16. Open MicAllie looked at the microphone in front of her. She could feel her throat tighten and her face flush.

“Open Mic Night” was something she’d always wanted to do, but always talked herself out of at the last minute. Friends would tell her she had a nice voice, and could play the guitar well. They were friends, though; what else would they say? “You suck”?

To live with herself, she knew that she’d have to get up in front of others — who didn’t particularly care about her feelings — and sing. It was an itch that couldn’t otherwise be scratched.

The afternoon shift at the bar didn’t care if she got up and took a look from behind the microphone. It was small. There literally couldn’t be too many people tonight. She hoped that just knowing the surroundings would help.

And then, just like every other time she considered something like this, she remembered her college boyfriend — the one who no one could figure out why she was with. Allie remembered him mocking a woman after an open mic night. The woman truly did massacre a Shawn Colvin song. He was gleeful in exaggerating her singsong style, laughing his mean laugh.

As Allie looked out at the room from behind the microphone, it occurred to her that he would’ve never put himself out there. He was content to snipe from the sidelines. And Allie remembered the woman in the spotlight all those years ago, and her smile as she finished.