Chapter One: The Day
I wasn’t really sure where to start—mainly because I had never experienced anything like it before.
I was the first.
I was the one.
Sometimes I think back to that moment, the moment where I looked into his eyes for the first time, and totally freaked out. I mean, really freaked out. Is there a word for ‘complete and total overwhelming embarrassment’?
How would you react if the cutest boy you’ve ever laid eyes on was trapped inside your locker?
I’ll get to that.
The purpose of this story is to show you how it all started—how I used to be normal.
How our world used to be.
I want you to see how I was once just a regular kid whose only fears were zits, boys, bullies, and getting an A in music class.
Perhaps then, you’ll understand how different everything is now.
My friends laughed at me when I told my music teacher I wanted to switch from clarinet to trumpet. I mean, in their eyes the brass instruments were for the boys.
What did they know?
I loved the trumpet. It had so much power. Who cared if all the famous ‘horn-blowers’ to ever live were male?
“All right. Not bad, Aubrey. Your tempo was a little off near the end.” Mr. Meebly stood at the front of the music room. Despite being stern, he had a grin on his face from ear to ear.
“Yes, sir,” I replied. I felt my face turn red a little. I hated being centered out like that, but hey, when you switched instruments halfway through your ‘musical journey’, you had to expect consequences.
At least that’s what Meebly said once.
“Okay, everybody. This is a big year—the tenth anniversary of our school. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. Spring Concert may seem a long time away, but it will be here before you know it. So, I want everyone to focus on what they’re doing.” Mr. Meebly took a sip of his cold coffee and cleared his throat.
“Are your fingers trembling?” My friend Charlie sat beside me. He claimed I switched instruments so that I could be next to him in band. To be honest, I didn’t mind him believing that, even if it wasn’t true.
“No, I’m fine,” I replied.
“They are, your fingers are trembling.”
I kicked Charlie’s leg and adjusted my grip on the trumpet. “Be quiet. I’m focusing here.”
It was safe to say that Charlie was my best friend. We knew each other since Junior Kindergarten and had been in the same class ever since (not counting the half-year he spent up north in some smart-kid school).
“Alright, instruments ready. Let’s take it from the top. Aubrey, lift your head up, you need to look like you’re proud of that trumpet.” Mr. Meebly tapped the music stand in front of him and smiled. “Ready? One, two, three and…”
The band erupted into a torturous cacophonic mess of instrumental warfare. My eyes followed the notes on my music sheet. I squeezed my knees together, preparing to explode into a triumphant series of musical power and beauty. Mr. Meebly’s conductor-wand swayed wildly at the top of my sight-line. I held my breath and puckered my lips on the mouthpiece.
I was ready.
Two more bars to go.
I sucked in all the air I could and blasted out the first set of notes. My face heated up like a furnace as I pounded my fingers up and down along the valves.
I knew the part like it was a scene from Dirty Dancing. That’s my favorite movie by the way. Sure it’s old and all, but man it’s a good movie.
“Stop, stop, stop!” Mr. Meebly slapped his conductor stick on the stand and shook his head. “Aubrey, what were you doing? Are you trying to blow up the school?”
I lowered my head and dropped the trumpet down to my lap. “No, sir. Sorry.”
Mr. Meebly took another sip of his coffee and then flipped through the music pages in front of him. “Okay, Aubrey, just you. From bar thirty-three. Ready?”
“What?” I lifted up the trumpet and propped my elbows out like a set of wings. Where’s bar thirty-three? Where’s bar thirty-three? Charlie’s perfect little musical finger reached out and pointed to the spot.
“One, two, three and…”
The faces of forty or so adolescent pre-pubescent teens glared over at me. It was like doing my first performance exam all over again.
Charlie nudged me with his foot. “Aubrey, play. You’re supposed to play.”
I wanted to. I wanted to belt out the notes that I had practiced for seventeen hours and thirty-nine minutes over the past five and a half days.
“Is everything okay?” Mr. Meebly placed his coffee back on the ledge behind him. “Aubrey? Is there something wrong?”
Now, even though Meebly was an experienced teacher, there was one thing I wish he knew about us kids. If we are trembling, perhaps frozen in fear, maybe looking like we are about to burst into a floodgate of anxious and uncontrollable tears, you should never ask us what is wrong!
My fingers let go of the valves and my face contorted.
Salty drops pushed out from the corners of my eyes.
It was coming.
Any second now, I was going to let go and fold over into an embarrassing display of pathetic hiccuping sobs.
But it never happened.
Instead, I heard a voice inside my head—a boy’s voice.
His words were difficult to make out, but the sounds pulled me back. It was like the weak and fragile emotions were sucked from me and replaced with a glimmer of bravado and confidence.
I wiped my eyes with my knuckles and lifted up the trumpet. I took a big breath in and counted two bars inside my head. I closed my eyes and pushed all my air through the tiny mouthpiece.
Each note flowed out like it had when I was practicing in the laundry room at home.
The staccatos, the tempo, the rhythm.
I danced through the bars, spilling out each sound.
Each note was crisp, clean and strong.
When I finished, a wave of energy rushed out of me. I dropped the trumpet down to my lap and relaxed my body. I knew the class had just witnessed greatness.
Mr. Meebly’s eyebrows lifted. His smile grew wider than I had ever seen it. “Much better.” He nodded and glanced up at the clock on the wall. “Okay, don’t forget, tomorrow morning, same time. Don’t be late.”
The chairs creaked and ground along the polished floor. The students pulled apart their mouthpieces and drained out the excess saliva collected in their instruments.
“That was epic.” Charlie stood up and punched my shoulder. “That was truly epic.”
“Thanks,” I replied. But I didn’t care.
For some reason, I didn’t care at all.
Despite the class now thinking I was probably Louis Armstrong’s long lost granddaughter, there was only one thing on my mind.
One invading thought.
Who is the boy inside my head?