Extraordinary Things

By @Madison
Extraordinary Things

Two best friends, a Volkswagen van, a depleted college fund, and a cross country road trip to bring the Next Big Thing to their Battle of the Bands competition. How extraordinary can this summer be? Cover by The One and Only

Chapter 4

June 18

“I still don’t understand, — oh, God, you’re heavy when you’re drunk.”

I roll my eyes with a groan, leaning back further into Miranda’s arm as she leads me through the club’s parking lot. “I’m not drunk. Or fat. God.” My hand finds Sadie’s passenger door. I grab for the door handle, to no avail. “I’m just halfway smashed.” I pause, thinking. “You know, it really depends on how you look at it. I could be halfway smashed, or I could be halfway sober, if you’re an optimist.” 

Miranda sighs, opening the door for me. She lightly shoves me in the direction of the passenger seat. “You’re stupid, that’s what you are,” she grumbles as I climb in, making sure that I don’t fall back out of the bus. Once I’m safely and effectively seated, she leans over my lap, fastening my seatbelt as if I’m a baby. She continues ranting all the while. “You tried to auction my car off to this guy? Why would you even think about doing that?” 

“It’s not a car,” I argue. I escape her grip momentarily, flailing my arms dramatically. “It’s a friggin’ bus!” 

“Oh, whatever,” she snaps, pushing my arms back down. “The point is, it’s my vehicle. You can’t just offer to lend it to people without my permission. Even if they’re guitarists for some band nobody’s ever heard of.” Once she’s finished securing me into the vehicle, she slams the door without warning. Just when I begin to think she’s leaving me out here for good, she materializes on Sadie’s other side, climbing into the driver’s seat. She starts up the engine, grumbling to herself. “It’s so late. What time is it, anyway?” 

I reach into my pocket, in search of my cell phone. I find it and pull it out, along with my wristband. I cradle the latter in my hand, perhaps longer than I should. I had nearly forgotten about it when Miranda showed up at the bar, pulling me away from Wyatt in a rage as soon as he mentioned my offer to her. 

“He gave me his number,” I mumble to myself. 

Even in the dark, I can tell that the look Miranda shoots me is filled with venom. “If you don’t stop talking about him, I’ll take his number and rip it up,” she says. “Now tell me what time it is.” 

Dejected, I click on my phone. “Twelve.”

“Midnight,” she mumbles. The headlights flicker on, forcing me to look away from the exceptional brightness. All of the sudden, I feel like I might have a headache coming on. Sadie lurches backwards, Miranda steering somewhat furiously as she backs out of the parking lot. “Wonder if I could get us back home by daylight.” 

Headache or not, that grabs my attention, forcing me to look at her orange-illuminated face. “Home?” I sputter. “Miranda, don’t even–” 

“Don’t even think about it?” she finishes, as quick on her feet as ever. “Yeah, that’s what I would have told you a couple of hours ago if I thought you might try to become some Keith Richards wannabe’s new favorite groupie. I just didn’t think you were that stupid–“

“Stupid?” What I intended to be a yell comes out as a pitiful squeak. If I were any drunker, I’d think there was a mouse trapped underneath my seat. “Hate to break it to you, Randi, but if I’m stupid, you’re ignorant. You haven’t even asked me what really happened.” 

“Nothing you could say would make it any less of a stupid decision,” she says, forever the logical one. If she keeps talking in that hoity-toity, ‘more intelluctual than thou’ voice, I swear I might just fling open this door and jump out of this ten-seater hippy bus. 

Instead of doing that, I laugh. That’s a lot less mouse and a lot more hyena. “You really aren’t helping your case, as far as ignorance goes.”

Without warning, Miranda reaches across her seat, violently turning the dial on the radio. The background noise of “Polythene Pam” vanishes, leaving the two of us mired in an uncomfortable almost eerie silence. 

Mercifully, Miranda soon breaks that silence, her voice flat. “Then by all means, Chevelle, enlighten me with the brilliant reason as to why you would try to sell my vehicle to some smarmy garage band without my consent.” 

Before doing just that, I stop to take a deep breath of humid summer air. Considering how fired up I already am, I have a feeling I won’t shut up for a while. “First of all,” I start. “I never tried to sell the damn thing to anybody. You should really get your facts straight before jumping my back. If we were to lend Sadie’s services to this ‘smarmy garage band’, — they’re called Extraordinary Things, by the way, — one of us would be behind the wheel the entire time, and you’d get her back when it was all over. Second, there is money in it for both of us. Lots of money, maybe, if they end up winning anything.” I cast my gaze back in her direction, already pleading before any words leave my mouth. “Wyatt says he’d help me rubuild my college fund, Randi. No, I might not end up going anywhere this year, but–” 

“That’s stupid, too,” she interrupts. “Really, Chevelle. Do you honestly think that some perv with a guitar can hand you a wad of cash and make all your dreams come true, no strings attached? Does this look like a Disney Channel movie to you?” 

“For the last time, he’s not a perv!” At this point, I don’t even care if I sound like a mouse when I yell. I’ll make my point known, even if I turn into Mickey Mouse himself. “Honestly, Miranda, you’re being really selfish. It would be fine if you didn’t want to let them use the bus for free. But considering that there might be a bunch of money involved, — considering this just might be my last chance to get a ticket out, — and you’re pissed because it’s inconvenient to you, I really achieve her dreams, then, honestly, what kind of shitty friend are you?” 

Suddenly, Sadie skids to a halt. I gasp as I’m thrown back against my seat. Well, this is it. I’m going to die in the middle of an argument with my best friend. I guess the world really does hate me. 

Considering that the impact never hits, it is soon made clear that I’m not in any danger at all. As it would turn out, we’re back at our hotel. It looks like Miranda decided against driving back home after all. 

Though this is a relief, it’s still very clear to me that she’s not happy at all. She remains silent and stone-faced as she gets out of the driver’s seat, only to come around to open my driver’s door again. As she unbuckles my seatbelt, the reality of what I said hits me like a runaway train. 

I told her she was a shitty friend. 

During the time it takes me to force myself out of Sadie and up to our hotel room, I feel absolutely horrible. Though Miranda was being less than understanding, to say the least, she didn’t deserve that. 

This is the girl I’ve spent the past ten years of my life with. The girl I’ve with whom I’ve spent most rainy Saturdays, baking brownies. The girl who listened to me cry, through skinned knees and breakups and the shattering of my hopes and dreams. The girl who I’m going to miss with all my heart when she goes away in a few months.

The fact that she cares enough to help my drunken self to the bed makes it clear that she isn’t a shitty friend by any means. 

As I slip underneath the covers and into restless sleep, however, I can’t help but fear that I might be exactly that. 

When I wake up, it’s clear that the air conditioner is still broken. The room is sickeningly hot and stuffy, inspiring a miserable sense of claustrophobia within me before I even open my eyes. When I do just that, it is immediately clear that I’ve made a mistake. Sunlight has never seemed so harsh. The golden rays of Southern summer assault me with their insufferable brightness. 

In an attempt to shield myself from the light of Lucifer, I sit up. This proves to be a bad decision, too. As soon as I’m upright, my head begins to throb with an intensity that I’ve never before experienced. I groan, bringing my hands up to my temples in an attempt to squeeze away the pain. 

“Morning.” 

Against my better judgement, I open my eyes once again. Miranda sits on the bed opposite mine, bright-eyed and already dressed for the day. Though I’m relieved to see that she doesn’t seem to pissed at me, that feeling quickly fades when I notice the smug look of satisfaction on her face upon noticing my misery. “Are you feeling okay?” she asks. “You look a tad hungover.” 

Though I attempt to give her a snarky response, I’m stopped by the overwhelming feeling of nausea that washes over me. I clamp my hand over my mouth.

 

Miranda notices this, and refuses to let the opportunity slip out from under her. “Uh-oh,” she says. “Somebody looks sick. Hey, this is just my two cents, but if you’re gonna hurl, I suggest you do it in the bathroom. They might charge us if you ruin the sheets.”

I don’t even get the chance to flip her off as I rush to the bathroom, not bothering to close the door behind me. I fall my knees, heaving all the beer I consumed last night into the toilet. Just now remembering that I didn’t eat any dinner with all that alcohol, I lean my head against the probably germ-covered porcelain, wishing that I could fall off the face of the Earth, if only for today. Maybe I can just have Miranda knock me out with something so I can stay unconcscious until the hangover goes away. Yeah. That sounds good. 

“Gross.”

 

I lift my head, only to see that Miranda apparently followed me. As I’m pondering whether to be mad at her because she invaded my privacy or because she didn’t offer to hold my hair back, she smiles down at me. Now, I decide to be mad at her because she’s so damn condescending. 

She smiles down at me, as if I had just done something cute instead of puking my guts out. “Well, if you’re quite finished,” she begins, her voice artificially sugar sweet. “I suggest that we go get breakfast. Comfort food is the ultimate hangover buster. Just ask my mom. Now, how do you feel about pancakes?” 

Though I’m tempted to tell her she’s insane for even suggesting food, the rumbling of my stomach betrays the sentiment. When I finally find the strength to speak, I sound like I’ve been run over by a truck several times, but the words I say are nothing but truth. “That sounds great.”

With that, I end up brushing my teeth and getting dressed, drowsy but motivated by the idea of breakfast. After digging through my bag for a much needed dose of ibuprofen, Miranda and I leave the hotel behind once again, heading towards the promise of pancakes and, maybe, a truce. 

“Do you remember our boy band phase?” 

Miranda drove me to the Golden Egg, one of her family’s finds from vacations past. As its name suggests, it boasts a gigantic golden egg on top of the building and, in my opinion, what are arguably the best pancakes on the East coast. After ordering a gigantic stack of them, topped with chocolate chips and oozing maple syrup, my stomach is settled and the pounding in my head has faded somewhat, making me somewhat more suitable for making conversation and giving my best friend an apology. 

Right now, said best friend is chewing a mouthful of pancake with a look of wistful contemplation. She reaches for her cup of orange juice, swallowing before giving me an answer. “Of course I remember,” she says. “It was the best and worst time of our lives.” 

I can’t help but smile, despite the overall distress moving my facial muscles cause me. Hangovers are a real bitch, apparently. “Oh, believe me, I know that,” I say. “Remember when One Direction was just getting big, and I practically disowned you for being into them?” 

Miranda nods solemnly. I can practically see the ghosts of our annoying pre-teen selves, dancing in her eyes. “You were still a Big Time Rush loyalist. You said I was a traitor.” 

I chuckle. “It was just because I thought that Big Time Rush was infinitely cooler, that’s all.” 

She gives me a pointed look, eyeing me over the edge of her glass. “And what was your reasoning for that?” 

I sigh before gingerly repeating my ideology. “Because Big Time Rush had their own TV show, and One Direction didn’t. So Big Time Rush had to be much better.” 

She grins. “Then when they were on iCarly, you freaked the hell out.” 

“I did,” I admit. “It wasn’t my finest moment.”

“Neither was when the Big Time Rush show got cancelled,” Miranda chimes in. 

“You’re right.” I nod, looking back down at the remainder of my pancakes. I pick up my fork, popping another bit into my mouth. “Although you later showed me the light that was 1D. And I figured out that Big Time Rush were never that cool, anyway. They ripped off Blur once, you know.”

“Oh, I know.” Miranda smiles, biting into a piece of bacon. “You told me all about it when you figured out where that ‘woo-hoo’ was originally from.” 

We laugh together, giggles bubbling out of us effortlessly despite our stress and fatigue. Despite the fact that she pissed me off last night and watched me puke this morning, I really remember just how much I love Miranda in this moment. Slightly petty or not, I know by looking at her flushed cheeks and hearing her stupidly high-pitched laugh that she is without a doubt my best friend in the world, always has been, always will be. 

I’m just about to tell her this, bury the hatchet involving Sadie and Extraordinary Things just like I buried my fanatical devotion to Big Time Rush, when I hear a familiar voice from just behind me. “That’s her!” 

Glancing over my shoulder to find the source of the voice, my heart sinks, accompanying my pancakes in the pit of my stomach. Standing behind our table is the entire Extraordianry Things line-up. Leading the ensemble, of course, is none other than Wyatt Easton, standing proudly in front of his bandmates like some punk-rock Peter Pan with his lost boys. Just looking at him has my head pounding in time with my heart. 

He smiles down at me, hair flopping in front of his eyes again. I hate that I find his grin as charming when I’m sober as I do when I’m drunk. Speaking of which, he is the bastard that landed me with this hangover. Sure, I might have partaken in every drink with great alacrity, but he was the one who kept buying without telling me to stop. If Miranda wanted me to have a reason to hate him, that’s a good one. 

Though simple logic and the current stabbing pain in my head should result in me being a lot less enamored with him now, I keep staring at him, mouth agape. 

Luckily, Miranda volunteers to be my voice once more. She blinks at him, as cool as a cucumber. “May I help you?”

Wyatt’s smile spreads further. Turning around to take note of Miranda’s sour expression, the word ‘killjoy’ pops up in my brain, a relic from sometime last night. Noting Wyatt’s smug aura, I suspect it probably has something to do with him. 

“Top o’ the morning to ya,” he says in an exaggerated cockney accent, comically paired with his obvious Southern drawl. He continues to stare Miranda in the eyes, completely devoid of fear or shame. The guy has guts, I’ll admit. “Are you ladies enjoying your breakfast?” 

“We are enjoying it very much.” Miranda sniffs, tearing her gaze away from Wyatt to her plate. Her utter disinterest apparent, she cuts an already-small slice of pancake into several even smaller pieces. “Thank you for asking.”

Unless my sight decieves me, I believe I see Wyatt roll his eyes before returning to the cat-and-mouse game. “Good,” he says. “I’m realy glad to hear it.” He turns back to Gabe, Pierce, and Tess, nodding toward a table across the room. “Shall we?”

Tess nods, her mouth as straight as Miranda’s. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was pissed off, too. God knows why. 

At her silent cue, the band makes the unanimous decision to go on their merry way and leave us alone. This would have been the end of the unfortunate exchange if it wasn’t for Gabe. The rat just has to say something as he passes by my chair. 

“Hey, Chevelle,” he mumbles. 

Miranda grips her fork so tightly, I’m afraid the metal might slice through her palm. 

Once I know that all four of them are out of earshot, I turn my attention back to her. At this point, I’d most definitely say that my plans for a truce have effectively backfired. Damn you, Wyatt. 

 

“I’m really sorry,” I say.

Miranda shakes her head, just barely avoiding landing her hair in a plate full of syrup. “It’s fine,” she says, though the look on her face tells me that it most definitely isn’t fine. She pushes her plate away. “I’m starting to get full, anyway.”

Of course, Wyatt catches me again before we leave the restaurant. He saunters up to me at the door while Miranda socializes with the waitress as she pays the check. He leans up against the wall right next to me, all nonchalant, before reaching into the basket on the coffee table next to us. He withdraws a handful of Dum-Dums. 

Grinning, he holds his hand out to me. “Want a lollipop?”

I shake my head. “My mama told me not to take candy from strangers.” 

He chuckles. “Sure it was your mom who told you that, rather than your friend?” He motions to Miranda rather obviously before extending his hand even further. “Come on. Take one. That’s what the sign said to do.” 

I smirk. “It said to take one, and yet, you took enough for a small army.” 

“My band is a small army,” he says. “Now, do you want pineapple or blue raspberry?”

 

“Pineapple, definitely.” I wrinkle my nose as I swipe one of the lollipops from him. “Blue candy is just so gross. Who wants to walk around all day, looking like they just ate a Smurf?” 

Wyatt glares at me like he’s offended before shrugging. “Hey, your loss.” He starts to unwrap one of the lollipops before lifting it to his lips. Of course, it’s bright blue. He pops the candy into his mouth, the white stick hanging from the side of his lips like a cigarette. “If you’re missing out on blue raspberry because you’re worried about keeping up appearances, I feel sorry for you.”

I roll my eyes as I take the paper off my own candy. “I’m not worried about keeping up appearances,” I say. “I just think it’s nasty all around. Plus, it’s unnatural.” I point my (admittedly artificially colored) lollipop at him. “You do know that raspberries aren’t actually blue, right?” 

He groans, the sound muffled by the candy in his mouth. “God, Chevelle,” he sighs. “Have a little imagination.” 

I chuckle before getting to work on my own Dum-Dum. 

Wyatt doesn’t allow me to stay silent for very long. “So,” he starts, removing his Dum-Dum from his mouth. “Since you came here with your wife-slash-gal-pal, will I get to meet Sadie the Bus?” 

Though visions of Miranda killing me later flash in my brain, I find my lips moving before my logic kicks in. “Sure,” I say. “Although I have to ask how you got here if your vehicle’s broken.” 

“We took Pierce’s car,” he says. He shakes his head. “She’s a real lemon, but she works. We had to put Gabe in the trunk, though.”

 

I swat his arm. “No, you didn’t.” 

He laughs. “Darn,” he says. “It seems you’re getting good at calling my bluff.”

“It’s one of my many talents,” I reply. “It’s easier when you’ve heard a whole lot of lies throughout your lifetime.”

He glances at me. “Man, you can be a real downer, you know that? Now…” He looks toward the door. “Mind if I see this bus of yours?”

“Not at all,” I tell him, though I probably should mind. “I’ll lead the way.” 

I lead him out the door into the parking lot. There, Sadie sits proudly in front of the building, in all of her glory. “Here she is,” I tell Wyatt. I place an affectionate hand on her hood, trying my best to flash him a winning smile. Okay, I’ll admit it: whether or not Miranda will be mad at me, I still really want this to work out. The whole money aspect is too good to turn down, and I’m already sick of the beach. Besides, I’ve gotten Miranda on board with my more inane ideas in the past. If I work hard enough, I’m sure I can get her to come around this time, too. 

I smile, leaning back against the bus. “This is the famous Sexy Sadie,” I say. “And she’s anything but a lemon.” 

Wyatt raises his eyebrows. “I can see that.” He approaches the bus, gently places his hand on top of the hood as if it’s a dog that might snap. After staring down at the shiny turquoise paint job for a long period of time, he looks back up at me, eyes shining with something between confusion and amusement. 

Hazel. They’re hazel.

“Her name’s Sexy Sadie?” he asks. “Like the Beatles song?” 

An unexpected surge of satisfaction strikes me. I might have just uncovered Wyatt and Miranda’s commom ground. 

Desperate to stay cool, I continue the conversation, doing my best to really sell it. Dear old Granddad has put some car salesman in my blood, after all. “Oh, yeah,” I say. “Miranda’s a huge Beatles fan. She, like, lives off their music.” I eye him with a shrug, pretending like what I just said isn’t a really big deal. “You wouldn’t happen to be a fan yourself, would you?”

“You kidding?” he replies. “I love them. They were, like, the last true musical revolutionaries of our time.”

Though I’m very tempted to tell him that this is absolutely untrue, and that there have been many genius muscians since then, he looks far too sold for me to risk ruining it with my color commentary. I bite my tongue as he lovingly stares at Sadie. “That is just so cool.”

Right about then, the restaurant’s double doors swing open. Miranda emerges from between them, stomping toward Wyatt and I. ‘There you are,” she says. “I thought I had–” 

She freezes upon seeing Wyatt leaning against Sadie. I’m unsure if I just heard a seagull or the sirens from Kill Bill in the distance. 

Miranda, as usual, has no qualms about getting straight to the point. She looks at me, her expression making it clear just how unamused she is. “What is he doing on my Sadie?” 

I choose not to answer that question, smiling nervously as I gestured toward Wyatt, who is now standing without his back touching the bus. Apparently, he can sense imminent danger. “Miranda,” I begin. “This is my new friend, Wyatt Easton.” 

She continues to glare at us, arms crossed. Just when she opens her mouth, I interrupt her.

“Wyatt,” I say. “This is my best friend in the whole entire world, Miranda Daley.” At this point, I’m afraid that my face could be stuck formed in this horrible fake smile for the rest of my life. “He likes The Beatles.”

“Wonderful,” Miranda says. Her voice betrays the sentiment of her words. “Now, Wyatt, if you don’t mind, Chevelle and I really have to–“

She’s cut off by the doors swinging open again, this time to reveal the other three members of Extraordinary Things. As they walk towards the three of us, I’m reminded in a terrible way of the black and white Westerns my mom loves. 

“Wyatt!” Pierce calls. “We’ve been looking for you everywhere, man! We didn’t know where you went.” 

“We were considering going table-to-table to see if we could find a replacement guitarist,” Gabe chimes in. 

Though Gabe and Pierce’s reaction to me is much friendlier than Miranda’s to Wyatt, Tess freezes in my wake. She glares at me as if I had kicked a puppy. Throughout our uncomfortable staredown, she doesn’t bother to say anything. I wonder if she’s taken a vow of silence in the time since I last saw her. 

Now, it’s Wyatt’s turn to make introductions. “Guys,” he says. “I’m sure you all remember Chevelle from last night. This is her friend, Miranda. Miranda, this is our lead singer, Pierce, and Tess, bassist and backing–” 

“Wyatt,” Tess interrupts, disproving my vow of silence theory. “Why are you introducing us to this girl?” 

Miranda’s face goes sour at Tess’s reference to her, staring at her blankly. Tess stares right back at her, equally as cold. I can’t help but imagine one of them yelling ‘draw!’ 

“Well,” Wyatt says. “This is the bus that Chevelle offered to let us use. Her name is–” 

“Chevelle.” I turn around to see Miranda, who has obviously been distracted from Tess. Now, she’s busy shooting eye-daggers at me. “We really need to go.”

Despite the fact that the six of us are just standing in the middle of a beachside diner’s parking lot, I feel as if this might be one of the most intense moments I’ve ever lived through. Wyatt has stepped away from Sadie completely, joining his band mates a good ten feet away, where Tess is continuing to look at Miranda and I like she could kill us. Pierce’s expression is a well-founded mixture of fear and concern. Gabe, as usual, seems relatively nonplussed.

The door opens once more, this time to reveal a tired-looking middle-aged man, a screaming toddler squirming in his arms. “Daddy!” the little girl shrieks. “I wanted candy!” 

Suddenly, I’m aware that this is not the beginning of some Western-style shoot out. It’s just a long, awkward staredown between a pair of tourists and the rock band that they may or may not owe something to. As weird as it may be, nothing remarkable is going to happen here, be it a change of heart from Miranda or a good old-fashioned duel. My only option at this point would be to leave with my pissed best friend. 

“Well,” I say. “I guess I’ll see you guys later.” 

“Yeah,” Wyatt replies, hands in his pockets. “I guess.” 

I give him an awkward wave before climbing into Sadie’s passenger seat. Without offering a goodbye, Miranda follows suit. 

As we pull out of the parking lot, I watch the four of them, awkwardly standing in the middle of the lot. They watch us leave, immersed in a conversation that I can’t hear. Miranda drives just slow enough for me to see Wyatt reach into his pocket, retrieve one of his extra Dum-Dums, and hand it to the screaming little girl when her father’s back is turned. 

I grin to myself. “Sucker.” 

As soon as we’re a safe distance away from the Golden Egg, Miranda and I’s newest debate begins. While it’s much more civil than last night’s partially-drunken altercation, Miranda’s questions are still rapid-fire. Luckily, when it comes to answers, I’m quick on my feet. As we drive to nowhere in particular, our conversation goes something like this:

Miranda: Where do these people want us to take them again? 

Me: Nashville. 

Miranda: And when, exactly? 

Me: By next Friday.

Miranda: I see… Then where?

Me: Depends on if they make it through to the next round. 

Miranda: Round? How many rounds are there?

Me: Don’t know. I’d have to call Wyatt and ask. 

Miranda: Ah… I guess I didn’t throw away his number, then… 

Me, reaching into my pocket to retrieve the wristband I made sure to remove from the pocket of my other jeans: No. No, you did not.

From there, there’s a brief lull in the conversation. Soon, however, we pick right back up where we left off. 

Miranda: What, exactly, is in it for us?

Me: Well, he promised me some money, regardless of what happens…

Miranda: Yeah, but what’s in it for me?

Me, after pausing momentarily to think up some sentimental BS: Your best friend’s happiness?

Miranda, totally unconvinced: Mmm… Nice try. 

Me, having been prepared for her being an ice queen: Well, there is one thing I’ve been thinking about… 

Miranda: Oh? 

Me, playing coy so well, I might as well be an actress: You do still want to be a journalist, right? 

Miranda: Yeah…

Me: Well, just imagine what interviewing an up-and-coming group of young musicians might do for you. Lots of new opportunities there, no? 

Miranda: Hmmm…

Spoiler alert: she says yes.

That night, I lie to my mother. 

Miranda and I have returned to our hotel room, which has regained some air conditioning, and are finishing up dinner when she calls. Expecting the call to be from Wyatt, I scramble to pick up the phone. I swallow my mouthful of BLT before answering, not bothering to look at the caller ID. “Hello?”

 

“Chevelle, honey.” Mom’s voice reverbates through the speaker of the phone, cheerful and sing-song. Either something great has happened, or she’s out on the town with the girls. I really hope it’s the former. “What are you up to? Are you having fun?” 

I glance over to Miranda, who is sitting on her bed, watching me expectantly. Since she made her somewhat reluctant agreement to take the band to Nashville this morning, she’s been anxious for me to make the specifics of our arrangement clear to Wyatt. Though she’s still not gung-ho about it, she seems rather eager to get everything started. “I’m not big on wasting time,” she told me almsot immediately after her initial affirmative answer. “So we should go ahead and get this show on the road. Literally.” 

Trying not to get her too excited, I cover the speaker for a moment. “It’s my mom.”

She nods, returning her attention to her sandwich. 

Now, I uncover the speaker to talk to my mother. “Hi, Mom!” I chirp. “Miranda and I are just now eating dinner. And we’re having a great time.” I omit everything about the band and the fact that I’m still a little bit hungover. 

“Great!” she says. I can envision her smiling face as she giggles into the phone. I only hope she’s doing it from home rather than a bar, or worse, at the house of a friend she likes to bet with. 

Desperate to push the worries out of my mind and return to planning important matters, I decide to ask my own questions. “And what are you up to?” I ask. “Anything new happened since I’ve been gone?” 

“Well, yes, actually,” she replies. My anxiety skyrockets. “My friend Cath offered me a good bit of money to start cleaning her house,” she continues. “You do know Cath, right?” 

Relief sets in knowing that it isn’t anything that will cause us to further lose funds. Quite the opposite, actually. “That’s awesome,” I say. “Is it a one-time deal, or…” 

“We’ll have to see,” she says. “I’m sure if I do well, she might ask me to do it again. You know Cath, always so eager to help out…” 

As it would happen, I don’t know this Cath nearly as well as she must think I do. I don’t tell her this, however. I’m just happy that she isn’t currently bringing us any closer to bankrupt. “Well, that’s great,” I say. “I’m really happy for you, Mom.” 

“Thank you, thank you,” she replies. “So, what about you? Anything on the agenda for you and Miranda tomorrow?” 

Yes, I’m tempted to say. We’re going to track down this guy I just met and offer to take him and three of his friends to Tennessee, then wherever they need to go from there. The things you’ll do for money, right?

Knowing that this will more than likely give her a heart attack that neither of us are equipped to deal with, I give her something entirely different. “Nah. We’ll probably just waste time around town for a bit.” 

It doesn’t occur to me that this is one hundred percent falsehood until it’s left my mouth. Miranda knows that it’s all bull; this much is obvious from the way she cuts her eyes at me from across the room. Even when her mouth is full of whole wheat bread, I know she’d be scolding me if it weren’t. I return her gaze with a shrug, hoping it’ll keep her from heckling me too much for it. 

Meanwhile, on the other line, Mom is oblivious. I’m so glad she never figured out Skype, or she would totally be seeing the guilt on my face. Motherly instict and all that. “Sounds good to me. Just waste your time wisely.” She bursts into laughter at that. Apparently, her contridictions are the funniest things in the world. 

I pretend to laugh along with her, trying my best to ignore Miranda’s glare. 

Once she’s finished with her laughing fit, Mom sighs. “Well, sweetie, I’m going to have to let you go,” she says. “Whose Line is it Anyway? is coming on. I can’t miss Wayne Brady, you know.” 

“I know,” I say. “Goodnight, Mom.” 

“Goodnight, Chevelle,” she replies. “Sleep tight, and don’t let those bedbugs bite.” 

“Really, Mom?” Though I roll my eyes, I’m smiling. “I love you.” 

“Love you, too.”

If either of us were going to say anything else, we don’t get to. The last thing I get to hear before she hangs up is the opening title of Whose Line. As usual, she has the TV turned up way too loud. 

Miranda hasn’t stopped staring at me the entire time, her eyebrows raised. 

I sigh. “Will you stop looking at me like that?” I say. “Like I could explain that to her and she would just let it fly. She’d probably be scared I might fall madly in love and get pregnant, like she did.” 

Miranda shakes her head, a grin surfacing on her face. I groan, plopping down onto my bed and pulling a pillow over my head. 

This still doesn’t block Miranda’s remark. “You’re really gonna have some explaining to do, you know.” 

I only offer her a huff in reply, reaching an arm out to yank the sheets over me. Suddenly, I have the strong urge to go to bed.

 It seems sleep is my natural response to screwing up majorly. 

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