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Tides of Change

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Tides of Change

My high school career started just like everyone else’s: as a freshman. I was young, awkward, and despite the fact that I was somewhat more attractive than the average, even then, I wasn’t very liked by too many of my classmates. I was very creative, had a wild imagination, and a desire for everyone to know it. Even though I had no skill in either field, I drew things like manga and tried my hand at writing fiction.

            People thought I was rather crazy, annoying, and arrogant, so I ended up in the field of rejects. I joined art class my first semester and hated every day. I changed to band instead and picked up the guitar. They made a spot for me and I learned pretty quickly. I found that music was amazing and I loved it just as much as all the other crazy things I liked. My sophomore year wasn’t much different, though I felt more comfortable and had a tentative place in the social hierarchy.

Junior year was more of a struggle though. I had hard classes and very little time for fun. I had to start thinking about college, making sure to keep my grades up. I was still in band which took up an absurd amount of time and I was also the starter of the Rock Music Club. Between trying to get people together for that, staying in band and grades, I had a rough year, but I managed somehow.

Senior year was a different story and is where my tale actually beings. It was halfway through first semester when trouble started in the Rock Music Club. The singer Tony, the bassist Stella, the drummer Simon, and I were never really close before the club started. They only joined because they liked music and didn’t want to go home. When drama started, things fell apart quickly. That’s where I’ll take you.

* * * * *

“Look, I joined because I like music, but this club ain’t goin nowhere and this other band actually plays gigs. I’d rather sing for them than sit around here driving my career into the ground,†Tony said bluntly, but truthfully while everyone was gathered after school.

“Well if Tony’s out I’ve got no reason to stick around either. I just came to chill with everyone and he brought me here,†Simon said.

            Jason sat by the open window strumming guitar as they argued. Although it involved him as well, he just listened and watched as they walked out of the room and the club without another thought. Stella plopped down on the piano stool and watched Jason strum away until finally she said, “Jason, I don’t think we’ll be able to go any further than this. Without the others, we’re just a bass and a guitar.â€

            Jason sighed and stopped playing. “Well, if you want to leave I won’t stop you. Without four members we aren’t a club anyway, so we’ll have to disband,†he said.

Stella sat there thinking for a long while. She then stood and shouldered her bag finally saying, “Well, I’ll come back tomorrow to get my stuff then. Still, it was fun while we had it.â€

            Stella left the room without another word and Jason turned the amp up a little more. He began strumming out the chords to his favorite song that he learned while enjoying the cool fall breeze coming in the window.

            Well, it’s been a good run, but looks like this is the last day for the Rock Music Club. Two and a half semesters to fulfill my dream of becoming a rock star wasn’t too bad at least.

            Just then a piano from the adjacent music room began to play the song in sync to him, laying the bass line and melody over his chords. He smiled as they played, loving the unknown musician that often played with him in the afternoons when he was alone.

            So you were here after all. I thought you were gone already. Well, at least you were able to be here for the Rock Music Club’s final performance. Thanks for playing alongside me all this time. It’s been a good run…

            From outside the window came a pure voice into the mix of their song, the sound more fitting than the actual recorded track. Jason continued to play, but his mouth dropped open in astonishment as the song continued through the chorus. The piano ended at that and Jason had a spur of the moment idea. “Piano man! Keep playing!†he yelled out the window.

            There was a moment of silence when his heart nearly stopped. Then the music started back up at the second verse along with the girl’s voice. Jason dropped his guitar on the stand and took off through the halls for the roof where the voice was coming from. Please make it in time! Please don’t stop singing!

            He burst through the door to the roof to find the owner of the beautiful voice as she sang the last sweet notes of the song. It was Mackenzie Fairview, the “idol†of the school, and Jason almost couldn’t believe it. She had such a proper air and her entire image was based on it, yet here she was singing on the roof of the school to Ripped Hearts. She turned around when the metal door slammed shut and stared at Jason in disbelief. “You…Were just singing. You’re amazing!†Jason exclaimed.

            “Your Mackenzie right? Miss proper popular of the school. Listen, I have a favor to ask of you,†Jason said as he approached her.

            She shied away, afraid that Jason would try to blackmail her into doing something now that he knew her secret and said, “I’ll listen.â€

          “Great! All right, so I have some issues going on right now, and I‘m asking you to join the Rock Music Club.†Jason said.

            Mackenzie’s face told the whole story of her confusion and she said, “Do you honestly mean that? I mean, we don’t even know each other and, after all, I’m Mackenzie Fairview. I have to…uh…maintain my image right?â€

            Jason strode purposefully past her to the stand at the rails and watched the sun as it began dipping toward the horizon. “But you have an amazing voice. You love to sing, so why worry about an image when you can be the person you’ve always wanted,†he said almost in a daze of his own, and then he turned from the setting sun too look at her and added, “At least think about it. I’m the guitar guy playing in music room two. It’s not much time, but you have until tomorrow evening before we’ll be reported and disband.â€

            With his words said, Jason left the roof, hoping that his method would leave an impression and make her really consider joining. If I can get Mackenzie to join, then maybe I can get the piano guy to join too. Then it’ll be me, Stella, Mackenzie and him. Enough people to keep going.

* * * * *

            It turned out that Makenzie was more proactive than I thought. The next day she found me before class even started and said she would join the Rock Music Club. I now had a stunning singer to add to the group for our upcoming performance and next was the person in music room three who always played the piano.

            At that time I had no idea who was playing in the room next door, but I was rather shocked to find out who it was when I finally managed to get an audience with the piano ‘prodigy’.

            After I introduced the new singer to Stella, who couldn’t believe it no matter how many times she heard it, I went to faculty office and begged for another week to gather one more member to complete the club again, then moved on to a phase to where I nearly stalked the room to get the player to join.

* * * * *

            “So how do we get mister music over there?†Stella asked while the three of them sat in the room with little to do.

            Jason had waited after the past two days to see who it might have been, but he left after the sun had set and still didn’t see anyone leave. “Well, waiting isn’t going to work and I’ve tried knocking on the door a long while back but got nothing,†he replied before thinking harder.

            “Maybe we could get a key from the teachers. I’m sure they have one,†Mackenzie suggested.

            Jason shook his head as he opened the window to the afternoon weather and said, “Tried that too. They won’t give the key to unauthorized students. Apparently it’s reserved for the players.â€

            The group sighed as a collective and Jason pulled out his electric guitar and plugged into the amp by the window, not missing a chance to play while he still could.

F Major-G Major-C Major

            The beautiful chords to Ripped Hearts’ chorus rang out in slow strums and the second time through the riff the piano joined in a glorious duet. Jason had a sudden idea and said while quietly setting his guitar down, “I’m going through the window.â€

            Stella and Mackenzie seemed confused a moment before Jason perched on the window sill and began climbing out onto the six inch ledge protruding from the building. They nearly yelled at him, but he held a finger to his lips to silence them, then indicated the window next door as being open with a point and thumbs up. They ran to the window as he slid along the side two stories in the air. With one wrong move, he slipped and fell into the window.

* * * * *

            All right, so for about a year and a half I thought the mystery pianist was a guy. It turns out the player was really my classmate Haruka Otome. She seemed to be a distant and reserved girl with good manners. Very different from other people that I knew, but that would be the only reason she ever stood out in class.

She was actually a very spirited individual, but found no reason to express herself to anyone. I thought it was rather conceited at first, but I grew to understand her better and realized that she wasn’t that way. Haruka simply loved music as her passion and nothing else. When I discovered that, I found a whole new side to her that I’d never seen before.

* * * * *

“What the hell were you doing out there?!†she yelled as Jason set the curtain rod back in its holder.

“Well, you’ve been over here for the longest time playing with me and I never knew it was you. I was content to simply play along, but there have been some issues with the club…â€

“Yeah, I heard most of it from here. Do I assume you’ve come across through the window to ask me to join your mediocre band?†Haruka said bluntly.

Jason couldn’t deny it had been that exact reason he came across, so rather than avoid it, he bowed his head to her and said, “Please! It would be an honor to have someone as talented as you join the band.â€

Haruka laughed at his display and simply replied, “All right. I’ve got no problems with that. I’ll turn in my form to join tomorrow.â€

Jason was stunned at how easy it had been and asked in astonishment, “Are you serious? That’s it?â€

“Yeah. I mean, so long as I am playing music I don’t care. And after your insane display of coming over here, I could hardly refuse. Be warned though, I will make sure we practice until we can play everything PERFECT,†she said.

She then closed the piano, collected her music and pack, and left with a smile on her face. Stella and Mackenzie were waiting outside when Jason came out at last and immediately they chimed in unison, “So, how did it go?â€

Jason put a big grin on his face and said, “I got Haruka to join no problem. Welcome to the new Rock Music Club.â€

* * * * *

            Just as Haruka promised, she turned in her form the next day and we held a small welcoming party for both her and Mackenzie. After that though, came the all-important music. Our first performance was only three weeks away and we planned to play Ripped Hearts and Shining Rebellion for the November talent show.

            Haruka pushed us to practice every day for an absurd amount of time until my fingers bled and Mackenzie nearly lost her voice. Still, we practiced and we performed for that show with a drum track behind us. It was the first time I’d felt such elation after a performance and it was our first time together on stage. Nothing could ever beat the feeling of those moments when we played our hearts out on stage.

            There were plenty more performances, both for school and some that were paid. We learned song after song, practiced day in and day out, and became the closest of friends. Mackenzie and I were seniors, Stella a junior, and Haruka a sophomore. Still, Haruka was better than us all, and we learned most everything from her. Looking back to that year, it was certainly the best of all my years in school.

            We even went on a spring vacation together as well.

* * * * *

            “Mackenzie, you should really learn to eat less. Ya know, save some of the rest of us maybe?†Jason said while they watched her pile food on her tray from the buffet.

            “It’s all you can eat, so I’m eating all I can eat,†she replied with pride.

            All the others could do was laugh with her as they filled their trays and ate as well. Later that night found them all at the hotel again. They shared one room to save money, but the situation was just as funny as it was awkward with Jason surrounded by the three. “This was certainly not the best of ideas,†he complained while looking at the two beds.

            “Well, now we just decide who doesn’t have to sleep with you,†Stella said brightly.

            “No need to sound so happy about that,†Jason said as they started playing rock-paper-scissors to determine the “victimâ€.

            It ended with Haruka sharing with Jason and Stella sharing with Mackenzie. “How did it turn out like this,†Jason complained, feeling like the real victim in the situation.

            Regardless, he slept well that night; waking up to Haruka curled up next to him, preventing him from moving from the bed. Well, at least it’s not so bad. She’s kinda cute like this too.

* * * * *

            That thought that I found so innocent later changed into something more when Haruka confessed her love for me just before our last performance. That was by far the best and saddest time we’d ever spent together on the stage. The whole week before that we spent together learning one last song. The lineup was our first song together that we loved, Ripped hearts. Another song that we felt was close to our group as friends, Land of Escapade. The last one was a little more fitting the occasion though…

* * * * *

            “So what should we play as our third song at the graduation performance?†Haruka asked as everyone sat in her mansion of a house around her baby grand piano in her “basementâ€.

            Jason smiled and dug through his bag, producing a composition book with “Music†scrawled on the front that they’d been using since the start of his junior year. “I actually have an idea. I’ve been halfway writing songs for a while now and I thought this one might be a good pick for the graduation performance,†he said flipping to the page and passing it around.

            “It’s really just lyrics, but I thought we could work out all the music together,†he explained.

            They looked through it and when Haruka read it, she said, “Yeah. I can write out some parts and teach everyone and Mackenzie can learn the lyrics easily.â€

            Jason was suddenly overly excited that they would be producing his song for the show. “Well, why not get started now?! We only have a week to do all this after all. Damn…We only have a week guys!â€

            His words took a moment to settle in, but when they did, the four realized what they had to accomplish in a short time. They immediately got to work and spent the night over at Haruka’s house, using all that time to compose the piece and practice.

            The next night was spent at her house as well, and after taking a day off, they spent another night there. All that week, they practiced, practiced, and practiced more. Jason learned the chords and strum pattern, but it was the solo that he had to play that stumped him.

Stella and Mackenzie got their parts down within a few nights and spent the time they had resting for the big day. Jason spent his time, instead, working on the solo at Haruka’s house, spending every moment he had with her to get the part down. It wasn’t until the night before the performance that he perfected it.

Next morning he checked the clock when he woke up and began to panic. “Shit! I’m gunna be late for my own graduation!†he yelled.

He ran upstairs and found her cooking happily. “What’re you doing?! We’re gunna be late if we don’t hurry!â€

“Don’t worry. I set your clock off by two hours on purpose. There is still plenty of time. I made breakfast for us so just relax. After all, it’s your graduation day,†she said, a hint of sorrow lacing her tone.

Jason felt both relief and awkwardness. He didn’t have to hurry now, but he was sitting down to have breakfast alone with a girl. The food was wonderful regardless and he ate his fill saying, “That was fantastic. I didn’t know you could cook like that.â€

Haruka blushed slightly and finished her food, then cleaned the dishes. The doorbell rang and Jason answered it to find Mackenzie and Stella smiling broadly. “Happy graduation day,†Stella said teary eyed.

“Don’t cry now. We haven’t even performed yet. C’mon, there is still time,†he said leaving the door open for them to enter as well.

* * * * *

That was one hectic morning. We did a run through of our show before leaving for the stadium, but arrived with plenty of time to spare. My parents were there, and so were Mackenzie’s. The both of us arrived in the traditional cap and gowns, but underneath we wore our concert attire. I still have the black jacket, white button up, and jeans from that performance.

* * * * *

“Seniors, you may now move your tassel.â€

The students standing before the stage all moved their tassels as a collective and the principle said, “Congratulations alumni on your graduation.â€

Jason threw his hat in the air and screamed in the hype of the crowd, but kept his eyes fixed on the cap. The moment it came down he snatched it up and took off for the stage while the student council president got the students attention and began hyping them up for the performance. Jason found Stella and Mackenzie waiting for him already dressed down. “Hurry and dress down and go find Haruka. We’re about to go on,†Stella said.

Jason nodded and pulled his gown off, throwing it and the cap with the others. Then he took off to find Haruka, who was waiting for him behind the front curtain. “Hey, it’s about time to go on. You ready for this?†Jason said with excitement.

Haruka nodded with a smile and replied, “As ready as I’ll ever be, but not for the performance. For this.â€

She grabbed Jason’s black tie and pulled him in, kissing him passionately for a long moment. When she pulled away, she said, “I love you Jason, but you can answer me after this…â€

            “So let’s give a big hand to our great Rock Music Club who have done so much for us this year, and to Jason and Mackenzie who graduated as well!†the president said as the curtains opened on Jason and Haruka; Mackenzie and Stella running in from either side.

            Jason had no time to think and ran to his guitar as the others got set and Mackenzie spoke. “All right then. This first song is always a favorite, and you all know it well. Ripped Hearts!â€

            Jason began the chords with piano accompaniment before the beat dropped from the drum machine and Stella let loose on the bass as well. The crowd cheered as they played and their graduating idol Mackenzie sang. This song bled right into the second song, a more up lifting song about adventure. Stella took the microphone and took a short speech while the drum track vamped. “This next one is as song that can certainly explain how my year has been with this crazy club. It’s been one heck of an adventure and I’m really gunna miss you two and everyone else as well. Land of Escapade!†she said, already crying when she made it back to her bass

            When the last notes rang out, Jason moved to the microphone and waited for things to quiet down before he said, “All right!! Now, this last song that we will play for you guys is very dear to me. It pretty much sums up how I feel right now, and how I’m sure we all feel. It’s actually a piece that I wrote myself, and it’s about how things will always change. Regardless of if they do change though, there are people who have impacted my life and will always be my friends no matter the distance or where I go.

            “Also, before we start I want to say something to my band members,†Jason turned so he could see them all, red from excitement and the bitter-sweetness of graduation then continued, “You guys pulled together right at the very end when I thought that the club would be shut down. We’ve performed so much together and become so close. I just want to say that though this may be the last time we bow together of this stage of music, never forget what it’s like to have everyone at your side. For my band, Tides of Change!!!â€

            The first chord rang out from his guitar as the crowd cheered and cried with a blur of sound and emotions on that day, and they played their last song for the graduating class of 2014.

* * * * *

            That was graduation day. After that, I began dating Haruka despite her being a few years younger. The last song was our legacy to the school and it was even played at Stella and Haruka’s graduation as well. The Rock Music Club thrived after that year as I heard and things went well. It’s all different now though.

I can say I’m now happily married to Haruka for three years after we dated for seven years. I still keep in touch with both Mackenzie and Stella, but of course we aren’t close like it was before.

Our oath to always be together slowly faded over the years as Haruka and I became famous musicians and it’s been some time since I last saw them both. I remember that performance at graduation every time I play Tide of Change, but it’ll never be the same as back then. Just like the song says though: it’s these tides of change beneath my feet that take me to new places, and though it’ll never be the same again, I will always call you my friend.

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Feel free to leave comments with your opinions for this peice if anyone bothers to read through any of it. (^.^)b

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