The next day I sleep in the car while Misa drives and Lais tampers with his laptop, editing photos or something. Or at least I try to sleep, but two hours of my consciousness fading in and out, I give up on getting some proper shut eye. I ask Misa where we are, and he says it’s about thirty more minutes until we arrive.
‘What’s today’s schedule?’ I question him.
‘The concert is tomorrow night, so today you’re free, except for a few hours in the afternoon when you have to give an interview to an online magazine.’
‘You forgot?’ He glances at me, shaking his head. ‘Well, I only know because Jay told me. It’s something she arranged before the tour started, so you can’t really back out of it.’
‘But what could we say? We can’t tell them what’s happening, and they always want to hear about future plans.’
‘You’re right, it’s problematic, more so because you don’t even talk to each other. But yesterday some things happened, right? Maybe you could just talk about what to say during the interview?’
‘I was hoping Jay figured something out…’ I admit.
‘She can’t speak for you.’
‘I know, but she could write manuscripts of what we have to say.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous. She’d smack your head first before doing that if you asked.’
I totally forgot about the interview, and I don’t know how to get ready for it. Misa’s right, normally we’d discuss vaguely what to answer to certain questions, but now I’m cut off from the rest of the band, even if they talk about it, I’m left out.
My throat tightens and I feel hurt. It hurts more to know I brought this upon myself. I’m unable to solve this problem. I don’t know what to do.
‘Should I call Jay and ask her what you should do?’ Misa, sensing my devastation, asks.
‘N-no, I’ll call her.’
I stare at my phone for a second before dialing.
‘Look, who’s calling! Did you forget the interview?’ Her voice sounds like she was expecting my call.
‘It’s okay, I figured you would, given how occupied you’ve been lately. Besides, the others forgot it too. Just tell Misa to bring you there an hour before it starts, and we’ll go through everything you have to know together really quickly. I asked the interviewer to pass me her questions beforehand, so I can tell you what to expect. And it’s gonna be published online only, so no need to worry about your voice or face.’
‘Thank you, Jay.’
‘And thank you for calling Bleecker.’
‘Did he help?’
‘Well, it pissed Kane off, but I’m sure you won’t tell him I gave him a call.’
‘You know, Kane doesn’t like Bleecker. He never did. Some kind of professional disagreement between drummers. But when he learned that last night Bleecker came for you, he got kinda mad.’
‘Does this and the other things from yesterday mean you’re coming back?’
‘No, I don’t know, I don’t think so. I hope.’
‘Hm. Let me know if you know something. Or need something.’
‘I will. Thank you, again.’
‘You’re welcome. See you later! Bye!’
Kane got jealous. I knew he and Bleecker didn’t really get along, but it never was to the point that Kane would get mad at him. It must have been me. I also know that Kane gets jealous easily, but technically we broke up, so he wouldn’t have any right to. Yet, he still did. He doesn’t hate me, he still likes me.
It’s silly, but it makes me overjoyed.
‘So, what did she say?’ Misa interrupts my daydreaming.
‘She said you have to take me to the interview place an hour before it starts and we’ll go over the questions quickly.’
‘Okay. Are you fine with it? I don’t think Lais can come – or that he should.’
‘It’s all right, I’ll be fine.’
‘Did something happen?’
‘You know, last night things cleared up a bit, in a positive way.’
‘And Bleecker told me a few things too that helped.’
‘And now Jay said Kane got jealous of Bleecker, so he surely doesn’t hate me.’
‘That wasn’t even a question.’
‘I didn’t know. I feared they hate me now.’
‘Well now I know.’
‘Then it looks like you’re moving in the right direction.’
‘I’d like to think.’
‘Cool. I’m proud of you, you know. But I’m also dead tired. We get to the hotel in a few minutes, we check in and I’ll fall asleep a minute later, okay? Wake me before we have to go to the interview. And just occupy yourself in the meantime.’
I also totally forgot that Misa is overworking himself for my sake. He’s not my manager, doing these things wouldn’t be his job. And he still does them. He said he liked me, but is it still okay if I depend on him? He also said he wants me to rely on him, so I don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong to do. I should hurry up solving my issues so he can be free of me.
Having friends like him and Bleecker, I feel blessed. I must never forget to be grateful to them, that they stay by my side even when I’m nothing but a burden to them.
‘At 1 pm exactly, I want to see everyone in the lobby, am I clear?’ Jay is yelling at us, so we won’t forget the interview again.
She said we have a few hours to ourselves and then we assemble in the hotel’s lobby and go to the room where we have an hour to prepare – Keiji will join us for that – and then we’ll give that interview.
I go to our room with Kane to put down my bag and I decide to go for a walk. On the corridor I run into Montaro who stares at me with furrowed brows.
‘Hey!’ I greet him because he doesn’t say a word, to which the furrow just grows. ‘Is everything okay? Are the instruments fine?’
‘Yes, they are. I have to ask something, Iau. Have you thought about what will happen to us? I mean the rest of the band?’
‘I understand that it’s a personal matter to you, but Future Island isn’t just of the three of you, and it’s equally important to the rest of us. Now that Keiji left, do we look for another guitarist, or is it over for us?’
His words struck me like lightning. I was so occupied with my and our personal issues, I completely forgot to think of the band and about Montaro and Hoshi. I feel bad for my behavior, so I hung my head.
‘I’m sorry, this didn’t cross my mind. But I was hoping we could resolve everything and could go on as we were before.’ I admit, first time spoken and not just thought.
‘How long until we know for sure? Will this cause us harm?’ All rightful questions, all without an answer.
‘Come on, Montaro, give them some time!’ A carefree voice comes from behind me and Hoshi appears next to us.
‘You should be more concerned too.’ The guitarist scolds the smaller guy, but that just keeps smiling.
‘If we were in their situation, you’d handle it the same way. So just wait a little longer patiently, and instead of causing more trouble, support and help them.’
‘Tch.’ Montaro turns his head, but nods. ‘Yeah, you’re right. Sorry, Iau, if you need anything, let me know.’ He pats my arm with a slight smile and turns on his heels, going to his room.
‘Sorry about him. ’ Hoshi speaks quietly next to me.
‘No, his worries are legitimate, we’re being selfish with the whole band.’
‘You know, with another job, you could take off time to solve your problems, but as a musician, you can’t just do that, you have to work on a solution while still doing your job. That means it takes more time, and Montaro understands this too. So don’t worry, and as he said, if you guys need anything, we’re here. And I mean it.’ He trails off, the smile fading from his face. ‘I keep thinking, maybe if I talked to Kei that morning, we could have avoided it.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘That morning Kei and I went to have breakfast and I saw something is bothering him and I asked him but because he ditched answering a few times, I let it go. If I kept pushing and make him tell me what’s going on, maybe we didn’t end up like this.’
‘You don’t know. And what ifs won’t change anything, so don’t beat yourself over it. Besides, I know it sounds weird, but I think we needed this, we needed Kei to finally snap and now we can really talk like mature adults instead of just trying to fix things like shoveling snow with a fork.’
‘Ha, that’s a good one! If you feel that way, it must be true. In this case, I’m glad it happened and we’re standing beside you with Montaro.’
‘Thanks, Hoshi, it means a lot. Hopefully when we’re over this, everything will be better.’
‘I’m sure of it.’ He winks and follows Montaro to their room.
I wake Misa when the time comes. He looks better than before, livelier, less pale. He gets dressed and we’re on our way to the hotel where the rest of the band stays. We’ll have an hour to ourselves to prepare for the interview, and then the reporter will come and ask us a seemingly endless amount of questions.
Giving interviews is almost as tiring as performing; there are so many questions, because they will only publish a selected best, but they have to have material to choose from, and you have to concentrate to answer properly but don’t say anything you shouldn’t.
‘Are you nervous?’ Misa asks suddenly.
‘About the interview or about meeting Iau and Kane?’
‘Now I’m more nervous about the interview, I’m afraid we’ll say something about what’s happening unintentionally, or that the reporter picks up on our flawed dynamics.’
‘I understand. Well, good thing you have time to make up answers before the actual thing.’
We don’t have to travel far, so we get there in like ten minutes in a taxi.
It’s almost 1 pm, so we’re in time, but my legs keep slowing down as we make our way to the hotel entrance.
‘You okay? Wanna wait a bit?’ Misa stops but I shake my head.
‘It’s okay, let’s just get over with it.’
We enter the building and I see the rest of the band with Jay sitting around on sofas in the lobby. We approach them and Jay bolts up once we’re close to them.
‘We aren’t even late!’ Misa retorts.
‘We’ve been waiting for five minutes now.’
‘That’s your problem.’
‘Hmph. All right, shall we go?’
We all nod and the others stand up to follow Jay. There’s a conference room on the ground floor and we sit there, around Jay who starts going over the questions she was given.
‘So, obviously they’ll want to know about what’s happening now, the tour.’ She looks at us over her paper. ‘Don’t overthink it, you can give a standard answer: it’s great, the audience is the best, you enjoy it so much, being on tour is always exciting and refreshing.’
We all nod, but I have difficulties concentrating on her words, because we sit around so awkwardly: because Misa stands at the door, Montaro was the first to sit, then Hoshi, then me, and on my left is Kane who keeps fidgeting, and Iau on his left keeps stealing glances at me.
‘Any questions?’ Apparently Jay went over another question but I have no idea what it was. To my dumb stare she summarizes. ’Favorite memory of the tour so far – they always ask this: just pick something neutral, like the best food or club in one of the cities. So, she’ll probably ask some details but as long as you keep it focused on the music and its byproducts, you should be fine. The trickiest question will be ‘future plans’. Of course you can’t tell her you’re struggling to keep the band alive, so you have to give the impression that you have something big in store that you don’t want to talk about yet. Like some amazing plan, a new album, whatever, but you can’t talk about it. So you just say that after the tour you’ll probably go to the studio and you’re working on something big. Do you understand this?’
‘But what if after the tour we just disband?’ Hoshi puts up his hand and asks. ‘Then the foreshadowed plan will be an obvious lie.’
‘But they don’t know that yet, and by that time they will just assume that something went wrong.’
’Well, something did go wrong.′ Hoshi sits back and all of us glare at him. ‘Wow, hey, it’s true, isn’t it?’
‘Doesn’t matter.’ Shrugs Jay. ‘The point is, you can’t tell her anything about it. You just talk about music, the gigs, how much fun you’re having, and that’s all.’
‘It’s not going to be easy.’ Whispers Iau and Kane and I nod in synchrony.
‘Wow.’ Hoshi comments. ‘You see, maybe it’s not even that big of a deal. You seem to agree and get along just fine now.’
I quickly look at Misa and my face probably screams for help because he steps behind me and puts his hands on my shoulders. Kane and Iau don’t seem to panic as much as I do, they think Hoshi is right and just look around clueless.
’I’m just saying, at one point you have to talk to Kei too, and right now you’re being okay, compared to that morning.′
The other two look at each other. I know the bassist is right, I really should talk to them, but I’m still so afraid. What if we talk and conclude that it can’t go on? What if they realized that I was right and they are better without me? No, I’m not ready.
I abruptly stand up, almost knocking over Misa.
‘I need to go…’ I mumble and storm out of the room, to the corridor.
Misa follows and questions me.
‘What was this?’
’I don’t want to talk to them.
‘But we already said they don’t hate you.’
‘I know, but they can still want me out of their relationship.’
‘You realize, you aren’t in that relationship.’
‘There is no relationship.’ A voice speaks behind me and I really don’t want to turn around. ‘Not without you.’
It’s Iau, he’s standing behind me and tells me something I can’t quite comprehend. I’m too afraid to face him, but Iau walks in front of me and looks at me so kindly. I hear the door open and this time I turn and see Hoshi pushing Kane out of the room then closing the door. Misa takes a few steps away but makes sure I still have him in my field of vision.
'I’m so sorry!' I blurt out looking at the floor.
'You don’t need to be sorry, we understand.' Says Iau, his voice shaded a little.
'But I am!' I almost yell at their faces. 'I did something bad and I know it’s horrible but I hope you can forgive me one day.'
'No, Iau’s right. - Kane clears his throat.' There really isn’t anything to be forgiven for. If you didn’t do what you did, we’d be still struggling in the same place, not getting better or improving. Now you’ve given us a chance to be better.
My brain glitches, and I feel my thoughts twisting, misinterpreting my intentions.
-'hen I’m glad you’re getting better, you seem happier after all.' My voice is sarcastic, and I don’t mean any of this, but I feel so hurt for some reason, my worse self takes control. 'See, Misa, I was right, in the end. They’ll be happy without me.'
I walk past the others, who became motionless statues, and I know Misa starts following me at one point, but I go outside and loose him on the streets.
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