The wedding was only a month away and Meg was working on finalizing everything with the girls while I was messing around in the studio.
Bree had asked me to look for something we had worked on months ago, so I was riffling through all of the older files of recordings on my computer. That was when I came across something that I hadn’t even known was there.
It was a series of recordings that all had the same random saving code. That meant someone was recording.
I turned the volume down. Who knew who had recorded this. It could have been some stupid shit of Mike and I getting high in here and I didn’t need the girls to overhear that shit.
When I pressed play, the video screen popped up too. It was Declan turning on the camera.
She looked right at it and said, “Give me 5 tops.”
I fast forwarded to a few minutes later when the door opened again and Arlee entered, followed by Declan. Arlee?
“Declan, we’re not supposed to be in here?” Arlee had her violin in her hand as Declan pushed her into the room.
“Did Ryan say that? I don't think Ryan would have said that.” Declan spoke as she grabbed the case from Arlee and opened it on the coffee table.
That was Arlee, always afraid of getting into trouble for doing something if she didn’t ask to do first...
She bent down to pick her violin out of the case and hurriedly situated herself in the middle of the room.
“Let’s get something straight, I’m only agreeing to this because you told me to do that research on the adoption.”
“Which totally helped Ryan’s case.” Declan glared back at her.
“Just make it quick, because if we get into trouble, your going down,” She pointed the bow at Declan. I liked her spunk, “Like, I’ll bury you in my violin case. You are small enough.”
Arlee giggled, having fun with her own threat.
“Then who would raise my 5000 kids that my husband wants me to have?” Declan was off camera and the sarcasm ran high. I laughed at the bitter look on Arlee’s face.
“Look, you wanted a place where you couldn’t be heard to work on your songs, here you go. A soundproof room. No one can hear us.” Declan told her, “It’s just you and me. You play the song I sing the tune.”
“Play the tune first, so I can get the song.”
From start to finish, it was amazing. She had a fast paced beat, but it was a perfect slide and I’d never heard anything like it from a violin.
I had to confront this situation head on. I’d heard her play piano upstairs, but she rocked with a violin. Literally.
When she was finished, Declan handed her a sheet of paper, “Sing it now, so I can hit it while you play your violin and you can see if you like it all together.”
“I am not singing in front of you.” Arlee scoffed.
“Because I like to sing, but I’m not like you. I don’t do it in front of people unless it’s chorus at school.”
“So, pretend you in Chorus,” Declan shrugged in front of the camera. You want me to sing your song your going to have to show me how. It works the same with an orchestra. This is going to be your future. Julliard, remember?"
“Fine.” She huffed and looked at the paper, and then... She sang and Declan nodded, watching her with a smile as she watched her paper.
“Oh my God.” I stood and got closer to the screen. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. This was Arlee? Our Arlee! Meg’s daughter and now mine!
When the song was finished she was blushing and Declan smiled at her, “Okay, so now I’ll sing it while you play.”
Declan cleared her throat and Arlee played again.
This was big. Really big and this kid had no idea.
I got on the intercom and pushed the button for her room, “Hey kid, I’m in the studio, can you come down here for a sec?”
“Y-yeah, dad.” I could hear the confusion in her voice, but less than a minute later she was standing in front of me.
“You called me?” Arlee asked curiously.
“Bree had me going through some of our old in-house recordings and I came across something I wanted you to hear.” I tried to keep a straight face, but was finding it hard as I hit that replay button.
Her face paled as the violin played over the speakers.
“I’m so sorry.” She began to explain, “Declan came across something I’d written and said something about not knowing if the violin piece went with the lyrics and she wanted to come down here. I told her no, but you know how those people are. They don’t listen and I had no idea we were being recorded. Is it like a security feed? I’m so sorry. I wouldn’t have-”
“Arlee,” I grabbed her hands, “Stop rambling. You are far from in trouble, kid. Calm down. Breathe.”
I smiled at her and she returned it with the huge release of the breath she’d been holding.
I could have sworn this child had anxiety. She could perform and do everything else no problem, but the thought of stepping out of her carefully constructed bubble terrified her.
“This is amazing.” I smiled, listening to the violin play over my stereo system. The way she played those strings at rapid speed I didn’t even know exisited on a violin. “How did you even come up with this?”
“I was just messing around.” She shrugged, “Noah once brought up Lindsey Sterling and I thought I’d give it a try.”
“Give it a try?” I had to cover my mouth to stop myself from laughing, “This is you giving it a try?”
“Well, I wrote the song.” She fidgeted nervously, “And the violin and Declan did the vocals for me. We were giving a try and seeing how it sounded when it was all together.”
“It’s really, REALLY amazing, Arlee.” I tried to look into her eyes, but she was obviously embarrassed, “This needs to be your Julliard piece. Not that other one you’ve been working on.”
“Dad, they aren’t going to take this.”
“Arlee, this is you! You wrote everything, you put this all together.” I gaped at her, “This was in you to make and you need to share it.”
“Well yeah, but I can’t sing and if I send them this, they’ll want Declan, not me.”
“Wrong, you can sing, write and compose you can do it all.” I rewound the recording to her singing, “And there aren’t many who can.”
“She recorded that too?” Arlee groaned.
“That’s you.” I smiled. I couldn’t believe this kid. She was amazing in every sense of the word.
“Well yeah, but I can’t sing in front of anyone.”
“I want to strip this song.” I told her, “I want to get just the violin in an actual recording and I want you to meet with Bree. I want you to see what you can do, kid.”
“Dad-” She gaped at me, “I can’t sing, let alone THIS song. Especially with Bree.”
“Arlee, this is amazing. Musical Arts is your footing in the world and you can utilize ALL of your talents, before choosing a definite final path. You could be on Broadway one day, you could have a showcase of your very own or play in any orchestra, but I want to help you understand that you can do anything with these talents and how you have so many open doors.”
“I appreciate that, but this is a personal song.”
“All songs are personal. They all come from the heart and you can’t be afraid to share what’s in your heart. It’ll only hold you back and you are too talented to be boxed in.”
“Julliard is not going to take me for my singing.” She shook her head, “And I don’t think they’ll like me rocking on the violin.”
“Is this what’s in your heart, Arlee?” I pointed to the screen and the speakers, “Is this what you heard when you wrote this song?”
“Yes.” It was almost a whine.
“Then this is YOU.” I met her eyes again, “You were born to rock and if Julliard can’t accept that, they don’t deserve you.”
“Dad!” She gasped.
“Never fake who you are, Arlee. What you feel inside is real, even if it isn’t the norm. Fearing it will just hold you back.”
“But if Julliard doesn’t accept this-”
“Then you are destined for better things.” I told her at point blank, “You are a tripple threat. Beyond that, because you play two instruments. YOU, my child, can not be ignored.”
Arlee didn’t give me any definite response, so when she left I sent the recordings to Bree and had her listen to them.
She called me right away.
“Oh my God, Ryan.” Bree sounded just as speechless as I was, “This is Arlee?!”
“Yeah.” I let out the breath I’d been holding. I couldn’t sit still as I paced my studio.
“Does Meg know?”
“I don’t think so.” I told her, “Arlee acted like singing was embarrassing. She thought she wasn’t any good.”
“There is nothing embarassing about this!” She told me, “I’ve been singing since I was 9 and I’ve got goosebumps from this, Ry.”
“I know!” I said tightly.
“This is her shoe in. She could go anywhere with that voice alone.”
“I know, but how can we convince her? She’s worried about taking risks.”
“Can we have Meg talk to her?”
“I don’t think she wants Meg to know.” I spoke slowly, “If Meg had heard her sing she would have told me.”
“This is big, Ryan.” She told me, “Huge. I mean, this girl... Arlee, if she honed this talent, she could best me on a good day. This is raw, unfiltered talent.”
“I can talk to her, or have Declan talk to her, but she needs to hone this talent. She can’t let it go.”