45 Days

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Chapter 10- Lingering in the Dark

In the weeks after the blowout between Ally and Aiden, his friends walk on eggshells at practice. They avoid the subjects of dating, going out to the clubs as they focus on the band to improve since they have gigs once spring blooms.

Aiden hasn’t been the same ever since Valentine’s Day. He’s perfectly normal at work and practice, but the loneliness becomes too much to bear when he gets home. He practices on new pieces or returns to his passion of reading classic war novels.

He can’t seem to shake off the effects of the sounds as they echo throughout his mind. He uses that to motivate him to work on the song that only Rey has heard.

It’s a particularly warm Saturday in early March when Aiden relaxes at the house. He gets up, showers, and takes sanctuary to the music room where he’s bothered from the task to finish the song.

Hey bro, about to head out to Dakota’s, need a ride? Eddie texts him.

“Yeah, stop on by. I have food on the table if you haven’t eaten.” He rambles out loud, typing out his message.

“Cool, be there soon…” He reads aloud.

Walking out of the music room, he goes outside with a highball glass in his hand, mixed with Wild Turkey and Dr. Pepper. Aiden sits on the railing and waits in the sunshine.

“Oh, what a beautiful bright sunny morning. I hate it!” He tells himself, staring up at the pale blue sky overhead.

While he’s still fixated on the sky, Eddie pulls up and makes his way over to Aiden. “Whatcha staring at, bro?”

Locked onto the sky still, Aiden shakes his head. “Nothing, like my life, a bright light wasted into a vast nothingness much like the sunlight stares into space.”

“Drinking already, I see. Well, good to know you’re in a halfway decent mood. I’m going to eat. Then we’ll head on out to Dakota’s.”

“Cool, take your time. I’m not going anywhere.” Aiden implies and sighs as he continues to stare at the sky.

With his eyes clenched tightly, Aiden focuses on the task at hand. The upcoming audition to be one of the band’s selected to perform at the West Virginia State Fair come August.

Gotta focus. We could use the exposure. Maybe we could become somewhat popular. He thinks to himself, hoping that the new material that’s a bit darker will do the trick.

Eddie finishes up with the last of leftovers from breakfast. He does the polite thing and rinses off the dishes placing them in the dishwasher. He goes to place the scraps in the trash when he comes across a scary discovery.

“What the heck, is he really drinking that much?” He wonders out loud with four empty bottles of bourbon and tequila in the trash bag.

Shaking his head, he knows it’s none of his business and proceeds out to Aiden so they can get to Dakota’s.

Aiden places his glass at the bottom of the rail on the porch. He follows Eddie to the Starion, where they get in and shoot across the backroads from Ona to Blue Sulphur Road.

When they pull up, they see that Rey has already arrived and plays around with something new on the bass guitar that catches Aiden’s attention.

“Bub, that sounds kickass. That could work with that one I was working on the day Addie came over.”

“That was the intent man, I’ve tinkered around with it and remembering what I could and came up with this bit. Hit the keyboard, and let’s see how it sounds together.”

Once he gets comfy in his chair, Aiden counts down. “Four…three…two…one…” They start at the exact time and soon sync up the rhythm that causes Dakota and Eddie to join. It’s all in free play, and slowly it comes together.

They all repeat a few times taking the signal from Aiden to begin again without the lyrics he has in store.

“Hell yeah!” Dakota yells out over the music bobbing his head up and down, feeling the song.

A fist up as the halt sign, Aiden looks around at each of them. “That sounds kick-ass, guys. Remember what you did, and we’ll continue to work on it. That’ll be something to play when we go to the state fair.”

Eddie cuts in with an “if” comment as everyone stares at him.

“No, when, we got this thing wrapped up. We’ve put in the time, and we’re getting good, I think.” Dakota comments confident in their efforts.

“Now, all we need is a name.” Rey reminds them all.

“I have one in mind…” Eddie speaks up. “Killer Shockwave,” the guys laugh in unison.

“No way that is way too corny, bud,” Dakota admits.

“How about Disgrace thru Grace, but through spelled t-h-r-u?” Rey suggests next biting his lower lip.

“I like it,” Aiden admits looking over to Dakota.

“Me too, it sounds like rock and true.” Eddie taps his drumstick lightly, repeating the name to a beat, “Yeah, it works, let’s go with it.”

“Alright, we have an official name now. Let’s get back to the three songs we need for the audition. I wanna win!” Aiden says, clapping his hands together to bring the group together.

“Dance on your soul…Ready…One, two, three, four…” He counts out loud, taking the microphone since there’s no keyboard piece to the song.

The band practices for over an hour before a distraction appears in the driveway.

“Who’s that?” Eddie lips over to Rey.

He shrugs his shoulders, looking at the red and gray Subaru Legacy parked behind Eddie’s Starion.

“Hey, baby!” A skinny, ash-blond waves from the car as she walks down to the barrage of music from the garage.

Still locked in on the song, Dakota bobs his head with his eyes locked on his girl.

She stands there with a friend of hers that catches Aiden’s eye with how closely she resembles Ally’s appearance. At first glance, he thought it is her. Aiden cooled down once she got closer to where he could make out the subtle differences.

One thing he does notice is she’s staring a hole right through him as they finish up the song. The girls clap in approval.

“Wow, that sounds awesome, baby boy.” Dakota’s girl admits before a quick kiss on the lips.

“Hey, Heather, you’re here early.”

She bats her big brown eyes at him playing innocent, “Well, I knew you had practice today, and you said you had a single friend who needs a good woman. So, I brought my girl Cindy out here to meet him.”

Kidding around, Eddie plays it off like it’s him she’s referring to.

“Nah, I ain’t single, but if ya girl doesn’t mind a three-way later on tonight, I could make an exception.” That creates a healthy laugh from everyone, but Aiden realizes she means him.

Heather quickly shuts Eddie down, “Shut up, you horn dog. I wouldn’t do that to my girl with you. Nah, I mean that handsome, tall someone right there singing.”

Aiden returns to his seat, trying to pay no attention to hide a smile.

“Ah shit, he smiles!” Dakota reveals and points to Aiden.

“I’m flattered, and I’ll admit your friend is pretty as a picture, but I don’t know if I’m ready yet.”

The young woman struts her stuff over to his seat to kneel beside him. She pleads the case for her friend.

“Hey, it doesn’t have to be serious, just talk. If it doesn’t go anywhere, then it doesn’t. Just don’t shut out someone who could make you smile.”

After listening to Heather, Aiden nods to motion Cindy over to sit beside him as they prepare to play the next song.

“Ladies, enjoy the impromptu performance,” Aiden says with his hand in the air.

“Alright, gentlemen, I think it’s time we bring out one of our first songs. Hidden Sorrow, on four, one…two…three…four!” He shouts, bringing his hand back down as Rey opens with the first few notes.

Cindy rocks her body back and forth in the grove, enjoying the lighter sound compared to the song they barely heard from before. Without using the microphone, Aiden sings out over the instruments and nearly strains his voice.

After they finish, he gets up to get water from the faucet to soothe his vocal cords.

“Quit trying to carry over the music, bud. You know it’ll ruin your tones.” Dakota reminds, frustrated.

“Sounds like you all have been playing for a while,” Cindy mentions waiting for Aiden to return.

“A few months, Aiden is a music writing maniac,” Eddie confesses while he taps on the drums.

“Wow, so he’s written everything?” Heather questions the other three at the edge of the garage door.

“Mostly, if we feel like it could be improved, we try some stuff out until it sounds right.” Eddie continues.

“That’s awesome, so when is your next show?” Cindy asks.

Eddie takes the lead to answer questions, “Six weeks from today in Charleston. We’re booked in a competition audition for the West Virginia State Fair in August. We know we got this too, practicing almost every Friday and Saturday. The only thing we need is better recording stuff eventually. Our demo tape was horrible, but something else to focus on in time.”

Listening to him explain their plans causes the girls to lose interest.

“Anyway, when you boys are all done, hit us up, babe. We’re going to hit the mall for a bit. Don’t take too long.” Heather says and kisses Dakota, then motions for Cindy to walk to the truck.

“Yeah, we shouldn’t be too much longer,” Dakota shouts, waiting for Aiden to take his seat at the keyboard again.

Once the girls are gone, Dakota tries to explain.

“Yo dude, before you go off, let me explain that this wasn’t planned, I swear. I know you ain’t over Ally just yet. Heather had good intentions.” He breaks down, hoping he didn’t piss off one of his best friends.

“All good bub, just a meet, and greet, right. I mean, yeah, maybe if I can get back out there, I can move on a little easier.”

None of them know how to react to his statement. They remain motionless, expecting Aiden to lose his cool at any second.

“Come on, y’all, we got two more songs to get through before we call it a day. Make No Sound is next, one…two…three…four. Aiden calls out.

They begin the next song as fear of the unknown encircles the group.

While Aiden deals with everything in his way, Ally deals with it on her own. She’s avoided Huntington ever since Aiden refused to accept her back. Unable to face the places they’ve been together, she keeps in distant contact with Addie.

“Hey girl, the clubs are calling our name this weekend. Come on down and let it go.” Addie teases to break Ally from her funk.

“I can’t yet, I’ll be tempted to go see him, and he hates me still.”

“Now stop that talk right now. Aiden does not hate you. I talk to him now and then. He’s like you trying to find a way to move on. You need a girl’s night out!”

Hesitant to reply, Addie senses that something is up, “Hey, I know you’re still there, talk to me, Ally.”

A few seconds later, she responds, but her voice has changed from down and depressed to semi giggly and bubbly.

“Maybe next weekend, but for now, I have something to do. I’ll hit you up later, bye-bye.”

Addie listens as the phone disconnects the call.

“Huh, that was…SON OF A BITCH!” It instantly hits Addie like a ton of bricks, “Last time she was giggling like that she was talking to Sam. That two-faced little liar!”

She’s pissed, but that doesn’t stop her from hitting up the clubs with her roommate instead.

Blowing off her best friend, Ally places her phone on silent so that she wouldn’t be interrupted again.

“Now that we’re alone again, you’re all mine.” Ally says.

She turns over to return to kiss Sam in his bed at his new apartment.

Breaking away from the kiss, he leans back, “Sure you’re ready for more of this?” He clarifies, ready to make her submit to his will again.

“If I wasn’t, do you think that I would be here?”

When she admits to that, Sam rolls over to position himself over her body once again.

She begins to pant heavily, clutching her hands into the small of Sam’s back as he slams into her over and over again. It does the trick to make her forget about the guilt by having sex to numb her senses.

Once they’re finished, Ally’s mind drifts back to the day she made the first regrettable decision to sleep with Sam. Her urge is to mentally and emotionally beat herself.

“What in the world am I doing?” She asks herself, disgusted all over once more.

“This is how I deal with it, by sleeping with him again? God, you’re pathetic, Ally!” She tells herself in a shallow whisper.

Once she crawls out of bed, Ally picks up her clothes to get dressed. She sneaks away undetected and heads home angry at herself.

“You stupid, worthless slut!” She yells at herself, gazing into her mirror.

“I can’t beat myself up over him. He doesn’t love me anymore, so stop loving him! Make yourself numb without Sam. You don’t need to feel this way!” She continues telling herself.

Once she’s home, she rushes into her room, clutching a clean set of clothes to get into the shower. She sits there with her arms around her legs as the water rains down over her naked body.

The steam rises from her skin as she sits there and remembers the time she was happy. Ally pictures Aiden so vividly in her mind. She rests her head against her arms, forcing herself to hold back the shame and pain.

She refuses to cry another tear. Anguish begins to evolve into resentment when a new wave of rage takes control. Pulling her head up, feeling the water wash over her face, she stands up to feel nothing but emptiness finally get its grip over her soul.

Ally shuts off the water. She steps out to dry off her body and get dressed in a hurry when a knock echoes from her front door. She walks into the foyer opening the door to see Sam.

“Woman, did I say you could leave yet?” He begins to lure her back into his grip.

Suddenly Ally hauls off, landing a kick between his legs sending him to the ground.

“Don’t ever talk to me like that again, you worthless bastard. You’re nothing more than a sorry piece of ass. I’m done with you, come near me again, and I swear I will slice off your nuts and sauté them for you.” Ally lands a few more kicks into the lower region of Sam’s back before he takes off for his truck.

“Run bitch boy, run!” She screams, laughing as he gets away.

Sam flips Ally off as he drives along the one-way street. Ally stands there with a new focus. Back inside, she goes into her room, taking a seat at her computer. She flips on the radio to catch a commercial for bands to compete for the chance to perform at the state fair.

“I wonder if Aiden and the boys will be there?” She asks herself, waiting on AOL to finish loading the welcome screen.

“Welcome, you’ve mail!” She listens as she clicks on the e-mail icon.

She opens a new e-mail and begins typing one out to Aiden.

Aiden, I hope you take the time to read this and accept my apologies. We haven’t talked in weeks, and I hope you are doing alright. I’ve been better, that’s for sure. I don’t want to lie. I have been with Sam a few times since you walked away from me but let me explain. It’s not because I love him. It’s because I am such a mess inside. You did not deserve to walk in and find me doing what I was doing with him. I had planned to honestly give my everything to you that weekend and even make the drive from your place to school every day. You won’t believe this, but you’re the one my heart still truly wants. I even kicked Sam square in the balls a few minutes ago. I want you back, and I don’t care how I have to do it. Please don’t shut me out. I need you in my life, I picture you, and I feel better. I don’t go as numb as I force myself to get out of bed. I smile again when I picture our first kiss. You made me feel like I could be the best version of myself. Please forgive me and come back to me, at least talk to me soon. I love you, Ally. She reads over it again before she clicks the send button. Ally adds a receipt for the ‘read’ feature and sends her e-mail.

Logged off, she sits there jamming out to the sounds of the radio for a while. She gets lost in the world of music when a text message arrives on her phone.

Hey, girl, we need to talk-Addie.

With a press of the callback button on her phone, Ally is caught off guard when Addie picks up.

“What the fuck was you thinking…”

Ally is confused at first.

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t play me like a fool. I know you were with Sam earlier when we talked. I’m about done with you if you see him again.”

Ally sits there, unable to believe what’s going on.

“I took care of it, trust me, I got tired of using him not to feel anything anymore. I can’t beat myself up anymore. Something inside of me snapped earlier, and if he ever has kids, I’ll be impressed because I kicked him with everything I had.”

“Oh, shit…” Addie says.

Ally and Addie chit chat back and forth as she explains what all she did to Sam.

“Yeah, I was curled up in the shower for a little while. When I got a vision of me going back to kiss Aiden for that first time, those sparks came back to me, and something died. Even if Aiden doesn’t take me back, I’m going to move forward finally.”

The sincerity in her friend’s voice is when Ally breaks everything down. Addie is relieved to hear from getting away from the funk that’s entrapped her for weeks.

“That’s good. It’s about time I get my girl back, and speaking of your ex, I know for a fact he’s playing in Charleston. I got a badge as a backstage helper with the band. If you want, I can try to score you one or a ticket near the front row.”

“Cool, I’ll take a ticket if you can score any. I’d love to see the guys play.” Ally replies, looking at hers and Aiden’s picture.

“I’ll get ahold of my dad and see what he can do. He’s the one who hooked me up, but I’ll let you know something soon.”

Ally feels a bit of optimism for a change, “Let me know. I’m going to get off here and check to see who all’s playing. See you soon, girl, later.”

She’s able to convince herself to stay away from her e-mail. Ally jumps back online, remaining invisible to anyone on her buddy list to slowly load the webpage to figure out which band is Aiden’s. She has an idea, but the longer she stares at the event, the more she feels like her old self begins to fill the essence of her heart and soul.

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