The clapping of the stage could be heard behind the drawn curtains. He stood there, shivering as soon it would be his time to perform.
He was holding the microphone tight in his hands, his grip clasping hard around it. He watched as the other acts went on ahead of him, the crowds booming with the sound of clapping. Applauding.
He was ready. Taking a step out. His foot barely hit the stage before he jolted in back to him and away from the stage.
He was not ready.
Why did he ever agree to this? He was no performer... no singer. Everyone could sing, he wasn't special.
The director waved at him to come on next and he shook his head quickly taking a step back.
The director frowned and waved even more vigorously for him to take the stage.
Finally, someone else went on before him, the person not willing to wait for him to heat his cold feet.
He watched as each performance came and went, each better than the last.
He felt so ashamed, so afraid.
Finally, he had had enough. He picked up the microphone again and stormed onto the stage.
He closed his eyes and let out a scream, a high note, as he sang his song for the whole world to hear.
His notes and words travelled throughout the whole stadium, the building silent as he bellowed out the words from his heart.
When the last lyric left his lips he stood up straight and bowed, finally opening his eyes and seeing... not a soul was there.
He began to breathe heavily in and out, seeing the building had been empty for a week since the talent show contest.
He closed his eyes again, his body trembling in sorrow but within a few minutes the sound could be heard. Someone... was clapping!
He looked around and saw the janitor standing up in one of the rows of seats, the old man looking impressed.
"You did good." He said to him, and the singer bowed again as if on instant, "You should try out for the next talent show next year."
The young man began to chuckle in pain, began to laugh and the janitor watched bewildered as he fell to his knees in tears.
"What's wrong?" The janitor asked.
He continued laugh-crying and slowly wiped his nose with his sleeve, soaking the tears into it.
"I'm not good enough... not brave enough."
"You know," The janitor said to him, "Sometimes if you just want to sing for yourself and no one else... there's nothing wrong with that."
The singer crooked his head confused.
"The whole world doesn't have to know you for you to know yourself."
The young man chuckled and nodded his trembling head, standing back on his feet.
"But you know what I also think?" The janitor continued softly and the young man gazed at him, "You sounded happy..."
The singer smiled weakly accepting that verdict, "Because... I was happy."
"And there you have it..."
He agreed. Closed his eyes, and sang.
Hearing the audience applaud him as he sang for himself. The curtains being pulled as he bowed.
This made him happy... the second talent show ending, but the start of his song beginning.