“You’re kidding me. You sing?”
She whipped her phone away from my view and quickly paused the video that had been playing.
“Were you watching me over my shoulder?”
I shifted uncomfortably in my shoes.
I knew she hated people watching over her shoulder. She sighed then lowered the phone back onto the table, her charm bracelet twinkling as she moved her wrist along the marble tabletop.
“I do sing, but I don’t like to tell people about it.”
I asked curiously, pulling up a chair. She stood up.
“Becuase it makes me and other people uncomfortable.”
She gathered her green, fuzzy sweatshirt and her purse and began to walk away, her short hair bobbing up and down with the movement.
I took her wrist, stopping the jingling noise of her bracelet. She stopped and looked back at me in the eye.
“Wait, why does singing make you uncomfortable?”
She mumbled and dropped her gaze. I lifted her chin up so her eyes met mine again.
“Hey, hey, it’s fine. There’s no possible song that you could ever sing that would scare off your boyfriend.”
I took her hands in mine, and felt the cool metal of her bracelet charms against my palm.
She looked at me firmly.
“I don’t like to sing because I think I’m good at it.”
“What kind of an excuse is that??”
“It’s not because I think I’m good at it, but it’s because I know I’m not.”
I squeezed her hands reassuringly.
“I’m sure you’re an amazing singer.”
I added encouragingly. I looked into her eyes for a sign of life.
“But if you don’t want to sing right now, that’s okay too. Whatever makes you happy.”
I lowered her hands and kissed them. She smiled a little then did that slight, head-jerking thing that girls do when they want to get their hair out of their face.
“Okay, I’ll sing for you. But that’s only because you’re my boyfriend.”
She took a deep breath and began.
I’d like to say that it was the most beautiful thing that I’ve ever heard. I’d like to say that her voice made me fall head over heels in love with her, but the truth was that she had a good voice. Simply good. Not terrible or great but just good.
As she finished, I stood there, not really knowing what to do. I studied her face to see what she felt; I could tell that she was studying mine. After a long silence, she looked down at the ground.
“See, I told you it made people uncomfortable. My voice is just… so ordinary that you can’t criticize or compliment it. It’s kind of just like a slice of plain bread.”
I lifted her chin a second time.
“That was beautiful.”
She took a step back.
“Don’t lie to me.”
“I’m not lying, that’s the truth.”
“But it didn’t sound good.”
I stared at her straight in the eye.
“Your voice doesn’t have to sound ‘good’ to be beautiful, Rachel.”
There was a moment of silence.
She looked at me. I looked at her.
“It’s perfect, just the way it is.”
She looked down at the ground and smiled again.
“Okay, but you still looked over my shoulder, and you know I hate it when people do that.”
We both laughed.