BEHIND THE LIGHTS

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Chapter 5

October 19th, 2016
Munich, Germany
The beauty in suffering - Spiritbox

Separated by a few meters, behind their microphones, they had already been inside that room for four hours. Only stopping from time to time to listen to what they had recorded.

After fixing the intonation in a few verses, adding more rage in others, and repeating a couple of stanzas, they were getting close to their lunch break.

Oskar and Angela were nodding and smiling at them as the music went on.

Leah lowered her head, softly bobbing as she balanced to the sides, shifting her weight from one foot to the other, following the rhythm. The powerful double bass drum and the perfect pace Erik marked, Marc’s hard strokes and brutal bass lines that wrapped everything, and Chris’ thrilling riffs.

A sudden change in tempo told them the end was near.

Taking a deep breath through her nose, she raised her head and fixed her eyes on Marc’s black gaze. He smiled, giving her the confidence wavering inside of her.

The lyrics, old and dark memories she had locked down, made her feel jittery. Speaking those words out loud was like opening a wound that had never really healed, but when Chris told her she couldn’t run away forever because everything comes back at some point to try to break you, a new world opened in front of her eyes.

He was right.

She couldn’t keep hiding, going to therapy, but not really facing her past as her focus was on learning to control the fear and the guilt when it crept up in her mind.

She needed to let it all out, even if it burned her tongue. It was time for her to overcome her past and embrace her ghosts.

“Dark pools of hatred won’t ever change,
Mental penitence dragging me to hell,
Death’s a blessing disguised as faith,
Don’t hesitate and rip my soul away,
rip my soul away."

“Woo-hoo!” Angela’s scream reached them through the speakers.

“That was amazing, guys!” Oskar exclaimed. “Why don’t we take a break and continue after lunch?” he suggested pointing at Chris, who was sitting on the black leather couch with his light brown hair disheveled as if he had just gotten out of bed.

Leah gave him the thumbs up as she brought the bottle of water to her lips, waving her free hand to Chris.

“You’re on fire today!” Marc told her.

“So are you!”

“These assholes wouldn’t be able to do anything without us!” he said loud enough for Chris to hear as they walked out of the recording room.

“You wish!” the guitarist retorted, grinning. It didn’t matter how much time passed, he would always be the cutest man in her life—though she never called him that unless she wanted to pick up a fight, he hated it.

“That was fucking solid, girl!”

“Thanks.” Leah smiled, hugging him.

“This album is going to be something!” The blond producer stated before looking at her vibrating phone. “I have to get to a meeting now... My schedule is full this afternoon as well, but I’ll try to come by later, okay?” she told them as she checked her phone.

“No prob.” Marc nodded.

“Alright. See you, guys!” she said as she walked out of the studio

“What are you doing here?” Leah asked Chris while she was still between his arms, tilting her head back to look at his face as it was far above hers.

“It’s lunchtime. Thought we could eat together?”

“Sure.”

“I’m starving,” Marc said, already zipping his coat. “Oskar, we’ll be back in an hour,” he told the sound engineer, who had walked into the recording booth and was talking on the phone. He nodded with a small smile on his lips.

“Okay, let’s go!” Leah exclaimed as she grabbed her coat and scarf. “Did you finish that design you were doing yesterday?” she asked Chris.

“Yeah, I sent her a picture, and she loved it.” He slightly pulled from a lock of hair that had fallen out of her messy braid. “It’s a shame that you always have this amazing hair tied.”

She rolled her eyes, ignoring his remark. Her hair was uncontrollable that morning. “Show me.”

Chris reached inside the pocket of his jeans and then searched through the bunch of pictures he had on his phone. “Here.” He handed it to her as they got inside the elevator.

“Wow! This is beautiful!” she confessed. It was a huge yet delicate floral tattoo with a light grey shadow.

“I know!” He grinned, his baby blue eyes shining.

“Where is she going to get it?”

“On the neck,” he told her, putting his phone back into his pocket.

“Cool.”

“How was the recording?” he asked, snapping Marc into the real world. He had been staring and frowning at his phone. In fact, he had been gloomy for a few days.

The doors of the elevator opened on the ground floor and they walked down the hallway, nodding to the receptionist as they approached the entrance door.

“Good,” the long-haired man replied, hiding his true emotions. “We’re halfway with the songs—By the way, your recording was terrific! That solo on Inside the void? Wow!”

Chris laughed as they stepped outside the building. “Thanks, man!”

“Where do you wanna eat? Something light, please!” Leah begged before they could answer her question, crossing her arms over her chest to keep the warmth in. “We have a few more hours in there and I don’t want to end up throwing up.”

“What about the Japanese restaurant around the corner?”

“Sounds good to me.” Marc shrugged.

“Okay,” she smiled.

“Are you ready for the party this weekend?” Marc asked them while they walked in the opposite direction of the mass of people coming their way.

“Celebrating the end of the recording after watching Dark Omen? Hell yeah!” Chris exclaimed.

They had been working on their second album for months, writing, composing, and choosing the songs, reaching a peak in the recording studio. They were thrilled because the sound was much better than they ever thought, overtaking their previous work.

“I hope we get to meet some of the bands and ask them for an autograph or something,” Marc quipped as he wiggled his eyebrows at Leah.

Chris had told them in their WhatsApp group about her ridiculous act in front of the metalhead the previous day and they had been mocking her since.

“Go die!” Leah showed them the middle finger as she began to walk faster.

“What would you do without us?” Chris laughed.

“Shut it!”

“That’s what I thought!”

Leah grinned as she opened the door, entering first. She couldn’t blame them for acting so childish and picking on her because she would have done the same. How the hell could you be in front of one of your favorite musicians and forget to ask him to sign one of his albums at least?

She had googled him a thousand times. She knew lots of things about him, even his shoe size, but then she had him there, in her house, and struggled to get coherent words out of her mouth.

“Welcome to Tokami.” A smiley Japanese girl greeted them. “Table for three?”

“Yes, please.” Chris nodded.

She took three menus from the wooden lectern at the entrance and walked away, gesturing for them to follow her. The girl motioned them to sit at a table near a window. “What do you want to drink?”

“Water, please,” Leah told her as she took off her coat.

“A beer for me,” Chris said, sliding in the seat in front of her.

“Another one for me,” Marc added, sitting beside Leah.

“Okay...” the waitress mumbled as she wrote everything down. “I’ll be right back.”

As Marc and Chris started talking about the latest video game they had been playing, Leah turned her head and looked out the huge window.

She could get side-tracked just by a fly fluttering around her, but when she was tired, she could blankly stare at something for hours.

The naked, autumnal trees, the cars going up and down the road, people rushing to catch the bus, a couple of teenagers skipping high school to go on a date, people working on the restoration of the building across the street. She loved how lively that city was, the countless stories it hid.

“Okay... Here you have your water and your beers. Do you know what you’re going to order?”

“I want the green bento box with vegetable rice, gyozas, and salmon yakitori,” Leah told her, handing her the menu.

“Said the woman who didn’t want to eat much...” Chris muttered. “I want the miso ramen with beef.”

“For me... The bento box with chicken rice noodles, spicy yakitori, and salmon nigiri.”

“Great, anything else?” the girl asked them.

“That’d be all, thanks!” Chris told her.

“Okay then! It’ll be ready soon.”

“Thanks,” Leah told her before sipping from her glass.

“Who do you think it’s going to win the bet?” Chris asked her.

“Huh?” She looked at him, trying to process his words as he caught her off guard. “What lame bet have you made this time?”

“Who’ll get hammered first,” he announced, fidgeting with the plug of his right earlobe.

“You know you’re slowly killing yourselves, right?”

“You ain’t no saint, Jäger.”

“Touché!” She laughed. She didn’t drink as much as they did, but she couldn’t deny she had gotten wasted before, more than once. “I’d say...” She paused for a moment, squinting as she looked between the two men. Chris was way taller than Marc, but Marc was stouter. Erik was smarter and never took part in their stupid bets. “Marc,” she stated.

“Boom! Told you!” Marc exclaimed.

“You’re betting against me?” Chris asked, faking being offended.

“I’m not betting, but I know Marc’s going to crush you with this one. He’s like a fish!”

“With beer, this is going to be shots!” He wiggled his eyebrows, making her laugh.

“We’ll see then!”

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