Three days after I met the hyper-active Hanna Gow I found myself in the dingy, smelly basement of one David Cheng watching “The Mighty Huge” rock out. Or are they grooving? Jamming… I’m not going to lie, they have absolutely no cohesion as a group. Seriously discordant and weird but they did warn me that they hadn’t had a song-writer all semester. I had just hoped that they still remembered some of their old songs.
On the up-side, each of them individually is really good and before I know it I’m isolating out David’s rhythms and Hanna’s walking baselines and I’m realizing that there’s some raw, unmolded talent here for me to work with. My songs? Yeah, they need work, but I’m not singing about being a triplet or my headband or anything so I think it’s a decent enough start. With these three behind me (or rather being behind Jackson) I think we could be the best band in school! If they’ll have me…
There’s no keyboard for me to sit at but I know they want me to audition. I’ve never sat behind a drumkit and this is my first time seeing a standing bass in real life. I can play like, a song and a half on guitar so I guess that’s my instrument of choice? Oh man… My hands are shaking like leaves. I don’t think I can hold this thing. I can’t play this thing. Which chord?
“Uhm… Sorry… Just a second… I… One second?”
Deep breath, c’mon Lee. The room is spinning. No it’s not. Deep breath. OK. OK.I’m doing it…. I’m doing it! The butterflies in my stomach feel like seagulls but I’m doing it. Chord. Strum. Pick. Chord. Yikes… Wrong key. OK. I can do this, I started, hard part’s over, except the words. This song has words…
I don’t remember how it happened, it’s all a blur of freak out but I got through the song and managed to pry my eyelids apart in time to see their exchanged glances. Unfortunately I have no idea what those looks meant but they didn’t explain themselves either. Just told me they’d talk to me at school. I guess I just wait?
I’m tired of waiting for everyone and everything though, I really am, so I’m going to stop. The Mighty Huge, Troy, Berjes, graduation… At least I can try and work out one of those things and I’m going to. I’m determined to. If there was ever anything I wanted this is it and I’m gonna get it. I hope. For the first time in I think months I’m alone with Berjes, face to face, and I’m gonna make him talk to me.
“You know you have to talk to me, right?” The look on his face is so… I hate situations like this, when the mood gets all serious and well, serious. If he had tried to talk his way out of it, I probably would have let him but he doesn’t.
“I know. I know. I’m sorry Lee, I was literally the worst date in the world and I’ve been even worse since. That night. I tanked so hard and then I was so stupid and I kissed you anyways and I’ve been such a fool and so embarrassed? How could I face you? I made a total ass of myself. You must think… I don’t wanna know. I just like you. A whole lot. I always have and I messed it up. I messed everything up. Did I mess everything up?”
“Oh no… No no Berjes! Not at all!”
I spend the next 20 minutes convincing him that we can still be good… Better than good really but I’m no good at situations like these. I don’t like ’em, remember?
I do stupid shit at stupid times to try and diffuse the tension. Am I proud of my actions? Do I think it’s a mature and reasonable way to handle conflict, or even the resolution of conflict? Absolutely not. As we fall into the bazillionth awkward silence my hands and tongue and facial muscles gain a mind of their own and I’m making moose sounds at my forlorn best friend as he paces around the room. I only get to enjoy the shock on his face for a second though before he breaks into a goof grin and that’s the Berjes I like to see! He hasn’t looked this alive or happy around me in forever. All the weirdness that was in the room a minute ago is gone. Literally gone. My best friend is back and I couldn’t be any happier. So? Am I proud of my actions? Was this a mature way to handle thing? Absolutely not, but credit where credit is due folks. I got this one pretty right.
Super-duper right! Not only is our friendship back on track, but I think we may have found a relationship track too. Hopefully one we can stay on. Being with Berjes just feels so natural and comfortable. He’s such a good fit for me (in my arms) and I know that I can just be me. No fronts, no pretenses. Lee au natural. My feet have hardly touched the ground since our last kiss. I can feel his touch lingering oh man I have fallen hard for my buddy Berjes.
Before I get too happy and settled and cozy with Berjes though, there’s someone I have to talk to. Myron. Kind, warm, sweet Myron. He’s everything a girl could want except he’s not the guy this girl wants. Obviously. I’m nervous – nowhere near as nervous as my audition for The Mighty Huge, who haven’t said a peep yet, by the way – but all in all, he takes it really well. Smiles and is understanding and makes all my stammering really sounds stupid. We say we’ll still be friends, but we were never friends per se. At least we’ll still be civil. I’m proud of myself for not stringing him along though. Not like Berjes’ stupid sister Jess.
I know, I know, Adam’s been totally in love with her since they were as young and Berjes and I were when we met (so weird. Seriously) but that doesn’t mean I have to like her. What woman invites a man out to the park to say “hey, I know we haven’t talked in a whole bunch of months but I’ve broken up with my boyfriend, I’m pregnant, I’m pretty sure it’s yours and oh I love you so much and always have.” How disingenuous is that?! Adam’s over the moon. The rest of us are skeptical.
Mom and dad are home. Exciting, kinda, but less so when they said they didn’t bring anything home for us and that leaving us unsupervised was their gift. I guess they’re kinda right, we’ve all been running pretty free since Adam and Kaitlin had rather loose reign on us, but it’s nice to have ’em home again. So far. It’s like they were never gone, the kitchen is chaos and we’re all playing our roll. Except Troy. He’s the moodiest teenager I’ve ever ever met.
“Well I guess that’s nearly it for tonight, ‘Rad.”
“Hmph. Yeah. Looks like it.”
Who would’ve guessed grumpy Conrad was not the grumpiest in any given room? This is how it plays out nearly every night. Let me set the stage. Two siblings sit in a bedroom, eyes glued to a glowing computer screen. Tears of laughter roll over their cheeks as a compilation of funniest soccer game wipeouts streams in the browser window. Another sibling walks in, he’s been missing all day, locked away from everyone else. Every door he uses is slammed behind him, he’s practically stomping and everyone knows it’s only a matter of time before he shuts the lights out and gets into bed without a word to his brother and sister. But tonight is different… Tonight…
“Seriously?! Again tonight! It’s like Lee doesn’t have a room of her own. “OooooOOOoooohh Troy doesn’t mind if I’m always in his space” -“
“That’s a terrible impression of me…”
“Shut up Lee! Would you?! You always have something to say well keep it to yourself huh? I don’t care, why don’t you take this waste of time you two do somewhere else? Every single night… Now get out. It’s late and I’m going to bed.”
Even mom’s caught onto the fact that her friendly little darling has turned into a total jerk and no amount of intervening on her part is helping either. I give up though. I really don’t know what I did to make him hate me so much but I can’t keep stressing out about it. I can’t keep begging him to tell me what I did wrong and I won’t be glared at any longer. If he wants to have his “Lee’s a bitch” party, he can enjoy it but I’m not attending any more.
See, I’ve got rehearsals to attend. The Mighty Huge are now performing original Lee Clarke tunes, with some pronoun tweaks for Jackson’s sake. Now that everyone has sheet music and I’m not scared out of my wits to be playing the guitar we sound more than half good. Like actually nearly great. I’m not making that up either. All three of ’em have more experience than I do and they’ve made my songs way better both with lyrics and the rest of the music and oh wow I’m having so much fun! We’re a strange group of people – I mean, I’m an heiress for starters. Hanna’s an enigma. Her and Oliver get along really well, and that’s “crazy cousin Oliver” in case you don’t remember, but despite some of the nutty things she says and the bizarre suggestions, she somehow makes you really listen and nearly agree with her. She’s just so lovable and personable… Even if she does say she feels more like a rabbit and that’s why she can’t eat meat. ‘Cause rabbits are herbivores. She’s some strange sort of innocent and Jackson well, he really takes advantage of that a bit. He and Hanna have been seeing each other for, hm, I don’t know how long really, but it seems like Jackson’s not really into it. Poor Hanna tries so hard to keep him interested and to get attention from him, but he only has eyes for himself. I’m not trying to imply that Jackson’s a bad guy, or even half as vain as my dad, but… How does he put it now… “I’ve got that little somthin’ somthin’ little Lee, and I gotta take care of me.” It’s true, he does have that ‘X’ factor, it’s why he’s the front man. But he’s a guy who knows how to party, likes to party and often parties too hard, always at the expense of his girlfriend. Often monetary as well as emotional. I’ve never met someone who so often didn’t have whatever it is that he needs. Always borrowing. Always. DC (that’s David) is much quieter than our band-mates and totally unimpressed with their behavior. I think he has a bit of a crush on Hanna, he seems so dazzled when he looks at her. Kinda like Berjes and me. Actually, he’s quite a bit like me. He took all the advanced classes I’m taking (assignments just got way easier) and he works really hard on everything. He says that that’s just how his mother raised him: Nose to the grindstone. But he says it with a twinkle in his eye, Mrs. Cheng is amazing for letting us use her basement.Jess’ pregnancy has progressed, and she’s moved into the house as well so she’s always just lounging around. Hypothetically it’s ’cause her and Adam are so close now and he’s worried about her and the baby, I think that it’s ’cause she was living with someone else first and it was either move in with us or move back in with her family. I really wish she’d chosen her family instead of mine. I’m not even convinced that Adam is this baby’s father but you’d better believe how pissed off I’ll be it doesn’t look a thing like him.Since Berjes’ sister now lives in my house, neither one of our homes feel comfortable when we’re together. At home, he’s around his sister and at his place his mom just wants to know how Jess is doing and why she doesn’t call. Consequently, we spend a lot of time out on the town or at the park. No matter where we are we always have a ball, even if it’s doing something stupid or childish. But being out in public means there’s not a lot of time for cuddling or canoodling.
Not that that’s ever stopped Conrad and Laurie. They’re still going strong and Conrad’s even talked about marrying her! Too fast, in my opinion, but their whole relationship has been. Still, I really like Laurie and whenever the four of us double date (not often, most of their dates happen behind closed doors) it’s abundantly clear how much the two of them care for each other and how strong their bond is.
The Mighty Huge have a gig! Our first gig! At the hottest club in town as well. OK, the only club that’ll take amateurs. Look, it’s a big place, fancy and all that, but Sunset Valley isn’t exactly a late night kinda place so a Tuesday night is usually pretty dead. Why not hire the eager high school kids to play a set and hopefully drum up some business? I get it, we didn’t earn this on merit alone, but I’m so excited! The seagulls are back.
Oh no I’m going to be sick. There’s so many people here, everyone’s here. This was supposed to be playing to an empty house. Our set list. What if we suck? What if we screw up. We’re going to screw up. They’re all going to be watching us. I can’t get on that stage. I have to get on that stage. My hands are shaking. I can’t play. I’m going to be sick. All over the place. I need to sit down. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe! I –
A hand grips mine, pressing something into my sweaty palm.
“You look nervous little Lee, but that’s OK. Don’t you worry. I got somethin’ to take the edge off. Here, take it.”