When I entered my doctor’s office the first time, I never imagined it would become my salvation and my damnation. Salvation because of what it could provide, relief. Damnation because it would be here where I would learn for sure if my dreams could be possible. Those images of crowds and a stage and me. I’d be center and singing to the crowd. My biggest dream was to be a singer. I hadn’t decided on my type just yet.
Today I would know if it was possible. I stared at the white walls with a sense of foreboding. To my left, the door squealed, and in walked a robust lady of fifty-some years. Nothing showed on her wrinkly face full of laugh lines, and that was telling all in itself. She opened a vanilla folder and pulled out my results. If I had gone to med school as my parents wanted, I’d have a clue to the jargon. As it was a few words stood out to me. Cancer was most prevalent and I shrank in my chair by the only window. The doctor slid off her glasses and turned to me.
“Well, Marcella. Looks like an emergency supraglottic laryngectomy will be required. A part of your Larynx will have to be removed.”
I shivered in fear, the rope attached to my glass bubbles was slowly fraying at the end. “Will I be able to sing?”
“Not as you once did but I heard you dance and act very well,” she said taking out a piece of paper.
“That isn’t my dream tho,” I muttered as she filled the piece of paper with a time and date for my surgery.
She glanced at me and shrugged. “Dreams change. Life is full of surprises. Here, bring this to the surgeon on Friday, and don’t be late.” She tore the piece of paper out and gave it to me. That Friday I approached for my surgery. I was prepped and immediately went into surgery. Much later I awoke to the beeping of the heart machine. I sighed in relief but no sound came. My eyes widened and the heart machine brought in the doctor. She had a strange glint in her eyes.
“Due to the advancement of cancer, I had to take the whole larynx. I’m sorry but you can’t be a singer anymore,” she said, almost smiling. I broke down and cried feeling as if my world had no foundation. My dreams lay shattered before me, fallen from their glass bubbles, and I...I fell into the deepest despair. Would I ever dream again?
“You know it has to rain before there’s a rainbow, right?” a guy with dreadlocks, sitting next to me in therapy said. I ignored him. He was far too jovial for having lost his hands a year before. His name was Cooper, and he was my partner for therapy sessions. I was supposed to practice esophageal speech. To hell if I was going to burp out what I said to anyone!
“Come on. Just a few words Marci,” he said annoying me to respond.
“Don’t call me that!” I belched loudly causing my therapist to walk over with a smile.
“My! That was a mighty belch, Ms. Simmons. Can you do it again for us?” she asked clipboard poised in front of her long nose in instants.
I sighed and showed Mrs. Merryweather my great belching skills, skills I wanted nothing to do with. Cooper beamed down at me from his height. He was giant about six feet eight with his hair the mess it was and as I said no arms. He wore too much yellow and pink resembling a marshmallow swabbed in cloth.
“Now look what you made me do,” I grumbled tugging on my longish brownish hair.
“Yes, and I’m so proud too,” he said drying what I hoped were fake tears from his face. He turned and pointed to a young boy who was learning to walk again. “You know Robert wants to be an Olympic runner?”
I glanced at the young kid and sighed. “Not the same. I can’t be a singer like this, belching out my words. I’ll be a laughing stock.”
“You’d be unique and not another pop singer. People would remember your voice.”
I shook my head and turned my back to him. “No.”
Someone passed by and raised a brow. I was used to this. Being glanced at weirdly What was I talking to myself or something?
Cooper sighed behind me before stalking over to face me again. That meant leaving his seat but as always he never got in trouble.
“Tell ya what, come and see my band play. It’s really good. We’re called the Handicapped and are performing at a nearby club called The Station. It’s kid-friendly so no ID is necessary,” he said holding out a card to me. I had the urge to take it and rip it in two but I just took it from his offered foot. Yes, his foot handed me the card. He’s got excellent balance.
“You were all excellent today. Have a good daylio,” said Mrs. Merryweather trying to sound hip and missing the meaning entirely. She was dismissing us.
As always Cooper was already gone.
The Station was a strange place but it was packed with people of all kinds and the band playing the jazz was great. Especially the Sax player. He was jammin those tunes. I sat and waited for Cooper’s band until I noticed the height of the Sax player. It was Cooper. How was he playing so well with just his feet? The rest of the band followed Cooper’s lead. All they were missing was a jazz singer for their songs. I relaxed and listened to one of my favorite genres of music. It was over after two more songs and then there was Cooper’s announcement.
“Marcella Simmons would you please come over?” he called.
I blushed as everyone whispered and started to look around for me. I stood and walked to Cooper aware of all eyes on me. Cooper smiled and then he handed me some pages of notes and a microphone.
“Marcella is our singer for the next piece.”
I froze. “What?” ! whispered starting to shake.
“Go on and sing,” he said smiling.
“B-But I can’t sing!”
Already the music had started and I faced the audience a white pallor to my skin and a tight whirling in my stomach. A breeze blew through the room and I shook like a clam under it. I could choose to run or sing. Sweat poured down my red shirt, not at all appropriate for the moment. I stood at a precipice. It rained before a rainbow.
I began belching out the words to the song. At first, I got shocked looks but then people were caught in the music and no one cared about my voice only that it went perfectly with the Jazz tunes. I was a rainbow! How great was it to feel the notes of a song once more be released from within me!
I was visiting the doctor again for my six-month check-up. After that night I had gotten the courage to make a youtube channel and after quickly gathering a following, I made my first Demo to sell within my town. After that night I never saw Cooper or The Station again.
“Marcella, you seem to be doing great,” said my doctor holding out my record. I told her about therapy and Cooper.
She laughed. “Yes, he’s always there for anyone that needs help,” she said smiling sadly and glancing at a photo on the wall. The photo was of Cooper and her. He had hands but he was also way smaller and the picture was slightly torn. The doctor handed me the photo. On the back, it had a date.
Cooper Redings 1995-2018 May you rest in peace dear boy. Your music will live in everyone’s hearts.
It made sense. All those times Mrs. Merrywether didn’t get on his case for getting up. All those times I was looked at funny. I had been encouraged back to music by a ghost.
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