FIVE - About a Girl

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I'm standing in your line

I do hope you have the time


     I was quite sure I was going to die. It can't be okay to have a pumping heart trapped in your throat, choking off all hope of breathing, let alone singing. I watched the Mraz-ian do his thing as I stood outside gazing through the window. He had this wide stance that was annoyingly cool and I caught little notes of his banjo touting song: It's fare thee well my old lover, I never expect to see you again...

     Ugh.

     He was actually good.

     I wanted to shove his fedora in a blender and feed him a hipster-smoothie.

     Perhaps he'll die upon this train...

     Maybe I'm not a very good person.

     He caught my eye through the window as he sang. He actually winked at me. Cocky prick.

     I put my hand over my mouth. I was totally going to throw up.

     Fear is such a funny, fickle animal. It grinds at your gut to the point you're sure you'll never be able to stand up; but, the moment you face it—that moment of blissful ownership over your own gumption—it turns tail and runs. Because it knows what you're too afraid to recognize. It knows that it's weaker than anything you're capable of, and the moment you're brave enough to stand up, no matter how your knees knock or your hands shake, it won't—no, it can't—do a thing to stop you.

     Of course, I didn't know any of this, so I just stood there, swaying slightly like a seasick deckhand, waiting for the order to walk the plank. Waiting for Monsieur Chapeau Fantaisie to make like a dummy and crash.

     What is it that makes me just a little bit queasy? There's a breeze that makes my breathing not so easy...

     "You okay?"

     There was a small line up now, an ordered congregation of hopefuls looking for a musical break. I made eye contact with the girl behind me, the concern on her face making me feel foolish and petty.

     I nodded and cleared my throat. "Nervous," I said.

     "That's a great scarf!"

     I felt a smile tug up the corners of my mouth and I lifted the wool to my nose, breathing in the calming scent of chocolate chip cookies that somehow clung to it, settling my uneven heart.

     The Banjo left the building, swinging his case, whistling. "You got my contact," he called over his shoulder before he shot me a nod that said: you can try but I totally killed it in there.

     A stout man, white hair, rosy cheeks, Santa-esque, stepped just beyond the open door, clipboard in his hand. Taylor Doose. "Charlotte Flynn," he called, tapping a pen against the board. "Is there a Charlotte Flynn here?"

     "Present," I called out. Like a complete nerd.

     "Very good. This way please."

     I entered the soda shop, plunging into the 1950s like it was my day job. Nerves still scrapped their fingernails along my spine but I smiled through it and approached the same piece of floor I'd watched Banjo stand on.

     "New York I see," Taylor said, referring to the application he had clipped to his board.

     "Mmm hmmm," I responded lamely, opening my case and pulling out my guitar. You earn your audience, my father's voice echoed in my head. Earn it, Charlie! I felt the weight of the jewelry box in my pocket and it felt like the whole world, pulling me down with expectation. Light up the world, love. Light up the world.

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