Marching Band of Brothers
I never had really considered all my choices, but then again I really don't get a say on certain things.
I didn't have a say in learning how to play trombone in fourth grade, nor did I have a choice in moving from my hometown, or leaving behind everyone and everything I knew.
I didn't have a choice when it came to joining the Crescent High Marching Band.
But I won't lie.
It was the best choice I didn't make in my life.
Chapter I: Opening Set
~Band Camp, Day 1~
"I'm Mrs. West, one of the band moms!" Curly brown frames a lightly aged face with kind eyes and a genuine smile. She holds out a hand to my father first, and he shakes it. She does the same with me.
"You must be Khrysta, right?" She says happily.
I just nod numbly. "Khrysta Rivers."
"Are you going to do Color Guard, or are you playing with the band?" She asks, switching her overly large purse to her other shoulder.
I knew little of what Color Guard was from my sister, the lead baritone player back home before she graduated. She had complained quite often that the Color Guard had a knack for annoying drama.
"Umm no. I play trombone." I reply, not really sure what Color Guard consisted of outside of said drama.
"Oh, that's fantastic, Mr. Zeffron will be happy to hear he's getting a new low brass player!" Mrs. West says cheerfully. She takes me by the arm, and starts pulling me toward a set of double doors.
I let her drag me, unable to even get out a single word of protest. Everything is so different here, and I just don't know how to respond. I've never been a social butterfly like my sister. I only had a few close friends and that was how I liked it. This was so different.
I glance back and forth rapidly as we cut through a crowd of parents outside of what I assumed to be the band room door.
As we walk in, it's more than just overwhelming. There is a crowd of kids, some older, most younger than me, some probably my age. None of them take any notice until a man in jeans and a t-shirt walks out of a small side room, brandishing a poorly made peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
"Mr. Zeffron!" Mrs. West calls after the man. He turns and I can feel myself pale as I realize this guy is the band director.
"Oh, hey you must be the new girl!"
"Khrysta," I manage to spit out. "I play trombone." I smile weakly. Some of the kids had started to make note of me, standing there awkwardly with my trombone case, talking to the band director who looked more like he should be part of the band instead of directing it. Though his hairline was a little too far back for him to be a high school student, I suppose.
"Tell me Khrysta, do you like learning new instruments?" Mr. Zeffron sets down his sandwich on a long desk next to the black upright piano. I could see a loaf of bread and other needed ingredients for making such a sandwich, but I decide at this point it might be better to just ask later.
"Sure, I guess. I've learned a bunch over the years… I can usually learn pretty quickly if I put my mind to it." I stammer. I clam up as soon as I finish the sentence, realizing that I sounded like I was bragging.
"Want to learn tuba?" He asks simply, leaning on the piano.
I squeak, "Okay."
The band director smiles, and pushes away from the upright. "Hey everyone! Meet our new tuba player!"
Now every single person in the band room is looking right at me. I just want to shrink into nothingness as several of them come toward me to introduce themselves, clamoring loudly as they all try and get there at once like I was a piece of meat to be won.
It felt so wrong. Like I was betraying my friends back home if I made new friends here.
"I'm Alyssa," One girl with blonde hair and bright blue eyes comes up to me. She hugs me without even giving me a second to answer. "I play piccolo, great to meet you."
"You too," I reply meekly.
I didn't know it, but Alyssa was going to be my tutor for the marching part of band. She taught me all about the complexities eight steps to every five yards, how to roll-step, and innumerable other things.
I spent most of the day learning these simple basics, and then later in the day the low-brass instructor Jake started teaching me tuba.
"It's very awkward." I say, grimacing.
It is though. The large instrument sits heavily on my right shoulder, and I work the valves with my right hand, and hold most the weight up with my left hand. I can already tell I'm going to ache in the morning.
At first I struggle with the really low notes, but as I continue playing the sound stops it's wobbling and warbling and evens out.
I finally get a break when we stop for lunch, and I carry my instrument and music stand back into the main room. I set the shiny tuba back in its velvet case and put the stand in the back of the room with the others.
I plop down with a sigh, rolling my stiff shoulders and reaching for my bag.
"Can you hand me that stick?" I hear a quiet voice say softly.
I spin around to face whoever it was that had spoken, for moment thinking I was imagining it.
It's a boy, probably around my age or a little older with light brown hair and dark eyes. His bangs nearly conceal his eyes from view, but I follow his line of vision toward my bag, and coincidently the drumstick someone had planted there.
"How'd that get there?" I mutter, sliding it out of my bag and handing it to him.
"Ryan," He replies simply, as if that explained it all. He snatches the stick out of my hand and is gone in a flash.
"Um okay. I didn't even get a name." I say to myself indignantly.
Alyssa is right behind me as I say this, putting away her own stand. "That was Aaron. He's the snare player. Doesn't really talk much."
"Oh." I frown thoughtfully.
"Drumline is full of some odd characters. It might be better if you try and avoid them if you can. Ryan pulls pranks on them all the time, so that's what that was. He's a cool guy though. Emma is pretty nice when it suits her, and Ben is plain old annoying. Jeremy is about the only one who is somewhat normal but he has his moments. The guy you just met, Aaron, is rather mysterious, and makes all the Color Guard swoon." She makes waves her fingers around as if to help me visual the mysterious magic.
I snort. "Sounds like a cheesy romance novel."
Alyssa can't help but laugh too. "They can't help it—someone so mysterious is bound to be an amazing guy."
"If he was forty instead of a teenager that'd just make him a major creep," I inform her truthfully. She gives me a solemn look, but the mask cracks.
We both lose it then and there, laughing so hard our sides hurt.
"Hey, no fun allowed!" Mr. Zeffron shouts out of his office.
I grin for the first time since we moved here.
No one listens to Z.
I already learned during drill today that Amanda is the one in charge of everything, and that includes Mr. Zeffron, because they're dating.
Amanda is clearly the one wearing the pants in that relationship.
"All right, start cleaning up in twenty minutes guys; we have a lot to do today!" She shouts over the noise in the room, and all of us are immediately silent, afraid to face the wrath of the drill instructor.
Drill is basically the marching half of the show. Amanda writes us all out as points on a graph of the field, and we go from one dot to the next like a giant connect-the-dot game. Sometimes the drill makes shapes or forms blocks. It always goes with the music though, which is an important and often overlooked part of the score in competitions. And lucky for me, Crescent High has a competitive marching band that I am in.
So there's no messing around when Amanda tells us it's time to work.
Twenty minutes later we're down on the field with everything, including a music stand, the music itself, our instrument, new drill, and as much water as we can carry with everything else.
We set everything down off to the side of the practice field and form a poor looking circle at the prompting of Jessica, a senior that plays trumpet and is also the marching band president.
I sigh as Alyssa ditches me and goes off to the other side of the circle, leaving me standing between two guys that I don't know.
"Who are you?" The one guy asks bluntly.
"Ryan, where have you been all day? Z announced who she was like ten times." The other, shorter boy says on my other side.
Wait. Ryan? Oh god, I managed to get stuck with Drumline didn't I?
"Shut up Jeremy, I asked her not you."
They argue for a few more minutes while I stand between them, hoping they forgot I was there.
"So who are you anyway?" I flinch as they finally return their attention to me.
"Khrysta," I say simply. "I just moved here."
"Oh." Ryan frowns. "Well this is Jeremy. And we're-."
"Drumline." I finish. "I know."
Jeremy looks at me quizzically. "You're pretty small. What do you play, flute?" I glare at being called small, but decide it's better than being called fat.
"Well you're like a stick, so you probably play what, the piccolo?" I retort.
He whistles at me, looking surprised. "Damn girl, you got some spunk. That just might upgrade you to playing trumpet."
I sigh and ignore him, continuing on with my stretching, focusing especially on my arms and shoulders.
"But seriously, what do you play?"
I let my head drop and I sigh again in annoyance. "Tuba."
"What? No way," He's completely baffled.
"Everyone grab your instruments for basics!"
The sound of a rather grumpy Amanda kicks me into gear, and I turn back to the sideline to grab my stuff before she yells again.
The drummers follow after me, as if to see that I actually played tuba. And when I pick up the biggest shiny instrument there was, they gape at me.
"I can't believe it. You're barely taller than half the seventh graders, and you play tuba." Jeremy says in awe.
"That's right little drummer boy." I say humorously.
"You might not want to mess with her," Ryan whispers to Jeremy out of the side of his mouth.
I shake my head, and leave them behind to find a spot in the basics block.
"I'm Becca," says the girl beside me. She wears a kind smile and her hair up in a messy bun, her eyes half hidden behind hipster glasses that suited her quite well.
"Khrysta," I reply, returning the smile. I set my tuba down on its bell as we wait for everyone to get ready. "Tuba," I say, pointing down to my instrument.
She follows my lead and holds out her on instrument, "Clarinet. You just moved here didn't you?"
"You talked to my mom already, she said you seemed really nice."
"Oh, Mrs. West is your mom?" Mrs. West is a nice lady, though I've only talked to her once or twice. She's the only band mom I've really met.
"Uh huh," Taylor says as everyone falls in line, four steps front to back and side to side. "My mom is making a big dinner for anyone who wants to come over for our hour break. Do you want to come?"
"Sure!" I squeak happily.
No doubt about it, one easy way to get me as a friend is to give me food.
Okay, so maybe coming along for dinner wasn't the best idea. Don't get me wrong, the food is amazing.
But it's just so awkward.
We sit outside around a glass topped table, everyone already having polished off their food within the first ten minutes.
Alyssa is there, though she doesn't really seem interested in talking to me. She's busy conversing with two of the other boys, one a trumpet player and the other a piccolo player. Honestly, I could've mistaken them for twins.
I slip away from their table and down the patio steps to the other table where the younger kids were sitting.
I always found I fit in much better with younger kids, and they were really nice about letting me join them for the last half hour or so of the break with them.
The hour is quickly coming to an end though, and it's back to work.
All in all, my first day of band camp doesn't go too badly.
A new story for a new part of my life. :) this will be sort of an on the side book that i work on when I get down in the dumps about missing marching band. but if you guys like it enough, i'll try and update semi often.
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK IF YOU WANT ANOTHER CHAPTER.