This One Time, In Band Class

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Senior year: day two. It was fifth period, which meant it was time for band. Band had always been, and would always be, my absolute favorite class. Even though I was worried about being in a room full of people who could potentially stare, I was looking forward to it.

I walked in carrying my clarinet case to a room full of noisy people. Mister Cortland, leaning on his walker for support, stood at the conductor's stand.

"Take your seats, those of you last few stragglers trickling in! There's music to be made!" he said, waving his baton.

I quickly put together my clarinet, stuck in a new reed, and went over with everyone else. While going down the steps I could see everyone's name placed on their music stands.

I had a feeling we'd be with the same people as always, and took an awkward seat next to my usual stand partner: Maddox.

"Hey Maddox," I said.

He looked away when I took my seat and didn't answer. I made occasional glances towards the back of the room, where there was a lot of giggling going on.

Poppy, instead of being in her seat with the rest of the flute section, was standing next to Destiny behind the xylophone. Destiny was doing her thing, hitting the mallets against the keys and creating a whole act out of it.

"And now, an impromptu xylophone solo!" Destiny said, taking things up many more notches.

She was playing like crazy and Poppy was giggling up a storm. I turned around and tried to hide my embarrassment. Maddox was busy sending a text, trying to hide his phone.

"Freshmen. Can you believe them?" I asked. He didn't respond. "Do you think we were actually like that a few years ago?" No answer again. The room was filling with more and more noise. I raised my voice a little. "Hey, Maddox!"

"Chrys, stop," he said, looking the other way.

I was normally a calm person, but my mood swings and Poppy's idiocy in the back of the room were really getting to me at that moment. I had to say what needed to be said.

"What's with you guys? Why don't you and Heather want to talk to me anymore?" I asked.

"I don't want to get into it," he said, looking down at his lap.

"What do you mean, you don't want to get into it? We've been friends and stand partners for the past three years. I just don't get it. I don't know what I did to make you guys want to stop talking to me."

"You had a one night stand," he said, finally looking at me. "You had a one night stand and you chose to keep your kids. That's great. That's your decision. But I get bullied and picked on enough. I don't want to draw any more attention because I'm friends with the pregnant girl." 

"That's so dumb. You know that no one's even said anything to me, right? People look but they don't seem to care much," I said.

"No one's said anything to your face. Heather and I hear a lot. Cler does too, but she doesn't tell you."

My heart was aching. My nausea was suddenly coming back. The room was starting to fall silent as Mister Corland went around to each one of the new freshmen and introduced himself. There was just enough noise going on that we could still whisper back and forth. 

"I kind of expected that. But what I didn't expect, was that you would care," I said.

"Because if they say things like that about you, what the hell are they going to say about me? About Heather? Heather doesn't need anything like that right now."

"Why are you so concerned about Heather? She can hold her own even better than Cler."

"Because we—" He looked back down at his lap as he clutched his clarinet. "We started dating over the summer."

"You what? I...I can't believe Cler didn't tell me."

"Even she doesn't know. We wanted to keep it on the low-down since, you know, we were hanging out when she was still with Rick," he said. Out I could see him making sort of a half-smirk. "People are starting to see us whispering. Does that answer your question? Just let's...not talk with all these people around."

"Hey, what if we just hung out outside of school, then? If you're that worried about people giving you a hard time?" I asked, my voice still in a whisper. "Why don't you and Heather come to my gender reveal party on Saturday? It's gonna be really fun." 

"I'll see what she wants to do, but I'm not sure that she'd want to go. Honestly, you've just changed so much, Chrys."

"Huh? How have I changed? I'm the same as I've always been! I mean yeah, I'm bigger and rounder, but I'm still me. I'm still the band geek who likes to stay home and watch movies or hang out at Burger King or absolutely wreck you at the arcade."

"No, you're not. You're up late drinking and going to parties that none of us are even invited to, by the way, and you've been sleeping around. It's like you've shed your good-girl exterior and now you're going through a rebel phase."

"Okay, I went to one party a few months back at the Hetcher mansion, because I was working. Yes, I got drunk and screwed up but it was one time. So don't listen to whoever is spreading those rumours. That's all they are: rumours."

"Whatever you say," he said, his voice low and flat.

"Look, just come to my party on Saturday."

"We'll see."

I sighed. "Well if you don't want to hang out or talk to me, can we at the very least just be civil stand partners?"

"Sure. Who's going to turn the pages? You or me?" he asked.

"Can you do it? Honestly, the less I have to move, the better."

"That, I can do."

Mister Cortland came to the front of the room and we could finally start playing. The rest of the year in band was definitely not going to be easy if the first day was already this rough. I focused on playing and hoped one day, eventually, Maddox and Heather would have a change of heart.

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