The stadium is absolutely huge I realise as we are escorted through a whole maze of doors and hallways until we finally reach the room where the guys chill out and get ready before the big show. To my surprise they seem abnormally calm, especially once you realise that they’re about to play at the biggest show of the Where We Are tour. On the other hand, I’m nervous as hell, my skin is buzzing and I can feel my blood rapidly coursing through my veins.
Their dressing room behaviour is not much different from their home behaviour, they’re still playing around with their instruments and their video games and of course they’re just generally messing about. The biggest difference is the amount of people, there’s stylists, chefs, make-up and hair people and many others who I wouldn’t even be able to remember nor understand their job titles. Every time the door opens and a new person appears I swing my head around and take in every detail about them, much unlike the four boys lounging on the sofas who are currently throwing skittles at each other, they’re in their own pre-show bubble of relaxing.
The door swings open once again, but this time the four guys jump up faster than lightning to greet five different guys who’ve just walked in. Something clicks in my brain and I remember seeing their picture when I was googling information about 5 Seconds of Summer, although I can’t really remember their names. Last time I saw them they were on a huge stage singing their hearts out, but I really can’t remember them much, I was too caught up in my “Ashton is here, he is real, I’m about to meet him”-haze. The dark haired boy takes a seat on the far end of the sofa, while the blond one jumps on the couch grabbed a controller and pulls a different boy down next to him. He actually does acknowledge my existence “Hi, I’m Lee…” he responds, lip reading names is probably the hardest and most frustrating thing to do. I give him a little smile and wave at him. The blond boy next to him shoves a controller in his hands and speaks “Less …, more …” what I assume must be FIFA, judging from the screen.
There is one boy standing next to Calum and Ashton, having a casual conversation with them. His arms are crossed in front of his chest, standing astride, somehow trying to make up for the ridiculous height difference between him and the Australian boys. But as soon as a curly haired guy with a hideous looking shirt rests his chin on the other lad’s shoulder and wraps his arms around his waist, the smaller guy automatically sinks into his touch and turns into a teenage girl with a terrible high school crush. My heart nearly bursts in excitement as I see the way the love they feel for each other fill up their faces with blinding smiles.
The smaller boy’s eyes catch mine as he starts rapidly speaking, stepping closer to me “Hi, I’m sorry … . … name is L… . … yours?”. Panic flows through me as I quickly grab my bag, searching around for the white board and the marker. Out of the corner of my eye I can see Ashton stepping forward trying to help, trying to introduce me, but for some idiotic reason Calum stops him by putting his hand on Ashton’s shoulder. I’m internally screaming for someone, something to make this experience less embarrassing, but no one helps. I quickly scribble down “My name is Beth.” which causes the guy to look incredibly confused, the panic rises again. There’s no good or bad thing to do, if I explain why I’m writing he won’t view me as normal anymore; I’ll be broken to him, but if I don’t tell him he’ll think I’m strange, rude, weird and for some reason I feel the need to prove to Ashton’s friends that I’m not weird. So I add “I’m sorry. I’m writing because I’m deaf.”
And then the unexplainable happens: excitement flickers in his eyes and he lifts his hands and signs to me. He signs to me. “I’m sorry, I’ll introduce myself again: my name is L-o-u-i-s.”
I don’t think I’ve ever been this relieved before, I quickly glance at Ashton who looks even more taken aback by this sudden change in communication than I do. I sign back at him “Thank god you know sign language, lip reading can be so difficult. My name is B-e-t-h, my sign name is quiet. What is your sign name?” A slight blush creeps on his cheeks as he responds while pointing at the curly haired guy “I only practise signing with H-a-r-r-y here, we both use this sign for each other.” He pushes his two hands in thumbs up shapes together in front of his heart while wiggling his thumbs, the sign has various meanings: babe, baby, love, sweetheart, basically any pet name you can think of.
I feel like my heart might just burst out of my chest due to the cuteness “That is adorable.” I sign back. Harry decides to join in on the conversation “I sometimes sign ‘boyfriend’ to him too.”
Louis and Harry make me happy, their knowledge of sign language makes it so much easier to communicate with them. Sure the writing on the whiteboards helped but nothing beats being able to talk in your own language. Louis and Harry seem happy too, you can tell that they’re not used to signing with anyone else apart from each other, they struggle a bit with finding the right signs, but I only have to remind them of a sign once and they’ll happily use it again; fully understanding the meaning. The only thing that could make this situation even more perfect is them being able to cuddle, which currently isn’t really an option since they have to have their hands unoccupied to be able to talk to me.
“We’re about to do a sound check, do you want to come and have a look?” Louis asks me while I tentatively nod in response. I follow the guys through the maze of doors again until we reach the stage, the stadium is ever bigger when looking out over the thousands of seats, all waiting to be filled up with screaming fans.
Harry lifts the microphone to his lips and starts singing, I don’t know what song it is because their mics block their mouths, limiting every chance of me being able to lip read them. It must be a pretty upbeat song, because Liam starts dancing around to the strong beat I can feel as I sit on one of the red ramps that’s placed on stage. They finish up their sound check with a much slower song that Harry sings straight into Louis’s eyes which fill up with so much love that my heart starts to ache. Something deep within me starts heating up with jealousy and somehow I find myself wishing that my soulmate would look at me like that, like I singlehandedly put all the stars in the sky at night, like I’m the light of his life, the sun in his solar system and the oxygen to his lungs. I glance over to Ashton who is preoccupied by his phone, feeding his bad habit of always being on twitter even more, and I realise that Ashton is my soulmate and Ashton would have to be the one I’m wishing for to love me. The movement of his lips snaps me out of my haze, as he yells something encouraging to the five lads who are making their way backstage again. I sit down cross legged, right where the runway meets the main stage, as Ashton walks up to the drums and starts twirling his drumsticks around his fingers and god, how I wish my soulmate would love me, but I also realise that I don’t consider Ashton my soulmate.
He is the guy who I share the same wrist numbers with, but he’s not my soulmate; he doesn’t make me feel the way Harry makes Louis feel nor makes me want to plan our future together like my mum did when she first met my dad. He doesn’t really make me feel happy, instead he makes me feel insecure and sad and very much not part of his life, but I’m not even sure if I want to be part of it. Ashton is confusing and intense and mostly confusing.
This isn’t the first time I was sat in front of Ashton cross legged as he pours his heart and soul out into his drumming, last time this happened I desperately wanted to smack him, but that was also the time I promised him I was going to try. It’s also not the first time I’m watching Ashton chest rise and fall, only this time he’s covered in tiny sweat droplets as he lays down his drumsticks, instead of being soundly asleep like last time when I wanted to lay my head down on his chest and feel his heartbeat. The feelings and thoughts that Ashton give me are confusing and intense and I wish my feelings were easier, easier to understand and maybe even easier to control.
Ashton sits down next to me in silence, waiting for the other boys to leave first. He doesn’t write anything and doesn’t try to sign apart from using a gesture that he uses to describe everything around him as he speaks: “This … most happy.” I nod and sign back “I hope one day I can make you happy.” And he nods back at me, somehow subconsciously knowing or feeling what I was trying to tell him, much like how I just kind of understood when he spoke to me even though I barely got any words out of that whole sentence. I’m still going to try, try and be friends with him, trying to make him happy.