On her way to work she quietly hummed “It’s a little bit funny” under her breath, and all throughout the day, when she was alone or far enough away from anyone else to hear. Elton John’s “Your Song” suited her mid-range voice perfectly. She related to it instantly the very first time she heard it: she knew all about not having enough; not being able to say the right thing at the right time; it’s a little bit funny feeling inside a relationship where she was unsure how her little gifts will be received.
She met Eric at the Children’s Theatre Centre where she took acting and movement lessons. He was a long drink of cool water, with grey-blue eyes and touselled wheat coloured hair that fell across his forehead every time he laughed. Last week when they were standing in the foyer after class, he told her that his band was looking for a female singer — would she be interested? Hilary said “yes” without thinking — no butterflies, no roiling tummy, no hesitation of any kind.
They agreed to meet at the centre and from there he would drive them to the band’s practice space. She went straight from work, still humming her audition song beneath her breath like a secret. She felt strong and ready to embrace a new challenge.
When Eric hadn’t appeared after fifteen minutes, she put it down to evening traffic. After twenty-five minutes, she wondered if she had the right day. When thirty-five minutes had passed, she put on her coat in preparation to leave.
“I didn’t think you had a class today. What are you doing here, Hilary?” Paul asked, safely ensconced behind the reception desk.
“Just hanging,” she replied, reluctant for reasons unknown to share the real story with Paul, who was truly a terrible gossip. “I didn’t feel like going home right after work, so I slipped in to read the audition boards. Wait until a class got out and see who wanted to go for a bite to eat.”
“Yeah,” Paul nodded toward the largest message board, “they’re starting to post audition dates for Christmas shows.”
“That’s cool.” She turned toward the door that exited to the stairs. “Oh, by the way, Paul, was Eric here earlier this afternoon?”
He returned to his stacks of papers, searching for something on the cluttered desk. But he looked up to answer her. “No, he hasn’t been in today. Actually, come to think of it, I haven’t seen him all week.”
She had progressed as far as placing her hand on the door handle. “Oh no, my dear, not you too,” Paul chortled. “I thought you were smarter than that!”
Hilary always found the steps to the Children’s Theatre Centre a bit steep, but today she couldn’t get out of the building fast enough, his derisive laughter chasing her down two flights of stairs and out the door into the cold air.