I never in a million years thought I'd be sitting here. Well, truth be told I think that every time I'm in CPA's auditorium. Freshman year, sitting with Perrie by my side, I couldn't believe I'd made it in. Then sophomore year, I was shocked that I'd survived the first year. Junior year was the biggest surprise since I'd almost wanted to sabotage my audition for the semester because I was so tired - tired of the auditions we have to do to be accepted every semester, tired of the extra classes and studios, tired of concerts, the pressure, the competition. The constant competition.
Fortunately for me. the music composition department is the least competitive of all the programs. Niall, Harry, Louis and I work together on pretty much every project, and have since the very first day of school.
But other groups don't have it so easy. Louis's girlfriend, Eleanor, is in the dance department, and she has to eat protein bars in secret during lunch. It's a double competition, to see who can dance the best and eat the least. It's as if being the skinniest person in the group is a badge of honor, not an eating disorder.
The drama department is full of . . . well, drama. I stay far away from anybody in that department when a show is being cast. It's not pretty. Leading up to the auditions, there is back stabbing and sabotage of Hamlet proportions, and when the cast list is posted, those without parts are les miserable.
And then there's Perrie. As we wait for our first assembly of senior year to begin, I look four rows in front of me to where Perrie is sitting with Zayn. Perrie's had it a lot rougher than me and I feel so guilty. After all, if it wasn't for Perrie, I wouldn't even be here.
Niall taps my knee and motions up front. Dr. Pafford, our principal, strides onto the stage.
"Hello, Seniors". He leans on the podium and takes stock of the room. Judging. We are always being judged. "Over then thousand people applied your freshman year, 624 got in, and today there are only 513 left. Of that you should be proud."
He pauses dramatically. We all know he never gives us a compliment without showing a downside.
"But now is when we really figure out who will one day appear on this screen." He gestures to the large screen that is rolling down behind him. Our first freshman year, we were welcomed with images of CPA alumni: Oscar, Grammy, and Tony winners flashed before our eyes. "as you all know, you are here two weeks before the start of class to discuss the opening-day performances for the freshman as well as, of course, the senior showcase."
It's as if the air has been sucked out of the room at the mention of the showcase. Every January, CPA hosts talent scouts, agents, and college administrators to an evening that highlights the talent at the school. It's the biggest audition of them all. Julliard, Alvin Ailey, William Morris - they all come.
The mere thought of it makes me sick.
Dr. Pafford continues, "We will be holding auditions for the spots in the freshman welcome program next week. You'll have three minutes. We have only ten spots available. Sign-up sheet will be up next Monday. And remember, everything you do this semester, and i do mean everything, will weigh in on who will be invited to preform in showcase."
He dismisses us, and groups immediately start to form.
"So, lunch?" Louis asks as he stretches and pats his stomach. "I'm going to need a full stomach before I can even think of what torture you two will make me endure for this gig." He nods at Niall and me.
"Sure, um . . ." I say, then stop. We all see Perrie approach me, a smile on her face. I smile back. I haven't seen her that much over the summer and we haven't been able to get together since she got back from her family vacation. This is the longest we've been apart since we were eight, an I've really missed her.
"Hey Em!" Perrie hugs me. "I've missed you!" I hug her back "Me, to! I can't wait to show you what I've been working on."
Perrie claps her hands enthusiastically. "You know I'm dying to hear it." She turns to the guys and gives all of them a little wave. "Hey, Perrie, nice of you to show up, just in time to get a song from Emme," Louis says dryly. "How convenient." We both ignore him. "The guys and I are heading top lunch." I say. "How about tonight?" She looked disappointed. "I'd love to meet tonight, but Louis has this thing, some opening of something, and I promised him I'd go along." I love how Perrie makes it sound like work. I know that she loves going to openings with Louis: the photographers, the attention, the coverage. We are complete opposites when it comes to that.
We settle on tomorrow afternoon after she consults her schedule and Louis's. There's always been some tension between Perrie and the guys, but they don't get it. They just see Perrie singing my songs, but they have no idea (no matter how many times I've tried to explain it) how much I rely on her.
She gives my songs a voice.
When it comes down to it, I need her a whole lot more than she needs me.