The judges stared. Everyone did. It was okay. The big kid was used to it. Just showing up for the audition he had received numerous propositions, five modeling contracts, and a half dozen marriage proposals. He refused them all with a shy smile, a shrug, or a gentle rebuff. His “No thanks” was whispered in steel. Letting you know that he thanked you, now be kind and stop. Most respected that tone- the few who didn’t, well, they found that beauty always has a beast within.
Watching him walk to the microphone with that same self controlled power of a male lion in its prime, or a house cat claiming a perch by the window- left most of the women in the audience with slightly parted lips and a gentle probe of their own tongue reaching out. He was used to that too. A certain percentage of the males in the audience felt that tug of pure desire. A desire so raw that lust was the least adjective that fit. He smoldered. You ignited. And you both got burned.
“How old are you?”
Four judges let their jaw drops like a choreographed dance move.
Six foot six, two hundred sixty pound, dark haired, blue eyed, tapered teenagers aren’t exactly…common. Especially if you give them a face that was sculpted in sensuality, dressed in beauty, then dipped in stunning. He was, in a word: Pretty.
“Oh, my god. You are beautiful.”
The other female judge merely nodded in agreement, working her pointy tongue around a pencil that traced her lips, lips that went well with the flared nostrils, widened eyes, and slight flush on her neck. If desire was a noise, hers would have been a twang of a too taut string.
“People often say that. Most of them don’t know me.”
The sadness in his voice leaked through even the Showbiz hardened ears of the brazenly studying him other female judge. She was as surprised as he was by her words:
“Does anyone know you?”
This time, when he smiled it came from somewhere inaccessible to most folks, some where so deep inside that it came to his eyes and mouth like a gift from a generous god. In an instant, all of his sharp edged, cut diamond hard beauty faded- leaving a boy in love, smiling as he thought of his girl.
“Is she here?”
“Is she watching?”
“I’m sorry, I must have misunderstood. I thought you said she was here?”
“She is. She is blind though. So she won’t be watching, but she will see me, she always does.”
“Can you point her out?”
The now Angelic looking young man lifted an arms that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Renaissance Master’s Sculpture- and with fingers as long, smooth, and strong as one of those stone masterpieces pointed to a gentle sitting figure in the fourth row.
All the judges turned to see what kind of girl, or woman, could capture a creature as gorgeous as the boy on stage. Whatever they were expecting…it wasn’t her.
She wasn’t fat. She wasn’t short. She wasn’t a beauty, at least not in the Classical or Modern sense. She was something special though. Like the eye of a hurricane, she seemed to be the center of calm. Her dark hair was clean and full, but not shiny and rehearsed. Her complexion was more on the peaches side of peaches and cream. Her face was closer to handsome than to cute. She had no eyes. None. Just two closed lids over empty sockets.
If eyes are the window of the soul- then hers were closed. Yet her face, in some magic implanted in her by the grace of her being, filled in nicely for a window to her soul. For her face was turned towards the young boy on stage, and even from the darkest corner of the Concert Hall, you could see the direct line of emotion from her face to his eyes.
She wasn’t watching him, but she was looking at him. Some hearts melted with empathy, some with joy, some, well envy and jealousy warred within their hearts wishing that someone, anyone, would look at them like that. She smiled back at him, loosening his smile even more- making a grin that resembled a hug.
The Male Judge, the one known for his cynicism, wit, and sarcasm, asked an honest question:
“Why her? I mean no disrespect, she is cute, but you could have literally almost any woman you wanted.“
A small laugh burst from everyone when the other Male judge chirped in:
“Or any man. I have phone numbers.”
The big beautiful overwhelmingly pretty boy broke off his look at his true love to answer:
“Because she has always seen me. Most folks only see the wrapper. I was born pretty. I did nothing to earn it. I just won the genetic lottery. I guess that is why God tried to even things out with my childhood.”
Now everyone, and I mean everyone was listening. This wasn’t some idle comment made to unfold some sappy tale to improve his chances of getting four “Yes” votes. It was a statement that held so much in check that it was made with solid truth. A truth so ugly that it balanced out his beauty? Everyone cared. Everyone wanted to know. The blind girl still could cry…and did. She knew what he meant about his childhood.
The next question was formed without thought, or artifice, and it came from the judge who used both to his advantage- but not this time.
“And what was your childhood like? Unless you don’t want to talk about it.”
This was the moment. This is why the big beautiful gorgeous kid came here. To see if he could finally let go. He knew he could sing. He knew he could play the piano. He knew the blind girl was his forever. What he didn’t know, is if he could let the world see him as he was- and still forgive his Mother and Father.
The big boy stepped away from the mic. Looking over at the blind girl, who was looking at him with all the support she could beam without eyes. He felt it. He gave her a quick glance that let her know, from a hundred feet away, that he felt her support. It made him brave.
With a deliberate motion, calm, dreamlike, fluid, he removed his shirt. Only the trembling in his hands as he unlatched each button and the rigid angle he held his body gave away the effort he was expending. His shirt fell in a soft shuffle to the floor. Nobody was looking at it. They were all looking at him.
Eyes filled with tears. The Hall itself filled with exclamations, curses, and a few shrieks. People who didn’t believe in God a moment earlier, now believed in sin. For what was done to that poor kids body left no doubt that someone had sinned. That Evil existed. That life…was not fair.
One of the female judges had done a tour in Iraq. She had seen mutilation and burned bodies before. But those wounds were the result of emotionless bombs, shells, and bullets. His wounds were delivered with intent, one at a time, over who knows how long of a period of time. Her tears were the hot tears of anger. Whoever did this to him…should suffer. She wasn’t alone with those thoughts.
No one spoke. The silence said it all.
With one more glance at his blind support, and a nod from her back- he pulled his shirt back on. Free of the guilt and shame that had fallen to the floor with it.
Moving with that same grace and power he had glided to the mic with the first time, he prowled to the Piano, and sat down.
“What are you going to play for us?”
That came from the formally cynical judge, who, like the shirt, had let his mental superiority fall down to the floor; to be picked up again without the baggage or burden of the past. He would remain kinder for the rest of his life.
“A song I wrote.“
“What’s it called?”
Everyone smiled when they heard the title. They knew the story now. It was the right title, for the right song, sung by the right person. And when he said it out loud- everyone understood. The blind girl wiped her eyes. It was going to be alright.