Chapter Seven

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"You have no idea how happy I am to see you here." My drummer, Kara, is a flurry of lavender hair, eyeliner, and head-to-toe black clothing as she hurries across an aisle to where I am, at the back of the theater we're using as our rehearsal space. She sets her drumsticks on top of an amplifier case that belongs to our band's bass player, Key, then wraps her arms around me in a hug.

It's the first time I've seen her or any of my band since our concert seven days ago. We've all texted this week, checking in and fumbling our way to some sense of normal, but messages and memes on a phone screen aren't the same as seeing all of them in person. I return Kara's hug with one of my own, infused with the love and gratitude I hope she can feel.

"I'll bet I'm just as happy to see you." I didn't know what to expect today, but physically being in the same room as my band is already melting away some of the tension in my body. My shoulders relax for the first time in what seems like an eternity. There's never been a week that has felt as long as this one.

"How are you doing?" Kara's eyes focus on my face. I did the best I could to conceal my new routine of spending the night dozing off for a few minutes and bolting awake over and over again, but it's difficult to hide. I'm exhausted.

"Sleeping is hard," I admit.

"How hard?"

"I wake up a lot." I don't disclose that I've had maybe three or four hours of broken sleep every night this week. Each time I drift off, images from The Domino, the media coverage, and the few memories of Dallas I have from school haunt my dreams and morph into what's become a recurring nightmare. I usually wake up thrashing and gasping for breath, damp with sweat, and with my sheets tangled around my body.

Kara tilts her head, examining me from another angle. "Have you seen your doctor? You can get something to help you sleep."

"I know." And I have, since Mom made me speak with my doctor again after the second night of not sleeping well. She recommended trying an antihistamine and relaxation techniques first, but she also called in a prescription in case I need it. The pill bottle is in the top drawer of my nightstand, still unopened.

My main resistance to taking a sleeping pill is losing the little control I have to awaken at will, since I'm fighting my own mind. I always wake up at the same point in the nightmare, terrified and on the verge of screaming. It takes a while to snap back to reality and recognize that I'm in my bed instead of on a stage, choking on smoke and covered in blood. I'm not sure I want to find out what would surface next in my dreams if something was keeping me asleep.

I'm getting used to muddling through each day with clouded mush for a brain and limbs that feel like they're moving through molasses. The zombie version of me doesn't have the stamina or the attention span to think very much, so that's the upside. It also keeps me from texting or calling Bowie. Asking about the continued sightings of him and Portia that fill my Twitter feed or finding out if we've broken up aren't things I want to deal with.

Dylan, my lead guitar player, spots me and calls out a greeting, then returns to tuning the strings of his prized Fender Mustang. I wave at him, then do a scan of the room. Key is setting up his gear, and of some of the dancers are stretching out and chatting with each other.

"Are you okay with rehearsing in those?" Mom appears at my side and points at the three-inch platform sandals adorning my feet. The rhinestones decorating the straps sparkle under the lights in the room. "I saw some other shoes in the car that are probably better if you're running through dance moves today."

"These are good for the first couple of songs when I'm just singing," I assure her. "I brought other shoes to change into when I'm with the dancers."

Mom is trying not to hover, but she's worried. The first clue was when she asked if I wanted to cancel today's rehearsal. It was tempting, but I told her no. The tour kicks off soon, and we need these rehearsals to nail down the set and the choreography.

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