I wrote a story last week that's an "alternate history" story based on Blurry, my young adult mystery novel. I kept seeing and hearing things that reminded me of this novel last week - maybe because the beginning of the novel takes place around this time of year - and the idea came to me when I woke up one morning last week. I thought it would be a good idea to share something associated with a mystery novel, since today is a month since I released Emergence and The Earthside Trilogy and I've been promoting those heavily.
So without further ado, here's a journal story I wrote last week titled "Missed Opportunities."
Rachel halfheartedly polished her flute as the lights dimmed on the stage, a not-so-subtle clue that the staff was ready to clean and shut down the auditorium.
“Great concert,” CiCi said, sitting beside her with her music folder and clarinet case resting in her lap.
Rachel nodded, folding her rag and stuffing it in her tote bag. “It’s hard to believe this is my last year at Band Clinic. I guess the next time I see you will be when we’re students here at the University next year.”
CiCi nodded. “I’m excited.”
“Me too,” Rachel carefully packed her flute in the case and tucked it in her bag.
CiCi sighed. “I’m sorry Layne didn’t come. He really wanted to do this one last time before graduation, but he also wanted to participate in the math team competition. Another friend on the team texted me just before the concert. They made the regional semi-finals.”
“Then he made the right decision,” Rachel said.
“I’m sorry. It’s terrible timing that the math team competition got postponed to this weekend because of that wintery weather a few weeks ago, but they wouldn’t have even made it to regionals without him,” CiCi cracked a small smile.
“You caught his attention at Region Band last month. He’s asked me about you a few times. He tries to play it cool, but he asks me at least once a week if we’ve talked or texted.”
“Then why didn’t he talk to me then? Why did he let the entire weekend go by without saying more than ‘hi?’”
“He has girls chasing him all the time. Face it, you get that. He’s cute, smart, and nice. But he’s also shy. It’s hard for him to break out of his shell, especially when he just meets a new person.”
“I guess I should have talked to him, then. I just thought he’d be here and I’d have one more chance.” Rachel sighed. “I’ve spent the past month planning how I was going to break the ice with him, and it was all for nothing.”
“Maybe not. There’s always freshman year. He’s coming to USC next year.”
“That’s months away, with prom, graduation, and the entire summer ahead. I can’t help but feel I’ve missed an opportunity.” Rachel sobered. “He already has a prom date, doesn’t he?”
“Just tell me.”
CiCi looked down, picking at a corner of sheet music. “Yes. But it’s a childhood friend, nothing serious.”
Rachel sighed. “Then it looks like I’m going with a childhood friend as well. I’ll call Josh tonight and accept his invite.”
“There’s always the Ensemble Festival at the end of March.”
“I’m not going. I’m also on the literary magazine staff, and we’ll be in our crunch to get it finalized for publication. They go to print the first week of April.”
CiCi sighed. “Then that’s it for now.”
Rachel mimicked the sigh. “That’s it.” She stood as the stage lights flickered again, a sign that it was time for the remaining stragglers to vacate the stage so the crew could take up the chairs. “Well, I guess this is a sign. If it was meant to be, then we would have talked last month.”
CiCi stood. “Do you want his number? I’m sure he’d talk to you if you told him you’re the flute player from Region Band.”
Rachel shook her head. “What’s done is done. Or rather, it’s too late for what isn’t done. I need to move on.”
“There’s always next year. College is a whole new chapter of life.”
“That’s true, but we have to finish the high school chapter first.” She hugged CiCi. “Good luck to you over the next few months, and let’s keep talking and texting. I look forward to being roommates next year.”
“Me too,” CiCi squeezed Rachel. “Take care, and enjoy the rest of senior year. We’ll keep up. Everything will be new in August.”
Rachel’s shoes thumped on the asphalt in the parking lot as she walked to her car, a sinking feeling in her stomach. She had really hoped to meet Layne formally and have a chance to get to know him this weekend. He caught her eye at Region Band, but their schedule was too rushed and she was too flustered to introduce herself. A month of preparation had her feeling bold enough to take that chance.
Her heart sank at the missed opportunity. If only she had been bold last month. He smiled at her at the end of the Region Band concert before being swept away by a group of friends. That would have been a perfect opening to make her introduction. They may have started dating. They only lived an hour apart, and would be together once college started. Rachel’s visions of prom nights, graduation parties, and summer picnics drifted away on the cold, winter breeze.
A glint of late afternoon sunlight broke through the clouds, engulfing her in a hint of spring warmth to come. Suddenly, she felt the weight lift, as if this missed opportunity might have opened a door to a better one.
Or rather, that this missed opportunity spared her grief and heartache that she didn’t need.
What would have happened if Layne went to Band Clinic? Find out in Blurry, my young adult mystery novel.