AN: I kind of promised myself I wouldn't start another book until I had made some progress editing the old ones, however, something compels me to continue. And so, it's time to start the last of my original ideas. This one, I wrote down 3 years ago, and have been waiting for the right girl to come along. So, enter Rigby Eleanor Sullivan. She's going to have a difficult season ahead. Transitioning (maybe) from the Drum Line to Drum Major…leaving behind a hurt ex-boyfriend…falling for a very off limits (but super cute) Instructor…yup, it's all going to (hopefully) be resolved in this story, Major Pain.
As always, it will be finished, I just can't say when. With editing the other books and a new job, I will update when possible, but no promises.
I do own these new characters, and my apologies for where I might take them.
Chapter 1: The Decision
"Any minute now, my ship is coming in.
I'll keep checking the horizon
I'll stand on the bow, feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down down down, on me.
And you say, be still, my love
Open up your heart –
Let the light shine in
But don't you understand?
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin."
- My Real Life to Begin, Colin Hey (love, love this song!!)
I'm not sure why, how or when I came to this decision. I hadn't been a section leader, and I had no previous leadership experience to speak of, but something compelled me to, and it wasn't letting up. I'm sure my twin brother, Jude, would tell me it was because of my recent decision to break up with my boyfriend of forever, Everett Wallace, but I'm telling you differently.
I was going to audition for Drum Major.
I know, big deal, right? In the whole history of the world, there were a lot more major decisions. However, for me, in my own little life, this was as big a change as I could make. First of all, for as far as I could remember, no one from the drum line had ever attempted this transition. Drum Majors for our sad little excuse for a marching band, the Parktown Pirates, had always come from a wind section – usually a brass player, but sometimes an ambitious saxophone or flute would slip in. Percussionists stayed in the Line, with Captain being the highest placement possible. Furthermore, if there had ever been a drum line member way back in the history of the band who had been awarded Drum Major, they certainly hadn't been some semi-talented third bass drummer.
So far, I hadn't told anyone about my decision. I knew that no one in the Line would understand. They would make fun of me, and tell me I was already in the best section. Maybe they were right, but something about my upcoming senior season wasn't going to feel right if I was playing bass for a third year (quads were out of the question, and the snares were a bit too close to my ex-boyfriend for comfort). Plus, there was a rumor that we were getting a new drum line Instructor, and the thought of starting all over again with some college kid trying to prove himself with us was something that didn't interest me at all. Furthermore, I really didn't think there was going to be room for me with Everett as Captain.
Jude, intelligent as he is (he is first in our class, after all), would probably tell me the desire to lead the band was an unconscious need to one up my ex-boyfriend. Being Drum Major was the ultimate position in the band, and the only one who could tell the drum line Captain what to do. While we didn't have any issues about who was 'the boss' in our former relationship, I could understand what Jude would hypothetically tell me. So what? I didn't think there was anything wrong with stating my independence with an obvious gesture…
I should explain we had been the perfect band couple. We had gotten together our freshman year at band camp, and it had shocked everyone when I had ended things. More than anything, I think I had really just fallen out of love with him. He was more a friend than someone I had romantic feelings for, and I wasn't doing either of us a favor by staying together. I had come to my realization over the past couple of months, but had only recently had the guts to actually follow through with ending things between us. Maybe now, I was ready for something, or someone, different. Maybe I had seen Can't Hardly Wait too many times, and saw myself as Jennifer Love Hewitt, and maybe I wanted to see what my senior year would be like if I wasn't one half of Everett and Rigby. Not that I had anyone in particular in mind. Out of respect for my ex, dating someone in the band would be totally off limits…for now.
So, without Everett to concentrate on, all I could do was think about were the upcoming auditions. As I far as I knew, there was only one drum major spot open. The marching Pirates (yargh!) were roughly 100 strong and so, had a leadership of two. And to clarify, we're nothing special. In fact, we're the band that is the joke of the entire district. I have no idea why Mr. Jenkins has us compete in anything, because we always get the low score. In my three seasons, our highest placement was maybe 8 out of 10, and when that happened, we totally celebrated. There wasn't any particular reason for why we sucked year after year, but I had a feeling that if we really wanted to, we could be a much better band. We had the talent, and a lot of supportive band parents, and even Mr. Jenkins was halfway enthusiastic…
I guess, maybe, rather than my legacy being one half of Rigby and Everett, maybe I felt a weird need to make the band something worth remembering. Don't get me wrong, being in the Line was a blast, but there were only so many times you could watch the same marching programs win, year after year. I know we all tried to play it off like we didn't care, but when you're a drummer, there's a weird cocky thing that goes with the territory, and being dumped on by every other Line you know is not particularly a fun position to be in. The discipline we didn't have was reflected in the rest of the band. We would learn a show, and it would be okay, but we never seemed to get around to perfecting it. The diagonals never locked, some people were always out of step, and there were times when phasing was so bad, you couldn't even tell what we were playing. It was all pretty embarrassing.
I wanted this year to be different. We could make a difference to the underclassmen and the 8th graders who were going to join the band. I had heard a lot of good things about the class coming up, and was hopeful it all meant something.
In preparation, secretly, I had been practicing every day after school. If I was going to commit to the audition, I was going to be there all the way. Surprisingly, if you knew where to look, there was a lot of support and research online for the subject. Also, fortunately, I could 'talk' to people who didn't know who I was or what school I went to about my fears and concerns. I had already mastered the usual time signatures, and was currently working on finesse, confidence, tricky time signatures as well as messing around with some different salutes.
Whether I could believe it or not, the auditions were next week. It would be every day after school with Mr. Jenkins, our band director. We would complete a drill down, conduct a prepared piece, and finally, have some sort of "leadership interview" – whatever that meant. It wasn't going to be easy, especially given the amount of competition I knew I was going to be up against. Obviously, this time of year, auditions were all anyone could talk about. As I mentioned earlier, we weren't the best band in the world, but we had traditions in place that probably used to mean something – you still had to audition for section leader, Guard, and parts of the drum line. Drum Major auditions were before any of the other ones took place, I guess, so that if you didn't make the cut, you could try out for something else. As for Drum Major, from what I could figure, there were five strong contenders – 2 seniors and 3 juniors, not including myself. The others were just underclassmen who wanted the experience of the audition.
After a nervous weekend, in which I basically locked myself in my room to practice, I woke up on Monday morning, and calmly selected basics from my wardrobe. The announcement on the band room bulletin board had said that candidates should wear lose fitting clothing and comfortable shoes for marching on each of the days. On the way to school, I told Jude to catch a ride home with someone, because I would need to stay after.
"Anything I should know about?" Jude asked, with his eyebrows raised.
"I'll tell you about it tonight, I promise." I had to at least go to one day of the auditions to know whether or not I had a shot before I discussed the subject with my brother.
In the band room, I was quiet and tried to observe my competition. Of course, there could always be another secret contender like me, but I hoped I had counted up all of who I was going to be up against. Since breaking up with Everett, the percussion room had kind of been off limits, so I sat in the band room with my best friend Heather and the rest of the flute-loops. At first, they were like, 'why are you here?' But eventually, they got used to my presence. I missed the drum line – the camaraderie, the inside jokes, the friendships, and I won't lie that a small part of me missed Everett…but overall, the flutes were an accepting group.
"So, Heather, I have to tell you something…"
I should probably mention Heather was a bit like Phoebe from Friends, or Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. One of the many reasons I loved her was because of her crazy spontaneity and overall laid back attitude. I figured me springing on her that I was going to audition this afternoon wouldn't be such a big deal. Some girls might've gotten upset that I hadn't told them this big secret, but Heather usually rolled with things, so I wasn't too worried. Her attitude had been really great when I decided to end things with Everett… I didn't need someone second guessing me, or going all crazy overboard supportive of my decision. I think that's why she and I worked so well.
"Is it about what we're having for lunch today? I'm guessing it's mac n' cheese."
I smiled, and answered, "No, not exactly."
"Well, then, what is it?"
I looked around for a moment, but after deciding no one is listening, I responded, "I've decided to try out for Drum Major."
There is a quick moment of silence, before Heather smiled and said, "You'll do great."
I don't think I actually knew how much I needed to hear this until just that moment. That was another great thing about my best friend – somehow, she always knew the right thing to say. All I had to do now was to wait until school was out. The bell rang, and I left to get to Biology. On the way out, I passed by Everett…closer than he usually let me get to him after our break up. Part of me got fluttery, like I usually did when we were dating…but I quickly quashed those feelings. Most of me just wanted my friend back – to tell him about my fears, and ask him if I was crazy for auditioning this afternoon.
Everett had been going through a number of stages since our break up three weeks ago. The first hadn't been pretty – he was completely floored when I had told him, and of course, no one wants to be the dumpee. There was a brief period of him begging me to come back, but mostly we had been in weird zone of pretending the other didn't exist. Not that's how I wanted it to be, that's just the way it was…
Lost in my thoughts, suddenly, it was after school, and time for me to show up. This first day, I wasn't sure what to think or who to sit next to. It was all foreign to me…and kind of my fault. For the past three years, I had mostly hung out with the Line, or Heather, and all the other wind players seemed to have a lot of cammaderie that I didn't get. There was a lot of nervous talking and inside jokes, when finally Mr. Jenkins came out of his office and said, "Alright, let's get started. Those who are here in support of a Drum Major candidate need to leave."
What can I say? Band members are a really supportive group – at least half of the people leave, and my heart slowed down a bit. My mental list of who is auditioning was exactly right.
Mr. Jenkins looked around the room at us. I sat up straighter. I pushed everything else out of my head, and mentally became a Drum Major. Our band director addressed the group, "Okay, I see some new faces here, and that's good. As you're probably aware, upcoming senior Marti Sanchez is returning as Drum Major and will be helping be with the audition process. Her attitude and help will be noted, and it is possible, if unlikely, for her to lose her spot. For the rest of you, as we are a small band, I'm going to continue to have only two positions. Today, we will begin with drills. The people who lead this band have to be the best at marching – to help section leaders and Captains, to lead by example. I'll see you all out on the black top in five minutes."
Silently, we all moved outside and began stretching. Of all the things that make me nervous about the audition – it's marching that's highest on the list. In the Line, we do things differently – mainly because there are certain maneuvers that are impossible with a drum attached to your chest. Also, since we don't have a winter Line, I don't have the extra advantage of having marched during the winter season. Plus, drill work is also one of those things that is really difficult to practice. Basically, the drill down will put everyone in a block, with Marti calling out any number of basic and not-so-basic commands, trying to catch us and mess us up. I can only hope that everyone's just as out of practice as I am since it's been a few months since we've marched.
If anyone has anything to say about me being there, they don't speak up, but I do notice a number of raised eyebrows and nudges pointed in my direction.
Mr. Jenkins joined us a few minutes later, with an intimidating looking clipboard, and said, "Okay, let's form a block, three by four. You are on the honor system – if you fail to complete a command in time, then you will drop out. We'll start out with basics."
He nodded to Marti, who blew her whistle, and began clapping out the counts. Her clap was loud, strong, and in time. She called out, "Mark time, mark."
This, is what I figured would be my biggest thing. I knew and felt the rhythms better than any of the other candidates. For three years, I was the rhythm. I created the rhythm.
We marched a basic block until we run out of pavement, and Marti had us turn right – everyone made the first turn without missing a step. I'm trying desperately not to over think my actions.
"Back march, hut!"
And so my quest to be Drum Major began.
AN: Obviously, I've never been a drum major – if anyone has, and can add some realistic flavor to this story, let me know!
Let me know – do you want to read more about Rigby????
And finally, I'm CASHED on ideas for a marching show for the Pirates' upcoming season. Any ideas?