I wandered backstage, trying to quell the stage fright that had crept over me. I went and stood at the wings and peeked through a tiny gap in the curtain, scanning the crowd. Then turned my gaze went to the screen overheard that showed the cameras as they swept over the packed stadium in New Jersey. The opening act was winding up their last song and I was about to go on in a little under five minutes. No matter how many times I performed, the feeling never got old. I could never get used to the fact that all these people were here to see me.
Kyle came up from behind and slapped my back. “Are you ready squirt?”
“How do you do it?”
“Wrong answer,” I chuckled nervously. “This is the part you tell me it will get better with time.” Wired energy made me edgy and fear fluttered through me causing me to feel nauseous.
“You’ve got this.” He held me at arm’s length and peered at me. “You were born for this. You’re a natural.”
“Thanks for believing in me. Even when I acted up-and threw tantrums…and acted like an ungrateful brat,” I told him with remorse. “Thank you for your patience…for everything. You and Jordan have been the best mentors ever.”
“You know it!” Jordan hollered as he sauntered in. He wore jeans and a snug T-shirt that displayed roped forearms covered in tattoos. “Sad reality is you will never be as good as me.”
“Jordan, you’re here!” I couldn’t hide my pleasure at seeing him. “I thought you were on tour with Blue.” I had wanted to ask him more. How she was? Did she miss me? Did she ever talk about me-even if it was just in passing? Part of me wished she was here, by side, to share this moment with me.
“She can manage without me for tonight. I couldn’t miss your big night,” he closed in and engulfed me in a bear-hug. “Go out there and kill it!”
“But…before you go…” Kyle held up a finger. “We have a surprise for you.” He nodded towards the door and my parents and brother burst through.
“Mom! Dad!” My face broke into a smile. They had never been to any of my concerts and this really was a pleasant surprise. Well except Chase, he’d been to all of my concerts. “What are you doing here?” I asked for the second time that night.
“Kyle invited us,” my father replied. “And we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see our son doing what he does best.”
“I’m so glad that you’re here!” I said with the utmost sincerity. “This is like a dream come true.”
“We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” my mom said, giving me a squeeze. “We are so proud of you, sweetie!”
Tears pricked my eyes as I pulled away. “Thanks mom. It means a lot hearing that.”
“Can I please have an autograph?” Chase intimated in a high-pitched voice. “Right here Corbyn…” he battered his lashes and raised his t-shirt, exposing his eight-pack. “Right here…” he jabbed his hip.
“You’re crazy, dude!” We laughed and his arms came around me.
“Super-proud of you, baby brother,” he uttered the words that warmed my heart.
“It’s time, Coleman!” the stage manager announced, standing at the doorway.
Everyone trickled out and I hung back. “Hey, Kyle!” I called out as he walked to the door.
He turned back and waited. “What’s up?”
“Can you-will you-I can’t do this-”
“Yes you can,” he stated firmly. You’ve done it before and you can do it again. This should be child’s play to you.”
“The crowd is bigger and it’s a whole new album...I guess, I am just a bag of nerves,” I stuck my sweaty fingers through my hair. My distressed jeans felt too tight and my shirt too constricting. “I’m anxious and scared-my parents are here…what if I mess this up? What if they don’t like my songs??? I don’t know…”
“Feeling high-strung is perfectly normal,” he placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “You’ll be fine once you get out there. You know this.”
“Can you please come out with me? Just for the first song?”
“This is your night, I don’t want this to be about me.”
He wasn’t wrong. People would totally flip out once he stepped out there. “I know…but you once told me that if ever I needed a crutch, all I had to do was ask…” I reminded him. “I’m asking now.”
“Okay,” he nodded. “Then, I’m your guy.”
“We can just do our song now and then see what to do later.”
“I will follow your lead,” he winked as we made our way to the front.
I took my place at center stage, slowly taking in the electric atmosphere that had gripped the stadium. It was contagious. There were well over eighty thousand people filling the place with applause, cheering, and enough adrenalin to power a hydro station for the whole city. As soon as Kyle and I walked on stage, high-pitched screams echoed and drowned the relentless deep thud of the band’s music. Anticipation hung in the air. You could taste the excitement, the expectation that it was going to be a memorable, epic show.
And synonymous with Kyle’s dominating presence, tears, hysteria, dizzy spells, and vomit ensued. I knew this would happen and that’s the reason I did it. I just wanted the focus to be off me while I got my head in the game.
We dove straight into the music and let it do the talking. The adrenalin soon kicked into my system, giving my brain the burst of energy it needed to own this performance.