"So!" Louis gives us a smile after we order our food at the diner. This can only mean trouble. "This feels like the first day of school and we're eating lunch. . . ."
Niall and Harry groan. I try to contain a smile, but it's too hard. It's a tradition. It started back on our first day of school, when we all met.
That first day, I walked into the cafeteria like a prisoner being sent to death row. I'd been dreading going to the cafeteria by myself since Perrie and I realized we had different lunch periods. To make matters worse, I hadn't made a single friend all morning.The cafeteria was filled with students already settled into their groups, laughing and enjoying themselves.
I looked over and saw a boy from music composition eating a sandwich by himself. I didn't know his name, but Mr. North had said he was the only person who didn't have to re-audition to get in. I headed over to him, knowing that I needed to make an effort to get to know people.
"Hey, I'm Emme," I said. He looked up at me, mid-bite. His dirty-blonde hair was a mess but in a good way and it couldn't hide his ruddy cheeks. Also he was wearing a T-shirt and jeans that were both about two sizes to big. "Um, we're in music composition together?" I didn't know why I'd made that sound like a question. "Um, can I join you?" My voice went up an octave higher than normal. He nodded. Then, after he finished his food, he finally spoke. "I'm Niall." "Hi." I opened up my lunch sack and pulled out a bag of carrots. "Um, so . . ." I couldn't think of anything to say. I wanted to ask about his audition, the kind of songs he wrote, what he played, pretty much everything about him "I can't believe I'm here, you know? My friend Perrie, she's in vocal program and she's so good. She has a different lunch period. I was so worried about finding someone to sit with at lunch and I'm so excited to see you."
I remember thinking: You know, Emme, there is a reason why you let Perrie do all the talking.
Niall smiled politely at me.
"Hey!" a new voice called out. I ignored it. "Hey , Red!" I looked up to see two guys from class standing over us. "Got room at your table for two more?" "Of course!" I said, grateful to be saved from further embarrassing myself in front of Niall. "I'm Louis, this is Harry." Louis had a friendly smile on his face, a bigger build that suited him well.
Harry sat down across from him. That day, he had on a funky green and navy plaid newsboy cap that almost covered his luscious curls. He was Way more stylish than anybody I'd ever gone to school with.
Louis laughed. "So are you going to tell us your name, or are we going to stick with my nickname for you?"
"Yeah, Red. It suits you." He pulled on a strand of my hair. "Oh!" I tried to laugh it off, but my bright red hair has always made me so self-conscious. As Perrie likes to remind me, often, you can't miss me in a room. "I'm Emme and this is Niall."
"Niall!" Louis started nodding his head. "Niall the chosen one. So did you want to kill North for calling you out in class?"
Niall shrugged his shoulders.
Louis continued. "Cause I wouldn't have wanted the attention, i'll tell you that much. From what i can tell, competition here is pretty fierce."
"Please." harry sighed. "We are in music, so we need other people. No need to get the claws out . . . yet. Plus, i hear first year you get paired off for a bunch of assignments." Harry slammed his hand on the table. "That's it! Right here. We should form a band!"
"I like where this is going." Louis rubbed his hands together. "this is more like a brotherhood - no offense." He winked at me. "Red here will be the hot-chick lead singer."
"Oh I don't sing. But my friend Perrie - " I said it so quietly that Louis moved right on to the next band member.
"What do you play, Niall?" Niall hesitated. "Guitar, Piano, Sax, Drums . .." "Okay, we get it. Genius. Emme, how about you?"
"Oh, I play Piano and Guitar mostly. I played flute when I was little, but . . ." "Yeah, we don't need a flutist for our awesome rock band." Louis interrupted. "Why do you automatically assume we're a rock band?"
"Oh, is this our first fight as a band? And things were going so well!" Louis's large belly laugh echoed through the cafeteria. "I can already see the documentary on us now: ' When CPA Cliche started off -' " "What's CPA Cliche?" Harry asked.
"Our band name. What's the most cliche thing to do at CPA? I'll answer that for you: Form a rock band! And we're doing it on the first day. I wonder if we can get extra credit?" "We are NOT naming our band CPA Cliche," harry protested. "So you agree we're in a band then?" Louis looked around the table. Niall shrugged and looked at me. All I could think to do was shrug back. I was just happy t have people talking to me. Harry took a notebook from his bag. "All right,someone needs to be serious about this. Niall, guitar. Harry, Bass. Emme, Key-board/guitar. Louis, Drums." "Oh so you assume I play the drums because I'm a brother?"Louis asks.
"No I assume you play drums because you've been knocking out a beat with your silverware since you sat down." harry nodded toward Louis's hand, which were indeed wrapped around a spoon and fork as if they were drumsticks. "Fair enough." Louis dropped his silverware and took a bite of his chip.
The back-and-forth between Louis and harry continued for the rest of the period as they plotted our rise and subsequent fall from stardom. I was upset to hear that I was going to have a drug problem and Louis was going to bravely lead an intervention to save me. Which would be all for naught when on the night before our big comeback tour, Niall would tragically die in a car accident.
Louis shook his head sadly. "So much promise . . . "As we all got up from our seats, Niall finally spoke up. "What exactly happened just now?" he asked. I shook my head. "I'm not entirely sure, but I believe we're in a band with Louis and Harry. Although you need to be sure to always wear a seat belt." He smiled. "Oh, okay. You should stay away from the smack."
*END OF FLASH BACK*
Now, three years later, we're still talking about the future of our band.
"So nobody wants to hear what lies in store for us?" Louis pretends to be hurt. "You all want to throw away something we've worked so hard on?" He scrunches his face up like he's about to cry. "That's fine, that's fine." harry sighs. "Oh, you are such the martyr."
"Well, at least you understand my role." Louis wipes off his pretend tears with a napkin.
"Yeah, but if it wasn't for me, we'd still be called CPA Cliche." Everybody groans. for weeks we couldn't come up with a name for our band, and Louis had plenty. After we all vetoed CPA Cliche, we swiftly turned down Louis's other suggestions: Louis and the British. Black and the British (Louis's warped sense of humor), and his personal favorite, Louis and the Not-So-All-Star band.
Niall came up with Dissonance Youth,which we didn't think any non-music people would get. harry and I were trying to come up with similarly obscure references, then suggested we just call the band Obscure References. Louis vetoed that. He didn't want there to be anything obscure about our band; he isn't into obscurity . . . or subtlety.
Then, as with everything about our band, our name sort of just came to us. Niall started playing the opening chords of the Undertones "Teenage kicks" during rehearsal for our first gig and it stuck. Teenage kicks. We know that pigeonholes us as a teen band, but that's what we are.
The thought that is our last year together makes me a little sad. I guess everybody is thinking the same thing, because harry finally says, "Okay, what happens to us next, O wise one?" Louis replies, "I've realized that I've been too hard on Red here." That's the understatement of the year.In every telling of our story, I end up with a horrible addiction . . . and Niall dies tragically. Of course Louis becomes a huge star and harry is some weird recluse who raises llamas or something. "I think you're going to like this one, Red."
I doubt it.
"We become instant sensation after we open for U2." Nobody bothers to ask how we went from CPA to opening for U2, we just go with it. "Bono obviously becomes jealous of my dynamic personality and charisma."
"Obviously" harry says with a dramatic rolling of the eyes.
"So he produces Louis and the background players - "
"Wait," Harry interrupts. "When did we get a new name and why on - "
"Hey! I'm telling a story here. So he produces The band's album and we become major stars. Soon tension begins in the band as the attention shifts from our beanpole of a lead singer - "
"Hey, I've gained some weight this summer, thank you very much," Niall protests.
Louis gasps. "yeah, you are probably what, a buck fifteen soaking wet? Big improvement."
I shake my head; the last thing we need to do is make Niall even more self-conscious about his appearance. It took me two years to get him into jeans and T-shirts that actually fit. And then i swear he grew another Six inches.
"Okay, so the attention shifts from our bulking stud of a lead singer to the magnetic drummer."
Niall interrupts. "Yes, because that often happens with drummers." Louis glares at him. "But do go on. . . ."
"You're all obviously jealous of the attention I receive."
" Obviously," Harry and i say in unison.
"But things get even more complicated as Red realizes that Harry will never return her feelings for him."
"Um." I know better than to reason with him, but I try anyway. "maybe the fact that Harry's gay has something to do with that?" Louis nods at my with such sympathy."But the heart, it wants what it wants."
"Sorry, Emme, this - " Harry gestures at me. "Not my thing." Niall begins to bang his head against the table. "Okay, we do have an audition next week, so can we please get on with this?" Louis finally gives up. "Fine. I leave you all to become a ginormous star and marry an Oscar-winning actress-slash-Victoria's Secret model, while Niall dies getting hit by a bike messenger while busking outside a subway station, Harry goes to Montana to raise wild goats, and Red, to recover from her heartbreak over Harry's rejection, turn's to her old friend Louis Tomlinson. Happy?"
Harry claps. "That it's over? Yes."
"Wait, how exactly is this easier on me?" I ask. "I still have an addiction and I'm miserable."
"You guys wanted the short version." Louis shrugs his shoulders and dives into his food. Both harry and Niall glare at me, not wanting to prolong this anymore.
"Plus" - Louis shoves a few fries in his mouth _ "I thought it was best to make it short and sweet. We don't want Mount Saint Emme erupting again"
Niall's fork drops, Harry looks down at the floor, and I just sit there with my mouth open. I can't believe Louis would bring up . . . The Incident.
Louis realizes, to late, what he's done. "You know, I . . ."
"Oh, so now you're at a loss for words?" Niall says through clenched teeth. "Two seconds too late." He get's up to go to the bathroom.
"Emme . . ." Louis voice in a low whisper.
"It's okay, it's not you're fault. I'm the one . . ." I don't even want to think about what happened this summer. Niall and I haven't talked about it since. Nobody has.
I was hoping we'd returned to normal. Things seemed to be a lot better.
However, Niall's abrupt departure from the table made it clear:
Appearances can be deceiving.