So I was back. I said I would be back, but somewhere deep inside I don't think I ever truly believed it myself. One bad relationship after another had plagued my life as long as I could remember and yet I stood looking at dresses I could not afford as a single woman, no attachments or lovers. It was a first in a long time. Why was I so miserable then? And yet I was so contented. I had learned to accept my fate, whatever it was determined to be. Right then I knew I was ok. I didn't know what lay in store from one day to the next and that thought frighened me, but for right then I was ok. 

The sun broke over the hill, warm and inviting even through the Palos Verdes summer fog. I unzipped my jacket and took a long pull of the fragrant tobacco, breathing the bitter fumes. The thin leopard print belt in the window was nice, but I just couldn't understand why someone would think it looked nice on a neon purple dress. Yuck. 

I moved on to the next window, sipping my coffee in deep though. The shoes lined up in the window all had the brand name Seppe in the soles. What a glorious name, Seppe. It just made me want to slide my feet into a pair of the beautiful aligator stilletos. The name made it sound like I would be stepping into a cloud, a breath of air, light and fulfilling. I had always loved looking into the shop windows at Seppe. When I was feeling down and out, sometimes it was the only thing that could make me smile again. 

I jumped a little when I heard my coworkers voice so close behind me. "So did you find a place to stay?" His concerned face watched me in earnest interest. I barely knew this guy and yet he knew so much about me. 

"Oh yeah. It all worked out. I mean, its weird, but it works. I'm going to stay there with him as a roommate. That's why I am working so much overtime right now. Rent is due soon." I sighed. I didn't want to think about it right then. I had worked several twelve hour shifts that week so far, and with the hour drive to and from work, it didn't leave me with a lot of time to sleep. Waking up at two in the morning was killing me. The situation I found myself living in was taking an even harsher toll on my mental state. 

"See," he said, "I told you. Things always work out for the best." I sighed again at his words. I wondered inwardly who it was really best for, if it was best for anyone at all. I smiled. 

"Sure does, Robert.. You were right." I pondered over my own words a moment. Had I said that for his benefit or my own? 

Robert walked on, continuing the monrning patrol, and I turned to look in the window once more at a pair of red patent stilletos I had my eye on for a few weeks. The sun had come out enough to have the glass reflect my own image back at me. I looked pale and tired. I almost didn't recognize myself standing there in my guard uniform. Slowly I reached a hand up to straighten my short red hair and examine the dark circles under my eyes. I stamped out my cigarette, disgusted at myself for smoking, and walked on again to the next set of windows. Slowly thoughts of David filtered into my resistant mind. 

(written entirely on my cell phone)