| Diary Serial |

Starring Role: Chapter 12

“Maaa,” I whimper. My hands fly to my throat. “My voice. My voice is gone!”


Two days before production, I wake up with a ball in my throat.

Not literally, but it feels like it. It hurts to swallow. It hurts to speak. It almost hurts to breathe.

“Maaa,” I whimper. My hands fly to my throat. “My voice. My voice is gone!”

“Oh, no, poor you.” My mother looks sympathetic. “Sounds like a really bad sore throat. I’ll make you a hot drink.”

Halfway to the kettle, she stops. “Wait, Rena, isn’t your first performance tomorrow night?”

I nod, miserable. My part. My tiny part… but still, a part in the play. And the choir. My solo. The harmony. What will be?

“There’s still two whole days. Hopefully it will get better,” Ma says optimistically.

I can’t imagine it will. I’ve never lost my voice so badly before.

I cup my hands around the hot tea with honey, sip it slowly, willing it to bring my voice back to life. The hot liquid soothes the pain somewhat, but it doesn’t help me speak again. I can’t even think about singing.

“I’ll make you a doctor’s appointment,” Ma says.

I don’t go into school that day. What for? It’s just practice, and I can’t speak. I send Baylee a message that I’m not feeling well. She sends back a flood of concerned questions and exclamations. I don’t bother replying.

The doctor is very nice and patient, but there’s not much he can do.

“Hot drinks, painkillers if it hurts a lot, and give your voice a rest,” he says. “You’ve been practicing for a choir, you said? And it’s the cold weather now, too… I’d say a week or two of no strain and your voice should be as good as new.”

I look at Ma in despair. A week or two?

“Her school performance is tomorrow night,” Ma tells the doctor. “She was supposed to have a solo.”

He looks sympathetic. “That’s a shame, Rayna,” he says, pronouncing my name wrong. “Look at the bright side — at least you weren’t acting a big role in the play. That would have been a real let-down.”

Yeah. Tell me about it.

We leave the doctor’s office in silence.

“Maybe we should ask Fraidy if she has any ideas,” Ma suggests finally. My aunt Fraidy is very into alternative medicine — she’s always trying to get us to take her herbal remedies for anything under the sun. Usually, I’d laugh at the idea, but now I’m desperate.

“Let’s try her,” I croak.

Fraidy is delighted to help out. She brings out a basket full of small bottles and tins. “Let’s see, sore throat, how about some chamomile and ginger…”

I take everything she offers, placing the small capsules under my tongue and letting them dissolve, and then I try clearing my throat. No go. I still can’t say a word.

“It can take a little time to have an effect,” Fraidy says, her enthusiasm not the least bit dampened. “Here, take these home with you, try it again in four hours. Hopefully it will start to get better in the next couple of days.”

“Tomorrow?” I croak.

Fraidy looks at Ma. “Let’s hope for the best,” she says brightly.

I can see she doesn’t really believe it herself.

Lani comes home from work, full of sympathy for me and my predicament. “Poor thing! You tried hot drinks? Wait, there’s something that all the great singers use —raw egg. It’s supposed to work magic. You should try it!”

“Raw egg?” I whisper-squeal. “I have to drink it?”

“No-o-o, I don’t think so, just gargle it.” Lani wrinkles her nose. “Eww, I know, but worth a try, no?”

I’m not so sure, but at this point, I’ll kind of try anything.

We crack an egg into a glass, give it a little mix. Then I lean back and gulp the whole thing into my mouth, swirling it around.

It tastes slimy and gross. Bile rises in my throat. I spit out the entire thing into the sink and run for a cup of water.

“That was awful,” I gasp to Lani.

“Hey, is that your voice? Is it a little bit better?” she asks excitedly.

“Um, maybe?” I ask. My voice comes out hoarse and rough. My shoulders sag. “I can’t sing like this. I can barely speak. And the play is tomorrow night. What am I going to do?”

But neither Ma nor Lani have the answer.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 897)

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