Red Writing Hood: A Caroling we go

The doorbell rings.

The children sing.

The adults sing, too, but only halfheartedly

with busy hands full of scarves and lonely single mittens…

and busy heads full of lists and anxious “what if”s rather than words

to a time-worn carol.

As always, there are somehow too many sopranos.

How are there always too many sopranos?

The director shakes his inner head and keeps his hand moving in two

beatlift beatlift

his other hand making the soft stop sign as a plea

less on top please, please.

Miracle, then, as alto harmonies mingle again.

oh how ha-a-ppy a-are their tones

Lies!  The director knows that tones are NOT happy

when they are strangled, flat, through the cold, pubescent larynx.

beatlift beatlift

The voices strain to break free of the prison of his hands

rushing, pushing, gaining momentum

and oh for the love of pete pitch


Stronger hand.

BEATlift BEATlift

BEAT that beat into submission.

And then, blessedly, the final line:

beat Ding
cross Dong
cross Ding
beat Donggggg

hold breath and pause, invite the bass line in…


Then, full stop like Victor Borge, and


it’s done.

He looks at the faces in front of him

so red with cold

so alive with focus,


and eyes

expectantly awaiting judgement.

He cannot help the smile

that spreads inside him and stealthily transforms his own focused face.

And the snow begins to fall.


This creative (read: free-form, not-quite-poetry, I-don’t-even-know-how-to-categorize-this) fiction piece was brought to you by Red Writing Hood at Write on Edge. The prompt requested a 300-words-or-fewer piece beginning with the line “the doorbell rang,” and ending with the line “the snow began to fall.” I took license with the verb tenses in my version so I could keep the voice consistent, I’m hoping no-one minds.

P.S.: I’m a soprano, but have always noticed that there seem to be too many of us, or we just sing too loud in our diva-ness, or that the higher frequencies just carry better… my great respect goes out to those unsung (hahahah) alto heroes of the world.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood


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22 Comments on “Red Writing Hood: A Caroling we go”

  1. betsy Says:

    I really enjoyed this! Especially– “The voices strain to break free of the prison of his hands”. I’ve sung in many choirs and know that feeling! And, as an alto, I say YES! There are always too many sopranos!!


  2. Got It, Ma! Says:

    Lovely and funny. Thank you. There ARE always too many sopranos, aren’t there? Really, this was great fun with just the right hint of bittersweet. And the way you presented it, line by line, really carried it along like a tune. Well done.


    • Venus Says:

      Thanks for the kind comment! I really wish that I wrote it with more intention and planning, I’d feel better about taking credit for the lyrical-ness.


  3. Kristina Says:

    This was really fun to read. It was lyrical and light and made me smile. 🙂


  4. Jodi Stone Says:

    I really enjoyed this, at first I wasn’t sure….was it parents listening to children sing…then no, it was definitely a musical play and finally dawning awareness, ahhh… a chorus.

    You put it together beautifully. Very creative.


  5. Jennifer Says:

    Very musical and I love how you did a poem!


    • Venus Says:

      Thanks Jennifer! In some ways I just feel lazy for not having written a more traditional narrative.. it’s almost like cheating to free-form. But, since people seem to like it, I won’t beat myself up too much. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!


  6. Nicole Rivera Says:

    I went caroling once, and felt completely stressed out about the whole ordeal. I thought it was me! Your post is cracking me up.

    Also, I like your description after the piece: “not-quite-poetry.” This was something I was thinking throughout my reading. It is poetry-like, though. It has a rhythm that mimics the singing of the carolers. It definitely (for me) leans more toward poetry than prose.


    • Venus Says:

      Hi Nicole, thanks so much for visiting! Isn’t it funny? Caroling seems to stress a lot of people out, even those watching… (do I give money? would that be insulting somehow? what about hot cocoa — but I don’t have enough mugs! etc.)


  7. Valerie Says:

    “..and eyes

    expectantly awaiting judgement.

    He cannot help the smile

    that spreads inside him and stealthily transforms his own focused face.

    And the snow begins to fall.”

    This is perfect! I can see those kids, looking for a sign that they have done well, and the director being won over by their eagerness! The snow at the ending is the final magical touch on this wonderful piece! Well done!


    • Venus Says:

      Thanks Valerie! This was inspired by my choral conductor when I was in high school. He often didn’t smile (if we did poorly)… but every once in a while he just couldn’t help himself. And unfortunately, where I lived we didn’t have snow. So being able to write to the prompt and add the snow at the end allowed me to put a magical spin on my less magical memories. 😉


  8. Lori Thatcher Says:

    I really enjoyed this. Great images.
    Since my voice decided to switch to alto from soprano recently, I’m no longer guilty.


  9. The Onion @ A Lot of Layers Says:

    I likey your not-sure-how-tocharacterize- piece. I also have always wondered why no one wants to be an alto?


    • Venus Says:

      Oh man… I would have LOVED to be an alto. In my high-school choir we actually had truly awesome altos. I called them “altos who eat red meat” because their voices were so rich and strong. I don’t know. I have this sneaking suspicion that altos actually have more fun. Like they’re the redheads of singing… and sopranos are the blondes. Hahahaha.


  10. angela Says:

    I don’t know very much about the different types of voices, aside from the fact that no one wants to hear mine except my kids who are forced to in the car 😉

    You can call it what you like, but I enjoyed reading this; I really liked the way it flowed, and I think the rhythm fit well with the subject matter.


  11. Cameron Says:

    As an unsung alto hero, I agree about the top heavy sopranos… wait. That came out wrong… Anyway, I love the inner monologue of the choir director, having been one myself, I understand the cranky affection.


    • Venus Says:

      HA! Well, I definitely knew some “top-heavy” sopranos for sure. 😉 Yes, directing is such a challenge, isn’t it? I haven’t done so myself, I’ve only ever been a singer… but this is what I’ve always imagined was going on in my high-school director’s mind.


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