The girders, beams and wires that had held up little Moochie Hamilton's dreams of fame and glory on American Idol had all collapsed in a pile around her.
Under purple hair, trembling in purple shoes, the 16-year-old from Trenton stood shocked in the too-clear light of day outside the Wachovia Center yesterday.
Judges for the Fox program had told her - and thousands of others with diva aspirations - that she was not the singer they were looking for.
"This is indescribable," Moochie said in a near-whisper. "My voice is amazing. I can sing my butt off. I had confidence. I don't know what this is.
"I never had anything bad happen in my life."
One could have told young Moochie that, given what generally occurs to people in the arc of time between the crib and casket, not getting chosen to sing in front of Simon Cowell might be considered a minor setback.
But anyone delivering that particular message yesterday would have been stomped outside the arena, as thwarted singer after thwarted singer slunk out of the place, muttering.
Some were tearful, some philosophical. Almost all were ticked off.
Earlier in the day there had been such hope, as really-wannabes glided into the Wachovia propelled by the rocket fuel of dizzying expectation. More than 20,000 paraded before the producers, the most in any of the seven designated cities this summer.
Then came 10-to-15-second auditions. And starting at 11:30 a.m., people who'd been told all their lives that they were brightly wrapped presents from the Almighty were hearing something awful and Moochie-like about themselves.
"I am extremely shocked," said Sierra Hall, 18, of Cleveland. "Maybe I auditioned too early."
Yeah, that's it. Rationalize. It's what so many people bobbing in the outflowing river of the rejected had to do.
If the producers who served as judges don't recognize talent, forget them.
"You know, they weren't even friendly," said Devin Riley, 19, of Port Elizabeth, N.J. "They wouldn't shake my hand. And I'm bubbly."
"I was too much for her [the producer] to handle," decided Sasha Wrenher, 18, of West Philadelphia. "She said my voice was too strong. Who ever heard of that?"
As the exodus of the un-excellent continued, their well-wishers, enablers and loved ones kept vigil outside.
James Jordan, father of 20-year-old Sakeya Standard of Camden, sat anxiously awaiting word. He'd been out there since 1 a.m. yesterday.
Jordan, 39, was himself rejected by Idol judges five years ago, though he sang with enough soul to "melt women's hearts."
No matter. Sakeya would resurrect family honor, Jordan was certain.
"She sings R&B like me, and she sings like a songbird," Jordan said. "I hear me in her. I taught her right. And I cry when she hits those notes I never could."
Sakeya, who actually is her father's supervisor at a Cherry Hill nursing home, had not received a verdict yet on her talents, as auditions stretched late into the night.
The fortunate few (less than one in 40) who were invited to return this weekend to sing in front of the show's judges took a separate exit. They were ushered by Fox publicists through a gauntlet of waiting TV crews.
Meanwhile, the endless stream of those who'd gotten the bad word continued out the main doors.
"This is crazy!" a sweating man screamed as he escorted a sobbing woman away. "No way this girl should be out here."
Soon enough a small circle gathered around, and the woman was exhorted to sing.
Her voice soared and reverberated, and caused even security guards to stop and stare.
"They didn't take you?" an astonished man asked.
The woman smiled. Having mined a nugget of dignity from the day, she went home - not a star, but not a loser, either.
More on the "Idol" auditions, including video, at http://go.philly.com/hopefuls
Contact staff writer Alfred Lubrano at 215-854-4969 or firstname.lastname@example.org.