TS9

"Of course it's there! Flute 23! I just put it there an hour ago!"

"Well it's not here." When he said that, a thousand sarcastic response options scrolled through my mind, but instead, I just ran away from the trailer. I ran until I found Natasha.

"Natasha! They can't find my flute!"

"I hope not. Cause I took it for you!" She was always way too happy.

I just sat there dumbfounded for a moment.

"Oh. Why?"

"Because the line was so long, I didn't mean to scare you, sorry."

"Um- thanks." I said as I grabbed my case from her hand, more shocked and relieved than happy. I got my flute back, whatever works.

"Anytime!" She said with a giggle. I would have worried about it more, but I didn't get a chance, since I saw everyone walking into the park. So we followed!

Valley View Amusement Park is known for some of the craziest rides in the country. I passed a ride called the Vulture, and even though I thought that we had to be at the park early in the morning, I saw a group wearing bright yellow shirts fly down the hill. They had to have gotten here an hour ago! Did they sleep at all? I looked around and saw our green band shirts- it was hard for anyone in this park to go missing.

We walked to a large, open court yard, when tents and booths of every sort were set up. Ms. Kelly walked to a large one brightly labeled "SIGN IN" In the center while we all stayed by the entrance to The Vulture. We were all carrying our instrument cases, and I felt lucky to play a tiny flute at that moment. The trombone kids could have knocked someone out with their cases! I saw Mason with his medium sized saxophone case, and Kim with her relatively tiny clarinet case standing next to each other, smiling and flirting. They never stopped…

Once we were all signed in, we were sent to a room inside a huge building, it was their conference center.

"Room 306 guys! Look for it!" Ms. Kelly shouted while walking backwards and looking at a piece of paper. For only having 50 kids and two assistant directors, she sure did get stressed easily. Some bands had 300 players! Once we found our room, we stood out the door anxiously for a moment, ready to go, but not. Ms. Kelly, sensing the tension said,

"Come on. We can do this. Let's go." We all cheered quietly, trying not to disturb other bands. But we went into the room, and started setting up, cherishing how we put together our instruments, ready to play the best we possibly could.

I'd never seen our group so silent. We all nervously filed onto the stage, forgetting everything we'd just pounded into our heads about every single nuance of our songs. As we saw our team of judges, who were trying to smile, but were already exhausted, everyone tensed up a little.

It's Valley Day. It's the best day of the year. We've got the best day possible ahead of us. Why be nervous? I felt that wave run through the room when we turned to see a banner in the back of the room that said "Valley View Park Competition Band."

God must have stepped in. Because we played like we never had before. It was incredible.

Relieved, refreshed, and overjoyed, we ran out to the area outside the building. They wouldn't tell us our score until the ceremony tonight, but we were all hoping for a one.

"So, where do we go next?" I asked Hannah.

"The Thunder Coaster." Hannah said with a grin. "It's tradition. We all go together every year."

"I'm in!" I said, trying to not sound annoyingly peppy. The Thunder Coaster is one of my favorite rides.

We put away our instruments, and ran as quickly as we could to the Thunder Coaster.

While we waited in line, we all sang old songs and laughed. We probably would have felt like idiots, if there weren't three other groups around us doing the same things. It was a good feeling.

The first half of our group got on the coaster. Natasha and I sat together. And two cars in front of us, was none other than Kason. They giggled together as we all got buckled.

One feeling I could never forget is that feeling of climbing up a hill just before you're about to fly down it. You're excited and petrified at the exact same time. As we peaked the top of the hill, we all gradually put our hands in the air, looking around at the vast area of Valley View. As we started going down, we all started screaming. Except for Mason, who, instead of having his hands in the air, had his arm around Kim.

I was starting to understand the hype of Valley Day. We were performing, and playing at an amusement park with all of our friends in the same day. What's not to love? The ride was over, and we were all pairing up into groups of four to go on rides by ourselves for the afternoon. Ms. Kelly was talking.

"Okay, does everyone have a group?" We all nodded. "Great. Now you can go hang around the park for the next two hours, but please! Be courteous. At 5:00, everyone must report to the dock behind the Phantom for dinner, got it? The closing ceremony starts at 6:30, so we'll only have an hour to eat before we need to head to the stadium, so please be on time. Have fun!"

We all cheered and ran off into our groups. I was in a group with Natasha, Hannah, and Kim, who I guess had decided that she wanted an afternoon off from boyfriend land, which I understand. We all decided which ride to go on first, and had at it.

While we were waiting in line for the Launch Zone, Hannah started talking to Kim.

"So. It's been a year today. Do you realize that?"

Sweetly, Kim said, "Yeah. It has been. Hard to believe how much it's changed in a year."

"What changed?" Natasha asked gently. I was glad she asked, so I didn't have to.

To my surprise, it was Kim that responded. "It was this day last year that I first got to know Mason. So, coming back this year, together, is kinda surreal."

"Wow! That's cool." Natasha said. I nodded.

"That is cool." I paused. "Wait, today's the 18th of August, right?"

"Yeah, why?" Hannah asked.

"If I remember right, wasn't it pretty close to a month ago that you guys officially started going out?"

Kim stood there for a moment, mouth wide open. "It was! Time flies I guess, I totally lost track. You're right, it was July 18th!"

"No way!" Hannah added. "Talk about the perfect anniversary."

"So," I said. "Today is like the total perfect day. You met your future boyfriend exactly a year ago, and you've been going out with that boyfriend for exactly a month today. And it's Valley Day. That's freaky."

Kim laughed. "It is, isn't it? But Geesh, don't talk about him like he's just another boyfriend." She kind of grinned. Hannah picked up on what she was saying.

"Because you don't want him to be just another boyfriend, do you?" She asked sweetly.

Kim just shook her head, and grinned in her own, sweet little way.

I love Valley Day.

Two hours goes by quickly. After two or three rides, Hannah pulled out her phone and said,

"Hey guys, it's 4:45. We should probably head back to the dock." Natasha and I, the two freshmen, sighed, but Hannah looked at Kim, also a sophomore, and said,

"Why are you guys disappointed?" Then she paused and exchanged a glance with Kim. "Oh yeah, you guys are freshmen. You don't know about this yet. Trust me; dinner is the best part of the day. Come on, don't want to be late!"