Chapter 14 – Plans

Off the field, Valerie was so overwhelmed that she hardly knew what to do next. She dizzily pulled herself into the stadium and attached her flip folder to her left arm. A hand grasped her shoulder. It was Liana.

"Not now, girlie. Third quarter is our break, but just remember to be back here at least two minutes before the buzzer sounds for fourth. By the way, great job! Your solo was amazing. I was behind you for a few charts in the opener, and you had a terrific posture and nice footwork."

"Thank you," Valerie responded bashfully. Then she added, "I hope you're section leader next year."

Liana beamed. "Really? I never really thought I'd ever try out."

"Why not?"

"Well, I don't know. I'm not that great of a flutist."

"You're too hard on yourself. You're better than you think. Really," Valerie assured. Then she gave a whimsical grin. "You know, for an Asian, I'd expect you to be a bit more confident."

Liana laughed. "I get that all the time." Her face darkened. "Last year as a freshman, Sandy wasn't a section leader, but she acted like one anyway. Jennifer was alright, I guess. As a matter of fact, Jennifer really didn't use to be bad at all. She was quiet."

Valerie snorted. "Hard to imagine now."

"Yes, but she was. Anyway, on my first day of band camp, Sandy told me I couldn't play. I went home in tears and told my parents I wanted to quit band, but they wouldn't let me. They told me that if I started anything, I had to finish it. I'm glad they made me stay in band, because I don't think I would have ever been happy without it. Although it's true that there are times I am not happy in it, especially in flute sectionals, everything else about it feels so positive."

"So, after Sandy commented on your musical abilities, you never again felt confident in your playing?" Valerie guessed.

"I suppose that's why," Liana shrugged.

"Well, since she was very wrong, now will you consider going for section leader next year? I mean, I know you'll only be a junior next year, but none of next year's flute seniors really seem up for the job. None of them love band as much as you."

"Only under one condition."

"What is that?"

"You'll run for co-section leader with me."

Valerie gaped. "Me? Why? I'll be a sophomore! There aren't any sophomore section leaders!"

"Doesn't mean there won't be. Look, the reason why there aren't any sophomore section leaders in this band is because it is very hard to get upperclassmen to respect them. But look at you! Everyone loves you! Well…. Besides two seniors, that is. Other than that, though, the whole flute section looks up to you! Whenever they have a question about music, they come to you! Not Sandy or Jennifer, because they're too intimidating. Don't you see? You're like the perfect leader! You aren't intimidating, but you are still serious about what you do, and everyone respects you because of it. Plus you're only a freshman, so that's saying something."

Valerie was silent.

"Please?" Liana implored. "There's no harm in running. I promise I'll run if you run. And only if you run."

"I'll think about it."

The sophomore grinned. "Thanks, Valerie. I would love to rule this section by your side. Now you should go enjoy yourself for the rest of the quarter. You deserve it."

"Okay." Valerie turned to leave.

"Oh, and by 'enjoy yourself,' I mean, why don't you go talk to that hot flute guy who's had his eyes on you since pregame."

The petite freshman felt her cheeks heat up. Then she swallowed. "You know, as a matter of fact, I think I will."