Hello again! Today’s post is a short story that I wrote for one of my classes last year. Just note as well that the song lyrics and titles are not my own creation. They’re from a Nickelodeon show called Victorious that I used to watch! Enjoy…
I can feel the sweat dripping down my forehead. The hot air blows past my face in an unsuccessful effort to cool me down. I love summer but the excessive sweatiness is never a good thing. The wind whips my brown hair around my face and in front of my sunglasses as Adam and I drive down the highway towards Los Angeles. We’d spent the last week on a road trip around the state and enjoyed every second of it.
Heading back into town, I started to dread the next day. The first day back at school. The summer break had been amazing. Adam and I had spent it travelling and sightseeing. As we drove closer and closer to home, the air rushing through the open top of his convertible, I felt the pit of my stomach slowly start to drop. One more semester until graduation, and then college.
Adam and I attend an arts high school with an emphasis on drama and performing arts. He’s an incredible singer and songwriter, the kind that you just know will make it big. I sing too, but I also enjoy acting. We do duets a lot but I always prefer to hear him sing alone.
This week we have to work hard to win the Hollywood Arts competition. This is one of the times I’ll perform a duet with Adam. He’s been writing a song especially for it, but he hadn’t let me hear it until we left for our road trip.
“It has to be perfect,” he’d said, “otherwise I’ll just be disappointing myself.” Nothing is ever good enough until he’s spent countless hours working on it in his garage, rewriting the same piece time and time again. It’s a wonder he ever gets any sleep, actually.
In this competition, we’ll be up against every other kid in LA that has some ounce of talent. But, if we win this, we have a shot at a record deal and we’ll be signed by Leo Kelly, one of the biggest producers in LA. If he signs us, he’s sure to make us huge.
We’re nearing my house now and I have to glance at Adam’s beautiful face before we part ways. His sculpted jawline and short stubble makes me never want to leave his side. Then, he looks at me and his striking green eyes lock with mine for a moment before he starts laughing.
“God Tori, what are you looking at me like that for?” He smiles as he redirects his attention to the road in front of us.
“I just like you, I guess,” I joke, “What’s wrong with that?” He sends me a teasing smile, the kind that would make other girls swoon. He could be such a player if he wanted to. He pulls up next to the curb outside my house. My mum is in the garden in the dimming afternoon light, subtly waiting up for me.
“I’ll catch you tomorrow, love,” Adam whispers as I kiss his cheek.
“Not if I catch you first.” I wink at him. He waves hello to my mum before he drives away with his shoulder length, black hair flowing in the light breeze behind him.
Mum greets me wearing her dirty gloves and sunhat with a big hug.
“How was the trip sweetie?” she asks.
“It was amazing mum; truly incredible. We got heaps of writing done. Oh and we finally started rehearsing the duet for the competition.” The main point of travelling so much together is because it gives Adam inspiration. He said to me at the start of the summer break that he wanted to see everything with me by his side. He wanted to write about what we saw and what we did. I can’t wait to see what the final product is of what he’s been working on this week.
I spend the night recapping the week to mum while dad sits there subtly scowling as I talk about song writing. Dad thinks that I’m wasting my time with performing and that I should go to college and become a lawyer or psychologist or something. I always shudder at the thought. I could never do something so mundane. Performing is what I want to do.
When I get up to my room and get my laptop out, I notice that Adam’s sent me a voice recording. Eagerly I start to listen to it. Anytime he sends me a recording, it’s almost always a small part of a song that he’s really happy with. This time though, the recording is almost three and a half minutes long. He’s sent me a whole song. I press play and hear his soft voice singing.
“Got a one-way ticket down a two-way street, got the wind in my hair and there’s dust on my feet, I’m just trying to make it in America. I’m singing the words to my favourite song, with the roof down and my glasses on, and I’m driving straight through America.”
The song is about our road trip. I’m in awe of how he can write a masterpiece like this so quickly. His light strumming of his guitar stops and that’s when I know it’s the end of the song. I send him a message full of praise and say goodnight. I listen to the song on repeat as I lay in bed and look forward to seeing all our friends tomorrow and for the competition that could make or break us.
The next morning, I throw on my cropped black jersey top and a pair of denim shorts. I grab a red flannie on my way out just in case I want protection from the scorching sun. I shout a goodbye to mum and dad and jump into Adam’s car.
“You’re looking bright this morning,” he says. I kiss him in response.
“Let’s get to it then. We’ve got a competition to win.” He nods with equal enthusiasm and we take off towards school.
Jade and Lee are already waiting in the parking lot when we get there. Hugs and handshakes are exchanged as we get out of the car. Lee and Adam go into deep conversation about some different songs they’ve been working on while Jade and I catch up. I tell her all about our latest trip and she tells me about an acting job she managed to get while on break.
“Are you guys ready for today? Are you nervous?” Jade asks. I shake my head.
“I have complete faith in Adam’s song. It’s bound to be a hit one day.”
After a few minutes, Rob and Lola arrive. Lola, looking as stylish as ever, is wearing a black knitted crop top under a leather jacket and high waisted ripped jeans paired with heavy black boots. How she doesn’t die from the heat, I don’t know. She never seems to suffer from excessive sweats like I do.
Our friendship group works really well. Adam and I are the only couple but Jade and Lee grew up next door to each other and used to play together every day during their childhood years. They’ve always had a particularly strong bond but for some reason they’ve never taken it any further. Lola and Rob used to date a millennium ago but now maintain a great friendship. They still tease each other all the time but it’s more playful than nasty.
The first half of the day goes by in a blur of homework tasks being handed in and new assignments for the semester being handed out. When lunch time rolls around I’m excited for my next class which is song writing. This is the one class I have with Adam and today we’re going to perform our song for the competition later in the day and get some feedback. It’s almost like a last minute run through.
Lola looks very unhappy as I approach the lunch table with Jade. “What’s up Lol?” I ask. She scowls at the sun.
“That,” she nods towards the sky, “is my problem.” She slides her bulky sunglasses off her head and onto her nose. Jade laughs and rolls her eyes. “It’s too hot for my liking,” Lola grumps.
“Well hey, if you wear a nice, light, flowing dress, you might be a bit cooler,” I joke, “perhaps pink? Maybe floral?”
Lola smirks sarcastically just as the boys get to the table.
“Who’s excited for the competition later today?” Rob smiles. Everyone raises their hands in unison. “Adam and Tori, I think we’re all praying to all of the gods possible that you guys come away with the first-place prize. Let us all raise our bottles of water to Adam and Tori,” Rob says as he stands on a chair and looks down at us, “We’ll all be there watching from the back, probably drinking, but there all the same.”
“Here here!” We all chant. I look at Adam and I can see in his eyes that he can’t wait to be up there performing, in front of the judges and crowd, this incredible song that he’s been working on. Six o’clock can’t come around fast enough.
Adam and I perform the song for our class and everyone has nothing but praise for it apart from a few minor key changes. Adam hugs me so tightly I swear I can’t breathe but I don’t ever want him to stop. Elated from the workshopping session, we take the rest of the day off school to rehearse.
He drives us to his place and sets up all the equipment, including a loop pedal, so he can create the final backing track for tonight. He has about fifteen CDs with the previous draft versions that didn’t quite make the cut. Adam starts to create the track while I go over what we’re going to wear on stage. As much as they deny it, the judges do notice and consider how we present ourselves.
Once Adam’s finished the track, we start singing. Adam will take his guitar on stage with him to play the simpler aspects of the song over the backing track. Hopefully it will give us some major brownie points, especially because Adam is young, attractive and can sing and play guitar. Girls go crazy over that kind of thing, which means a lot of sales when it comes to albums.
We go over the song a few times, each time going really well, but the more we sing it, the more Adam looks concerned. After the fourth rehearsal, I start to think that it’s not just nerves anymore.
“What’s wrong?” I ask. He looks from me to the music sheet in front of us and shakes his head.
“It’s just not quite where I want it to be. I thought it was but now…I don’t know. Something’s just not right.” He shakes his head again.
“Everyone loves the song, Adam. You’re being too hard on yourself.” I say. He looks unsure but nods silently. “Let’s go through it one more time. Try to be optimistic,” I smile, “you’ve done an incredible job.”
We spend the next hour singing while getting ready and packing everything up. Just as I’m slipping Adam’s guitar into its case, he grabs me around the waist and pulls me into an embrace. He holds me tightly and quietly for a while before letting me go.
“We’re going to be great tonight, Tori. I can feel it.” I smile at him and rough up his hair. “Well then, let’s go win that competition.” I say eagerly.
As soon as we get there, I can tell the competition is going to be fierce. There are so many people competing for one prize, it’s bound to get hectic. Adam and I say a quick hello to our parents and friends before heading backstage to get ready. We are going second last, so at least we get to suss out the competition before we go on. Although, that also means that we have more time for the nerves to kick in.
We’re seated backstage with all the other contestants as the first group go on. They’re five girls, wearing latex and bright colours, and look extremely confident. Suddenly I’m starting to doubt myself. I’m wearing a simple black dress with lace detail over the chest and my black leather jacket and heels. Adam’s wearing navy pants and a white suit shirt with the top buttons undone. We look good, but not latex good. More and more contestants go through and perform, each one has a unique look and an even more unique sound.
I’m becoming more and more anxious and I can tell Adam is too. His knee starts bouncing nervously and he’s blinking really fast. There’s eight more performances until we go on when Adam suddenly turns to me.
“Did you listen to that song I sent you?” He sounds urgent.
“Of course, I loved it. I listened to it all night.” I say. He smiles that cheeky smile and I can see an idea brewing.
“Good,” he says, “because I hope you know the words.” It takes me a second to let the gears tick in my head before I understand what he’s saying. His idea is insanity.
“I’ve only heard it, I’ve never actually performed it,” I say quickly, “I can’t do it now.” He grabs my hands in his and looks straight into my eyes.
“Yes, you can. This song…it has heart. I truly believe if we perform this song, we’re going to win.” I can see how much he wants this. I sigh and look at the ground.
“Fine. But you’d better be ready to play that guitar because we have no backing track for it.” He gets up excitedly to tell the tech guys not to play our track. “And Adam?” I say, “you’d better hope we win.” He flashes a smile at me and I can’t help but return it.
The next fifteen minutes go by in a frantic blur of harmonising and cementing in the lyrics of the song. It’s too soon when the coordinator is calling for us. Behind the black curtains next to the stage, Adam and I wait to be introduced.
“Up next we have a duo featuring Adam Hasset and Tori Leese who will be performing an original song written by Adam titled ‘Countdown’.” The coordinator says into the microphone. She gives us a nod and we walk out onto the stage, the blinding lights above us, to discover our fate.
“There’s been a slight change of plan folks, we’ll be performing my own song called ‘Make it in America’. Hope you enjoy.” Adam says as he settles in and starts to play. He starts the first verse and soon I’m joining in.
“Only thing to my name is an old t-shirt, faded 1985 from a Stones concert, and I’m dying to make it in America.” We sing. The crowd soon fades away and I find that I’m completely engrossed in this song. We decided the chorus would be all me and I feel a rush of butterflies as the first verse comes to an end.
“I wanna taste the sun, cause baby I’m born to run, I got a feeling that I’m not the only one, and I, I wanna show some skin, baby I need the ocean, and you can’t stop me now I’ve got my heart in motion, and I wanna make it in America, make it in America.”
I feel so overjoyed and happy as we continue to sing the song without fault. Adam was right, this song has real heart. It shows how much music means to him. The song finally comes to an end and we’re overwhelmed by applause as we come off the stage.
“Oh my god, Adam. That was incredible!” I jump into a hug with him and he breathes a sigh of relief at how well we did.
“I knew we could do it.” He says.
After announcing the last performance, the coordinator gathers all of the rest of us backstage, ready for the award announcement. It feels like an eternity as we wait for the competition to finish. The tension in the room grows more and more as we all wait to see whether our dreams will come true today. After almost twenty minutes after the last contestant finishes, the announcer is handed a sheet of paper from one of the judges, the very judge whose talents are up for grabs. Leo Kelly. He and the announcer walk onto the stage together, the sheet of paper securely in the announcer’s hands.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” she starts, “the judges have reached a final decision. After much deliberation, they’ve decided on one performance that they think is worthy of a deal with Mr.Kelly’s very own record label. Now, it’s time to announce the winner.” She unfolds the slip of paper and painstakingly reads over it before speaking. “The winner is…George Uley!” The crowd goes wild. George Uley performed a few people before us and, to be fair, he was incredible. However, I get the feeling that the reason he won has more to do with sex appeal than anything else.
Adam looks at me with a pained expression. His heart must be breaking. He’s spent so much time and energy preparing for this, and our performance really was something special. I wrap my arm around his waist as George pushes his way to the front of the crowd to enter the stage. Everyone starts to make their way towards their things and the exit. Just as Adam and I reach his guitar, Leo Kelly takes the microphone.
“Congratulations George, what an incredible achievement. However, there is one more thing I need to say before letting you all go home. I’ve decided that I’d like to offer a second record deal to another performance tonight. This duo gave a performance that had soul and the song itself was clearly something incredibly special to the performers. Adam Hasset and Tori Leese, can you please make your way to the stage?”
I look at Adam and see my shock mirrored in his face. We push through the crowd to the stage and we’re greeted by an enthusiastic handshake from Leo.
“You guys had a great performance, I’d love to offer you a deal with my record label, if you’ll accept, of course.”
The crowd goes wild as Adam grabs Leo’s hand again.
“We would be absolutely honoured.” He says.
“Thank you so much,” I add. He smiles at us.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce this year’s competition winners. George Uley for his performance of ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz; and Adam and Tori, for their performance of Adam’s song ‘Make it in America’!”
Thanks for reading, I hope you liked it!