Hello there! Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Any place mentioned is their own, although a few places are made up. If you happen to go to my school and find yourself as one of my characters, I hope you don't hate me. This is rated T because, I mean, it is marching band. Now, enjoy my fic!
It was finally here. That wonderful time of summer that you've been waiting for since the season ended. Band camp was finally upon us! This was the most exciting event of anyone's summer, and even though it was pure pandemonium, the joy on everyone's faces, including mine, was awesome.
The campus of Allegheny College was beautiful, with lots of trees and ancient buildings that you'd expect in Pennsylvania. We lived in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio and attended Karlin High School, but every summer for two weeks we drove over the border to band camp in Pennsylvania. They let us use the place before school started, and it hadn't been that hard to convince them, at least that's what our band director said. Mr. Sacket could convince anyone to do anything, and that belief had only been strengthened five years ago when, instead of having band camp at our high school like everyone else, he told us we would be going away instead.
Every year on Sunday night, he would tell us the story of how an away band camp came to be. For the freshman, they got to learn a bit more about the band. For the upperclassmen, it was a tradition, which the seniors often filmed. He'd tell us about thinking up the idea when helping at a band function earlier one summer where the students stayed on a college campus for a few days, which they really seemed to enjoy. It took a while, but eventually he got to the part about finding Allegheny, which surprisingly said they wouldn't charge him to use their campus. It was perfection, he said, and now we came every year for two weeks to teach the rookies to march, learn the show, and memorize music.
We had fun too. If you had a cell phone you could look up numbers and order delivery food, which could include anything from pizza to Chinese take-out. Since the dorms we stayed in had five floors (1 floor per class/grade and one floor for chaperons and instructors) elevator parties with card games and snacks were common. The seniors had fun every year with their prank. Last year it was walking through the halls at 3am and playing "Americano" as loud as they possibly could. My freshman year, they'd rubbed a thin layer of Vaseline over the handrails, buttons in the elevator, and the faucets in the bathrooms so you couldn't wash your hands afterward.
Now I was a junior and band camp was the most anticipated event of the entire summer. I spotted my friend Megan through the crowd, and I pulled my bag behind me to get closer to her. Her back was to me, so I stood on my toes and put my mouth as close to her ear as I could and whispered, "Boo." She jumped and whirled around, eyes wide until she saw me laughing. Her face broke into a grin and she gave me a hug.
"Hi Nicole, you scared me. How has your summer been?" It was a long line for registration, which wasn't really a line at all, more of a blob. Since our last names weren't very close to each other, it just gave us a better opportunity to talk.
"It was pretty good. We went to China again to visit my grandparents. How about you?" It didn't take much to get her talking, and her family actually did something interesting every summer instead of the same thing. This year they'd gone to Chicago, and by what Megan was telling me, they'd had a really fun time.
"We got to see the Cloud Gate, which is huge. It looks big in pictures, wait until you see it in person. I have a picture of my dad and brother pretending like they're carrying it on their shoulders. We went to the Symphony Center and saw the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which was incredible, and went to the Goodman Theatre. Plus we stopped by the Art Institute of Chicago, and I've got a picture of me on one of the bronze lions outside of the front, since they wouldn't let us take any pictures inside. My Mom and I went shopping and looked at the gardens at the Navy Pier while my Dad and Andrew saw a rock concert. I'm not sure who performed, but when we got back to the hotel Dad took two Advil's and went straight to bed." I laughed; I knew Megan's family pretty well. Her Dad worked at a publishing company, he wouldn't be the type to like rock concerts, but he was too much of a family man to not spend time with his kids on vacation.
Her parents drove her to band camp every year too, and her brother had come last year and the year before. This year, though, Andrew was starting his freshman year at Denison College and hadn't driven with them.
My parents had never driven me to band camp. My freshman year I'd ridden with Megan, and we'd had so much fun, stopping at a Greek Restaurant for dinner and singing at the top of our lungs to the radio. Last year, I'd ridden up with my section leader and probably half of the clarinet section. We'd had fun, but it was pure madness with 7 people stuffed into her Mom's mini-van. I'd vowed to never do that again, so this year I'd ridden with someone else.
I'd met Jacob my freshman year of high school when he was a sophomore, at band camp. I had snuck into the auditorium of the school and was playing 'A Thousand Miles' on the piano, and I hadn't heard anyone come in. Jacob hadn't come in the front door, he'd come in the back because I'd left it ajar so I could sneak back out later. He watched me play the whole song, and when the last note simmered through the air and finally faded, he applauded behind the curtain. I'd jumped up so fast I'd knocked over the piano bench, and he'd stepped out of the curtain, still clapping. I'd blushed and would have run off the stage if he hadn't struck up a conversation with me.
Now we were pretty much best friends, and he was defiantly my best guy friend. Megan would tease me mercilessly about him, and she had ever since we'd met. But nothing had ever come from it, which was fine with me and annoyed her.
After we got registered, we went to our dorm. We put our clothes in dressers and made our beds, then went back downstairs to see the rest of our friends arriving. They showed up, sometimes alone and sometimes in groups, and we all hugged and chatted about our summer vacation. We also speculated about what our marching show would be.
Mr. Sacket chose the marching show at the end of the school year, but didn't tell any of the students until Sunday night at band camp once he'd finished his 'how band camp came to be' story. Every year we would always speculate about it incessantly until he told us. This year, however, I'd figured out a secret. He told two students what the show would be the Saturday before camp started. They were the drum majors, and he would call them up Saturday evening and tell them the show, then e-mail them the drill and music.
So while my friends speculated, I already knew. As one of the drum majors, I technically had a right to. The drill and music were all in sheet protectors in a binder in my room upstairs, hidden under the mattress from Megan's prying eyes. Our show this year was entitled 'Night At The Opera', with all the music by Jay Bocook. However, I kept my lips sealed while my friends spouted out ideas.
"It'll be Star Wars this year, defiantly." We all laughed. Tyler guessed Star Wars every year, and when it finally happened, if it ever did, he was going to be thrilled. I wanted to tell him not to get his hopes up, but I couldn't.
"Maybe something with more jazz in it than last year," suggested Kayla. Last year we'd done 'Blood, Sweat, and Tears' which was pop, and the year before 'Musica Fuerte', which had Latin music. She was an avid member of jazz band and was first chair trombone in her class, and I could tell she really wanted to perform something that could show off her skill.
Other people spat out ideas, but I kept my mouth shut. I couldn't really guess, because I already knew, and I was a terrible liar. Knowing me, I'd give it away and ruin it for everybody. Guessing every year was half the fun, so I just laughed or agreed with suggestions and tried not to draw attention to myself so no one would ask what I thought.
Jacob came over eventually, and I couldn't help but smile a little brighter when he stood next to me. Megan elbowed me lightly with a grin to let me know she had seen it, and I rolled my eyes at her. In high school, it was impossible for two people of different genders to be friends and nothing more.
"I hope we play something Russian. We'd defiantly win any competition with that." Jacob's guess surprised me, but once you thought about it, it made sense. Last year we'd gotten second at one our competitions to a band playing a Russian show entitled 'Shostakovich', and he remembered that to this day. "What do you think Nicole?" Of course he would ask me. I bit my lip as if I was thinking and tried to come up with anything but our actual show.
"How about... Pirates of Penzance, maybe? I saw the play over the summer, it was really cool. If we could play that, the crowd would love us." It was probably the weakest suggestion ever, but it got them off my tail. My friend Emily actually agreed with me and kept the conversation rolling, and I resisted the urge to wipe my forehead in relief. Once Mr. Sacket told us tonight, this was going to be a lot easier. Until then, though, I would just have to keep the secret. It wasn't really that hard, until somebody asked.
People continued to arrive, and I saw nervous freshman, rowdy sophomores, anxious juniors, and content seniors. The other drum major came eventually, and he was a senior. Matthew had been drum major last year, so he already knew what to do, and this, he claimed, would be his crowning year in the band.
He went by Matt for short and played sousaphone, so the band had a brass and a woodwind drum major. Mr. Sacket didn't always choose it like that, he chose people based on who was best, but when it did work out he was thrilled. This year it had worked out that way, and the only problem was that I had never spoken to him before in my life. We'd gone out to lunch once and spoken at the end of the school year, and gotten to know each other better over the summer. Now, you could consider us friends.
He nodded at me on the way down the Senior Boy's hallway, and I waved back. Jacob looked at us for a second, made a bit of a face, but kept up with the conversation. Once our little posse dispersed, he pulled me into a corner. There was no private place to talk at band camp, but he was trying. His face wasn't happy.
"What was that?" I cocked my head at him, curious as to how exactly to answer him. It had been a saying-hi-with-no-words kind of gesture, nothing more.
"He was just acknowledging my presence, it wasn't a big deal." He rolled his eyes and looked at me.
"Sure, that 'wasn't a big deal'. He's a senior, you're a junior; you're both drum majors, so you met up a lot during the summer. Is something going on that I should know about?" Was he seriously suggesting that we had hooked up?
"Are you crazy Jacob? Matt and I are just friends, nothing more. Besides, why do you care?" It was a rhetorical question, of course. I knew why he cared; the whole band probably knew why he cared.
Jacob and I had an interesting relationship. He liked me, and I liked him, but when he asked me out last year, my parents had issued a swift denial. I had to focus on grades, they claimed, and had refused for me to accept him as my boyfriend. We could have just dated each other behind our parent's backs, but getting caught would have meant my parents not paying for band next year. And that was something I just couldn't risk, and something he was not going to ask me to do.
So now he had a different girlfriend. She was pretty, much prettier than me, with red curly hair and flashing green eyes. Her laugh was infectious, and she could make anyone laugh, it was one of the things he loved about her. Jacob had asked her out at the end of last year, when it became clear that nothing was going to happen between us.
He still came over for movie nights, and we'd stay up until 11 o'clock on Saturday's watching whatever he brought over. One week it would be a horror movie, the next a comedy. I didn't really care, and to be honest, I liked the horror ones, because it gave me an excuse to hide my face in his shoulder and for him to put his arm around me. My parents usually went out of town on weekends, since they had a cabin in Lake Erie. I let them have their romantic getaways; it gave me more time to myself. And if I was home alone, it's not like they could keep Jacob from coming over.
He stared at me for a second, took my hand lightly in his, and ran his thumb over my knuckles. I pulled back almost instantly. Almost. Because I wanted to believe that if I threw myself into his arms, he'd hold me there and never let go. But it was too painful, when he did things like this. So I had to pull myself away.
"I care about you, Nicole, and if you two were dating, I'd like to know, that's all." I shook my head, my short hair falling into my eyes briefly until I pushed it away.
"You know we're not dating, Jacob, you didn't have to ask." There was an understanding between us, that as soon as I got out from under my parents roof, we'd be together. I was waiting for that, and I wouldn't be dating anyone else until that fateful day came. But Jacob didn't exactly see it that way.
He thought he was free to do what he wanted until I graduated and we could start dating. Technically he could, he was a free human being, and I knew he really liked Courtney. True, he hadn't asked me, but he didn't need my permission to do things.
His eyes sheepishly met the ground at my statement. He knew what I meant. After a few moments pause, he lifted his chin and smiled.
"Well, if you do have the hot's for him, I'll tell him to ask you out." I laughed and punched his arm, making him look deeply wounded before heading back to his dorm.
Once everyone had arrived, Mr. Sacket gathered us in the auditorium and officially began band camp. He told his story, which I saw a lot of people filming, and he paused at the end before announcing the marching show. 'Night At The Opera' got everyone talking, and he dismissed us back to the dorms so we could chat until bedtime. It was only 8 now, and bedtime was 10.
Megan was thrilled, and we went back to our room to call in pizza. When it finally arrived, we chatted nonstop until the chaperons came around and told us to go to bed. Last year on the first night of band camp, we'd stayed up an extra hour or two and talked, but this year I switched off the light and climbed under the covers.
"We're not going to talk anymore?" I glanced at her sad expression, nodding slowly. She slipped into her bed too, waiting for me to explain the change.
"I can't be too tired tomorrow. I don't want the whole band staring at me while I yawn for half of practice. And you know Mr. Sacket would call me out on it too. So sleep time it is, especially since I'm waking up at 5am." She groaned.
"You don't have to go running every morning you know. Band should keep you fit."
"Not standing on a podium all day it doesn't. Drum majoring works your arms, nothing else. And I like to run. Mr. Sacket said I could go with one of the chaperons who goes jogging in the morning too." She rolled her eyes at me.
"Just don't wake me up." I laughed and turned over. If there was one thing no one wanted interrupted at band camp, it was sleep.
"I'll try." I rolled over and faced the wall, hoping Megan would take the hint that I was tired. She did, and soon I could feel the mist of sleep creeping into my brain.