Author: Allegretto Brioso PM
Sure, band is tough - and awesome - when you're in high school, but don't forget how crazy middle school can be. Welcome one and all to the 8th grade's band room; please leave all status and sanity at the door, it's about to get loud. [Taken down for editing. Edited chapters are slowly being reposted.]Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 3 - Words: 2,950 - Reviews: 58 - Favs: 17 - Follows: 14 - Updated: 01-26-13 - Published: 07-29-11 - id: 2937934
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 1: Metronome
There are no words for how much I hate buses. Well, Laurel Bell Bus #24. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I hate metronomes.
See, metronomes are these little clicky things that band directors like to use when different sections are screwing up the tempo, the speed, too much to ignore. You set the metronome to a certain speed, turn it on, and use it to keep a steady tempo while you play. It makes sense - band is screwing up because they're not together, give them something to keep the beat, band stops screwing up - and yeah, I guess it works, but that doesn't change the fact that a metronome on its own is actually the most annoying thing in existence.
This is relevant because Laurel Bell buses are not exactly well cared for, and Bus 24 is such an old, creaky shell of a bus, it's a miracle it even starts up every morning. Every time the back left wheel turns, it makes a heavy, audible clank. And since our apparently-deaf driver is only capable of driving at one speed, this bus has been my giant nightmare metronome since the very first day of sixth grade.
Clank, clank, clank, clank, clank, clank, clank. I don't know if it's just me, but that sound drives me up the wall.
At least we're getting out of here this year.
I reach into my backpack and pull out a book to take my mind off the endless clank-clank-clank of the demented wheel, but it gets snatched out of my hand before I even open it. I look up just in time to see the hardcover pulled into the next seat. "Hey! What's your problem?" I ask, craning my head over the seat to see who's there. The kid sitting in the seat in front of me refuses to look back, but the back of her head is all springy black curls that only belong to one person on this bus. "Tati, give me my book back!"
Tatiana Bell turns around, peeks over the top of the seat and giggles. "Aria, it's the first day of school. Why are you reading?"
I sit back with a huff. "It's a good book," I protest, settling back down in my seat.
Tati's one of the flutists at our school. I've known her since fourth grade. And if there's one thing that this girl never needs, it's a reason. Give her an explanation and she'll either shoot it down happily or ignore the fact that you even said anything.
She looks down at the cover. "The Book Thief. Markus Zusak." The girl looks back up at me without offering the book back. "Good book?"
"Really good book. But hey, it's due back to the library in a couple of days and I'm trying to finish it, so I'd appreciate it if you gave it back, maybe?"
She contemplates it for a few seconds before she shrugs and says, "Nah." A huge grin takes over her face. "Why didn't you just read it over break, then?"
I shrug. "I had other stuff to do, though. Flute stuff. Practicing for regional auditions. Helping out the music teachers at the elementary schools sort out things. Stuff like that-"
Tati snorts. "You, my dear," she says, "are a musical little dork."
"What? Oh, don't give me that, you're in band too!"
"I'm not the hopelessly band-geeky first-chair section leader of the flutes," she says matter-of-factly.
I roll my eyes. I can't argue that band isn't my life, because it really is about 95% of the time, but that's going a bit overboard.
"There aren't any section leaders in middle school, Tati," I point out. "We don't even sit in any kind of order." Mr. Calloway, our band teacher, has never seated us or assigned concert section leaders. Since our biggest sections have six people in them, each, it wasn't an issue.
"But Calloway said that he's doing some different stuff this year. Seating and section leaders are supposed to be assigned on the first day we have band," Tati says.
That's never happened before…
"Who told you that?" I ask, kind of suspicious.
"It's on the band website. You know, the letter that he writes to every grade at the beginning of the school year. He puts it up on the site about a week before school even starts."
I forgot that site even existed. "Oh. Okay. Gotcha. Section leaders and seating? That's going to cause some fights," I say slowly, trying to wrap my head around the idea.
Tati chuckles. "Hell, that's going to cause a lot of fights. I don't even want to think about how the trumpets are going to take it."
The bus screeches to a bone-rattling halt and a couple more kids get on. One of them – a skinny boy with curly, pale-gold hair – stands next to my seat and nudges me with his knee. "Move in."
I glance up at him. "Say please first," I say, squashing my face into a sneer. But I move, because our driver, oblivious as he is, will start driving whether or not all of us are seated. And maybe a little bit because this boy happens to be my best friend. "Asher, don't you know your manners?"
Asher smiles, dropping his blue-and-black backpack on the floor. The bus makes an awful rattling sound as it starts up again. "Aw, I missed you too, Ari."
"You did not. I slept over at your house two days ago," I point out.
He grins and tweaks my nose, which automatically earns him a scowl. He either doesn't notice or doesn't care. Either one is pretty likely. "Details are boring," he declares, turning curiously to Tati. "You were saying something about trumpets?"
When Tati's filled him in on what she just told me, Asher's eyes light up. He doesn't even question it. "This year's going to be great! I call section leader."
"You can't call section leader," I tell him.
"Yes, I can," he says, unbothered. "I'm awesome." My clarinetist best friend takes an apple out of his backpack and absently starts chewing at the stem, sucking at the skin around the top.
Tati wrinkles her nose. "Asher, that's gross."
Asher looks up from the apple and grins. "Hey, Tati, do you want some?" He drops the thing in her hand before she can object and she grimaces, lobbing it back full-force at Asher's face. It hits him in the jaw and he makes some sort of weird sound halfway between a squeak and a grunt. The apple falls into his lap. I grab it and put it into my backpack before the poor abused thing can come to any more harm.
"Hey!" Asher protests. "Aria, give me back my apple!"
I put my backpack next to the window behind me. "Your apple says 'no thanks'."
"Since when do you speak apple?" he demands.
I ignore him. "So, Tati," I say, turning back to the flutist in the next seat. "Do I get my stuff back or not?"
She laughs and hands me my book.
"What about me? Do I get my stuff back too? Please?" Asher asks hopefully.
I laugh and unzip my backpack, take the apple out and throw it at him. "Only 'cause you said please."
Asher throws his hands up. "We're not even in school yet and people are already throwing stuff at me," he says despairingly. "It's sixth grade all over again."
Tati snickers. "Get over it," she says, chucking an eraser at his head for good measure.
"Should I be glad that you two don't have your flutes with you right now?" he inquires, catching the eraser and tossing it back over the seat. "I don't think I could take a flute case to the face, to be honest."
"Definitely." I take my backpack and put it on the floor. "And you're outnumbered, so you'd be pretty much out of luck."
Asher shrugs, a mildly thoughtful look on his face. "Maybe, maybe not. The only sure thing when it comes to all of us is that once you add the piccolo guy, the other side is screwed."
"Beck's still on vacation in Florida," Tati says absently. "But I'm sure he'd be on our side. Piccolos and flutes are like brothers and sisters, you know."
I laugh. "Beck is just made of awesome. He catches so much crap from the rest of the school because he's a piccolo guy, but he's never complained about it once. That's incredible."
It is nothing but the truth. Beckett Sullivan – who, with his gray-green eyes and ashy blonde hair stands at 4'11" tall and weighs in at maybe eighty-five pounds soaking wet – faces more people telling him he's a worthless little band freak and trying to beat him up than anyone should ever have to deal with in their entire life.
It's not like we don't speak up about it; any one member of our band would gladly defend Beck. But despite the fact that we make up a good portion of the students, we're not always around to protect him.
As if he's reading my mind, Asher raises an eyebrow. "Yeah. Still, Aria, it's not like he needs us to stand up for him. Beck is plenty to handle on his own."
This is also true. This is actually a gross understatement.
Tati coughs into her sleeve and I jump, bumping a shoulder against the smooth, cold glass in the window.
"Why are we talking about Beck?" Tati asks.
I think back a little. "Well. I told Asher that he wouldn't be able to take us both with our flutes, and he said that the only sure thing when it came to band kids was that the side with the piccolo player would win… and then you said–"
Tati winces. "Okay, okay, I get it," she cuts in, and I grin, because taking things literally is just the most fun thing ever.
The bus stops, making the metronome-wheel rattle and clink ominously. I shudder. "This bus really better not break down on the first day of school."
Asher looks out the window. "It doesn't matter anyways. We're already here."
And indeed we are. Welcome back to Laurel Bell Middle School, my fellow eighth graders.
Let's just suffer through the year and then get the hell out of here.
Well, hello there.
I probably shouldn't be putting this story back up before the entire thing is edited, but at the rate I'm going, you would all be in for a very long wait if I did that. So instead I will be posting edited chapters as they are completed.
Like always, I do not have anything that even vaguely resembles an update schedule. I'm actually in the middle of midterms right now, so I wouldn't be expecting much until at least the week after next. But yes, I am back, and I am posting chapters, however slowly and erratically I end up doing so.
Also, this is the first real chapter, and I haven't introduced myself yet, so let me do that.
Hello, I'm Allegra. I'm fifteen, I write about band kids, and my update pattern is the most godawful thing you will ever see, but I like to think that I'm worth sticking around for.
First-time readers, it's nice to meet you.
Returning readers, it's nice to see you again.