by Susan Sage
Maddie stood waiting for the stage lights to go on. Her heart felt like anyone looking at her would see it pounding through her skin. She rubbed her palms down her pant legs again and tried to calm her breathing. The smell of her mint breath wafted to her own nose. Thoughts of the last four years drifted across her consciousness like perfume. And suddenly she was back there.
She heard the scream but couldn’t open her eyes. Her head pounded. Maddie could feel her body shaking. Had she been electrocuted? What was this pulsing through her?
“Get that screaming woman out of here.”
“It’s the girl’s mother. She’s frantic.”
“Someone, move her to a different area.”
Maddie heard her mom’s cry. She smelled the heavy antiseptic as something wiped across her head. Darkness began seeping in and she struggled to listen …
“Her heartbeat’s irregular again. Add Disopyramide to the IV.”
“Okay, clear.” Silence.
“That’s it. She’s back.”
Maddie felt like a train rolled over her a second time.
“She’s breathing on her own now.”
She heard a cheer around her but still couldn’t open her eyes.
“Let’s get her up to ICU. Take care of the mom so she can see her daughter.”
“We’re still working on cleaning her mom up. She was in the car as well. She’s also injured.”
Maddie’s thoughts swirled. What’s wrong with Mom? Were we … is she …what happened? And sleep took over.
As Maddie waited at the side entrance to the biggest night of her life the thoughts of that terrible day swirled through her head. That driver had come out of nowhere, so it seemed. In an instant life had changed. They were just getting over Dad’s death.
The thoughts danced again as she tapped her foot nervously. How could she possibly have survived to be standing on one of the world’s largest stages?
And then she heard it. Her name. Maddie Armstrong. Applause erupted in front of her as she walked onto the platform. She picked up her guitar from its stand, signaled the drummer, and her heart soared on the beat and timbre. She felt sound resonating through her boots. The strings under her fingers vibrated and her heart danced.
After three songs, she lifted herself onto the stool behind her, took the mic off the stand, and took a deep breath. The crowd sat in front of her much like the little children she once read to in her preschool class. She smiled, made eye contact with a few, and drew in inspiration from the sparkling colored lights playing off the trees and ornaments hanging around the pavilion.
For the next ten minutes, Maddie told the tale of the day she and her mom had been in that accident … the one that should have ended her life.
“The doctor said my mom would never walk again. I lost my voice. My diaphragm was damaged. The bottom of my right lung was injured. We were on our way to Juilliard for my senior year. The future looked promising for me to sing with the New York City Opera House. That day, the doctors told me recovery would be long and difficult and that if I was lucky, I would be able to speak again. They said, there was little chance my lungs could manage singing, at least not as a soloist.”
The crowd broke out into applause again. Maddie waved her hands in the air trying to quiet them down.
“God had other plans. It is only with His help I’m here today.”
She strummed her guitar once more. Clapping threatened to drown her out again. Taking a deep breath, Maddie hit a note and held it. The clapping stopped as the crowd listened. The note continued. Whispers could be heard resonating through the assembly, and she continued to hold the tone. When she’d held it for almost a minute, the ovation erupted again.
Maddie jumped from her stool strumming her guitar repeatedly as the drummer picked up the beat. For the next hour, the songs continued. Finally, Maddie stopped.
“Don’t ever let someone tell you what you can’t do. That’s up to God and God alone.” She bowed, pointed her index finger to the ceiling, and walked off stage.
“Thank You, God. Help me never forget what You chose to do.” Maddie hugged her mom and the two walked through the doors into the waiting arms of her doctor now stepfather.
About the Author
New to north Idaho, Susan Sage and her husband are enjoying getting to know the new area. She continues to work on her craft writing about God’s purpose and sovereignty in all aspects of life. She enjoys writing devotionals and flash fiction. She enjoys mentoring other writers who are new to the craft.
You can read Susan’s flash fiction column on the 2nd Thursday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.