PRACTICE & MEMORIES
“Hey, man, you all right?” Colt was looking over at me from his seat on his amp.
I gripped the sticks a little tighter in my hands and shook myself from my zone-out. “Yeah. Sorry.” I still couldn’t get Fae off my damn mind.
Maverick tossed a bottle of water over my toms before swinging his bass guitar’s strap back over his shoulder. “Let’s take it from the top?”
My sticks clicked quickly, counting out the beat before sending Maverick and myself into a thumping bassline that shot goose bumps up my arms and legs. It felt like I was falling in love every time we started to play; it was that exciting.
Finally, the groove settled in nicely and we took off into our newest song, which I was sure would rock our show the next night. It took a while, but an hour and a gallon of sweat later, we were satisfied with how “The Lifespan of a Firefly” sounded.
“This is some great writing, Dane. Why haven’t you given us lyrics before?” Rodney holstered the mic and took a swig of his seventh beer while his words slurred a little.
Grabbing a brown bottle out of the fridge, I tried to figure out an answer to his question that didn’t make me sound like a complete pussy. “Never thought anything was good enough before, I guess.”
Epic fail – that dripped vag all over the place. Way to have a backbone.
“Well, from now on, grow a pair and dish out more of this shit. It’s gold. I think we should open with it tomorrow night for sure!”
Colt and Maverick both mumbled and nodded in agreement. My ego felt like it had grown ten times right there on the spot. Being the drummer, I never considered that writing lyrics was something I could be good at. Yeah, I was a journalist. Yeah, I had written angsty teenage poetry when I was younger. But I’d never considered myself an actual writer.
As I slouched onto the worn out couch in Colt’s basement, memories rushed over me like warm acid rain.
Beer and sweat were all I could smell as I wiped my dripping forehead with my shirt sleeve. The gentle hum of the Russells’ dryer slowly faded in, a little too soft after the booming of our last song left the air.
“Great session, guys.” Maverick’s weak smile faded as his words lingered in the space. We all knew and we all felt it, but we left it unsaid. There was too much, and no words could make it better; there was nowhere to begin. It was our first practice after the accident a few weeks before and the tension in the air was suffocating us all.
I nodded and choked out, “You guys think we’re ready?”
Rodney laughed from the couch, gripping the mic in his hand. “We better be. Like it or not, we’re opening tomorrow at Mountain Breath.” His faded Zeppelin shirt was starting to wear a hole next to his collar and his lucky Chucks had mud caked on the sides.
“You gonna dress like a bum for it?” Colt joked, opening another beer we’d stolen from his old man’s stash. Mr. Russell knew we took them but was usually too loaded to care.
Rodney threw a sweat-soaked towel at Colt right as I stood to stretch out the kink that had been building up in my lower back while I’d sat behind my faded burgundy Ludwin set.
“I think it’s going to be sick,” I muttered, trying to be enthusiastic and failing miserably.
Maverick clapped me on my back before starting to put his bass in its case. “You ready?”
Digging my keys out of my pocket, I stared at my sticks where they rested in their bag attached to my floor tom. I stood up gradually from my stool, starting to make my way to the stairs. “Yeah. Let’s head home.”
“Get a good night’s sleep, gents! Tomorrow is going to be epic!” Rodney called up to us from the bottom of the stairs, a sly grin fixed firmly on his face. He had no fucking idea what he was asking of Mav and me, and it was better off that way.
The sound of a beer opening in my ear and the feel of cold suds spraying on my neck and cheek snapped me back to real time. Rodney erupted into a fit of laughter next to me.
“What the hell, man?” I thrashed, wiping my face off with the bottom of my shirt.
“Come on. I couldn’t resist. You were zoning out again.”
Colt sat in a metal folding chair across the faded lime green carpet, laying his guitar down next to him. “You all right, Dane? You’ve been spacey all night.”
“Yeah, man. I’m fine.”
I got up and started to make my way up the stairs to take a piss. Right as I opened the basement door, I heard Maverick say in a low voice, “Guys, it’s April thirteenth. You know how he gets around this time.”
My stomach sank. He was right. The twentieth was coming too fast for me to keep up with, and the memories and dreams were getting worse by the day.
Easier said than done.
Time would pass and it would still be hard, but I was still breathing.
As I walked into the living room, trying to make it into the back hallway undetected by Colt’s parents, I heard crying coming from the couch.
Turning on my heels, I found Sheila Russell sobbing into a pillow. When I cleared my throat, she popped her head up, startled by my presence.
“Sheils? You all right?” I looked down at Colt’s kid sister, who was definitely not a kid anymore.
Before, she’d been pimply-faced, chunky, and awkward. Now, her face had cleared, she’d hired a personal trainer, and her degree in Mass Communications was helping her break out of her shell, to say the least. She was stunning in her own way. Not my type, but still pretty.
“Yeah.” She sniffed. “I just got turned down for an awesome summer internship. It’s the only one I applied for and that’s biting me in the butt now.” She tried to laugh it off, but her eyes stayed sad.
“You know the saying, Sheils.”
She rolled her eyes and mumbled, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
I laughed, nodded, and gave her a tight squeeze as I continued on before my bladder busted. While I was trotting over to the half bath down the hall, Sheila called to me, “Thanks, Dane.”
“Don’t mention it! Call Julie. Schedule a mani-pedi date like the old days and you’ll be good as new!” I yelled back before slamming the door shut behind me, barely able to get my zipper down before I pissed myself.