-Chapter 10: The Voice and Tears of an Angel-

"Okay, let me hear you," Sr Mary Shepherd said, turning her attention to Bryce.

Bryce tried, as most males do, to sing in bass. It was, it turned out, not his range and resulted in a short coughing fit. A few of the others in the room winced in sympathy.

"Try again," Sr. Shepherd instructed. "This time, don't force the range. Just sing in the rang that's most comfortable for you. You don't have to sound 'manly' just because you're a boy."

Bryce tried a few more times, until Sr. Shepherd stopped him.

"You're not going to reach the lower notes, no matter how hard you try," she told him. "I can see you straining each time you do. A lot of really good male singers have sung in the higher ranges in the past. You'll only hurt your voice if you force it into an octave it's not meant for."

Bryce tried once again, this time producing a bearable tenor. But it still wasn't quite right.

"Just a little higher. Half an octave." Sr. Shepherd instructed. "I think you might be a mid-ranger."

Bryce tried once again, this time producing a near perfect note. The pitch was slightly higher than the good Sister might have expected, but it sounded beautiful to her all the same.

"A beautiful contralto," she told him. "Well sung. In a slightly higher range than most male singers, mind you. So I'll give you a choice to think about. You can either sing with the other boys, or with the girls. You won't be judged in either case."

"May I have time to think on it?" Bryce requested.

"You have until Wednesday," Sr. Shepherd told him. "I want you and those you'll be singing with to have an extra day of practice then during your free period to get used to singing together."

Bryce smiled at her. "Thank you."

"You did sound pretty good in the end," Edison said from the doorway.

"Edison!" Bryce hugged his old friend and coworker. "When did you get here?"

"About ten minutes ago."

"You should've said something," Bryce said, blushing a bit.

"And miss out on your singing?" Edison shook his head. "You're going to sound great once you've trained a bit."

"Thanks, I guess," Bryce ran a hand through his hair, nervously, and smiled a little. "How are Murray and Theora?"

"They're okay," Edison told him. "We've been worried about you, though. Why would you take a drug like that? You could've fried that precious brain of yours."

"I was trying to forget something," Bryce told him. "Something about a fire. That's all I remember. I guess I'll remember exactly what some day, but…"

"Well," Edison said. "You weren't at the fire that happened at ACS so…"

Bryce's eyes went wide. Then they closed as though trying to shut out a painful memory.

"Bryce, you weren't even there." Edison reminded the teenager. Than he realized that Bryce must've seen the news footage. That he must've seen the twisted and burned bodies being pulled from the blaze.

Some of those who'd been there suffered only minor burns or smoke inhalation. But most had been pulled out of the reunion hall with third degree burns or worse.

Bryce sank to the floor, his back against the wall, and burst into tears.

Sr. Shepherd joined them, crouching beside Bryce and rubbing his back. "Even in grief, he sounds like an angel."

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