the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

  Authors & Artists


Faces & Voices 4
Faces & Voices 5

Ribbons in the Sky
Phyllisia Gant
Indianapolis, Indiana - Legal Communications

                               Oh so long for this night I’ve prayed
        Finally her day had come. They said this performance would win Raquel a Tony Award for sure. This play has been proclaimed her best work yet. Everything seemed to be falling perfectly into place. Raquel had purposely arrived two hours earlier than the director required in order to soak in the atmosphere of the famed Schubert Theatre. She wanted to wander backstage, meddle through the balcony, and sit in the front row. The weeks preceding the play, Raquel had been so busy with rehearsal and choreography and costumes that she had not taken the time to simply enjoy the theatre. She had not taken the time to relax. As she sat alone in her huge dressing room she reflected on how far she had come. When Raquel first started singing, she starred in black gospel plays such as, “God Don’t Like Ugly” and “Ruth Led the Heathen”. She also shared a small changing room with twenty other chorus girls. Now she had her very own carpeted dressing room. She looked around the spacious room; slowly taking in everything her hard work had earned her. Raquel had an elegant vanity table, a customized fruit basket, a sparkling mirror that ran the length of the whole wall, a private bathroom with shower, and hundreds of flowers.
                               That a star would guide you my way
        Success. The producer had sent a limousine to her house to pick her up. She no longer had to take the A- Train to the theatre. There were plans for her to star in her own movie with Denzel Washington, record labels were begging to sign her, and of course there would be more plays. If she won the award for best actress in a musical, it would be the first time an all black cast, director, writer, producer, and crew had swept the Tony’s. Raquel looked at herself in the mirror and smiled. Not bad for a girl who used to write songs with Luther Vandross, talk about houses and homes now.
                             To share with me this special day
        Everyone she knew would be here, her friends, her family, and most importantly her fans. Her hero Julie Andrews had even sent a small card expressing her enjoyment of Raquel’s performance. Debbie Allen, Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, and Ada Mitchell among others had promised to be at her party tonight at Zora’s. She could not help but continue to think about how far she had come. No one called her Raisin now. She wasn’t that round little girl with out-of-control hair from Chicago.
                            We’ll find strength in each tear we cry
        Raquel was now a beautiful woman, with a career and a family. She remembered her first husband, David. This time she thought about him without animosity. He used to look like Brad Pitt, but his eyes, not his physique was what first attracted her to him. Truth be told, Raquel would have never come to Broadway if he didn’t have aspirations of making it as a playwright. They had once made a great team, his plays, her acting. Their relationship also allowed Raquel to grow towards the mature woman she was now. Raquel had bagged groceries during the day and sang back up with Roberta Flack at night to support them. She had learned the value of self and working hard to achieve your goals. For that, she would forever be grateful. Those O’Neillesque afternoons had been lovely, but they were young then, only 20 and 22. With age came the realization that they just weren’t meant to be.
                             From now on it will be you and I
        Later Raquel met and married not only a talented musician and an amazing teacher, but also the most wonderful, caring, thoughtful, intelligent, and considerate man in the whole wide world. Together they had a son. His solid, down-to-earth attitude grounded Raquel and motivated her. He had encouraged her to go back to school to get her degree, in Chemistry, of all things. He inspired her to be anything and everything she ever desired to be. She gave him laughter, the ability to look at all things with a smile, and a finally a fifth for his jazz quintet. They complimented and completed each other.

                             And far more than a lucky chance, but what is that was always meant
        Soon the make-up artist, Jill, would be there accompanied by Amy, the woman who sews the hairpieces in with the special microphones, and undoubtedly her stylist, Bob, would come to stuff, lift, tape and grease her into that sculpted black dress. He would add the perfect touches to not only her ensemble, but also to her well being. In a little while the audience would crowd into their seats and the director would give his final pep talk before the cast would dive whole-heartedly into their work. Each took his job seriously and with pride. But now was Raquel’s moment. Now was the time for her,

                              Ribbon in the sky.

© 2002 Howard University
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse, Prose & Art, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2002. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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