The Flute Player
Catherine Amendala stared blankly at the stranger playing in the front of the room. Many of the flautists in this room could barely play the All-Region audition etudes at the indicated tempo. And this mystery guy shows up and plays them over-tempo? Her heart beat quickly as she tried not to listen to him. Something in the back of her mind told her that she should have practiced more.
He put his flute down.
She was next.
The Clarinet Player
Glumly, Catherine stepped out of the audition room. As soon as she thought she could not feel any worse, a sophomore clarinet by the name of Abbey Nelson skipped towards her, smiling and radiating happiness.
Howd you do? Abbey, the clarinet prodigy, asked.
The junior flute player stared back, unable to say a word.
oh, muttered Abbey.
The Euphonium Player
Tommy Daily stepped out of the euphonium audition room, anxiety starting to take hold. He had done better than most of the fools in there, but All-State seniors had out-played and taunted him, and he himself had messed up several tricky spots in the music. He held his euphonium more protectively as one of the seniors shouldered him to the side. Adjusting his overly large glasses, he shot him a death glare.
Just because he was an albino sophomore did not mean that he sucked.
The Trombone Player
Eric Hawthorne rolled over and stood up. No one else had arrived in the band hall. He sighed.
After his mother had signed in to be a room monitor, he had stayed in the band hall in the hopes of someone else arriving and alleviating his loneliness. He glanced at his wristwatch. Twelve-fifteen. Mr. McGowen had said that most morning rooms would be done around twelve.
The sophomore ambled out of the band hall and towards the main cafeteria. There was not anything else he could do until Mr. McGowen gave the tear-down crew their assignments for cleaning up the school and erasing any evidence that All-Region auditions had ever taken place.
Catherine unwrapped her chicken sandwich and paused mid-bite to stare at the two brass idiots at her table. She vaguely wondered why Abbey had invited these two to their table.
One, the albino euphonium, was Abbeys boyfriend; she had no choice but to tolerate him. At least he was somewhat calmer than the other one. The tall one with brown hair she had forgotten his name had the worst table manners when it came to food contests. Just watching him made it extremely difficult for Catherine to keep her gag reflex at bay.
She set down the sandwich and wandered away from the table as a voice over the intercom called all woodwinds and low brass that made the top chairs in their previous rooms to proceed to their second audition room.
Abbey looked after her wistfully.
Catherine stopped and waited for the other boy to catch up.
Wh-where are you going? he asked.
Band hall, she stated nonchalantly.
dont you have to go the the second round?
I didnt make it.
What about you?
I didnt even try out. Erm
what are you going to the band hall for?
I volunteered to clean up rooms. Maybe there were rooms only used in the morning.
Ill come with you.
The two started walking.
Im Eric Hawthorne. Um
might I ask your name?
Catherine Amendala. Did Abbey send you to make sure I was okay or something?
She would have come herself, but both her and Tommy made it to the second round.
The First Room
After placing the stands and stacked chairs outside, Catherine and Eric studied the classroom arrangement on the chalkboard. Five rows of four desks taking up much of the room, and they had to move several large tables.
As they placed the last table down, Eric commented, This is my Geometry teachers room.
Really? Catherine stepped out of the room to look at the teachers nameplate and cringed.
I see youve heard of her, muttered the trombone player.
Nothing but bad things, she answered. The flute player bent down to fold one of the two large blankets they had found covering five stands.
What was the blanket for? Eric asked.
Its supposed to be a barrier between the players and judges to prevent bias based on physical appearance. Or something similar.
He glanced at the list of rooms that were used that day. Do we have that many blankets?
No. We had to use big pieces of paper for most of the rooms.
He leaned down to help her fold the blankets. Their hands briefly touched, and a warm feeling spread throughout his body where she had brushed against him. He could not say the same for her, however.
The Fourth Room
The two had moved onto the fourth and last room that Mr. McGowen had assigned them after they had found the second and third were locked.
Playfully, he tossed one of the blankets at her back. She responded with a smirk and threw the same blanket over his head and gently shoved him into a desk.
They looked at each other and laughed.
Eric suggested waiting for Tommy outside his audition room once they had found out that their band director was busy with something else and could not give them another assignment or unlock the two doors. Catherine asked why, and he told her that the euphonium player had also volunteered to clean up the school.
He quickly parked his behind in the seat attached to a solitary desk in the hallway, smiling innocently at the flute player. She shook her head at him, and he started to get out of the chair.
You can sit here if - He was interrupted by Catherine taking a seat on the desktop.
Im fine here, she assured. Makes me feel taller. She turned so that she could talk to him comfortably.
The sophomore blushed madly. The junior didnt seem to notice.
The Third Room
Now that the two rooms were unlocked and Tommy had been added to their group, cleaning up was much easier and more enjoyable.
Acting on a childish whim, Tommy and Eric started sparring with music stands. At one point, the euphonium player grabbed two stands and wielded them semi-professionally. Eventually, the trombone player called a truce.
On the sideline, Catherine filmed the entire escapade using her camera phone.
The Cart Train
Encouraged by the stand fight, the two boys searched for another reckless act they could commit while taking Catherine on the ride with them. The long, uninhabited main hallway of the school and the fact that the band hall was on the other side of the school gave Tommy an idea.
Holding onto a stand rack, Eric pulled the train at top speed through the hallway. On the other end of the stand rack was Tommy, holding onto both the stand rack and a chair rack. Watching the middle man struggle to keep the two wheeled vehicles together was Catherine, holding onto the back of the chair rack.
To anyone wandering the halls at the time, they were quite a sight.
Tommys mom arrived to work her shift at the concession stand in the main cafeteria. Tommy took advantage of his moms arrival to put his euphonium in her car. After waiting fifteen minutes at the exit door to open it for the albino (for most of the schools doors automatically locked when closed and had to be opened from the inside), Catherine decided to get to work on the next room while Eric waited for Tommy.
Before he could stop himself, the sophomore called out, Cath!
The junior skidded to a stop and turned around, mildly surprised at the use of a nickname.
Uh. He blushed for what seemed like the millionth time that day. You wanna
give me your number? Just in case Tommy comes back and youve moved onto another room? He reached into his pocket and fished out a small gray phone that appeared as if it had been dropped a great many times.
Catherine nodded and smiled, taking out her own metallic ruby phone.
And by the way, she added as she handed him her phone, feel free to call me Cath.
It was now approaching seven o clock. Volunteers that had signed up, including Abbey, were now assisting Mr. McGowen, who had finished most of his duties as band director of the host school, in cleaning up the school. To their surprise, not many rooms remained to clean up, thanks to Catherine, Eric, and Tommy. The director had trusted the trio with two more rooms while he took the rest of the volunteers to take care of the performing arts stage, where percussion auditions were held.
The three took care of the two rooms like they had done all the others: Eric and Tommy crashed through the paper barrier, Catherine picked up the stands that were holding the paper up, and all three of them worked together to rearrange the room for the teacher.
As Catherine threw the last of the paper away in the nearest trash can, Eric panned the area to make sure there really was no sign of Tommy and nervously tapped her shoulder.
Hm? She turned around and smiled.
Im really glad you didnt make it to the second round, he managed to force out. She frowned a little.
No, no, I mean
if you had gone on, I wouldnt have gotten to know you, he corrected.
She thought about it and nodded. Im glad, too.
Out of nowhere, Tommy jumped out of the trash can containing the paper, effectively scaring the two. They retaliated by re-shoving him into the trashcan, this time upside-down.
The three were now cleaning up their last room of the day. By this time, they were all visibly tired. For reasons unknown to them, there was a large, comfortable-looking armchair in the corner. Eric spotted the chair first and sped over to claim it for himself.
Catherine walked over, chuckling, and he started to get up. Foiling his plans for chivalry once more, the flute player fell back and landed in his lap. His blush did not last long; once Tommy had followed suit and sat in his lap as well, the blush was quickly replaced by mock rage. Tommy settled for resting his head in Catherines lap, laying across both of their laps, and using a desk as a footrest.
The three sat still for quite a while, the room silent save for their breathing.
Catherine studied the two boys who had become her best friends over the course of seven hours. Tommy had closed his celadon eyes and seemed sound asleep. Eric met eye contact with her, and he glanced down at his hand, resting on her leg. He raised his eyebrows in a questioning gesture. She brushed her hand against his, and he gently grabbed hers. Fingers entwining, they smiled at each other.