A Song for the Crowds

by Marianne Su

They start calling my name as the lights dim.  The others run up the stairs ahead of me.  Their appearance triggers the familiar chant and flood of lights.  It’s a ritual that repeats itself, punctuating my life, night after night.  An outstretched hand slaps me on the back as I step onto the stairs and force my reluctant legs to carry me into the spotlight.

The noise erupts as the band starts up.  The bouncing bodies and waving hands are anonymous until the floodlights reveal their faces.  I scan the front row.  Night after night they all look the same.  Wide eyed with expectation and admiration, they shout out to me, indistinct and meaningless.    

With the first chords of the guitar, darkness swallows them whole again, leaving me with the brutal allusion that I’m alone on stage with the music.  I grab the microphone and yell out the words the way they like.  Erupting screams compete with a chorus of voices singing lyrics.  I close my eyes to focus on the night I wrote that song, the night the words meant something, before they were claimed by the voices of thousands. 

As their song comes to an end, I ease my eyes open to face the crowd.  With a mental swift kick, I remind myself that this is the wish of every dreamer with a guitar.  I had a good thing.  If only I hadn’t lost the music along the way.