Title: "Trading Voices"

Author: Justine B.

Disclaimer: Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, Fred, Little Ricky, and Betty belong to Desilu Productions.

Summary: What will happen when Lucy decides to enter singing auditions?

Rating: G

*Prologue: Jealousy*

Lucy tapped her foot to the song on the radio as she busily fixed lunch for Ricky. Her red curls were tied up in a bun. She wore a blue dress with black buttons up the front and a matching belt. A navy, see-through scarf hung loosely around her neck. She sighed when the woman's voice ceased. Lately, she had been wishing that she could sing that well.

"Tomorrow afternoon, beginning at one o' clock PM, there will be singing auditions to see who will star in Ricky Ricardo's newest production 'My Girl: A Broadway Presentation'," an announcer spoke. "The auditions will be held at the downtown theatre."

Lucy stopped and turned towards the radio, a stealthy expression forming on her face. She listened patiently as the announcer continued.

"Any women between the ages of 16 and 25 are aloud to enter."

She frowned and quickly turned the knob on the wooden radio to a different station. She would never get to perform with Ricky in a live production--especially if she were of the age she was.

"Honey, I'm home," the Cuban accent echoed through the apartment. Lucy reached over and switched off the radio. "Something smells mighty delicious."

"I'm making lunch for you. You know, there's enough here that I could invite Ethel and Fred over…" her voice was cut off by the sound of the door opening and clatter of people entering.

"Lucy, I though Fred and I should drop over for a visit," Ethel's cheery voice said. She glanced over at her husband. His eyes were off in space. "Now, Fred, is that how you treat our friends? Say hello," Ethel scolded. She slapped his arm. He looked up and smiled.

"Something smells good. Would you mind if we joined you for lunch…" Fred was interrupted.

"Now, Fred, that is very impolite," Ethel said angrily.

"Actually, I was just about to come over and invite you to…" Lucy began.

"Oh now, Lucy, we're more than willing to join you," Ethel cut her friend off. She walked over to the counter where Lucy had been preparing the food. She picked up a few dishes and walked over to the small table where she carefully set them. "Now, honey, can I do anything else for you?"

"Well, actually, I've got it pretty well under control, Ethel. But…"

"I just knew you could use a few helping hands, Lucy," she pursued. Again, she shot a stern glance at Fred who anxiously attempted to sniff the plate of sandwiches. "Now, Fred, be polite and help out here!" Fred looked up and sighed. He willingly carried the plate onto the table and sat down.

"Thank you, honey," Ricky said with gratitude. He smiled at his wife.

The four ate lunch in between the women's conversations that both Fred and Ricky rolled their eyes to.

Afterwards, Ethel helped out Lucy with washing dishes and cleaning the table while Fred and Ricky went over to Fred and Ethel's apartment and reclined in the living room.

"Just a reminder that the singing auditions will be held tomorrow at one PM in the downtown theatre," the announcer said. Lucy again held a downcast and disappointed look on her face.

"Oh, honey, just think," Ethel cried. "Ricky is in another production. How important you must feel!" She glanced over to the unhappy Lucy. "Now, what's the matter with you? Don't you like it that your own husband is famous?"

"Of course I do, Ethel. It's just that I'm never in his productions with him," she explained. "I'm always just the wife of the actor and singer."

"Is that really how you feel?" Ethel asked in surprise. Lucy shrugged. "Are you jealous?"

"Of course not, Ethel. Don't be silly. Why would I be jealous of Ricky?" Lucy rolled her eyes.

"Maybe you're not jealous of Ricky."

"Than who would I be jealous of?" Lucy asked. She stopped washing and put her hands on her hips.

"Think about it. 'My Girl'." Ethel said to her friend, also stopping her cleaning.

"No, Ethel, it's not that. I just…just…" her words trailed off. "I wanted to try out, but…"

"Well, we better get back to work!" Ethel interrupted, for fear of what her friend was about to say.

"Don't worry, I'm not eligible anyway. The only women who can enter have to be ages 16-25."

"Well, neither of us are even close to that," Ethel said disgustedly. "I don't see why young women get all of the attention these days."

For a few minutes, the two friends worked in silence, only the classical music playing in the background.

"Hey, Ethel!" Lucy cried at once. "I've got an idea!"

"Oh, no, you don't," Ethel told her. "You could never…"

"No, just listen to me," Lucy pursued. "We could make me look younger. You could fix me up a bit with makeup and I could dress like I'm in my early twenties."

"But you can't…can't…" Ethel was afraid to spit the words out. "Honey, I hate to break it to you, but you're not that swell of a sing…"

"Oh, Ethel, stop your gibberish. You're just jealous of me, that's all," Lucy said, shaking her head.

"Okay, then," Ethel said. She pushed back her brown hair and walking over to the piano. "Sing a C arpeggio legato," she ordered.

"A…what?" Lucy muttered. Ethel shot an abrupt glance at her friend.

"Then how about a C minor arpeggio," Ethel suggested, brushing her hands together.

"The 'C' apego…or whatever sounded better," Lucy said quickly. Ethel sat down on the piano bench and played a C cord. Lucy opened her mouth and desperately tried to match the tone of the middle C. To her ears she did, but to the world's, she was off by five whole steps. She went up and down the scale, still way off tune.

"Now my turn," Ethel said with a smile. Her voice was clear and wasn't a bit off pitch. "Now, honey, tell me what you thought."

"Though of what?" Lucy asked shrugging.

"My singing and your singing," Ethel said sternly.

"Well…" Lucy began, pushing back a red curl that had fallen in her face. Her blue eyes ignored Ethel's direct stare. "Your apego…or whatever was very pleasant and clear…and mine was just…" she stopped, realizing that she didn't know what to say.

"And?" Ethel pressed on. Lucy shrugged again. "See, Lucy, you're just a little off pitch." Lucy looked down at the ground.

"Okay, maybe I can't hit all of the right notes, but aren't there a few in there that were perfect?" Ethel glanced down at the keys and cast a blank expression at Lucy.

"Well, maybe a few…"

"See then, if I can hit a few…well, if I got lessons, maybe I could hit all of them," Lucy stammered.

"And how are you going to get lessons before tomorrow? Lucy, singing lessons costs a lot of money and they take a period of time to improve your vocals," Ethel said gently. She saw the desperate look in her best friend's blue eyes. Suddenly, Lucy opened her mouth and let out crying wails. "Lucy, Lucy, if you're really that determined…" she stood up and put an arm around the crying Lucy.

"Oh, Ethel, it's useless. I'll never be able to perform with Ricky!" Lucy sobbed.

"Hey, honey, wait a second. I've got an idea!" Ethel said abruptly.

"You do?" Lucy asked, sniffing and wiping her nose.

"Yep, I sure do. You are going to try out for that production."

"I am?"

"Uh huh," Ethel muttered. "Not only are we going to make you look younger, but we're going to make you have the voice of an angel!"

"How?" Lucy asked in surprise.

"You'll see, honey. You'll see," Ethel told her. She stood up and walked over to the pile of dishes that needed drying. "Now get back to work before the guys come back," Ethel ordered. She smiled when she thought about her idea. "Oh, Lucy, the people are going to love you!"