Hello! If you're just tuning in or need a refresher, it's marching band season and Summer (drumline) has a crush on Micah (drum major), but she's too anxious to talk to him or tell her friends about it. Summer learned about an app called Chat With Me (you can only talk to people at your school and the conversations can't be tracked). They've been talking (except Summer is pretending to be someone named Anna) and they've started to grow closer. Summer is becoming more worried about their growing connection and how she's going to come clean. She's agreed to meet up with Micah after a marching band competition and she doesn't know how she's going to salvage the relationship after that point.
This is draft 2, and I'm more interested in big picture comments than sentence level/grammar comments. Thanks for reading! <3
I’m not going to come clean today. Micah was patient all week about whether today would be the day that we meet. I kept skirting around it until I finally lie about not having a ride and that I’m so sorry. He’s nice, because he’s always nice.
I show up at the school early, because that’s on time, for our morning rehearsal before our first competition. The band room buzzes with energy and anticipation for what’s to come today. The show is on the field, we’ve added in some fun effects, we’ve ran it enough times now that we can play it forward and backward and in our sleep. We’re so ready.
Too bad the cloud is back over my brain again.
Micah has to be suspicious by now. I should have just sucked it up and come clean today. I want all of the secrecy to be over. I just want to be done. Even though I’m not ready to lose Micah yet.
Bryn finds me at our lockers.
“I’m glad our rehearsal is short today,” She says as she pulls out her ratty tennis shoes. “Don’t tell Taylor, but it’s going to be hard to keep my head in the game today.”
I almost say “me too” but censor myself in time. “Why?” I say instead.
She sighs, “The never ending saga of Jamie.”
“What’s he done now?”
“So I did end up meeting up with him, against my better judgment. And he said all the nice things I thought he would say, but I don’t know, something felt off the whole time. I wanted so bad for it to just be normal and feel like I used to feel, but it was almost like I was looking at a total stranger. It was weird.” She looks down at the ground.
“That sucks Bryn. I’m really sorry.”
“Thanks.” She shrugs and wipes the corner of her eye.
We grab our drums and start walking out to the field.
“What are you going to do now? Do you want to keep talking to him and try to figure out what’s going on, or do you want to just be done?”
“I don’t know. There’s a part of me that still doesn’t want to give up to him. Like, if there’s an explanation and if I could just understand why he’s doing these things, then maybe everything could go back to the way things were before.” She shrugs. “But I don’t know. Maybe I’m just crazy and he’s playing me.”
“You’re not crazy. He’s giving you reason to believe in him, and since you’re a good person you want to believe in him.”
“I just feel like there’s a big piece I’m missing.”
She and I arrive at the practice field and walk to our opening dot on the field.
“I hate secrets,” She says. “And I just have this gut feeling he’s keeping something big from me that would make all of this make sense.”
My stomach flips. What is my best friend going to think when she finds out about the big secret I’ve been keeping from her and everyone else?
“I don’t know.” She shrugs again. “I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.”
I force a smile and nod. So not only am I going to lose Micah after I come clean, there’s a good chance I’m going to lose my closest friend, too.
The rest of the band trickles onto the field. Mr. Murphy takes his spot on the front yard line with the megaphone and the Dr. Beat. Stella and Walter take their spots on the platform and ladder on the front yard line. No Micah.
Even as we start our warm-ups, no Micah. Being late after school is one thing, but on the day of a competition? I’m sure he’s sick, he did tell me his Crohn’s is getting worse, and I’m sure he wants to be here. Of all days for him to not be feeling his best.
He shows up when Mr. Murphy is giving us the run down of the day, and takes his spot on the back yard line like nothing is amiss and he wasn’t late or anything. Mr. Murphy doesn’t saying anything which makes me think he must know about Micah’s Crohn’s.
We keep things light today. We play through the trickiest portions of the show and do one complete run through at half steam so no one blows their chops or gets tired before the competition later.
We break for lunch, hosted by generous band moms so no one leaves the school and accidentally comes back late, throwing off the entire afternoon schedule.
Bryn and I deposit our drums in the band room and join everyone in the cafeteria for sub sandwiches. Katya joins us in line and rolls her eyes towards Camilla who is already sitting with Fernando and friends without so much as a word to us.
Micah is not in the cafeteria. I don’t study every single face, but I’ve gotten pretty good at picking his out. I find all of his friends, but not him.
Surely he didn’t go home. Maybe Mr. Murphy made a special consideration for him because he’s a drum major or because of his Crohn’s. But Kaila is eating happily with her friends and his friends look totally unconcerned. Maybe I’m the only one who notices he’s not here.
All anyone can talk about at lunch is who is sitting by who on the bus. Big business.
Even Ethan saunters over to our table as he’s throwing away his trash. “Katya, who are you sitting by? I got no one.”
She doesn’t look at him. “I might sit by my tuba.”
“I thought they were all going in the band trailer.”
She shrugs and after resigning the fact that he likely wasn’t going to get another response, walks back to his friends.
“Why don’t you want to sit with him?” Bryn asks. “Ethan is nice.”
She shrugs againbut doesn’t give an answer. Maybe I’m not the only one keeping secrets.
When it’s time to load the buses, Bryn and I choose a spot in front of Katya, who ends up sitting with Theresa, the other female tuba player in the band. Ethan sits in the seat behind her with a different tuba player. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Katya talk to Theresa, but she makes a point not to turn around and say anything to Ethan either.
There are two other buses behind us, so there’s a chance that Micah may be on a different bus with Stella and Walter and I won’t see him at all.
The section leaders are charged with coming on each bus and counting the members of their section to make sure we’re not missing anyone. We’re forbidden to move from our seats so the count will be accurate. No sign of Micah.
Taylor comes to our bus twice because he’s an overachiever. The bus starts, and just then Micah comes out of the band room with someone who looks suspiciously like his mom. The two of them join our bus and sit in the first seat behind the driver. No one else seems to notice or care that this just happened. Everyone is too busy talking about the upcoming competition.
The count must be perfect now because we lead the procession out of the school parking lot. Even though I’m not sitting near Micah, it doesn’t matter. We’re going to nail this competition and I can talk to Micah later and make sure he’s okay.
There are buses and kids with instruments as far as the eye can see when we pull up to the school hosting the competition. But unlike most things, it doesn’t scare me to my core, but rather it energizes me. This is my zone.
As soon as all of the buses come to a stop, the drumline, pit, and tubas are dismissed to get our things from the band trailer. Everyone else is left to put on their uniform and get their instruments ready on the bus. I can tell from the little bits I can see through the windows from the outside, that it’s pure chaos.
Once we have our uniforms on and drums on we join the rest of the band at our practice field, about a five minute walk away. We’re going to wait to put our jackets on until the last possible moment, which is a blessing because I can already feel the sweat dripping down my back.
We’re scheduled to perform in about forty minutes and we have do warm up, talk through our show, and walk down to the competition field.
At the practice field we gather as a section and play through our standard warm-up.
“This is it, guys,” Taylor says. “Game faces on. This is go time. We will be perfect. No mistakes. No foot out of step. No beat out of time. Perfection. We are the leaders of the band. Do your job.”
We all nod. There’s no need to add anything else.
Mr. Murphy leads us through the most difficult musical sections, reminds us of all of the recent changes to the show, like we could forget after running them roughly five-hundred times last week.
And then somehow time to put our jackets on and walk down to the field. I am powerful. Invincible. We can do this. We’re well-rehearsed. We’re ready.
At the gate, Taylor gives us each one last meaningful look. There is a band on the field right now and Mr. Murphy directs us to turn so our back is facing the field. There’s no disrespect there. It’s a way for us to stay focused on our show rather than what another band is doing.
The crowd applauds for the other band, and then it’s our turn. The pit, with the help of the band parents, rush out first to get set up. Next are Stella, Micah, and Walter with Mr. Murphy, and then the rest of us.
We march to the middle of the field and form our standard warm-up arc. The only difference between this and any other football game is that there are a handful of judges walking around the field taking notes.
Mr. Murphy points to us and gives us a thumbs-up, and we march to our opening dots on the field.
The announcer comes on to say, “From Central High School, please welcome the Warrior marching band performing The dark side of Disney: Songs from Disney villains.” The audience applauds and I feel an internal rush of joy that these people have no idea what’s in store for them.
“Drum majors Stella Wagner, Micah Turner, and Walter Kennedy, is the band ready?”
Once it’s clear that all of us are set in our spots, Stella turns towards the press box and performs her special drum major signal.
“Warrior marching band, take the field!”
And then it’s time.
Mr. Murphy lets Stella hear the metronome, she gets Walter and Micah started, Micah counts us off, and then we go.
I go into autopilot. Disney theme in minor. Poor Unfortunate Souls. Gaston. Cruella de Vil. Be Prepared. Bells of Notre Dame.
It flies as all good shows do. As soon as we hit the final note and Stella puts her arms down signaling the end of the show, I remember absolutely nothing that just happened. May always used to say that if you can remember the show right after you finish, it wasn’t a good show, and if you can’t remember it at all, then it was.
The crowd is applauding wildly, and I have to hold back my grin. We have to be cool, calm, and collected while in uniform. Taylor begins his rim shots to lead us off of the field. My mouth is dry and my head hurts from the heat and I’m so tired I’m surprised I’m still putting one foot in front of the other. As soon as we’re clear of the field we’re allowed to break ranks and stop marching. Then it’s just a matter of getting inside of the school where it’s cool so we can watch a video of our show and listen to a critique from one of the judges.
Once we all make it into the school auditorium we help one another take off our band jackets, mine is damp to the touch. Terrific. And I’m allowed to take my drum off of my screaming shoulders. Hallelujah.
We settle into the auditorium seats and the band moms flit around and hand us each a water bottle. I sit next to Bryn, like usual, and Katya on the other side. A quick glance around reveals that, once again, Micah is no where to be found. I take a big gulp of water. I can’t wait to get home, take a long, cold, refreshing shower, do a nice relaxing yoga video, and then settle in for some mindless television with my mom.
I also need to talk to Micah. My stomach churns just thinking about it because the clock is ticking and I’m going to have to come clean soon. I’m glad I ended up not picking today because he obviously isn’t feeling well and his mom is here. But soon. I’m going to have to do it soon.
Welcome to Chat With Me!
Saturday, 05:47PM - You’re chatting with: MICAH TURNER
Anna (05:47PM): Hey! How did the competition go? Sorry I couldn’t be there :(
Micah (05:53PM): It was good. I don’t know how we placed because I had to leave early, but I thought it was good from where I was standing.
Anna (05:55PM): Oh did you not feel good or something?
Anna (05:55PM): I’m glad the show went well!
Micah (05:56PM): Yeah, just more of the same with my stomach.
Anna (05:56PM): :( Any answers yet from the doctors?
Micah (05:58PM): Nope.
Anna (05:59PM): Darn :( Are you feeling any better yet?
Micah (06:01PM): A little. Now I can lay down which helps.
Anna (06:04PM): So I guess in a weird way it worked out that I wasn’t able to get a ride today. Since you’re not feeling 100%
Micah (06:09PM): Yeah, but I’ll want to meet you regardless.
Micah (06:10PM): I mean, you’re real right?
Anna (06:12PM): What do you mean?
Micah (06:15PM): Maybe it’s just sleep-deprived delirium, but I’ve been thinking about all of this and I don’t know is it too good to be true? Is this like some big hoax and you’re really like someone’s weird dad or something? I don’t know.
Anna (06:17PM): I promise I’m not someone’s weird dad :)
Anna (06:17PM): I promise I really am a girl and I really am in your grade and I really do go to your school.
Micah (06:18PM): I know it’s a big school and you’re supposedly new, but I don’t get how I don’t know who you actually are.
Anna (06:19PM): You’ve probably seen me in the hall without realizing it’s me. I have a feeling you’ll recognize me.
Micah (06:22PM): But now that sounds creepy like you know who I am but I don’t know who you are you know? Like we’ve walked past each other and you haven’t given me some kind of sign like hey I’m Anna by the way…
Micah (06:23PM): Like the meet up and everything is fine. I’m just thinking a lot
Anna (06:25PM): I’m nervous too
Micah (06:26PM): But you know who I am.
Anna (06:27PM): You know who I am.
Anna (06:27PM): Just not what I look like.
Micah (06:29PM): I guess that’s true.
Anna (06:32PM): But I want everything to be out in the open so we can know if all of this could be real you know? So soon. I promise.