Viola’s Prologue: Coffee
It has been my life-long dream to sing beside my best friend, Abigail. Being told by bar owners that they were “fully booked” didn’t make us stop searching for others, who would be willing to let us perform. I wasn’t ready to give up just like that and I knew that Abigail wasn’t going to, either. If I would give up, then leaving would lose its sense. Besides, I promised myself that I would never stop trying to pursue my dream until I am singing beside Abigail, with a cheering crowd.
Abigail and I have been friends since forever. That could be an overstatement but it seems like life started the moment I met her. It is cheesy, isn’t it? She has always been there for me, which is surprising because I always have been pretty rude. Abigail has always been the cautious one while I have always been, and forever will be, the reckless one. I was never considered as the nicest creature alive, but Abigail has always been there to remind me to be nice in certain moments. She has been the kill-joy yet sweet mother I once had.
It was the twenty-fifth day of our never-ending search for a bar that would let us perform. I knew that Abigail was starting to feel tired, because I was too. All that weariness went down the drain when I met the Pete Wentz. It felt as if Abigail and I haven’t been crawling around Chicago for bars. I could actually sense that Abigail was somehow tired of the search—tired enough to shove the idea to the side for God knows how long, but my girl isn’t a quitter and so am I.
When Pete Wentz approached us and told us that he would help us, I was not able to reject him. How could I ever reject Pete Wentz? Who, in their right mind, would reject an offer that would probably set off your life-long dream?
Being an obedient human being, I dragged Abigail near the backstage. I was buzzing with excitement, or could also be the result of the two cups of coffee I drank before we headed here. Don’t blame me. I was so close to passing out that I just had to power up.
“Are you sure about this?” Abigail asked. She was slightly frowning. Her shoulders were a bit slumped. One look at her and anyone can tell that she was exhausted.
I couldn’t believe she asked me that question. I turned to look at her with both eyes wide open—the way a mother would look at her child, who just did something embarrassing or wrong in public. “Oh.My.God. Are you seriously asking me that, bitch?” I was not able to stop my mouth from blurting out that B-word.
She shrugged. “Aren’t you tired? Don’t you want to just talk to the owner and then go home?” By home, she meant our apartment that we might lose if we couldn’t earn enough cash.
“We’ll just watch them play, then Pete will talk to the bar owner for us, and then we can go home,” I said. With that, I earned a sigh and a slight nod. I hugged her, probably squeezing the life out of her, but I didn’t care. Mommy Abby just approved for me, us, to watch Fall Out Boy play. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” I said in a much higher voice, almost a squeal, as I squeezed her one more time before I let go of her.
Abigail cleared her throat. She pointed, with her lips, at someone behind me—Pete. I didn’t have much time to actually compose myself. I brushed my shirt and jeans as if I was covered in dust. I managed a smile—and a soft squeal. I heard Abby whisper, telling me to act normal, but with me, nothing has ever been normal.
Pete had both his hands in his pocket as he walked towards us. He was wearing a smile, or maybe it was just an imprint of a smile. I wasn’t sure. I was busy, trying to act “normal” as Abigail said. I was pretty sure that I was not doing well, at all, because she pinched my arm really hard. I felt like a kid being scolded. I brushed off the part she pinched, trying to make it hurt less.
“Come on,” Pete smiled, “right this way.” My whole body was buzzing with excitement that I just grabbed Abby’s arm and dragged her. She almost tripped as we followed Pete. I whispered an apology but I think Abby didn’t hear it at all.
Being the nice guy he is, Pete introduced the three other members of their band—Patrick, Andy, and Joe. He didn’t need to tell me who they were because I know. I caught a glimpse of Abby nodding slightly, probably trying to remember the names. “Hi,” was all that I managed to say and it even sounded like a squeal. I made a mental note to try talking like a normal human being that I am not, and stop sounding like a rat that is running away from its predator.
“You have to tell us if the big man’s going to approve of you,” Joe said. I nodded so hard I thought my head was about to be detached from my neck. Of course, I was embarrassing myself unintentionally. I just turn stupid whenever my brain wants to, but I really am lucky to have Abigail. She saved me by answering with words, “If he approves, sure.”
“Is this the first bar you ever went to?” Andy asked. That got me out from my little room of fangirling. I had no idea if the coffee’s effect was starting to wear off, but I suddenly felt tired as hell. With a roll of the eyes, I said, “It’s anything but the first.” I heard Abigail sigh before she pinched my arm. I rubbed the part she pinched, and just then that I realized that I sounded a bit rude.
“I guess you have tried a lot,” Andy said. Abby and I both nodded. They did not ask another thing about our never-ending search, but they did excuse themselves because they were about to perform.
I knew I was slouching again because Abigail gave my back a small pat. I stood a bit straighter but it wasn’t enough. Well, for Abby it wasn’t. She patted my back a bit harder. I looked at her with my eyebrows furrowed, the way I used to with my mom. All I got was a shrug and another pat on my back. I then stood as straight as possible.
I was somehow jealous of Abigail for being raised well. She always knew what is right and what is not. I always do the wrong thing unless Abigail is there to stop me before I do something incredibly stupid. If it wasn’t for her, I must have embarrassed myself a lot of times. Yeah, that meant I have had my fair share of embarrassing moments, with no help from anyone.
I was sucked in a different dimension as we watched Fall Out Boy perform from backstage. I was not able to stop making googly eyes because everything felt like a dream. I never thought I would be able to be this close to one of my favourite punk rock bands. It was like the very first time I listened to their music—I was staring at mid-air, letting myself feel that flutter in my stomach. The only difference was that I was not staring at mid-air anymore. I was staring at them and not through a screen. I was not able to stop the smile that crept on my face as I looked at the four guys, as they rocked out.
I did not even notice that they were done until Abby shook me by the shoulder. “Huh?” I looked at her confusedly. I was still not back to reality but was still stuck in a world, where I was admiring how they owned the stage and how I still could not believe I was able to watch Fall Out Boy perform live.
The corner of her lips slowly tugged up to a smirk as she shook her head slightly. “Earth to Viola! Earth to Viola!” the blonde exclaimed, which woke me up a bit and with that, Abigail earned a glare from me. She chuckled, still shaking her head. “It’s time to talk to the bar owner, Vi. It would be nice if you compose yourself first.” She furrowed her brows like a disappointed mother when I rolled my eyes and slouched. “Don’t slouch,” she said sternly.
I did not have much of a choice but stand straight and follow Pete. He led us to a hallway I saw a while ago, but was not too curious to check. He stopped in front of the office and asked us to wait for a bit while he talked to the owner alone first. “Okay.” I nodded. Pete went in, leaving Abby and I.
“What do you think the bar owner will say?” the blonde beside me asked. I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself down. I just could not stay calm, thinking of all the rejections we had taken. One more “We are fully booked” would be enough to make me explode. Who wouldn’t get tired of being rejected? They never even bothered trying to hear us out first. I wanted to stay positive and hopeful, but it was getting really tiring. I knew it was too for Abby. If the bar owner would not approve of us, even for a try-out, I would take it as a sign to take a break from searching and maybe focus on earning more cash to pay our bills.
“I hope not the ones we got from the others. I would have to flip a table if that happens.” When those words left my lips, I knew Abby knew that I would really have to flip something—it could be a table or a chair. I would never dare break plates again. It was really hard to clean up.
Abby sighed then rubbed my arm. “Just stay positive,” she said. I did not tell her that I was so close to giving up. That was not the Viola she would want to see again. My shoulders slowly dropped, this time, Abby did not ask me to stand straight. Silence followed.
It was not that long until Pete stuck his head out and told us that we could come in to talk to the bar owner ourselves. Abby and I exchanged a look that said, “Here we go.” Her eyes were full of hope while mine probably looked like an empty pit. I shoved every negative thought away first then summoned the upbeat Viola. A smile was plastered on our faces as we entered the office. I would be lying if I said I did not get nervous because I most definitely did.
The bar owner did not look that scary at all, compared to the ones from before, but that did not stop my heart from going psychotic inside my ribcage. I cleared my throat with the hope that it would calm me down, but it did not, because my body was not cooperating.
The bar owner looked at us as if we were a couple of kids lost in Adultland. It made me wonder what Pete said to him. I hoped that he did not over-sell us. Neither Abby nor I felt offended by that look. We were used to it. We have been getting the same look from almost every bar owner that we talked to. He smiled then said, “Can you perform tomorrow morning, at around nine?”
I was about to open my mouth but then I decided to leave the talking to Abby. “Yes, we can.” Suddenly, my spirit was slowly being lifted. I could see that there was a chance that we could be performing in this bar. The bar owner nodded slightly, and shared a look with Pete. I had no idea what it was but I did not care about it. All I could think of were what I would wear the next day, and what the hell were we going to sing.
After that, Abby went straight to the restroom, leaving me with Pete for a couple of minutes. “Thank you so much for helping us out,” I said. Magically, I was not squealing. I was more like a normal human being.
Pete gave me a faint yet genuine smile. “I’m glad to help. Like I said a while ago, I know you have potential,” he said. It made me mentally giggle, but at least I did not giggle externally. I did not want Pete Wentz to think I was some crazy fan. That might ruin my chances of being close to him. I smiled back and then silence came between us as I waited for Abby.
When we got home, we both went straight to our own beds and dozed off immediately. I did not remember either of us changing our clothes or taking a shower. I was so tired that at some point, I thought I heard my bed calling me. Usually, I would wake up at around ten in the morning but it was not an ordinary day. It was the day for our try-out.
I have been walking around the apartment as I prepared for our performance. As usual, I wore something that screamed punk rock—meaning black. Abby was ready to go but I was still looking for my eyeliner, which she found.
“It was on the table. What was that doing there?” she asked. One more thing, I have always been really messy, which Abby hates and yet tolerates.
I shrugged even though I knew the answer. I was panicking, which I should not, that I was walking around leaving things I need in the wrong places. I do that a lot. Thinking about how messy and crazy I am, I was pretty impressed at how Abby got used to it, considering that everything in their house is perfect.
“You’re going to do only one eye? Is that like a Cyclops look, Vi?” the blonde asked me when I told her that I was ready to go. I stormed back to the bathroom and saw that I only put eyeliner on one eye. Good job, Viola. I rushed doing the other eye then told Abby that I was really ready.
I was buzzing with excitement but somewhere in my mind, I knew I was nervous. I did not ask Abby if she was nervous because she probably was, and asking would not help. When we got inside, there were a few people sitting in front of the perfectly set up stage. I guessed that they were the staff. Of course the bar owner was there and beside him was, well, Fall Out Boy. Instead of feeling even more excited to show what I, we, got I became more nervous that I started to grind my teeth, which annoyed Abby. She glared at me. It was enough to make me stop, but I was mentally doing it.
"Aren't you curious why Pete Wentz wanted us to play in front of the owner and the staff?" Abby asked me, her eyebrows knitted together. "He had never seen us perform, right?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. But I'm pretty sure that he hadn't," I replied, although the very thought made me feel quite sad.
"He said that we've got 'potential'," the blonde muttered, making me look over at her. She was looking at me with those chocolate brown eyes of hers, deep in thought, frowning. "Hadn't it ever crossed your mind, Vi? Do you think Pete had already watched us perform live?"
Well now I’m thinking about it. Great timing, Abby. I sighed. “Let’s just get this over with. Let’s talk about this later in the apartment.” As much as I wanted to figure out why Pete Wentz thought we had “potential” when he, assuming, has not seen us perform live, Abby and I had to show the bar owner that we were not just a couple of kids—we were a couple of kids, who have something to show.
Abby went to perform first. She and I talked about what we were going to perform before we went to sleep. She decided that she would sing the acoustic version while I should do the rock version, which I agreed to do.
As I waited for my turn, I was whispering the lines of “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” feeling like I would stutter or forget the lines. My eyes widened when I heard soft claps. Oh God! I squeezed my eyes shut and whispered a prayer. The moment I opened my eyes, I saw Abby in front of me with a smile.
“Your turn, Vi.” That made me buzz with energy. Why was I even nervous? It was my time to show what I got. I breathed heavily one last time before I faced the audience-slash-judges. My eyes met Pete’s for half a second and that was enough to drive me crazy, but I kept myself cool. It was not the right time to embarrass myself.
When I started, I was stiff—just standing there as if I was a statue, but it all changed when I remembered all the rejections Abby and I had to take. Rock it, Viola! In a snap, I turned into the rockstar that I was born to be. I sang the song as if it was my “ABC”—as if it was the first song I ever sang when I was a kid. I was panting when I finished singing. I did rock out early in the morning.
At the end, what was important was what the bar owner would say—if he approved of us or not. It would not matter what Pete Wentz would say, it would all be up to the bar owner. Hopefully, it would not be a “No” because I have heard enough “No” to last a lifetime.