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The Soloist

By: Ava Arasan

Part I

She ran past the silver microphone and lept off the pitch-black stage, narrowly escaping as thick, velvet curtains cascaded down the front of the stage, sealing the rest of her high school choir in behind them. Eyes flashing with fear, she dashed passed each row of seats in the concert hall. The beautiful melody that before had come springing from each of her classmate’s mouths in perfect harmony rotted into a discordant mess, flats and sharps and naturals clashing in a frenzied heap before settling into eerily perfect silence. She could hear the cries and moans of the choir arise, begging for her help as a dense mist the color of blood crept under each curtain and towards them. Still, she could not turn back, she could not face her insecurities and sadness, so everyone else had to pay her price. 

Part II

Esme Marlowe was the shy sort of girl who you would never find unless she wanted to be found. She was the girl that would make herself so minuscule that one could barely hear her footsteps as she padded past in the hallway. She was the kind of girl that would curl up into a little ball and starve herself of companionship during lunch hour. No one really knew what made Esme so sad, was it her immense grief or was she just born that way? Only two things had ever brought Esme any joy in her life: her relationship with her elder sister and her school choir, her only outlet to release her heart’s sorrow. Through every bend in the melody, every soothing harmony, she would share her story, loud enough to release the pressure from inside her, but still soft enough so that no one would find her to be unique from the rest. Until the fateful day that her choir teacher granted her a solo.

Part III

It had clearly been a dejected day. The girl sat at her window and watched layers of frost swell along the cool glass. Her face was flushed and red from yelling for the past hour. She and her older sister, a girl equipped with the confidence, beauty, and charisma to carry her very far in life, had recently engaged in a monstrous argument. The girl had let her insecurities get the better of her, a toxic blood-red mist that was knawing on her dreams and dissolving her self-assurance. She knew her sister was only trying to help when addressing these problems, but it was simply too easy, too enticing, to victimize herself and put her sister to blame. She watched her sister storm down the driveway of their house, curled ponytail bobbing like a lost buoy out alone on the ocean. The car door flew open and shut within a matter of seconds, and just like that her sister was gone. Little did the girl know that her sister would soon have a life-changing car accident and remain in a coma for the next year. Was it worth it?

Part IV

Esme Marlowe stood on stage, her fingertips began to tingle softly, and she felt her body tremble as she walked to the center of the stage. Her brain was racing, a thousand thoughts were crashing against the cliffs of her mind in dreamy waves. Everything was happening all at once, and yet nothing was truly happening at all. She remembered her sister’s face the day of the accident, every dark freckle and impeccably combed strand of hair. Words of encouragement and affection sprung into her mind, “everyone will love you when you learn to love yourself,” her sister had once told her. Regret sunk its claws in her heart, for she had not visited her sibling since the car crash, too afraid to face the reality she had fabricated. Behind her, the choir sang, united in their music, yet each person still independently working with their own harmony and rhythm. Esme Marlowe realized that she was part of a whole, but she was finally learning to be whole in herself too. The blood-red mist that used to whisper of how evil she was, how ugly and cruel, slowly began to disappear. She approached the microphone, opened her mouth, and spun her solo. 


The audience’s claps rang throughout the theatre. Proud and triumphant smiles stretched from the corners of the choir children’s faces as the conductor pointed them out. Esme Marlowe stood proudly, her face beaming with accomplishment, for she had just completed her first solo. Her fears and insecurities vanished the moment she sang, confident that she knew her part and what she was doing. The blood-red mist was nowhere to be felt, but Esme was still not free. She ran off stage and to the parking lot, jumped into her car, and began driving to the hospital where her sister was situated. She walked through the pearly white hospital halls, her footsteps clicking up a storm. She fought past the army of nurses trying to detain her and arrived at the room. Her sister lay on the hospital cot the way she had for the past year. Her beautiful face remained in a peaceful slumber, and her life support beeped softly in the background. Esme gazed at her sister, frozen in a coma, gently whispered her name, and finally, after a whole year, she opened her eyes.

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