A Shot (and a Song) for Bravery

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

A Shot (and a Song) for Bravery

Hannah stepped on the stage, her legs quivering.  Her three-inch heels weren’t helping matters, but they were the only shoes she felt had enough attitude to go with her new leather pants.  She rubbed her biceps wishing that the tank top she was wearing would provide her with more warmth.  Or confidence; she felt a little dose of courage would be pretty helpful right about now.

Taking a swig of her third beer for the night, Hannah felt a little more relaxed.  She knew this wasn’t the greatest plan in the world, but she had always wanted to sing karaoke.  She had gone with her friends to several bars and they all went up on stage.  Alice would sing her favorite song (which changed weekly); her voice powerfully blasting over the crowds and wowing all those in attendance.  Grace had a more captivating style of singing.  She would start off slow.  Sometimes they crowds in the bar wouldn’t even know she was singing.  Eventually, the same thing would always happen.  Grace’s voice would slowly and subtly take over the room.  She would project her soul through her voice.  Ballads were her style and every tine, without fail, all the party-goers had fallen silent under her spell.  Hannah didn’t sing like either of her gal pals.

Hannah was the quiet one of their partying trio.  She always had something to say, she always was up for hitting the clubs on the weekends, and she always had a good time with her two friends.  But she was not the performer.  A born introvert, Hannah had spent most of her high school years wondering what it would like to be in drama club while preferring the safety of her swimming and volleyball teams.  No one expected her to talk or show off in sports; she could just blend into the team and help out the other athletes.  Performing required putting herself out there, letting people see what she was capable of.  Hannah usually just leaned on the bar, nursed her beer (real beer; no diet for her), and clapped along while Alice and Grace had their fun.  Still, Hannah had always wanted to try it.  Everybody else was having so much fun that she kept wishing she had the guts to try it.

Tonight was the night.  She was turning thirty in a few months and she wanted to cross a few things off her list before she left her twenties behind her.  Hannah had clocked out of work a bit early so that she could have time to go to the gym before her big stage debut.  She hoped that the water and exercise would calm her down, maybe get some of the nervousness out of her system.  By the time she had walked home, Hannah could feel the urge to talk herself out of it.  She didn’t completely succeed and she ate a light dinner just in case her nerves took over her stomach.  I’m going to do this, she told herself.

She kept her mouth shut the whole night.  She hugged Grace and Alice who both teased and whistled at the tight pants that were a far cry from her normal skirt or jeans attire.  Grace, normally the tallest by an inch or two, stood on tip-toe and looked Hannah in the eye.

“What are you up to?”

“I’m feelin’ a little frisky tonight, okay?”

“Well, it’s about time”, Alice replied.  “C’mon, Brett’s here.”

Brett and the three women often ended up at the same bar.  At first it had been a surprise occasion, but more and more often he had somehow known where to find them.  Hannah suspected that Alice had some hand in that.  She seemed a little too attached to her phone until Brett showed up and then she turned it off for the night.  Each night that they saw him, Grace, in her own quiet way, would comment to Brett on how nice Hannah looked, or how interesting Hannah had been at their last outing.  Brett always smiled, took up his cue, and stood as close to Hannah as he could without standing too close.  Hannah was flattered by the attention, but brushed it off whenever possible.  She liked Brett; from his strong chin to his easy-going nature.  He was a pretty solid dancer too.  Hannah liked to think there was something between them, yet she wasn’t one to force it.  She was looking pretty good tonight, she thought.  Her shoulder-length blonde hair that she normally brushed straight had been crimped to give her a touch of edge.  She had thought about leaving her glasses at home and sporting contacts, but she felt her small frames provided a nice contrast to the rest of her wild-child attire.  Also, she took comfort in having some accessory that was familiar to her.

As the night wore on, Hannah tried to drown her trepidation.  Events were occurring just as they typically did.  Alice teased and flirted, then hopped up on stage.  She had gotten a rather poor work review earlier that day and so she responded by belting out “Mr. Know It All.”  The club, as usual, ate it up.  Women cheered and men made waving gestures in the air.  By the end, half the crowd had sung along with the chorus.  Alice hopped off the stage, gave a few strangers high-fives, and went back to her friends.  Hannah was always intimated by Alice’s “take it or leave it” style and she finished off her first beer a little quicker than normal.

It was Grace’s turn.  She took the side route to the stage, weaving through the crowd and hugging the wall just enough to make her stroll easier.  As soon as a few drunken fraternity guys fell off the stage after sloshing their way through, “We’re Bringing Sexy Back”, Grace walked quietly up the three steps.  She leaned over to the karaoke emcee, conversed for a bit and stepped up confidently to the microphone.  As usual, no one really noticed anyone was signing for a bit.  The first few notes of “City” came cooing quietly over the noisy crowd.  Eventually, the entire group found themselves hanging on every note.  Grace had a capacity for strong singing, but unlike Alice, she saved it.  Hers was not a competition of who could rev the audience up most.  She simply wanted to tell a story and have people respond to it in some way.  That is exactly what happened.  For the four or five minutes she took to sing her sorrow, the club was right there with her.  She finished, offer a simple, “thanks” for their attention, and walked contentedly back to the bar.

Hannah, wanting to be jealous of Grace’s talent but knowing that she never could be, finished up the last bit of her second beer.  Whatever drops that had been trying to hold on to the bottom of the glass container soon found their way sliding down her throat.  Hannah’s thirst was taken care of, but her nerves will still talking enough to block out what little braveness she had.  Hannah pushed the empty bottle aside and patted Grace on the back.  Her friend smiled and started hugging Alice.  Hannah, not wanting to get off her bar stool, turned to the right and saw Brett sitting there with his grin beaming.

“You doin’ okay there, Hannah?  He laughed with a twinge of curiosity in his voice.

“Oh, I’ll be alright”, she responded.  “I think I need more social lubricant, though.”

“Trying to drink your courage for the night?”

“Yeah, I’m preparing myself for something stupid.”

“’Stupid’ as in dangerous, or ‘stupid’ as in embarrassing?”

“Oh, don’t worry.  It’s definitely embarrassing.  I’m not nearly drunk enough to do anything dangerous.”

“Fair enough”, Brett commented.  He grin slowly removed itself from his expression and Hannah felt like he was trying to read her.  She could almost see the gears in his head turning.


“I’ll make you a deal”, Brett offered.  “I’ll buy you a third beer, I’ll root for you in whatever scheme you’re up to, and I’ll be here if you fall flat on your face.”

“But…” she prompted, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“But I’ll only do it if this is the last drink you have tonight.  You’re tossing ‘em back rather capriciously tonight.  I just want you to be careful.”

“Capricious”, she said, impressed.  “Good word usage for a guy buying beer.”

“I have a thesaurus and I’m not afraid to use it”, he said as his grin returned.  “Also, you said that word without slurring, so maybe you deserve one last drink.  Do we have a deal?  Three will suffice?”

“I appreciate you caring, Brett.  You’re a nice guy”, Hannah said while leaning towards him.  She put her fingers on his bicep and immediately became overly aware of what she was doing.  As Brett reached to put his hand on top of hers, she pulled away and sat up straight.  “One last drink.  Then I’ll go do what I’ve got to do and you can decide if you still want to chat with me.”

Brett laughed and gestured to the bartender.  Hannah took a few swings from her beer, took a deep breath, and marched to the front of the club.

So there she was; standing before a crowd of people.  Alice had seen her friend and guessed what she was up to.  She ran ahead, looked Hannah in the eyes, and gave her an “are you doing what I think you’re doing?” look.   Hannah smiled, shrugged, and closed the last few feet between her and her goal.  Alice squealed, jumped up onto the stage, and caught the eye of the emcee.

“Tonight”, Alice shouted.  “For the very first time on this or any other stage, we give you Hannah Fontane!”  The crowd, excited to be in on whatever their favorite singer liked, cheered back enthusiastically.  “And”, Alice continued.  “For her first performance she’ll be singing…”, Alice winked at Hannah and then turned to the emcee, “I Want You to Want Me!”

Subtle, Hannah thought as she caught Brett’s eye.  He could barely contain his grin and shook his head in disbelief.  He raised his beer bottle in salute to her and she held her bottle up in return.  The rest of the crowd mistook the gesture as being for them, and the whole bar cheered as they hoisted their glasses and bottles into the air.  They were, to put it lightly, a crowd that was feeling no pain.

The familiar tune blared from the speakers, starting with a drum beat and then followed by guitars.  Hannah took one final drink from her bottle and handed it to Alice.  Her friend grabbed it like it was an award and hurried off stage to watch.  Hannah grabbed the microphone, pulled the mic stand close, and let loose.

Afterwards, and in the retellings of the event over the years, many different descriptive words would be used to describe Hannah’s foray into musical performing.  Some of the phrases that told of the night were positive, just not the ones that pertained to Hannah’s singing.  Everyone agreed that Hannah gave it her all.  Physically, she was rocking the roof off.  She was enjoying herself and liked the way the leather pants felt.  She felt desirable, fun, and maybe even a little sexy.  She clung to the mic and never let it go.  She sang with all her gusto.  She even gyrated during the chorus.  (She figured if there were not words to sing to, she’d have to let her hips do the talking)  However, in their own polite way, no one would claim that they wanted to hear this woman sing ever again.  If anyone was to ask the people assembled that no who would be a terrific back-up dancer, Hannah’s name would have quickly come up.  The singing was a much different matter.

The biggest problem was that Hannah simply didn’t know how to sing.  She had always suspected that to be the truth.  One look on the folks around her only confirmed that fact.  However she was determined to finish what she had started.  She had hoped to sing well.  She had wanted to please the audience.  Even if she didn’t, she was still going to accomplish this long put-off goal that she had.  She didn’t stop when she fumbled a few words in the second verse.  She was not deterred when she forgot the words to three lines of the song.  The crowd, being the kind folks that they were, helped her out by singing along.  Taking up the cue, she jumped back into singing with them.  By the end of the song, the whole adventure had turned into one massive sing-a-long.  One would have had to concentrate to hear Hannah’s voice over the multitude and everyone was having too much fun to work that hard.  The song played its last notes, the crowd clapped voraciously, and Hannah took a long slow bow.  Then she took another one.  Alice ran up to her, hugged her, and she forced Hannah to take one final bow with her.  The club had enjoyed the performance and they continued “woo”-ing and applauding.  Grace met them in the middle of the room and the three friends hugged and laughed over Hannah’s adventure.  They walked back to their spot, the crowd parting for them after they patted Hannah on the back.  Hannah, exhausted, sat next to Brett.  For once, her smile was bigger than his was.

“That was quite the performance”, Brett commented.

“It must have been that third beer.”

“I doubt that”, he said with a wink.  “I think you had it in you this whole time.”

“Well now it’s all taken care of.”

“What?  Don’t tell me you’re not going to sing and dance anymore?”

“Well, I do love to dance”, she admitted.

“And I’m quite a fan of watching you dance”, Brett offered.

“Ha!  I’ll bet you are.  But I think we all know singing isn’t for me.”

“Not even a duet?  I mean, we could go up there and…”


“You sure?”  Brett motioned to the dozens of folks around them.  “The crowd seemed to like you just fine.”

“The ‘crowd’ was being kind.  I just wanted to try it.  And now I have.”

“So no more singing?  Not even for me?”

“Sorry Brett”, she said with a shrug.  “There isn’t enough alcohol in this place to get me singing again.”

“We could always test that theory”, he teased.

“Ha.  Cute, but no.  Three beers are plenty for me.”

“A guy could try.”

“A guy could”, she admitted.  “However we both know you’re not that kind of guy.”

“True.”  Brett paused.  “Am I allowed to be the guy that asks you to dance?”

Hannah smiled.  “I’d be mad if you didn’t.”



About Cosand
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

One Response to A Shot (and a Song) for Bravery

  1. Pingback: Intermission- Postaday vs. NaNoWriMo « Anecdotal Tales

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