Sophie blinked as she stared up at her face.
“Is something wrong at home?”
“Have you been crying?”
Sophie rubbed her burning eyes, still silent. The skin on her lids felt like wet paper.
“You can tell me.” Her voice softened a bit. “Sophie, what’s wrong?”
Her eyes were swollen.
“I… I can’t.” Sophie let out a tiny breath.
“You can’t what?” She pressed as she studied her face for clues.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Are you sick?”
“No, I’m fine. I didn’t sleep last night.”
“Why didn’t you sleep last night?”
Sophie closed her eyes and sighed. She wouldn’t understand if she told her. No one would understand. Such a silly thing which started as a pass-time has now consumed her nights.
“Did someone hurt you?”
“NO!” This conversation was heading in the wrong direction.
“Then tell me. What. Is. Going. On?”
She wasn’t going to let this go.
“I’m tired; I have a lot of work to do.” Sophie’s gaze shifted towards the door.
This was going nowhere. Perhaps, a different approach?
“How are you doing in your other classes?” She already knew Sophie was bright. Her recent report card were all A’s.
“Everything is fine.” Sophie sounded exasperated. “I just want to go home.”
“Well, at least let me give you a ride home. It is getting late.” The rain clouds were gathering outside.
Sophie nodded and hooked her book bag to her thumb.
The car ride was quiet. Sophie yawned as the car breeze wrestled with her curly hair.
“Can I listen to music?” At last, a peep out of her.
“Sure, honey. What are kids your age listening to these days? She asked trying to make conversation.
“I don’t know.” Sophie muttered as she turned the dial on the radio. Click. Click. Click.
The static was finally interrupted by a wailing singer.
You’re my hero and my little boy blue… Ain’t nobody else like you…
An odd choice, she thought. She couldn’t recognize the song or the artist.
You’re my hidden thoughts of laughter… My happy ever after… Ain’t nobody else like you… “Who is this?”
“Cass Elliott? You know, from The Mamas and the Papas?”
Sophie was looking at her face now. “California dreaming? C’mon I know you’ve heard that song before.”
“Yes, I have.” She said shaking her head absently. “How do you know all this?”
“I’ve been collecting records. I… umm… I listen to them at night. They don’t make music like they used to. No one can sing anymore.”
“Records? Where do you get records these days?”
“Online. Thrift stores. Ebay.” Sophie blurted. “People don’t know the value of what they have. I picked up a collection of old Carla Thomas records. I could listen to her all night. There is something sad in her voice.”
There was something unmistakable in Sophie’s voice and she had finally heard it.
“Do you like to sing, Sophie?”
There was a pause.
“You clearly have an interest. Can you sing? Do you want to?”
.Sophie’s eyes met hers.
“I wish I could sing like them in the records. I keep listening to them thinking maybe I can one day. Sometimes I can’t even sleep…”
The words slipped out of Sophie’s mouth before she could stop them. Her voice trailed as she tried to keep her expression from changing. There it was… the little secret she hadn’t told anyone. Sophie was sure she was going to be ridiculed for her silly early morning dreams.
The car rode in silence. A new song launched on the radio.
I was born by the river in a little tent and just like that river I’ve been running ever since…
Dear little Sophie, she thought. She glanced at her face and noticed the bags under her eyes once again.
It’s been a long, long time comin’ but I know a change is gonna come…
By the end of the song she had made up her mind.
“I may have some old records in the attic. Would you like to come by and see if there is anything you like?”
“Really?” Sophie’s eyes widened. “You listen to records?”
“My dad used to. He was a music teacher. I have some of his stuff in the attic, collecting dust,” she quickly added. “There’s probably a record player up there too. We can practice some songs together.”
A smile flashed across Sophie’s face. “This weekend?”
“This weekend,” she said turning into the driveway. “I’ll pick you up on Saturday morning.”
“And Sophie,” she called out. “Get some sleep, will you? No one has become a singer overnight.”