Song 30 ♪ Getting Away With It

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Friday night I stood in front of 200 people, frozen like I'd just looked into Medusa's eyes. Admittedly, though I'd been turned to stone my heart was beating with loud thumps that almost hurt. I could feel it on my temples, which were also dripping cold sweat.

How did I even dream I could possibly do this?

The orchestra was setting up in front of me, and more people kept arriving into the bleachers. Our team and the guys from Metropolitan High School were warming up behind me. Even above the loud chatter of people, the out of tune orchestra, the athletes shouting instructions and even the sounds of the night, the distance noise of cars in traffic, I could hear the sound of my heart in my ears. I looked down at my hands and they were shaking.

In a few minutes I was supposed to sing the national anthem. My mind helpfully provided examples of celebrity blunders as they sang the most important song in the land in front of large audiences, broadcasted live on TV, and completely fucked it up.

Oh God, I couldn't remember the lyrics.

"You look like you're freaking out right now."

I looked up at the source of the voice and found Madison standing before me with her violin.

"I'm going to give you a little trick," she said.

"If it's to imagine that everybody is naked, that doesn't work. I did that once during a school presentation," I added, grimacing at the memory. "Somehow I ended up looking down at myself and imagining that I was the one who was naked."

She laughed. "Alright, but see that guy over there?"

I followed where she was pointing and asked, "Ashton?"

"Imagine him naked."

I gasped and she left me standing there, frozen once more but for a different reason. Because now that she'd put the image in my head I couldn't unsee it, even though I was sure my imagination didn't do the real thing justice. But, of course, I was never going to see the real thing. Because that would mean he'd also see my thing, and I couldn't let that happen. I had more fat rolls when looked at up close and undressed.

I could feel my face and mood turning sour all of a sudden. It was why I was sure that there was no way he was really into me. It was all because of my singing. It was the only thing I could do well.

I took a deep breath and focused on that. This one thing I could. Sing as if I didn't care if I had no voice left tomorrow.

I squared up my shoulders and told everybody I was ready, even before Sister Louisa got into position. The crowd was instructed to stand for the national anthem, and the music begun soon after. I gave it my all, in my mind telling Christina Aguilera to suck it.

My face throbbed when I released the last note. If it was because of the effort, I didn't know. But there was a lot of clapping going on and I felt like that was contributing to it.

As we climbed down from the makeshift stage, I felt somebody bump my shoulder. Madison wiggled her perfect eyebrows, straight from a Vogue cover. "See? Told you it'd work."

"That what would work?"

I startled as Ashton appeared next to us. He looked as if it were suspicious as hell that Madison and I were hanging out together. And it was. But one way or another, she'd been right more times than I cared to admit.

I ducked my head as we climbed up the bleachers to watch the game and said to her, "Yeah, I guess it did."

"Are you blushing?" She cooed in a way that made me curl up into my shell. "Oh my goodness, you are. Are you a virgin?"

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