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Boy Voice

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"I'm never going to be a top star am I?"

The question slices through the air, shattering our compainionable silence. I focus on draining the rice I'm watching, all too aware there is no safe way to answer your question. And yet I can feel your eyes on me, demanding, challenging me to deny what we both know is far too likely to be true. It has been a long day. I just want to cook us dinner and then curl up on the couch and share a stupid fluffy movie. I don't want to be drawn into the argument you're seeking, I don't want to have to deal with you dissolving into tears.

"Ren-chan?" you say, and I sigh with a sudden flash of bitterness at you for putting me in these positions. But I glance over and see you, leaning on the back of my couch, eyes already bright with unshed tears. You always were too ambitious for your own good. I sigh and set the rice to soak before joining you on the couch. You turn around to look up at me, even here playing the perfect musume. I shake my head slightly as I sit down, trying to figure out where to start. You want me to lie, want me to say you just have to work hard, work harder, that these things come in time. But I have never lied to you, and I won't start now.

"You are a wonderful singer" I say carefully, "And a good actor and dancer. I know you work harder than half the troupe…"

"All of us can sing," you say with a derisive snort. "Girls graduated years after me are getting lines and I'm stuck playing little boys"

Ah, that. It always comes back to casting. I want to take you, shake you, make you understand, make you see that talent you dismiss so offhandedly is both the reason it's not likely you'll make top, but also the reason you shouldn't care. "You've very good at them" I say instead, cringing at how lame I know it sounds.

"That's not the point" you snap, slamming your hand against the cusions for emphisis. "I'm a musumeyaku! I want those roles, not playing someone's son! I want to be a star."

"You don't have the voice for it," I say. The words are out before I can stop them.

"You said I was a wonderful singer!" Your voice is laced with bitterness and betrayal, but I can hear the perverse triumph as well. You think you've caught me in a lie, think you'll be able to dismiss everything I have said, will say.

"You are" I say, once again feeling my way through the treacherous conversational ground. "You just don't have…" It's nearly impossible to describe. You are such a strong clear soprano, your range is just as good as anyone elses. And you know it, and you can't or won't see past that. I sigh again and take another stab at the problem. "They cast you as the boys because that's the voice you have. You don't have an ingénue soparano, you have a boy's soprano."

"You know what?" you snap, standing up. "Forget about it. I should have know you wouldn't understand." You snatch up your jacket and bag and fling the door open so you can slam it behind you.

I don't know how to explain it to you. To explain the wonder of what you have. You don't see how people do a double take when you start to sing, how many people thought an actual boy soprano had somehow gotten in. You can't see anything except your dreams stardom, even as your voice sails up and above the chorus, a bright clear sound, pure and innocent.

And far, far more interesting than a mere star.