Chapter 3: Dreams & Reality, Part III

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

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Comments: 4




Over the past week, he'd drowned himself in music.

He had booked more gigs than usual for them, reaching out to other surrounding cities. Ones they didn't normally play at. But his friends understood, both the drive for the band's sake and his relationship with his mom. During the times his friends weren't playing with him—paid performances or not—Lance had occupied himself with acoustic shows. Playing in coffee shops, playing outside. Not for money, of course. The back of his mind told him his mother would have a field day if she ever found out about him playing for money on the street.

Still, some guy tried to tip him, and when Lance stepped back, shaking his head as he kept singing, the man returned his smile. The stranger stepped forward, threading a twenty dollar bill in the strings of the acoustic's headboard. Lance could only respond with a kind nod.

Lance closed his eyes, listening to the heavy speed of guitars and an explosion of a triple bass pedal over the hum of his car's engine. This thing was so old; it was amazing it was still running. Someone honked behind him, bringing his eyes ahead. Still stuck at the same traffic light. He glanced to the rear-view mirror, not seeing anything of interest. Just some mom yelling at her kids. He turned away, bowing his head and running a hand through his hair. His eyes focused off to the left, watching people begin to filter onto the street's crosswalk. Another thirty seconds of waiting, at least.

The song playing from his speakers ended, the light harmonics of an acoustic taking its place. This was a song he'd covered before... He suddenly remembered the day of the week, and the anger instantly gave way to disappointment. He had an acoustic gig at one and forgot his guitar at home.

Which meant he had to go back.

His forehead met the steering wheel, feeling the beginnings of a headache come on. Second one today.

He blocked out the memories of last night. A horn honked behind him. Lance looked up, seeing the space between him and the cars ahead. He started driving again, elbow on the edge of the passenger seat as the car behind him honked again, slamming on the horn this time. Lance tightened his fist, resisting the urge to flip off the driver.

428 days.

When he finally reached the school's parking lot, he shut the door a bit harder than he should've. He instantly turned, leaning against the door and pressing his palms to his forehead. Just a few hours, and he could leave for lunch and the acoustic gig. Skip his useless last period. He could do this.

"Um, Lance?"

He looked to his left, seeing an unfortunately familiar face. She smiled back at him, golden hair swooping over one eye. With a terribly fake giggle, she pushed the strands behind her ear.

"Sorry for popping up like this. I know you're probably busy writing music... I just saw you drive up and wanted to give you this." She extended the letter in her hand, holding it out for him.

Not another one. He wondered exactly how long she had waited for him to pull up.

"Yeah, thanks." He took the letter between two fingers, stomach twisting at the fact that she had sealed the back with an actual wax stamp. Getting official with it, this time.

"You're so welcome!" She clasped her hands together, swinging a little. "It's always really great to talk with you like this."

He gave the most minimal sound of agreement; he wasn't even listening. He searched above her head, looking around the parking lot.

"You see Cal anywhere?"

She soured, turning behind her shoulder to look. "Yeah, he's doing some stupid spectacle in front of the school. Probably gonna break his leg again." At least she was letting her real personality show...

He slipped past her, giving a half-conscious word of thanks. She called after him with an overly excited reply. Something about calling her later, too.

428 more days...

Cal was definitely at the front of the school; Lance would recognize that spiky dumb head of blonde hair anywhere. Even if it was balancing on a skateboard on top of the stairway's cement banister. As Lance approached the back of the small crowd that had gathered, he saw a flash of bright green fly towards Cal. With a quick sweep of the arm, Cal blocked the tennis ball and immediately raised his hand to point.

"Hey! Don't you be tryin' to interrupt this! I see you back there, Jennifer!"

Lance barely held back a laugh as he stopped at the back of the crowd. He only had to reach out and tap one person on the shoulder in order to get the attention of those around him. They parted as he moved forward, slipping past people and soon breaking through to the circle they'd created. A very hard cushion of cement, in case Cal fell.

Cal noticed him as he approached, throwing his arms out to the side. Despite the large gesture, Cal remained relatively balanced.

"Yo, Lance! What is up, man?"

"Hey." Lance stopped a few feet away, looking down to the skateboard as it continued teetering. "Been a while since you've ridden, huh?"

"Damn straight." Cal leaned back further, and Lance felt the muscles in his shoulders tense. "Still got the moves, though."

Lance grinned. Cal glanced down again, and Lance heard the grin his voice as he spoke.

"Nice bedhead. Didn't know you liked me enough to copy my style."

Lance shuffled a hand through his hair, slightly embarrassed at how messed up it was. "Ah, thanks. Thinking we should go for more of a punk sound from now on. Change things up a bit."

Cal laughed. "Been there, done that." He leaned back even more. "That's where we got our roots!"

The crowd cheered—whether it was from whatever Cal was saying or the fact that he was probably going to fall over at any second, Lance didn't know. He watched his friend look up, raising his arms to the crowd like the minister of a church sermon.

"My people! Are you not entertained?"

They cheered more. Lance briefly wondered where the hell any sort of faculty staff member was. He noticed Cal look down at him again, lowering his arms to his sides.

"Alright, grand finale," Cal was saying. "Hold the board, will ya? I'm gonna see if I can balance on top."

Lance ignored the rising fear that came with complete recklessness. He slipped the backpack off his shoulder, letting it drop to the ground beside him as he stepped closer. He rested one hand on the back of the board, preparing to ground it to the surface it was on. He put his other hand to the front wheels that were balancing in the air.

"This isn't going to work," Lance said as he did this. "If you fall on me, I'll kill you." He ignored the cheers this brought from the crowd.

"Ah, words from our childhood," Cal sighed. "Brings back memories."

"Broken bones and 'I told you so's."

"Write that down when we're done," Cal said, snapping a finger at him. "New song title."

Lance rolled his eyes. His attention snapped back as he felt Cal's foot move away from the front of the skateboard, most of his weight on the back.

"You got it?"

Lance tightened his hold, balancing the skateboard as Cal momentarily set his foot back on it. "Yeah, I got it."

"Alright, good."

Cal's foot left the board again, and suddenly a voice from the crowd rang out.

"Hey, man! You better not be breakin' my board!"

"Ah, calm your tits, Tyler," Cal replied with a wave of the hand. "I'm not breakin' your board." He grinned, briefly glancing to Lance. "If anything happens, Lance'll cover the cost, right, bud?"

"Yeah, right," Lance replied, faking the annoyance. "If anything happens, it's coming out of your cut from the next show."

"Well, we'll see how great you losers are without a drummer!"

Lance grinned, knowing he was just joking. He saw Cal's upper foot shift again, preparing to step. Cal spoke again, addressing the entire crowd this time.

"And now, with the help of my lovely assistant, I will attempt to balance on the very top of this completely unbreakable skateboard! Watch, and be amazed!"

Cal leaned all his weight back, Lance helping to guide the board until it was almost completely straight. All at once, Cal stepped up onto the edge as Lance tilted it.

"What is going on here? You two!"

Cal's foot slipped, and Lance only saw a flash of his body before gravity slammed him against the ground. His hands tried to brace the impact of Cal landing on him, but this really only resulted in him getting a mouthful of his friend's sweatshirt.

He was already sore before this happened; this wasn't helping.

Familiar, mad laughter came from on top of him. He felt the weight begin to leave, easing some of the pressure on his body.

"Lance, how could you?" Cal was scolding, picking himself off of Lance. "You have absolutely no respect for authority or the safety rules they've emplaced! I'm utterly disappointed!"

Lance could only grin, grabbing the hand as it was offered to him. You're such a fucking nutbag.

His foot shifted back, helping him regain balance as he stood up and let go of Cal. His stare turned to the teacher who was barking at them. Something about heading to the principal's office.

Lance sighed. At least they'd probably miss their first period. Good timing, too; he hadn't even gotten the answers for the test they were supposed to be taking. Cal walked with him as they trailed behind the staff member; some teacher he didn't recognize. The crowd was dispersing quickly, the kids that were probably carrying drugs on them walking away the fastest.

He looked away, a single part of his mind focusing on the cluster of voices. Trying to decipher them all, see if any sounded familiar. If any sounded like that voice that was in his room...


Lance pulled himself away, looking towards Cal. He kept the fear off his face, noticing Cal was poking him with a folded piece of paper. The answers to today's history test, in case they got back in time.

With his stare on the back of the teacher's head, Lance took the paper between two fingers, folding it against himself again before slipping it into the pocket of his jacket.

They reached the principal's office fairly quickly; only about a minute of Lance's brain being on autopilot. He really didn't want to do much today. Just waste time until he had to leave. They were led into a waiting room, and Lance's mind began to come back to him as he sat down in one of the black chairs.

A crunch of paper sat down with him.

He leaned over, pulling a narrow envelope out of his back pocket.

Ah, shit.

"No way!" The letter was snatched out of his hand, torn open instantly. "I can't believe she gave you another one!"

Lance put his hands to his face, pushing them up and through his hair. Cal flicked the paper open a bit more before putting a fist to his mouth and clearing his throat, erasing the grin from his face. He began reading in a high-pitched voice.

"'My dearest Lance...'"

Lance pulled out his phone, opting to distract himself from listening as much as possible. As the letter continued on, he heard a change in their background noise; he looked up, seeing the secretary stop typing to give a worried look to both of them. Oh, God... Did she think Cal was confessing to him?

Lance bowed his head enough for his hand to slip over his eyes, waiting for the letter to be over with. Why... Why would she write another one? The first was bad enough.

"'And remember that time you looked at me from across the cafeteria? I thought I was going to die, I was so nervous.'" This line was accompanied by open-handed taps on his arm from Cal.

Never mind; this letter was even worse.

Finally, Cal stopped reading. Lance looked back to his phone, listening as Cal spoke again.

"She even signed it, too! Jesus, what the fuck! He flipped the document over, not seeing anything more. Shaking his head, he turned it back over. "On such official paper, too. Who even has shit like this lyin' around?"

"Her Dad's probably a lawyer or something," Lance replied. He was scrolling through the band's social media page, stopping to check comments and type out friendly replies.

"Yeah?" Cal asked. "Your mom got paper like this?"

"Probably." He typed a little faster, trying to block out thoughts of her.

"You should write a rejection letter on it. Say, 'No, weirdo. Sorry. Already got a girlfriend that lives way too far away.'"

"She's not my girlfriend." The reply was automatic by now.

He heard the grin in Cal's voice. "Cassie's kind of your girlfriend."


"Sorry. Sore spot," Cal sighed, resting his elbow on Lance's shoulder. "It's a tough world out there, bud'. Don't worry; she'll come back soon. She visits when she can."

Lance stared at the screen of his phone, not seeing anything of interest anymore. He raised his hand, wiping the fatigue from his eyes.

"Yeah," he said quietly.

The waiting room was quiet, the only sound the slow typing of the secretary's fingers hitting the keyboard too hard. To his right, behind the door that led to the hallway, he heard students begin to filter past. Voices mingling together as they walked by.

One of them almost sounded like—

He stood, heart speeding up. His eyes searched passed faces, seeing no one that could fit the voice he had heard last night. The memory repeated, pieces of it playing again.

"You've got someone coming for you."

The door to his left opened and Lance jumped. Only the principal walking out of his room, stopping to wait for them. Lance noticed Cal staring, concern written on his face.

"Jesus, man, what the hell's wrong with you?"

Lance immediately shook his head, putting a hand to his hair as his eyes closed. "Nothing. I'm fine."

The principal sighed loudly, turning to his secretary. "This isn't a drug thing, is it?"

His assistant shook her head, almost looking as tired as Lance felt. "No, sir... Just some reckless behavior at the front of the school."

"Oh." The principal turned back. "Okay. Not that that makes it any better, of course. Still very dangerous violations—that you both should be very ashamed of."

Cal leaned back, throwing his head to the ceiling. "Can we go now?"

Lance nearly smiled, the emotion extinguished by the fatigue beginning to wear him down. He blocked out the thoughts his mind was trying to cycle through. He couldn't do anything now, not here. Not when he was this exhausted and this freaked out; his heart was still trying to calm down.

Some question the principal had asked was hanging in the silence around them. Lance looked to the secretary, seeing her sigh and place the side of her head into one open hand.

"Whoever started it, go in first."

Submitted: October 29, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


Add Your Comments:



Is the skateboard a behaviour which is referred by the principal or playing music? I think that any school finds more than one reason to blame teenagers in something.

Fri, January 24th, 2020 6:21am


Nice, natural relationship between Lance and Cal. The portrayal came across as very real.

Sat, February 8th, 2020 8:58pm

Al Ashcott

Your dialogues are superb! Very realistic, they come on the right time, not too long and no too short. Perfect!

Wed, October 27th, 2021 7:40am

Raven Akuma

Wow, I just have to say that I love the pacing of this story, so far. It's very casual and easy to understand; I love an action-packed beginning as much as the next reader, but these intros really help you relax and get into it, you know? They're a lot harder to do well, too, so it's impressive. Also, I am seeing a LOT of interesting dynamics between characters going on! You do a good job at drawing people in. I'll be able to read more chapters at once soon, I'm just finishing up another story (me scoring nerd points with a RWBY-Sailor Moon crossover, lol). Then honestly, I'll probably binge-read this, lol.

Still enjoying this, good work! :)

Fri, August 12th, 2022 9:03pm

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