the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

  Authors & Artists


Faces & Voices 4
Faces & Voices 5

Don't Give Up
Angela Harris
Atlanta, Georgia - International Business

        She studied the contents of the small closet. Really, there was not much from which to choose. She owned only one dress which would be appropriate for her appointment; the short-sleeved, navy blue Harlena item with white trim around the collar and hemline. She clearly remembered the day she bought it; a whole paycheck blown. Sixty-five dollars.
        That was two years ago and she had not dared repeat the extravagance; in fact, it was the last dress she had bought in over two years. The garment was now a little frayed, but last night she had done a nice touch-up job with needle and thread. She slipped it over her head and stood before the cracked mirror, critically surveying herself. A strand of fake pearls, a long-ago birthday gift from a former admirer encircled her long neck.
        “Well, Nita” she said to her reflection. This is about the best you can do, so, girl-child, go out there and knock ‘em dead.”
        She arrived at the studio at 11:25am. It had been quite a while since she had auditioned for a musical, but she had nothing to lose. The rent was due, the bill collectors were calling, and her seven-month-old daughter, Renai, was crying for food. Everyone stared at her as she walked through the backstage entrance. There were about seventy-five of the most beautiful women she had ever seen standing around warming up and practicing before the audition began. Minutes after her arrival the door opened and slammed shut. Silence filled the room. A tall, lanky man dressed in tight black leather pants, a black buttoned-up shirt, and a black beret sternly introduced himself and began demonstrating the expected routine along with the judging criteria. Thirty-five minutes had passed and suddenly Nita heard her name, ‘Anita Wells’. Her heart raced. She was bursting with fear and felt an untimely urge to use the ladies facilities. The previous performances were extraordinary. Why am I here, she solemnly asked herself, these girls obviously have way more experience than I’ll ever have.
        Her name had been called and it was too late to back out of it now. She took a deep breath and entered stage right. She opened her mouth to produce the first note, a high pitched, ‘eeeeee’. She panicked and began to tremble. She tried again; her voice cracked. She stood on the stage terrified.
        “You can do this Nita, get it together”, she encouraged herself. She finished her solo, walked off the stage and did not stop until she reached her run-down apartment. She opened the door to find Renai on the floor playing with her blocks. She swooped up her daughter and embraced her tightly.
        “I love you so much”, she whispered to Renai, who responded with innocent giggles.
        “How’s the try-out?” Her neighbor inquired as she returned from the kitchen with a juice bottle for Renai.
        “I don’t want to talk about it.”
        “It couldn’t have been that bad. You have a beautiful voice. You’re perfect for the part.”
Nita remained silent. She continued to caress her daughter as if no one else were present. The telephone rang.
        “Tell ‘em I’m not here.” Nita instructed her neighbor.
        “Hello. Who’s calling? Sure, she’s right here. One moment please.”
Nita looked at her neighbor with disgust.
        “It’s the casting director of the show.”
Nita put Renai on her hip and took the phone with a look of uncertainty.
        “Yes, this is she. I’m sorry I wasn’t thinking clearly. I had no intentions of being rude…. Are you sure? Why, why thank you so much. Yes, yes I’ll be there, eight o’clock sharp. Thank you so much. Good-bye!” Nita turned to her neighbor, “He wants me to co-star in the play. He said anyone who could mess up that bad and still pull themself together definitely has talent.”
        “Well, I guess that’s a good thing,” her neighbor replied as she congratulated her friend with a hug. “Now you can breathe again, everything gon’ be alright.”
        “Everything gon’ be alright,” Nita repeated with a sigh if relief. She kissed Renai. “Everything’s gon’ be alright.”

© 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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