A story about choir practice

Caroline had sung since she was small. Her parents had invested in singing lessons when she was a child and she had enjoyed them thoroughly. Her teacher had said she had 'much potential', in her awkward Ukrainian English. She had stopped taking lessons when she became a teenager, and her parents had understood that her studies were far more important than a singing career that might never take off. She had never stopped singing; she had just become rustier with time.

She had been shocked by the result of her audition for the local choir. She had never been religious but had always enjoyed the grandeur of singing in churches, so when the audition came up she ignored her nerves and auditioned. The members of the panel (the priest, the Head of the Choir, and a woman she didn't catch the name of) had lavished praise upon her. They said that they would continue with the auditions, but that she should show up to practice the following week regardless. They had handed her the sheet music and the words to the song she was to learn. She had thanked them repeatedly, and left glowing.

She had spent the whole of the next week learning the song. She would be sat at her desk, stapling forms, humming; or in the staff break-room, mouthing the words to her cup of coffee; or at home, singing her heart out to her oven as she tried not to burn dinner. No matter how much she thought she needed to practice, she would only ever sing out loud at home. Aperture Science was full of large, concrete rooms which would do nothing but carry echoes, and she had a strong suspicion that her voice travelled down the air conditioning vent in her office.

The last Friday she had, before the Saturday rehearsals, she could do nothing to stop herself. She had been intensely humming the tune under her breath, attempting to get the pitch right, and before she knew it she had been serenading her desk lamp. She steadily got louder and louder, singing with all her might by the final crescendo. Silence slowly filtered back into the room as her last note faded. She was sure she could hear a small amount of applause coming from the vent above her head.

Cave Johnson opened her door without knocking, as he always did. Caroline spun in her chair and fixed him with a look of horror.

"Caroline... Was that you singing?"

Caroline felt the colour flooding to her cheeks as she raised her hands to cover her face.

"Oh, my God... Sir, I –"

"I didn't know you could sing." He cut her off sharply, but with an air of genuine curiosity. "Just make it more... I don't know... Cheery, next time."

He smiled at her and closed the door. Caroline did not move for a long time, the sense of mortification unfading.