I Won't Say I'm In Love

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
For Kyle Georgie Frydunlend's contest. (Sorry if I spelled your name wrong!) I kind of strayed from the topic. Sorry. Also, it got kinda weird at the end. It's late, sorry about that too. But I got it in the day it was due, so. =)
Topic was I Won't Say I'm In Love by the Cheetah Girls (originally from Hercules)

Submitted: July 14, 2012

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Submitted: July 14, 2012

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Ask any fan of rock music to list five, three, even a single band that’s suddenly decided to go acoustic, permanently acoustic, and they’ll be at a loss.

It proves my point.

I told my (unfortunately, just) friend this. He had called fifteen minutes earlier to tell me that I would “no longer be needed” in the band I’d been a part of for two years. He and his neighbor were the other two-thirds of Thoughtless, our town’s only teenage rock group, and they had decided that they would become a guitar-strumming, piano-pounding, heartthrob-wailing acoustic duo with undertones of indie dance pop, Bob Marley, and emo ballads.

At first, when he had told me, I had laughed. “Funny. That’s your way of telling me we’re rescheduling the rehearsal tomorrow, right?”

But he persisted. “Kris, I’m serious. Jordan and I were listening to Mayday Parade two weeks ago, and we decided that we want to cut down on all the noise, make our sound rawer, you know? I’m switching to acoustic guitar, and he can play piano instead of keyboard, but we really can’t figure out how we can work drums in there.”

He’s…actually kicking me out?

A bit of backstory here. I was the new girl in eighth grade, and I arrived on the first day in denim shorts over black tights, a band t-shirt, and sparkly red Vans. The smooth, dark-haired boy who loved to make the class laugh and was the star of every girl’s fantasies took to me immediately, which is probably the most far-fetched thing that will ever happen to me. In a strictly friendly way, of course. He told me he loved my style and the band on my shirt, and, more importantly, I looked like the type of girl who could hold her own in a band. The following Saturday, I hauled my drum set to his house. His neighbor, an almost-blond version of Adam Young, carried over a keyboard, and Eric brought out his acoustic guitar. We attempted ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele, and realized that playing in a band was a lot harder than it looked. But we met again the next weekend, and the next, and then we booked our first gig, and here we were now.

The thing was, as dedicated as I was to the band and to music, my favorite part of the band was Eric. I don’t mean to sound like a lovesick teenager, but even though we weren’t together yet, he was so much to me. And me to him, or so I had thought. He’s a musician through and through, and has put the band first often, but he’s also human.

“Kris? You there?”

“Yeah. You’re kicking me out?”

“No, don’t put it like that.” His voice cracked, and my heart beat a little faster. “Jordan and I are leaving the band. I wouldn’t kick you out.”

That moved my outrage to the back of my mind, if only for a moment. “That’s sweet of you. Wait, so now I’m a one-girl band?”

Eric laughed. “Yeah, I guess so. I gotta go. See you soon?”

Unlikely.

That evening found me in my room. There was no way I was going to accept this. Without the band, and thus without seeing Eric at least three times a week consistently, what was my life going to be? There had to be some way I could fix this.

The first and most obvious idea was to learn guitar, so I could play with Eric. I’ve heard two-guitar duets before (although not with piano, so that would take Jordan out of the picture, killing two birds with one stone). The second and less probable one was to take voice lessons. Sung duets are so much more bonding than played, and that was admittedly one of my fantasies. But I wasn’t sure I could find a voice teacher who would listen to me sing.

I’m not sure if “sing” is the right word.

Anyway. I thought a bit. Number three would be to…find an acoustic song with drums. Well, that’s the best and least-time-consuming one yet. I turned on my laptop and began browsing.

That night, at a quarter to twelve, I called Eric (what was that I was saying about least time consuming?).

“Hey, do you sleep?”

“Nope. Listen. Have you heard the Glee cover of One Love?”

“No.”

“YouTube it.”

Three minutes later, he spoke. “What about it?”

“If you guys played it, I could do the percussion.”

“C’mon, Kris, it’s got a little tambourine in it.”

“Yeah, and I could play it with you guys! At the gig on Wednesday. Did you cancel it?”

“You know I can tell when you’re desperate, right?”

Shoot.

“I just think it would be a great song for you to play. Especially at the Fourth of July celebration. Free speech and equal rights and stuff.”

“Bob Marley isn’t even American.”

I would have growled if I wasn’t a teenage girl, of the human kind. “You won’t even consider it?”

“I’m sorry.” He sighed. “I like you, Kris.” Ohmygoodnessherehegoes. I restrained myself from screaming. Will. Not. Act. Like. Belieber. On. Caffeine. “But…” What? No. “Jordan and I are a two-piece act now. I know it’s really hard for you, and I feel bad, because Thoughtless was the first band I was ever in, and it was with you. It’s hard for me, too. But bands break up, and that’s life. Meet me at Jordan’s house on Sunday at three, and we’ll talk about One Love.”

He hung up.

I wanted to cry for a moment, and then scream. Finally, I decided on throwing my iPod at the wall, retrieving it, and finding some good loud music to drown out my thoughts.

=#=#=

“Try it again. Jor, turn the volume on the keyboard down a little so it doesn’t drown everything out.”

I was sitting in Jordan’s drab, striped, dark blue living room. When I arrived, Eric had invited me to sit next to him, which I did, satisfied. I wondered if he could tell I hadn’t slept last night.

We had gotten down to business. Eric announced that we (well, they, featuring me) would be playing One Love at the fireworks on the Fourth of July. Jordan looked a little put off, but didn’t protest, as usual. And now we were practicing, just like the old times. Only something was a little different, and I couldn’t tell what it was.

“So it doesn’t drown what out? It’s down to 20%. If it goes any lower, we might as well cut it out,” Jordan spoke out. It was the first time he had said anything that afternoon; at least, the first time he’d said anything audible.

“Fine.” Eric shot his friend a harsh look. “Keep it how it is.”

“Well, if you want me to turn it down, I will.”

“Stop. We’re not getting into this again.”

“Getting into what?” I interjected.

They ignored me. “This song won’t work, Eric. It doesn’t fit in the set, and we’re going to have to change the volume settings for everything, and then change them back afterwards.”

“Why? You guys are making too big of a deal out of it. It would work fine the way we were playing it,” I said.

Jordan looked at me as if I were competing for the attention of his idol.

Oh. That’s what was different.

My crush and his best friend were…dating.

“C’mon, both of you, chill, okay?” Eric interjected, waving his hands. “It’s not that big of a deal. Jor, we’ll just stick it at the end-“

“I thought we were ending with God Bless the USA?”

“-Not any more. And Kris, please don’t…start an argument. Thanks. From the top.”

After the rehearsal, Eric left immediately, attempting to drag me out with him. “Don’t get angry at him,” he reminded me when I told him I had to collect my stuff and load it in my car.

As I reentered the living room, Jordan confronted me. “Look,” he hissed, albeit a bit timidly, “Eric and I are done with Thoughtless. We’re moving on to a new sound, now. Stay out of the way.”

“Fine,” I said, trying to slip around him to grab my tambourine.

“And don’t think he’s going to love you, either.”

“What?” I stopped, frozen. “I don’t…like him.”

“Right, like we all don’t see your lovesick stares.”

“No way.” I stiffened up. “There’s no way I love that idiot.”

“Then stay away from him,” he said, stalking off into the kitchen.

I grabbed my instrument and ran out the door.

If that socially inept loser knows, then Eric has to know.

=#=#=

Stay out of the way.

Jordan’s order echoed in my mind.

Stay out of the way.

What if I just need to get Jordan out of the way? Then, I could learn piano and play with Eric, just him and me. Or guitar. Or something. I could just figure it out afterwards.

How to get him out of the way?

Make up a family emergency. Something to make him leave. Embarrass him onstage, perhaps?

But that will only stall him for that one night.

How to permanently get him out of the way?

A single idea popped into my mind.

The kind that metalhead stoners write songs about.

=#=#=

It was the night of the Fourth.

Eric and Jordan were behind the makeshift stage, attempting a soundcheck as a blond girl in plaid and skinny jeans crooned into the mic. “Yesterday’s a memory, tomorrow’s accessory,” she squealed. People who were in their prime during the age of disco sang along across the field in front of the stage.

I bought three sodas from a vendor on a street corner: orange, Pepsi, and Sprite. Being in a band with someone gives you an advantage when it comes to stuff like knowing the soda they’re most likely to drink. Jordan didn’t consume much of the matter known to mankind as ‘food and drink’, but he was partial to anything orange.

I ran backstage, taking care not to spill the sodas. “Hey, guys!” Jordan looked up in disgust, and Eric seemed happy to see me, though slightly anxious.

“I brought you guys some stuff to drink.” I passed out the drinks.

“Why’s mine open?” Jordan muttered to his friend.  Eric shrugged. I ignored them both and guzzled my Sprite.

“When are we on?”

“Fifteen. Better drink a little more of that, Jor. You look like you could use some caffeine before we play.”

Good old Eric, helping me along. I always knew that subconsciously, he wanted us to be together.

We waited out the rest of the time in silence, and then Eric waved at someone. “We’re on now. Wait back here, Kris, and we’ll call you on for the last number.”

“Good luck!” I called.

Heh.

A minute passed, and they began ‘Miserable At Best’. Then ‘Trouble’, then ‘Existentialism on Prom Night’. My palms grew sweaty, and I was literally shaking.

Jordan stood up, walked to the mic. “For this one, we’re welcoming a very speci-“

He collapsed.

Eric stumbled over a bench to run to him, and the EMTs scattered through the crowd began to weave their way to the stage. I raced around to the steps and climbed onstage.

Eric pressed his fingers to Jordan’s neck, looked to me desperately, and turned back to his friend, tears in his eyes. “He…doesn’t have a pulse,” he whispered, his voice breaking again.

I managed a frown. “Oh my god. But the show goes on, right? We should keep playing.”

“What?” He looked at me, puzzled. “Kris. Are you insane? He’s…he’s…”

The EMTs had arrived, and pushed Eric out of the way, putting Jordan’s body on a stretcher. Eric stood to face me on the stage. His hair was plastered to his forehead with sweat, striped t-shirt falling off one shoulder. So gorgeous.

“You…you did this,” he said, his voice raising.

He sounded hysterical.

“You did this!” he yelled. Wind began to blow, whipping my hair in my face. “You killed him, Kristine, you fucking killed him! All so you could play with me again.”

“That’s not it,” I whispered as he walked over to me, cautiously, as if I would blow him up.

“You…Kris, why didn’t you tell me? You should have told me you…you liked me. I would have… You should have told me you loved me.”

I’ll never say I’m in love,” I giggled, quoting that Cheetah Girls song that I loved. “At least not out loud.”

I was still singing when the police shoved me against the piano and snapped a pair of cold metal handcuffs on my wrists.

 


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