My jeans ride low, my black tank top hitching just a little high. A bead of sweat drips down the exposed skin, causing me to shiver. I grasp my microphone, hands clammy. My boyfriend, Andrew, gives me a reassuring smile. I can see his white knuckles clutching his guitar far too tight for him to be anything but just as nervous as I.Stacie is on bass and Clayton on drums. We can do this... I hope.
"AND NOW." I the announcer screamsinhismicrophone, over the roaring crowd, "GIVE IT UP FOR CITY CRAZE!"
People everywherewail louder, if it were even possible.Andrew starts in on his crazy opening riff before the curtains even come up. Enter with a bang, guys.
Suddenly, there's no curtain. I can't even see the people. Instead, there's awhite hot, blinding lightobscuring everything. I can feel beads of sweat roll downthe nape of my neck.My hair clings to the dampness and it's all I can do to keep on track with who's playing what. And there's my drum cue.
I'm looking in at
a world where I
don't exist, I don't
Wondering where I
I feel like an
Outsider Looking In
Don't fit in
Don't fit in (Don't fit in)
I'm not sure I really ever did
I'm an Outsider
We're on fire! All I can hear everywhere is a thousand voices shouting, many singing along with me.City Crazehad never gotten this kind of a reception before. And then the whole world silences for a moment even though I'm still singing, my hair in my face. Andrew'sbaby bluestwinkle; Stacie nods.
SO SCREW IT! I scream, along with every voice in the stadium.
I find myself grinning like a maniac as we finish up, sweat drenching my brow. Those stage lights are about to light me afire but I don't care. The feeling filling me right now, this sheer exaltation, this immense high is enough to make me forget my nerves. For a moment, for two more brief songs, electricity fills me as I sing. I feel as if I'm floating high above the heads of the cheering fans, far above everybody.
Today had started out normal; it had kind of sucked actually. Mom had yelled and Dad had hit me again. Clayton got us both out before any real damage could be done. They'd kicked us out and we fled, not a glance back. Andrew and Stacie had both left their houses as well; Andrew tired of his boozing stepdad and Stacie of her god-awful sisters. It's just us now, the four best friends rocking out on stage like we've always wanted. This is better than the talent show, better even that shutting down the whole school to rock out on the roof to the outrage of all the teachers. This... is heaven.
We’re done, our turn finished. We must clear the stage for the next band, Police Line. I hear they’re pretty good but I’m not too worried about winning this thing. I’m just glad we got to play together, no matter what happens. It doesn’t matter if our parents come after us again like last time; we’ll weather it out together.
“Hey, babe,” Andrew slips his fingers in mine. “You were really hot up there in the spotlight.”
I laugh, toting my mic stand off-stage, “If by hot you mean crispy-crittered, then yes, I was indeed quite hot.”
Andrew ruffles my hair, giving me a quick kiss, “Not what I meant.”
I smile to myself having been left with the sweet-salty aroma of his aftershave and leather jacket. I don’t know what I’d do – what any of us would do – without Andrew.
“AND, THE WINNER OF THE ANNUAL BROOKLYN BAND-SLAM IS… POLICE LINE!”
The stands erupt in cheers as Police Lineclaims the prize. It’s ok City Craze didn’t get first place; we got second. That’s just as good because we get to go to all-city anyways. There, the top two bands from that competition go All-State Band-off where 100 different bands compete for a record deal.
“Congrats, guys,” I high-five my bandmates. “Looks like we’re on our way.”
This is the start of our new life. We may not make it the first time or even the second. But as we load the bus to head to all-city, all of us know one thing – we’ll fight our way to the top.