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It's so hot out here today.
I close my eyes for a few seconds. I'm thinking of a cool, refreshing water break.
It's only the third day of two grueling weeks of all-out torture. It's voluntary, though. We all signed up for this. Not a single one of us wants to quit. The sticky August heat makes it hard to breathe. I'm working hard to keep my elbows out and arms high. Hours of holding my trumpet at the proper horn angle are beginning to take a toll, my arms are on fire.
Even though I'm wearing a lot of sunscreen, I can still feel my skin baking. My chops feel like mush. The muscles around my mouth and lips are getting fatigued. My feet are tired. It feels like I've been marching around on this field forever, but it's only been hours.
This is band camp.
"Hey, Rigs," Chewie thinks he's whispering.
Yeah, not so much. He's the worst whisperer ever. His real name is Charles, but for as long as I can remember, he's proudly gone by that silly nickname. He's not even a Star Wars fan. He says his dad gave him that nickname when he started growing a peach-fuzz mustache when he was ten years old.
"Rigs, psssst. Rigs!" Chewie says.
Only my friends call me Rigs. I'm pretty introverted so I don't really have a lot of friends.
It's kind of cool, though. We found out a few weeks ago that our opening show would be a Beatles show. I mean, we're literally playing Eleanor Rigby, the song I was named after.
My parents were big fans of the Fab Four from Liverpool. When mom found out she was pregnant they decided to name me after their favorite song, Eleanor Rigby. Dad wanted to call me Eleanor - Ellie for short. But mom got her way and Rigby won out. So that's me, Rigby Raines...
I don't want to linger on that memory for too long. The pain is still too close to the surface.
I turn and look over my right shoulder to see what Chewie wants. He's standing there looking goofy with that heavy sousaphone. I don't see why he likes lugging that monster around all day. It's like a big tuba that's been unwound and then reconfigured for marching band.
"Riiiigggsss!" Chewie is relentless. "Can I have some of your water? I left my canteen on the sidelines." His sweaty, moppy brown hair is in his eyes.
Of course, he's the only person in the band who actually brings a military canteen to practice and then forgets it on the sidelines.
Typical Chewie. It's hot here in Georgia in the summer. Like, almost one hundred degrees, and muggier than you think, hot. We don't get many water breaks, though. I have a small water bottle that hooks onto my belt bag. Yeah, don't laugh, it's a small fanny pack. It's practical.
I'm drenched in sweat. We've been working on the fundamentals of marching in step and forming perfect lines and shapes.
"One more time!" Mr. Zimmer, our band director, calls out through his crackling megaphone. He's pretty cool, but I'm sick of hearing those three words. Over the next 2 weeks I'll hear them again and again.
We've been working on learning new formations. Once we get a shape down, we head back to the previous shape, get set and then while the director counts out loud, march back into the new shape.
"Here you go, Chew." I hand him my canteen as we head back to our previous spots. We're not always on the same part of the field, but our marks in this part of the show are close to each other. As we continue to learn our first halftime drill, each section of the band will occupy different parts of the field as the music changes. It's like a set of pictures that changes with each part of the song. All of the members of the band are individual dots that make up the whole picture.
"Thanks, Rigs," he pants. "It's hot out here today." He heads back over a few yard lines to his first dot. I'm at mine. I'm so thirsty. I reach down for my water bottle. It's not there.
What the...where's my water? Crap! Chewie still has it!
"CHEW!!" I call. "You've got my wat..."
"RIGBY!" A voice stops me in my tracks. It makes my skin crawl.
I turn uneasily to see Taura Jacobs staring me down like I've just insulted and slapped her. She's the trumpet section leader, and basically the band's self-proclaimed queen. She knows everything about everything and everybody seems to think she's so great.
I'm basically a nobody in the trumpet section. I like it that way. I hate being in front of people. The only time I ever played a solo was when I accidentally played on a rest. I was so embarrassed that I wanted to hide in my band locker.
"GET BACK TO YOUR SPOT AND QUIT TALKING TO THE SOUSAS!" She snaps. She looks like an angry cat when she's hissing out all those bossy orders.
She's always been so harsh to me. Such a bully. Cruel at times. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I'm shy. Maybe it's because I can't ever come up with anything to say back. She's been the bane of my existence since we all started band together in sixth grade.
Taura has that look that makes people like her. She's actually pretty. Tall and lean. She seems to always color coordinate. Her ponytail is always in a perfect bow or flowing flawlessly out of the back of her baseball cap. I can't stand it. I have to wrestle with my straightener for what seems like hours to get this frizzy, ginger hair to behave.
Taura seems to think that everyone else is beneath her. To top it off, now she can officially boss me around and get away with it. Mr. Zimmer made her a section leader. Somehow he thinks she's perfect. I guess he didn't get the memo about her. I don't know how he can't see what I see. She's such a jerk.
"Ok, Taura." I mumble softly. My ears are burning. I'm embarrassed. I hate being singled out for anything. I wish I could just stand up to her...but I can't.
I've never been able to. I'm not brave. I'm not bold. I'm not fearless. I'm just shy, quiet, and scared.