Music Inside

Arthur listened to the choir sing, wanting to join in – wanting to dance. He did neither. He sat still. His feet were flat and firm against the tiled floor. His hands were folded primly in his lap. His back was straight and his gaze was focused straight ahead. He kept the smile that threatened from his lips. Father would not approve. Music was not for the upper class to make. Dances were staid and proper not full of wild bounces and spins like the groundlings in the audience.

His eyes darted over to his parents, prim and proper as he was. Then the movement of the singers and the crowd distracted him from them. The singers rocked and swayed. They clapped their hands and smiled, looking at each other and not their audience. The groundlings spun, some even sang along. One boy caught his eye and he couldn’t help but respond to the contagious grin with a soft smile of his own.

The boy’s grin widened and he grabbed another boy’s hand, gesturing up to Arthur. The other boy also shot him a smile. Arthur blushed, suddenly embarrassed – uncertain. His eyes went to his father, who was now scowling at him.

“Sorry,” he whispered, casting his gaze down.

“Many nights we prayed,” Michael sang, gesturing for Arthur to join in. “C’mon, you know this one, sing with me,” he encouraged. “Many nights we prayed…”

“With no proof anyone could hear, in our hearts a hopeful song, we barely understood,” Elijah continued for him. He took Felicia’s hand as she smiled, ready to join in.

“Now we are not afraid, although we know there’s much to fear,” she sang. She took his hand and held it as she sang, “We were moving mountains long before we knew we could.”

“There can be miracles, when you believe,” they chorused, gathering around him. “Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill. Who knows what miracles, you can achieve? When you believe, somehow you will… You will when you believe.”

“Next verse is all you. Sing, Arthur. You can… it’s the only way for the magic to come out.”

“We need you to sing, Arthur,” Elijah encouraged.

Arthur opened his mouth but no sound came out. He closed his eyes and saw his father’s scowling face. “Open your eyes,” Matilda whispered. “Look at us. Don’t think of anything but the music.”

“In this… time of fear,” Arthur managed, his voice shaking but on pitch. “When prayers so often proved in vain, hope seemed like a summer bird, too swiftly flown away.” All around them a soft green glow began, his voice grew in volume and confidence.

“Yet now I’m standing here,” he continued, gazing over at Michael as the boy echoed him. Allowing himself a small smile, he continued, “with heart so full I can’t explain, seeking faith and speaking words I never thought I’d say.”

Now the entire chorus joined the refrain and Arthur could feel their magic swelling with his. Their light was pushing the darkness away. People around them were beginning to stir. “Sing,” Michael urged them.

“Ashira l’adonai ki gaoh ga-ah,” Felicia sang in her high soft voice. Grinning, she continued, “Ashira l’adonai ki gaoh ga-ah. Mi chamocha baelim adonai.” Matilda grinned and took her hand, joining in as the song continued, “Mi kamocha nedar bakodesh. Nachita v’chas-d’cha am zu ga-alta. Nachita v’chas-d’cha am zu ga-alta. Ashira, ashira, ashira”

Athur began bouncing as they sang and as he and the other boys joined in, repeating the foreign words. Suddenly, he found that he was spinning and dancing with the others. He was, as his father had always warned, losing himself in the music – in the magic – but at the same time he felt so free.

He paused, taking Matilda and Michael by the hand as they sang with the chorus, now growing steadily in numbers “There can be miracles, when you believe. Though hope is frail it’s hard to kill”

Grinning, Elijah echoed, “It’s hard to kill.”

Arthur nodded, smiling broadly back. He looked around seeing his brothers and parents among those beginning to wake from the dreadful slumber. He felt tears start in his eyes as his brothers and mother joined in. “Who knows what miracles you can achieve.”

”You can achieve,” he echoed, nodding at his father. The older man nodded back, joining in as the chorus, now the entire village, continued, “When you believe, somehow you will… Now you will! You will when you believe”

“When you believe!” the men in the chorus echoed.

”You will when you believe,” Michael sang and Arthur joined him, softly singing, “You will believe.”

“We did it,” he whispered. “We won.”

“You did it,” Michael corrected. “Only with you could we have done this, Arthur… only with your voice and magic.”

His father walked over, shaking his head in wonder. “I’m sorry, Arthur. I let my fear of the magic hold you back. If you wish, you can attend the school.”

“Father?” Arthur whispered. He spun back and looked over his friends smiling face. “Father! I do! I wish very much. Thank you with all my heart.” Then for the first time in his life, he laughed and hugged the older man. Such joy was bubbling up in his heart that he couldn’t contain it. Giggling softly, he spun away over the soft earth, hardly noticing that everyplace his feet touched, tiny flowers sprang up.