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❝I’ve been spending my attention on you, on you.❞
♮ ♮ ♮ ♮ ♮
I think in numbers.
One. Two. Three. Four.
I hear half, eighth, sixteenth, and sixty-fourth beats.
One. Two. Three.
It comes naturally. Like running, I plunge forward.
Wrists loose and free. I let the rhythm take control.
Unlike certain people.
I get up from my swirly chair. I’m in the loft area, a.k.a “study room,” where there’s a twenty-year-old mahogany desk and Microsoft laptop on it. Free stickers that arrive in the mail with a promotion, decorate below my keyboard with my additional doodles and makeshift calligraphy. Stomping down two levels of stairs heading to the basement, I go towards the ungodly noise or as my brother states, “We’re making music, Beats! You should know sis.”
He’s the only one who calls me Beats.
I wish others call me by this nickname, but only him. He is the one who remembers what I adore and how good I’ve become. Had, more like it.
The vibration comes from the basement, I feel the sound waves as I walk through the living room.
Twisting the basement doorknob, I pop my head through the threshold to look down. Small silver studs are pierce in my ears. Blonde wavy curls hit below my chin, I dislike long hair because it takes forever to dry and care of it. Too much maintenance. The unfinished steps are wooden, the cooler temperature hits my flush face.
“Stop!” I holler.
Of course. They can’t hear me. What am I thinking?
The guitar solo squeaks and goes into a higher octave. Sixteenth notes sings, perfect wave going up and then trickles down whereas the drums.
Ugh, the dreadful drums.
I run downstairs and turn the corner. The second hand sofa and television soaks up little noise, blankets are thrown over the plush foam squares that cover the concrete floor. I receive the blast through the four speakers. I’m surprised there’s only four – there should be six or more, two specific speakers for each instrument (yes, including vocals).
"Don’t ask me to change. It’s up to you!"
I roll my eyes.
Walk the Moon? Last week, they try playing Panic! At The Disco.
I guess they’re finding out their “sound.”
The boys ignore me. They are into the song, harmony, and notes. Bodies, arms, and legs help create the beautiful orchestrated piece.
Well. Let’s say, I can get their attention pretty quickly.
Shrieking noise echoes off the cemented walls and awful orange-red pipes, the structure to keep the house from falling apart. I’m holding the sound cores in my hand. Speakers are no longer in use.
“What the hell, Beats!” my brother declares, holding his hands up from his guitar’s neck.
“I was on a roll, man!!”
The last person who speaks is the drummer. The one person who doesn’t know what his one job is.
“No, you weren’t on a roll, Girly,” I say, taking his drumsticks from his hands.
“Here,” I cut off my brother.
Doug Girly sits on the high stool. Legs spread out. His right foot is on the leg pedal for the bass drum. A red, green, and blue bandana neatly holds his brunette hair back to not go over his eyes. Petite nose has sweat running down it.
I start pounding hard on the snare and tom-toms. I play the part during the section I’ve made him stop at. I repeat the five bars back to him. The rhythm imprints on my mind. I replay and then pause.
“This is what you sound like,” I declare, “Now here’s what it’s supposed to be.”
My hands move rapidly up and down, wrists relax and hit the beat at the correct tempo. I repeat the five bars back to him. Hoping. Praying. He’ll hear the tempo and feel the beat.
Girly’s silence fuels me to keep going. He has given his answer. I repeat the five bars again and again and again.
I can feel my brother’s eye roll. I bet he’s even pacing the floor.
I stop. My shoulders tense up. In a slow motion, I stretch out my neck, moving in a circular motion.
I break the silence, “You’re half a beat behind. Behind, come on! You say you’re a drummer. I can’t-”
“Beats!” my brother steps in.
I say his nickname.
From what I can remember, I came up with Noah’s nickname from a famous character. Noah in the Bible. You know, he builds an Ark ... again remember I was three years old when I begin to call Noah, Arky. I haven’t changed it since.
His guitar strap hangs over his right shoulder. His left hand holds the royal purple guitar pick. There’s a metallic shine in the middle of the triangle pick.
“It’s practice,” he says. It comes out like a half sigh.
That’s an excuse.
“We’ll improve,” Noah continues.
I ignore his statement.
“If you,” I point Girly’s own drumsticks at him, “Get off tempo one more time. I’ll kick you out of this house myself.” My teeth grind.
Any time there’s off tempo, it’s nasty claw like nails on an emerald chalkboard to my ears. I want to scream. Stomach churns. Unsettling and tension on tension.
Noah sighs. Shaking his blonde hair, sweat accumulates on his forehead and runs down his sharp features, large beaky nose, and high cheekbones.
Girly gulps. “Y-Yes, ma’am.”
“Don’t ma’am me. I’m not that old.”
I’ve graduated from Graystone High School two years ago. Crazy how this happens. How easily time slips out of our minds and the effects show through our bodies. Then we are here. Before we know it.
Noah is in his senior year.
He can’t be.
I know I can’t be older.
I attend a community college that’s half the price of regular city institutions. I save money by living under the same roof as my parents. They’re proud, I’ve aspired to become a mathematician. After all, I’m good at counting. “You can teach! Oh, you can be engineers like us. That’s a more solid career,” they say, “Reliable.”
“You’ll get a job right after college,” they say.
“It’s your dream sweetie,” they say.
I’m tired of them saying shit.
Yes, they pay for my college.
Yes, I live under their roof.
Yes ... I’m doing what they want me to do.
However, there’s something in me. Oh, ew – no – I take that back. There’s something more than being a mathematician. I know it. There’s something within the numbers, there has to be a reason - no - a purpose. Yes. That sounds better.
My parents encourage me at a young age to try to figure out my hobby.
The metronome is my friend. I discover this instrument on my grandma’s piano. I like seeing the golden bars, shift up and down, to determine what tempo the person chooses. How fast, slow, smooth, staccato - short - those beats are. I watch this instrument. My eyes follow the nice sway almost like ocean waves, curling over top of themselves. The sound relaxes me. I realize I hear those beats now in my mind. I don’t need the helpful tool anymore.
Although, I have the lil’ guy upstairs beside my bed to help me sleep.
Once I discover my “hobby,” I continue to ask for more.
My grandma supported it, she bought my first drum set or “trap set.” Oh! Ha-ha. How I drove my parents insane with all the loud banging, I love those memories. I moved up the grid as I grew older; I started small solo competitions. First competition, I received second place then the next one I get the first-place award.
Things changed when grandma passed away, I was in middle school.
Old enough to remember her lessons, her time taught me the fundamentals of music. Her gentle fingers hovered over the white and black keys. Fingernails always cut back with no nail polish. Her fourth finger on her left hand plain. The grief was too much for me to handle. I was young enough to think naively, she’ll be back right?
Therefore, in high school, my parents pushed the “career” and “college” talk on me. I pretended to listen and rock out on my drums. I fantasied belonging to a band. It was hard to find anyone willing to work with me, especially with my opinionated and say what’s on my mind personality. I didn’t dislike people. I just didn’t enjoy when someone states they are, and I quoted, “the best.” When in fact, I’ve seen better. I brought them down a notch.
They didn’t like it.
It was not my problem. I moved on.
My solo career continued and I joined concert band. I learned about bells, xylophones, timpani – those are my favorite! A person tuned a specific note like a B flat to the drum, there were four of them and each drum was one step away from each other (scales); as an example, tuning B flat, the other three drums could be C, D, and E or down the scale, A, G, and F.
I remember all of this.
I try to convince my parents, after I talk with my music teachers about the multiple options, which college to attend for a Bachelor’s in Music.
They don’t listen.
But now, here is Noah.
My parents gloat over him.
“Oh! My baby boy! He knows how to play the guitar and sing! He has his own band, you know.”
Hypocrites. They all are.
I shake my head as I look around the basement. Wait something is missing.
“He’s no longer apart of the band,” Noah says.
I frown. “What happened?”
“He moved away. He didn’t tell Girly or me.” Noah readjusts his guitar string holder. “Until today.”
“You’re down a bass then.”
“No shit sherlock.”
“No problem,” I bow.
“Have no fear, we have a new bass. And he can be background vocals.”
I flinch. “Whoa, that was pretty quick! A little too convenient.”
Girly pops in, “A new kid. We heard him when he did his choral tryouts. We asked him about singing and found out, he plays bass too!”
“Now we need a new band name.”
What’s with all the new?
“Why do you need a new name?” I ask.
“We want to be on the same page. Plus,” he runs his hands through his hair, ”The Battle happens this Spring. We got three months! We want to stand out and prepare for the competition.”
The Battle sounds like a fist fight competition where contestants will brawl to their death. Quite the opposite, The Battle is Graystone High School’s annual talent show in April; acts range from baton twirling, farts singing show tunes like “Hello, Dolly!” (yes, this really occurred), opera, rock bands, shadow dancing, and many other hidden talents. Freshmen and up look forward to this friendly competition. I won first place in my senior year free-styling a compilation of AC/DC songs. Again a solo act. It’s one of my most treasured memories.
What a good day.
I shake my head, coming back to reality.
“What’s his name?”
Noah’s eyebrow raises. “What’s it to you?”
I cross my arms. “Nothing. I’m being noisy. That’s all.”
“Be noisy about something else.”
“Sure.” I turn to Girly once more. He quivers on his high stool. “Remember my warning.”
He doesn’t say anything,
Simply nods and holds his arms up like I’m holding a gun up to him.
I roll my eyes.
I start to head up back upstairs. Time to face reality with all the assignments, saving money to move out of this place, I’m a young adult. I have to get freedom away from this –
Turning the corner, I run into someone. Before I realize what is happening, I reach out my arms. A soft “oof” sound puffs into my ears. Blurry green and blue blob puts all their weight on me. I’m holding on to whoever they are.
My knees bend, trying to hold up their weight and myself. Legs spread out.
My fast reflexes bounce back, even though my muscles tighten and scream. This is too much weight. The utter closeness to whoever I’m holding is evident: the warm breath and their gentle touch grasps onto my arms as well.
The soft green fabric feels slippery, the material must be vinyl or something. His brunette hair are tight curls with blonde tips; his soft features, high cheekbones, and golden brown skin like the sunset golden hues touching the sands. I’m close to his face.
He can probably feel my breath.
Oh crap! What’s my breath smell like? Oh no, oh no! Onions? Chicken?
This isn’t on purpose!
He’s the one in my arms! With hands on my biceps.
His chest inhales and exhales. His dark brown eyes never waver.
“Thank you,” he smiles.
I realize I don’t know him.
Who is he? Why am I holding a stranger?
I drop him.
His ankle hits the floor. So does the palm of his right hand, he holds his whole body up from the cold, cemented basement.
“Sorry,” I say, “ah, I mean. You’re welcome.”
He keeps looking at me.
I glance over to my brother and Girly.
Noah notices the guy. A big smile on his lips. “Cameron!” He rushes over. “You made it! You okay, man?”
The guy – Cameron – lightly brushes his shirt, green jacket, and jeans off. His white teeth display.
“I’m good. I slipped on the last couple of steps. Luckily she helped me.”
His eyes are back on me.
The way he says she gets under my skin.
As if he’s saying something hidden behind those words.
“Ah, this is my sister, Amber. I call her Beats.”
A dimple appears on Cameron’s face. “Beats?”
“Are you the drummer?”
I snicker. “No. Girly over there is.”
I point to deflect any attention away from me. Especially a male high schooler.
How old is he even? Seventeen?
I glance over his facial features one more.
Yeah, he’s young.
Not going for it.
“Oh,” his mouth opens to continue the conversation.
“Have a good rehearsal,” I end the conversation.
I run up the stairs before I hear any more questions.
My heart races. It’s because I’m running up the stairs, right? No other reason. Yeah, that’s why.
♮ ♮ ♮ ♮ ♮
Author's Note: Totally. Nothing to see here . . . as a crush and romantic interest starts to bloom. 😉 💕
This is my first Inkitt story. You can find me on Wattpad as well, under the same username: BornToWrite47. I'll post all three chapters this weekend.