Owen sits silently on the stool, twirling a drumstick while his band buddies talk about how great tonight’s show is going to be. The nightclub is completely packed and a few music producers are supposedly scattered in the crowd.
“Hey, Owen, get over here and get some face time with the crowd,” says Adam, their vocalist. “It’s our biggest yet.”
“I’m fine, Adam,” Owen says with a light smile. “The crowd can wait.”
“Whatever you say, man,” Adam replies, as he slightly parts the curtains to keep looking out. “Hey, wait, isn’t that Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy? What on earth is he doing here?”
That name is enough to stir Owen from the stool and he shoves Adam aside, looking for Patrick.
Adam chuckles. “It was just a joke, Owen.”
Owen elbows Adam in the chest and continues to take in the crowd. Disco lights dance everywhere, giving teasing glimpses of the people gathered in the shadows of the nightclub. The atmosphere is just perfect and Owen knows for sure, tonight is going to be a great night.
His eyes wander over toward the bar. He catches a glimpse of a familiar blonde and his chest tightens. The drumsticks slip from his hand and hit the stage rolling toward the curtain. Adam stops them before they roll out, handing them to him. Owen pulls back from the curtain and returns to his stool. He lets out a huge sigh, rolling his head back toward the ceiling.
“Owen,” Adam says, walking up to him. “Is that Sarah?”
“Yeah,” Owen says. “That’s her.”
“What is she doing here?” Adam asks. “Are you gonna be okay to play?”
“Yeah,” Owen says, trying to smile. “I’ll be okay.”
Adam stares at Owen, crossing his arms and raising an eyebrow. “You sure, man?” Adam asked. “That was a really nasty break up.”
“Hey, guys?” one of the stagehands calls over. “You’re on in five.”
“All right, guys,” Ryan, the guitarist, says, taking his spot. “It’s show time.”
Adam looks back at Owen. Owen gives him a quick smile, no teeth. Adam sighs.
Owen adjusts his foot on the drum pedal, trying to shake the image of Sarah on their couch with her hand up a shirt that wasn’t his.
Owen is blinded by the stage lights. He looks up and sees his band members staring at him. His hands start to shake. He was supposed to lead the first song. Owen looks at the crowd. He can see a few of the regular fans whispering to the people next to them. They know that the drums are supposed to lead.
“Sorry, guys,” Adam says, into the mic. “Might have to wake Owen up. Give us a minute.”
“Owen?” Ryan asks. Adam reaches over and turns off the mic next to Owen’s face.
“I’m fine,” Owen answers the unasked question.
“You sure?” Adam says.
“Yeah. Just give me a second.”
The other two look at each other and shrug.
“Don’t worry about me,” Owen says.
Adam nods. “Okay.” He flips Owen’s mic on and steps back to center stage.
“Sorry about that, guys,” Adam says. He opens his mouth to say something else. Owen hits the cymbals with all his strength. The other band members jump and turn and look at him. Owen kicks a steady beat on the bass drum. He raps at the snare, cracks at the cymbals, beats at the high toms. Sweat runs down his face. His arms burn and he realizes he’s panting. But Sarah’s no longer kissing lips that aren’t his behind his eyelids.
Owen hits the cymbals once more and then slams the top drum as hard as he can. He hears a snap. The drumstick in his right hand feels lighter.
“Owen?” Adam says, into the mic, staring at him. “You okay, man?”
“Yeah.” Owen pulls his own mic closer. “I’m okay.”
“You sure?” Ryan asks.
“I might need another pair of drumsticks.” Owen smiles. “But I’m good.”
“Sir?” One of the stagehands taps him on the shoulder. Owen turns to her. She’s holding another pair of drumsticks out.
“Thank you.” Owen gives her the broken pair and takes the new one. “All right. I think I’m ready to try again. That is, if you guys still want me to.”
The crowd roars. Owen can see some people in the front row holding up their fists. He looks at the bar and sees Sarah.
He starts another rhythm on the snare drum. Brrra tata ta, brrra tata ta. “Here we go.”