She Will Live On
I felt like I was a little overdressed, and maybe I was. I could feel the eyes of the crowd on me, panning over my blue sequined miniskirt that had seemed so edgy and cool at my apartment and so over the top beneath the spotlights. I wondered if it really was too much under my ruffled satin shirt and cropped leather jacket, or if it was just nerves. This was my first night with the band, after all. I wondered what the crowd saw when they looked at me.
I took a deep breath and tried to swallow the butterflies that had made themselves at home in my guts. Was my hair too big? Maybe I’d gone a bit too far with the hairspray. What was it Nanny Fran used to say? The bigger the hair, the smaller your hips looked. Maybe I should’ve taken a shorter bath. Did my skin look a little pruny? Suddenly it didn’t matter anymore. Johnny was tapping his drumsticks, our cue to intro.
I tapped my black leather ankle boots in time with the rhythm of Johnny’s ivory wands. The chain harness swung against the hard sole, almost an instrument of its own.
One… two… three…four…
Tom came in with his guitar, playing cords as clear and sharp as shards of crystal. I could feel the beat pulsing in my chest, the vibe of the music was taking over. I shook my hair out as Drake stepped in on bass, thrumming deep notes I could feel in my bones. I nodded my head, red curls bouncing in time with Tara’s tambourine, pretty little percussion with a purple rose on the drum head. Before I even knew I’d opened my mouth, the words of the song erupted over the worn wood of the stage, reaching beyond me into the sea of shadows that filled the bar like animals in a zoo, a half seen menagerie. I was electric. I was on fire.
Oh it’s not the same, I’ve got no one to blame…
I was omnipotent, I was ablaze. I was grinning from ear to ear, not at all out of place on stage with my band mates behind me, figures in black with glints of silver in their eyes. Tara couldn’t even compete, elegant wonder she was, clad in a slinky black cocktail dress, dark mane shining in the light. The contrast between her creamy, milkshake pale skin and dark hair and clothing made her look like she’d stepped out of an old black and white movie. Her tambourine sparkled. Tom’s guitar reflected the light, a red so deep it looked black, save for where the light hit it and made it look like pools of blood on asphalt. His stark white pick was a startling contrast.
All I feel is pain; I’m beginning to change…
The air hummed around us, I’ve never felt so alive. The music flowed through my veins, I was only a conduit, my voice completing a circuit from somewhere far beyond.
And it’s all I can do not to return to you… to you…
The crowd is an ocean of darkness, murky pools of shadow around pairs of sparkling eyes. They move with the ebb and flow of the song, it’s a melody we’ve all become a part of.
I just wanna be let loose!
The song swells to a triumphant end, Tom’s guitar solo is a wonderful dessert, a perfect finale. Sweat sparkles on my skin like diamonds. I am bliss.
The owner of the bar comes over the sound system, his voice deep and throaty, wafting out of the darkness.
“Let’s hear it for The Berettas, everybody! Performing tonight with for the very first time with their new lead singer, Cherilee Tanner!” The roar of applause is like thunder, the ocean in a storm. I’m smiling so wide my face feels like it might split. I take a bow with the rest of the band, my hair flipping over my head in front of me. I stand up so quickly I get light headed. Tom and Tara steady me with hands on my arms. They lead me back to the dressing room.
We all sit down on a shabby leather couch. I’m giddy. I see stars. There’s a smile on my face as I look around the room at the other members of the band. I am so elated. I feel euphoric. After a while, that high wears off. Maybe it was all the booze, maybe I was just getting used to being a star.
I hug the others goodbye, Tom and Drake and Johnny and Tara. They all want me to stay a little longer, have a few more drinks, but I’m not feeling it. I was too tired, it was a very intense set.
I wind my way down the hallway at the back of the bar, towards the rear entrance where my car is parked. My little blue Datsun had never seemed so small. The walls were black with red trim. There were posters and pictures from other acts hung at odd intervals. Some were signed, some weren’t. Near the end of the hall was a framed photo of The Berettas, Tom and Drake and Johnny and Tara were looking somber and dark, in front of them a girl with short blonde hair smiled over her shoulder. A purple rose stood out on her pale skin.