Beyond the glare of lights and haze of smoke, the crowd at Blows was a jumble of faded shapes and muted colors. Grace sat onstage, her guitar on her lap as the room settled into low murmurs. Every sound poured into her through the harsh beam of the spotlight, every breath and whisper a shout. She was certain if she could hear everything, they could all hear her, although she had yet to sing a single note. Her heart pounded and sweat pooled at her temples. She wondered if her heartbeat were as loud as the beat of the bongo drums that Roshan tapped behind her.
Her fingers shook, but she strung the first note and opened her throat. The voice came out squeaky and strained. Someone snickered. She wished she had the courage to run off the stage. She stopped playing and closed her eyes, frozen and terrified. In the silence she heard them waiting, felt then looking at her. Roshan kept up on the drums. He whispered, “Start again. Don’t give up now.”
With her heart beating in her throat, and painfully aware of every muscle in her body, Grace breathed in the sweet, herbal smoke of the room and strummed her guitar once more. She pushed her voice into her chest and released it with practiced control. With her eyes still closed, she visualized herself alone with Roshan in his store, playing on her newly bought guitar.
The melody was slow, the light beat of the bongos keeping rhythm with the strumming of her fingers. Then there was nothing but the music moving through her bones. Grace gave herself over to it.
Shores of Redemption by Abigail Easton can be purchased from Amazon.com on Kindle and in print.