Beat Girl | Chapter #18 Aftermath

A little while later the beach was getting cleaned up. Toby was supervising the guys: litter was being collected and sand was thrown into the oil drums to extinguish the fires. I was still there, even though I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I was helping Laila pack up the DJ kit.

‘That was awful,’ I said, utterly dejected.

‘It was. But what do you care, when you’ve got Toby on your side,’ Laila said maliciously.

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1. Chapter #18 | Aftermath

 

A little while later the beach was getting cleaned up. Toby was supervising the guys: litter was being collected and sand was thrown into the oil drums to extinguish the fires. I was still there, even though I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I was helping Laila pack up the DJ kit.

 

‘That was awful,’ I said, utterly dejected.

 

‘It was. But what do you care, when you’ve got Toby on your side,’ Laila said maliciously.

 

I looked over to check if Toby was within earshot. I was glad he was too far to hear, handling the cash box with two of the event workers.

 

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ I had a choice. I could have let her remark slide or I could challenge her. At this point I was past caring what she thought of me. It was clear she had a low opinion of me, anyway, so I had nothing to lose by standing up for myself. At the very least, she may think twice before being nasty again if I showed her I wouldn’t allow her to get away with it.

 

‘Just enjoy it while it lasts,’ Laila added spitefully.

 

‘While what lasts?’ I still wasn’t prepared to let her off the hook.

 

‘Toby’s like a little kid. When he gets a new toy, he’s all excited, but he soon gets tired of it, especially when there’s an even shinier new toy around. It’s always been the same with him. Why d’you think Mia left?’

 

This question chilled me. My worst suspicions had been confirmed. Not only had Toby had either a fling or a relationship with Laila, he’d also been with Mia. This made me a bit angry. I decided that I didn’t want to be Toby’s next plaything, only to be discarded when new blood came along. But then I remembered that I was standing in the record store when Mia had quit – it had been over the gig share with Laila, not because of Toby’s attentions shifting to me. I had to remind myself that Laila could well be trying to poison me against Toby. And even if she actually believed in this version of the truth, it didn’t make it any more true. I had to keep my guard up. I glanced at Toby, who smiled at me. I knew then that Toby’s intentions were genuine.

 

I looked at Laila, who was still grumpily putting the records away. She didn’t look like someone who enjoyed her work, I thought, even though she was so good at it. I wondered why, but was not curious enough to ask her outright. Instead, I wanted to hear her views on another matter.

 

‘You don’t believe I can be a DJ, do you?’ I asked her point blank.

 

‘It’s not about what I believe,’ she snapped at me.

 

‘You could do me the courtesy of just giving me a straight answer.’

 

Laila took a deep breath, as if to show what an inconvenience this was. ‘Look, this was your first gig, okay? It’s normal to fail. In fact, it’s what’s meant to happen on your first night. If you’re smart, you’ll learn just as much, if not more, from your mistakes than from the things that worked tonight. But if you want my honest opinion, I don’t think you’re taking this seriously.’

 

Laila zipped her record bag and looked me straight in the eyes. I had no comeback to that. She had been fairer than I had expected of her in her assessment of my DJ-ing. The scary thing was that she was spot on. I kind of sensed that once a bit of time had elapsed I’d get over the embarrassment of this gig and it would end up being a useful learning curve. But her judgement that I wasn’t fully committed was uncannily correct. Because I wasn’t. What if she told Toby? I worried. And then I’d be forced to admit where my real priorities lay.

 

Once everything had been cleaned up and the equipment packed away, the beach bore no signs of the madness that had taken place only hours before. The transformation was astounding. Dawn was breaking and boats of all shapes and sizes were gliding past. Another working day was starting. I said goodbye to Toby and was glad when he didn’t offer to grab some breakfast somewhere nearby. He was probably regretting the day he’d laid eyes on me, and even more so the day he offered to teach me DJ-ing. My blunder would reflect badly on his professional reputation. I doubted I’d ever again attempt to DJ. In any case, I first needed to get some distance from this night before I could even contemplate doing something similar again. But Toby was in this business, and his decision to have me wind up the rave would have more of an impact on him than it did on me. I couldn’t blame him if he hated me right then, but the thought of it hurt me deeply. More so than I expected.

 

As we said goodbye, I searched his eyes, looking for some small sign that he didn’t hate me completely. I didn’t see any signal. Instead, Toby simply told me to text him when I got back home, so he knew I’d arrived safely, and we left it at that. I tried to comfort myself that this showed he still cared about me, but I also knew he was a kind, polite sort of person and he’d probably say the same thing to anyone without it really meaning much more. I had a crazy impulse to scream at him to just confess that he couldn’t possibly care whether I got home in one piece or not after my dreadful performance, but luckily I restrained myself. 

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