Scent Notes: A garden full of blooming paperwhites, linen sheets drying in the summer breeze with hints of white amber, coriander, and paper.

Barbara woke up singing. That’s not an exaggeration; she literally woke up mid-song. This was not an unusual occurrence, however. Barbara, or Babs as she preferred to be called, carried the spirit of song within her. The spirit wove itself throughout her family. Not everyone had it, but those who inherited it had the most beautiful singing voices, and perfect pitch to boot. From the moment she woke up until her head hit the pillow at night (and often for a minute or two longer), Babs was singing, or humming, or whistling. Her lung capacity was absolutely absurd; she could’ve been a deep sea diver with no issue. Every breath was a note in a song for Babs. She couldn’t imagine living any other way.

Over the years, some people in her family had been in the music business, but that wasn’t entirely what Babs wanted to do with her life. Of course she loved music, and wouldn’t change a thing about having the spirit inside of her, but she was more than just a beautiful voice. She was an accountant with her own firm, but in her non-busy season (aka after tax time), she gave voice lessons in her home to neighborhood kids. It had grown quite popular over the years, and there was always a waitlist to get into her lessons. There were times when it seemed like she made more money doing voice lessons than helping companies do their taxes! Now, in the “later years” of her life, she had pulled back from her firm and spent more time giving voice lessons, enjoying the feeling of helping kids feel more confident with their voices. Recently, though, she’d taken one young girl under her wing. Babs recognized the spirit within this girl. Her voice was so pure and yet so full of heart, it stirred something within Babs that she hadn’t recognized in anyone outside of her family, most of whom were gone now. Her husband passed away a few years ago, and they never had children. Still, she wanted to pass on this legacy, this pure vocal ability, to somebody, and she knew this girl was the one. She was waiting for Melissa to show up for their latest voice lesson, tidying up her singing room and drinking coffee, thinking about how she’d recognized Melissa as the one. 

Melissa had shown up at Babs’s house unexpectedly. She’d had a rare short day of voice lessons, and was baking cookies and singing her heart out when she heard a small knock at the door. Babs had opened the door with flour on her face and shirt, surprised to see a girl of about 11 or so standing there. She vaguely recognized the girl, but didn’t know her name. “I’m sorry, Miss Barbara. I live down the street and was walking home and heard you singing and smelled cookies and, I don’t know why, but I felt that I needed to knock on your door and tell you that you have the most beautiful singing voice in the whole world.” Tears had sprung forth out of nowhere, surprising Babs. “Do you like to sing, honey?” she’d asked the girl, who nodded enthusiastically in response. “I love it, but I don’t do it in front of other people. I get really scared when people hear me.” Babs understood completely. The shyness was emanating off her tiny frame. This girl was literally folding in upon herself as she stood on the doorstep. “Come on in, honey. Let’s have some cookies and talk. And call me Babs.” She let the girl in, and over cookies she found out the girl was named Melissa, who lived with her older sisters and divorced mother, all of whom had little to no time for her. She desperately wanted to be seen and liked, but was also paralyzed by attention and kept herself small and out of the way, not wanting to bother anyone. “Well, I would love to hear you sing,” Babs said. Melissa nodded and turned away from Babs. “I have to pretend I’m alone, if that’s okay?” she asked quietly. “That’s fine. I have some laundry on the line. I’ll go out and leave the back door open, and you just sing whatever you feel like. It’s like I won’t even be there.” Babs turned and went out the back door, leaving it ajar so she could still hear inside.

At first, it was so quiet that Babs thought the girl had gotten frightened and left. But as she slowly, carefully took her laundry down, folded it, and placed it in the basket, the little voice got stronger. And stronger. By the time she went to take down her sheets, Babs was crying. She hadn’t heard a voice so beautiful in ages. Of course, she needed lessons (great voices need training just as much, if not more than, average voices), but the pure talent was there. When the song was over, the quiet echoed profoundly. Babs quietly wiped her eyes on the last sheet, folded it, and came into the house. “I’m going to give you free lessons, Melissa. You have a wonderful voice. It will be my honor to be your teacher.” Melissa squealed, and ran and hugged Babs, who sent her home with a big bag of cookies.

That had been over a year ago, and now Melissa had begun to blossom. Her voice was stronger, her control better, and her pitch had indeed proved perfect. Her confidence was showing through, and Babs couldn’t have been prouder. There was a talent show the night before at Melissa’s middle school, but Babs had had pressing tax-related concerns for her longest client, and she missed the show. She felt awful, but she knew Melissa would win, and she had told Melissa’s mother to come, though it was doubtful her mother would show up. But how could Melissa not win with that voice? Her only fear was that the fright had overtaken Melissa and that she had frozen onstage and not sung a note. The anxiety was rising in Babs, so she sang louder as she paced the house. She was singing so loudly she missed the knock on the door. It was only when a graceful harmony accompanied the song she was singing that Babs stopped, turned, and saw Melissa in the doorway with a trophy. “I won!” she squealed, as Babs ran forward and hugged her. “I knew you would, I just knew it! You have the spirit. You are amazing, and you work so hard on your talent. I’m so proud of you, and I’m so sorry I missed the performance that I’m going to make you celebration cookies right now!” 

Melissa’s grin was gigantic. “It’s okay, Babs. My mom and sisters showed up. My mom cried and said I have the most beautiful voice in the world. I’m so happy!” Babs felt the tears again, but she let them flow freely. “I am so glad to hear that. And now, while I make cookies, you shall sing me your award-winning performance. After that, we’re going to work on a new song!” 

Scent Notes: A garden full of blooming paperwhites, linen sheets drying in the summer breeze with hints of white amber, coriander, and paper.