Canto

canto
CANTO
And there was stillness throughout…
The voice of billions silent, gone in weeks the act of a small band of terrorizing white supremacists experimenting with viral strains to created an agent and render intended targets, politicians, mute. It worked too well and spread quickly throughout and far more hurt than expected and so many to blame…
The applause died, in that short moment of silence before Sophia began to sing, there was a great anticipation, a longing. She bowed her head for a moment, then raised it to look out into the audience, tears welled to fill her eyes as the voice they had all come to hear, filled the room and cried. Cry, they could hear, the voice of God. Cry, others knew, it was and cried in anticipation of the first sound.
Sophia sung with an angel’s voice. The voice had become part of her, one with her, as if she had already been born with the voice of an angel.
The creation of a new set of vocal cords as replacements for a damaged set was hard enough, but to design and manufacture a set of organic vocal cords whose sound was greater than natural or imagined. That is why no one succeeded in centuries. It simply worked or it didn’t. These spectacular voices, it seemed, were beyond the ability of man to create them, and yet man did create them. It is said the designer Mariana literally knew the secret and used it to produce three of the greatest singers in all of history. Two possessed by women, one by a man. Those are gone now, and the few that exist are prized possessions of private and corporate archives as valued artifacts of art and science. They are from a time long before when science had achieved artistic status. Where scientific creations were as much artistic creations. No one in centuries had ever dared to consider implanting one until Sophia.
Sophia sat quietly alone in the waiting room upstairs from the stage contemplating how close she had come to be with the angel’s voice. The voice had taken on a life of it’s own. No longer did Sophia just sing with the voice, but they sang as one.
They had come to know each other so well, the angels voice had become a singular being… Margarite unwraps the scarf around Sophia’s neck, gently caressing her neck, then kissing her on the neck then to her lips. Sophia pulls away.
“Is it the voice you love Margarite? Or me?”
“You of course.”
“Sometimes I don’t know which, sometimes I wonder what attracts you to me. What keeps you with me?”
“I stay for you, Sophia.”
“I know that the voice has great power that no one seems able to resist, including myself. I find myself in love with the angel as much as I do you and I don’t know whom I love most. I feel lost, stuck in the middle of a terrible triangle of emotion.”
“Sing for me Sophia, sing for me, softly so the guards outside can’t hear.”
Is it the voice Margarite loves or Sophia? Margarite often caresses her neck, kissing it, often asking for a softly sung poem, just a few lines, so as not to arouse the guards waiting outside to escort them to the party and ultimately take the voice away.
She clothed herself after the show, wrapping a scarf around her neck, drinking a nutrient drink.
Later when the party is over, Sophia will go away and hide behind a partition to remove the voice placing it in a secure safe, and then taken by security away from her until the next performance. But for now she must have it for the party.
We live in a world where many instruments are still made and the voice of an angel is one of them. The process by which a voice can be man made like any other instrument is unique and amazing. As detailed in a revealing science article in The New York Times the voice is literally grown from cells, and genes manipulated to become a self sufficient organism able to survive both inside and outside of the body. The performer swallows a small organically grown device, destroying the existing vocal cords and bonding with the body. The new vocal cords sing what many call the voice of angels. There are sacrifices to possessing the voice. You become a mute, because the vocal chords must be removed and cleansed in a solution. The chords are for singing only, speaking with them is not advised, the user or the listener. With the voice in place, the performer can never talk out loud or fully. She must whisper for fear that the full sound that is so heavenly would deafen the listener. It is only through song that one can listen. Only then is the voice under control.
Fifteen years ago Sophia had heard recordings of the voice implanted in the body of the Great Marlena and decided then she wanted that voice. She was a great and popular singer already but she wanted to be like no other since. No other singer had ever done this since Marlena. And Marlena had given up her voice as she neared death. No other singer dared for fear of losing their original voice and becoming a mute and slave to a voice that wasn’t your own; the voice of the angel’s. Her then manager had lectured her on this matter and was ultimately fired when her sign language interpreter took on those duties.
She formed a consortium of investors who were willing to pull money together to acquire the voice and implant it in Sophia.
The party awaits her in the grand ballroom.
Escorted by her interpreter, Sophia attends the party where she is congratulated. She greets everyone as a mute, her thoughts voiced by her interpreter who is trained to listen to the soft whisper of her voice.
She had become one with her voice. They longed for each other when they were apart. Of late she sensed the voice had become tired. Why? She could never tell. The voice had no way of communicating with her except through feelings. She knew that it was tired, that it was unhappy. The voice itself was taking on sentient awareness. This she divulged to no one but Margarite.
Sophia is called into the back room where she waits. The board chairman owned three angel voices. The other two were in use by singers. While those two had a grand history of performance, Sophia’s had only one great singer other than herself, attached to it. It had been created for Marlena over three hundred years. She spent twenty-two years performing with it right up until the day she died. Several decades passed until it had once again implanted. In a series of seven male and female singers over a century and a half, the voice never again performed as it had for Marlena. Not until Sophia. The board chairman, Mariano, was a huge fan and connoisseur of the voices and with his money hoped to collect all of them.
In the back room the board chairman explains they want to take the voice back. They want to implant the voice in another woman. They have already tested the implant on this other woman and it has performed well.
Now she knew why it was tired. They had conspired to take the voice away.
In conversation with Margarite, while the guards make their way to take the voice from her, it is suggested she ask for one more performance.
The chairman insists she perform now, for the party, in the ballroom, her final performance and then the cords will be removed.
As the chairman walks to the stage, Margarite and Sophia quietly discuss what to do next. Escape? Sophia finally decides to kill herself. She takes a knife from the buffet table, which she hides in her long sleeve.
As the chairman announces her entrance she slowly makes her way through the crowd.
Alone in the dark of a loft that overlooks the stage from above the rafters of the theater a man sits poised with a rifle aimed at Sophia, his right eye pressed against the sight, his right index finger lightly placed across the trigger.
She sings her saddest aria, making the guests cry. It is from an opera that tells the story of betrayal and suicide and vengeance against the betrayers. Sophia then attempts to stab herself in the throat, but not before the sniper shoots her down, saving the voice which still seems to resonate, to sing a voice of tears. Cries to save the voice can be heard from the guests.
Margarite rushes the stage, calling for help, and no one seems to care. Attendants of the board rush the stage to remove the voice from Sophia, without a care for Sophia who lay barely breathing, blood flowing crimson from the bullet hole in her head. As the board attendants step away with the voice safe in its container, Mariano the board chairman standing over the scene, tells one of the attendants to help her. Reluctantly and surprised, he does so.
Sophia speaks to Margarite and revealing she knows that it was Margarite, then dies.
We see the voice safely stored in a box, retired.
Margarite sits at Sophia’s grave, sobbing and haunted by what she has done. Margarite had given up her natural voice for the chance to have Sona implanted in her. After many tests and private performances doctors report the organ will never again perform as great as it once did. “But why?”
The doctor can’t explain.
The voice was retired and Margarite stayed forever mute.
The voice had been implanted in man, a male singer to try and coax the voice to sing could not…
Having known the voice had been implanted in the other performer.
And she knew. That breathless moment just after the applause, the paralysis of fear suddenly gone, she looked at every face that looked at her, and it was all of them. The moment was hers. Sophia bowed her head, the voice trembling within her. It wanted to sing.
The fear and anxiety that had rushed up to paralyze her died with the applause She looked back at them as fear and anxiety rushed to paralyze her, for a moment, as the applause died, the fear died, she looked down and she knew. The moment was hers. They were hers and they would listen as she sang for them. Not because they had paid for her to sing, but because they had become disciples and they would be witness to the divine in her voice.
Sophia sat in the antique high-back chair as Margarite reached from behind to massage and caress her.
                “That breathless moment just after the applause, the fear gone, looking at their faces. I knew the moment was mine.”
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