A plane trip starts the group's tour, arguements take place, and a spider causes some problems.
The morning of their departure started cold and wet. Everyone donned light rain coats and carried umbrellas. Mr. Johnson gave them a few last minute details before sending them off to the airport, where they would take a plane to Canada and from there use buses to travel. The seats were already assigned: Michelle and Julie in one row, Brian and Nick in another row, and the other three in a row across from Brian and Nick. The total flight time was six hours. Kevin helped the women put their carry-on luggage in the overhead compartments before the plane took off.
“The last time I flew in a plane was when I moved to Florida from Boston,” Julie said to Michelle. “I’d forgotten how much I hate taking off.” Michelle laughed.
“I’d forgotten how much you hate it, too. Taking off is my favorite part.” Once up in the air, Michelle pulled out her walkman and listened to music while doing crossword puzzles from a puzzle book. Julie pulled out a bag of colored pencils to create some art work in her sketch book. An hour into the flight Michelle excused herself to the bathroom. Julie, who had the window seat, stared out the window at the clouds, waiting for inspiration for her next drawing. She heard someone sit down next to her and, assuming it to be Michelle, turned around to say something but stopped when she found herself looking at Kevin instead.
“What are you doing?” she asked him.
“I was sitting between AJ and Howie, listening to them argue about the Super Bowl, and I decided I’d come join you for awhile.” Julie looked over at Kevin’s row and noticed Nick had taken Kevin’s place in order to join the argument. “What were you doing when I got here?”
“Staring out the window and waiting to be inspired,” she told him honestly.
“Have you been inspired yet?”
“Nope. The clouds all look the same, white and fluffy. You do realize when Michelle gets back you’ll have to move, and Nick is currently in your seat.” Kevin looked over to his seat and back again. He shrugged.
“What have you been drawing so far?” he asked. She showed him her sketches. There was a quick drawing of a plane, though she added enough detail to make it look like their particular plane, airline logo and all. The next set of drawings showed a portrait of each one of the Boys. “These are very good,” he said. “You even gave AJ glasses.”
“He’s always wearing them; they’re like a trademark. I also gave him a beanie since he likes to wear those as well.” Just then both heard someone clear her throat. They looked up and saw Michelle standing there, looking pointedly at Kevin.
“I believe you’re in my seat,” she said, stating the obvious.
“Sorry,” he said, apologizing politely.
“Michelle,” Brian said from the row behind, “why don’t you sit with me for a little while and let them finish their conversation. I’m sure they’ve got loads to talk about,” he said with a smile. Michelle shrugged and sat down next to Brian. She looked over and noticed Nick in Kevin’s seat arguing with AJ and Howie.
“What are they arguing about?”
“Who’s going to win the Super Bowl.” Michelle rolled her eyes. “I take it you don’t like sports?”
“I do like sports, just not football.”
“I stopped liking it after my last boyfriend dumped me.”
“I take it he played football then?” Michelle nodded, and Brian decided to change the subject.
“My personal favorite is basketball, though due to my height I could never go pro.”
“Yes, I can see that.” Brian made a face at her. “There’s no need to be immature about it. It’s not like I’m very tall either.”
“How tall are you?”
“I’m 5’4”. How tall are you?”
“5’7”, not much taller than you.”
“Obvious man strikes again,” Michelle said with mock enthusiasm.
Brian turned his back on her, pretending to be angry at her. She took the moment to pick up his glass of water and get ready to pretend to pour it on him when he turned around. When he did turn back around, he turned faster than Michelle anticipated. His elbow hit the glass of water and spilled it all over her shirt.
“Now look what you did!” Michelle told him. Brian tried to apologize, but couldn’t without laughing which he knew would only insult her further.
“What’s going on?” Julie asked from the row ahead. She turned in her seat to look behind.
“I believe Michelle was going to spill my drink on me, but when I turned around her plan backfired and the drink ended up spilling on her instead,” Brian explained. Julie and Brian started laughing at the same time, and soon Michelle joined them, unable to resist any longer.
“You have a lot of talent as an artist,” Kevin told Julie, after she turned back around. “What’s this?” he asked when a picture fell out of the back of the book.
“That’s a painting I did in my apartment.” It was an extra large canvas covered in streaks of varying colors of paint. At the end of each streak was a smeared hand or foot print. “I like to use my hands and feet to create art sometimes. It’s a lot of fun, especially when I put on music and just dance around on the canvas with paint-covered feet.”
“That sounds interesting.”
“Want me to show you how to do it sometime?”
“I don’t know. . .”
“Come on. The next time we have some free time and I can get the materials, we’ll make a big painting, all seven of us. Or maybe, we could have each of you design your own suits with paint. How about that?”
“I’ll think about it.”
Everyone stayed in those seats and continued talking for a few more hours. For the last hour of the flight they returned to their original seats. Julie was busy drawing in her sketch pad, obviously having been inspired during her conversation with Kevin. Michelle stared out the window and let her mind wander. It drifted through her last job, dealing with models who thought they knew best when it came to fashion, only to find themselves disgusted when proved wrong. Further back her mind went, finally dwelling on thoughts of Craig. She’d met him at a photo shoot. Unlike most male photographers she’d met, he was completely male, with no hint of estrogen. He worked well with her, choosing the best lighting to match the clothes she picked out rather than argue over her choices. They went out for lunch after the photo shoot ended, and had such a great time they made plans to do it again. Over the course of a few months, they started meeting more and more frequently. On the weekends she enjoyed getting together with mutual friends in the business and playing sports. Craig excelled in football, and taught her to understand the game better so she could play. They were an unbeatable team together. A few more months passed, and things got serious. Michelle confided in Julie her suspicions that Craig would ask her to marry him soon. It all seemed to be heading that way.
One night Craig took her to a fancy restaurant. They were seated at a table for two on a balcony overlooking the ocean, and a miniature orchestra played just inside the doors, creating a romantic mood. They talked about work, where they wanted to go in their careers, traveling, and other topics of interest. Then Michelle noticed him tense up. She thought he was preparing to propose. Instead, he dumped her. He said he’d taken a job in Paris in order to get away from her and give her space. He said it wasn’t working out the way he wanted it to. When she asked what he meant, he told her he only meant for their relationship to last a few months at most, and had planned on getting to sleep with her. When he realized she expected him to marry her, he saw his mistake and made the decision to end the relationship. He paid for her meal and left her at the restaurant, having a plane to catch that would take him to Paris. Michelle drove home in shock. How could she have misjudged him so bad? Did she miss a sign somewhere along the road that would have alerted her to his real intentions? She told Julie what happened and then went straight to bed. She never cried a single tear.
Michelle pulled herself out of her memories and pushed them back down where they belonged. When the plane landed and was taxiing towards the terminal, Michelle asked Julie about painting suits, since she overheard that part of her conversation with Kevin.
“Wouldn’t it be fun to have buckets of different colored paint and let the Boys design their own suits? We could design our own outfits too. Come on, you’d do it with me, wouldn’t you?”
“Of course. We always end up doing the weirdest things together.”
Once the plane landed they went straight to their buses while someone else got their luggage. Michelle and Julie shared a bus with Brian and Nick and the other three were in the second bus. It was a short ride to the hotel where they’d be staying for the first concert. Once they arrived, they put their bags in their rooms and went straight to lunch.
“What do you normally do on the buses to entertain yourselves?” Julie asked after they ordered.
“Sometimes we practice,” Kevin told her, “but mostly we each do our own thing. I usually bring a book to read.” The rest listed their choices.
“I like reading too,” Julie said to Kevin.
“What book did you bring with you?” he asked her.
“I was reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.” When she received a blank look, she explained what the book was about. Once he understood, they got into a conversation about what signifies a classic book and other classic literature.
“I don’t read much classic literature, I’m afraid,” confessed Kevin.
“Oh?” queried Julie.
“Yeah, I prefer bestsellers or thrillers. I love Stephen King novels.”
“I’ve read a couple of his; they’re pretty good, I think. Not classics, but still entertaining.”
“So what’s your definition of a classic, then?”
“A piece that has lasted a decent amount of time and is relevant not only for the time period in which it was written but in every time period. It must have overarching themes applicable to all of human life, throughout all the ages.”
“And the book you’re reading right now has all of that?”
“I’d say so. In one respect, it’s about the Dust Bowl migration during the Great Depression and the social issues of the time, but it’s also about human relationships and faith. Sticking together as a family and a species for better and worse. We have to boost each other up. There’s even a bit of spirituality in there.”
“What kind of movies do you enjoy?” Michelle asked Brian, hearing him say he enjoyed watching movies on the buses. She thought it would be important to know since she was sharing a bus with him.
“I enjoy all sorts of movies.” He began listing off some of his favorites. Michelle listed off some of her own favorites.
“Wait,” he said, interrupting her, “Gone with the Wind is actually one of your favorite movies?” Michelle nodded. “How can you enjoy that movie? It’s so boring.”
“It’s not boring. It might be a little slower than movies now, but it’s still got a good plot line and great scenes, memorable to me at least. Not to mention the fabulous costume design,” Michelle said with a smile.
“I’ll give you that one, based on what I remember, but the movie itself wasn’t that interesting for me. The plot may have been solid, but it was very slow paced.”
By the time the food arrived, each conversation had become a debate. They stopped long enough to eat the food while it was fresh, but then resumed and continued all the way up to their hotel rooms. Brian and Kevin went into the room they shared.
“This isn’t over!” Julie yelled at Kevin before closing the door.
“Enjoy your conversation with Kevin?” Michelle asked.
“No! Can you believe he had the nerve to tell me that The Stranger isn’t a classic? Sure, I disliked it vehemently when I read it, but that has nothing to do with it!” She continued ranting a few more minutes before she asked about Michelle’s conversation.
“Well, it started out good but then we disagreed about some old movies and whether or not they were classics. I mean, can you believe he doesn’t like Gone with the Wind or think it was even worth watching?”
“It looks like the Boys are a little more ignorant than we first thought.” Michelle laughed.
The next morning the buses drove them to the arena for rehearsal. The hired help brought all the clothes in from the buses. The Boys went through the finalized order of songs, while Michelle and Julie created a system to make wardrobe changes as quick and easy as possible. After the run through, everyone left for lunch. Michelle and Julie joined the Boys for lunch and listened to them discuss what they’d talk about between songs. Michelle and Julie discussed possible outfits for the music videos and photo shoots for the upcoming cd.
“I agree with you about keeping a similar style now to the one the previous fashion designer started,” Michelle said, “but I think a new style is in order for their next album. I’m thinking something a little older looking, perhaps a little less baggy. Obviously they’ll still be the Backstreet Boys, but I want to show the world they aren’t actually boys anymore . . . except maybe Nick.”
“Hey!” Nick shouted indignantly. They realized the Boys had tuned into their conversation. “I’ll be 18 next month.”
“Forgive me, I meant no offense.” Michelle hid a smile, but the corners of her mouth were twitching. “So did you guys decide what you’d be talking about during the concert?”
“Yes,” Kevin answered. “We usually read a few fan letters, so we’re doing that again. We also like to share fun stories about other performances or rehearsals.” Julie raised an eyebrow when she noticed Brian smiling mischievously.
“Oh? And none of these stories would include us, right?” she asked.
“Of course not,” Brian said. Julie didn’t believe him, but she had no control over the situation.
“Do you guys sing at all?” Howie asked.
“No,” both said simultaneously. The Boys smiled.
“Obviously we sing by ourselves, and with each other,” Julie said, “but not very well, and not in public.”
“So there’s no way we could convince you to sing us something?” Brian asked.
“No,” both said firmly.
Brian gave up asked after a few more unsuccessful tries. They finished lunch and then went back to the stadium to prepare for the concert. As the concert started, Michelle and Julie laughed when they heard all the screaming girls. When the first wardrobe change happened, they had the clothes ready to hand to the guys. They changed quickly, having had practice getting in and out of the clothes. When they were back on stage, Michelle and Julie sat backstage getting the next set of clothes ready and listening to the performance. Once, between songs, Michelle heard Brian start talking. He started telling a story, and she listened in horror as he told everyone of her failed attempt to pour his drink on him. She decided she’d get him back later for that. The time went by fast, and soon the Boys exited the stage and they all headed back to the hotel. Michelle and Julie complimented their performance in the car.
Once they arrived at the hotel, Julie decided to take a shower while Michelle wrote in her journal. Michelle looked up from her journal at one point because she thought she noticed something move out of the corner of her eye. On the ground she saw a spider crawling near her feet. She screamed and brought her legs up on the bed. Luckily the door was cracked open an inch, because a second later Brian came running in.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. Michelle pointed to the spider, which was half an inch big. He smiled with relief and stepped on it. After he threw it in the trash, he noticed everyone else had appeared in the room. Even Julie put on a bathrobe and came out to see what happened.
“It was just a spider,” Brian told everyone. They all left, and Julie went back to her shower. Brian turned back to Michelle and noticed her face was bright red.
“Thanks for killing it,” she said quietly. “I hate spiders.”
“I can tell. Do you always scream?”
“No. I usually don’t, actually, but it startled me, and especially because it was in my hotel room. Julie usually kills them.”
“I figured, since you’re cowering on the bed.” Michelle slowly pulled her feet out from under her and put them on the ground. Brian started laughing, which made Michelle angry until she started laughing too. After several minutes their laughing finally subsided.
“What was so funny?” Michelle asked when she could breathe again.
“You. You were so scared of the spider that you crawled on your bed, and after I killed it you were still afraid to put your feet on the ground. I’ve never seen anyone react like that.”
“So what? I have a little fear of spiders, that’s all.”
“I’d say you have a phobia of spiders, but I’ll admit that it was a pretty big spider for a hotel room. I’m personally terrified of heights.”
“You’re afraid of heights?” Brian nodded.
“That’s why the one time we all went to this creek for some fun I was the only one who refused to jump off the cliff into the water. They told me it was only a fifteen foot cliff, but it looked like fifty feet to me.”
“But don’t you guys have plans to do some stunts at your concerts that might involve heights?”
“Yes, and if they all agree to do that, I’ll have no choice but to face my fears.”
“Do you think you’ll be able to?” Before Brian could respond Julie walked out of the bathroom, reminding them of her presence.
“I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodnight ladies,” he said, giving them a low bow as he exited the room.
“That was a long shower,” Michelle commented. She put her journal away and got into bed.
“I also had to brush my teeth and clean my face.” Michelle nodded, and the two went to bed.