Maggie faces the facts and tells Hayley what she needs to do in order to get her life together. Trace finds Maggie when she needs him the most and admits the most terrifying thing to her.
“We both know that you are not sleeping,” he spoke calmly but I could feel the anger in his voice rising. Whenever Zac and I had problems it hurt everybody, whether they were involved or not. For Taylor to see his best friend and his cousin going at each others throat he had more emotion than Zac and I put together. I rolled over and stared heavily at Taylor through a shield of strawberry blonde hair.
“What do you want?” My voice was just as harsh as my stare and I could see that Taylor was surprised at my immediate reaction. It normally took me a while to build up a wall in fights with him.
“Maggie, what happened today after work?” He changed his tactic and went for the concerned cousin approached.
“Look Taylor, I know you and the guys are really close knit and stuff but it would be nice if my business was actually my business, not Josh, Jeremy, Taylor, and then my business.”
He shook his head knowingly and opened his mouth to talk again.
“Okay Margaret, I tried to be nice about it but obviously you want to make this hard for the both of us.” He stood from my bed and started walking towards my door. Great, now my own fucking cousin was mad at me.
“I like Trace,” I said as his hand grabbed the knob. It made him turn around and the expression on his face wasn’t anger, more of the “do tell more” look. He shook his head slowly.
“I don’t understand you Maggie. Maybe it’s because we’ve all been gone for so long and I know that you and Zac had a weird falling out before the tour, I don’t know. But Maggie, why on God’s green earth…” I told you so! “…would you let another guy kiss you in front of Zac? Whether you and him, either of them, were going out, letting that Trace dude kiss you was wrong and stupid.”
I stopped him.
“Taylor, I didn’t even know he was going to kiss me okay!” I could feel the tears burn my eyes. “If I knew I would have stopped it. I’m not that fucking stupid!” I shouted. Taylor just stared at me from the spot in front of the door.
“Maggie, you say you like this Trace guy right?” I nodded in reply. “But where does that leave Zac?” And honestly, I didn’t know where that left Zac.
“I…I don’t know,” I stuttered as tears began to flow freely from my eyes.
“Well when you figure that out, it would be nice if you let Zac know.” I thought he was going to do a bit about how torn up Zac is now. I was seriously going to throw something hard at his face if he went down that path, but thankfully he didn’t. I didn’t have anything hard by me anyways. “In the meantime, Hayley is on her way over. She wants to go out with you. So get your ass up, take a shower and put some clean clothes on.”
“What’s this?” Hayley asked while driving to downtown Franklin. I quickly grabbed the pink CD case from her hands and shoved it in the visor above my head.
“Nothing,” I said flatly. I was still in a bad from the fight with Zac and the talk with Taylor. And I could tell that Hayley was trying her best to cheer me up, and usually it would work considering the fact that she was probably the closest person to me besides my cousin, but my mood was damping her attempts.
“Well for that to be nothing, it seems to be a whole lot of something,” she said with smiled. I stopped at a red light and took the CD out of its hiding place.
“Do you know about what happened today with me and Zac?” Hayley shook her head slowly. “Good. I’ll tell you.” I began to speak as I parked bus at the local barbeque joint in town. We got out and sat down at a patio table waiting for our waiter. I didn’t leave out any details for Hayley as she leaned in intently to listen. I told her about the party that I met Trace at and how we hit it off. I told her about how Zac coming back home was a good thing, but it also gave me mixed feelings since I liked Trace. All she did was listen which was really comforting to me. Hayley was good at that, listening.
When I was finished, she leaned back into her chair and eyed the menu like nothing had just happened.
“Hayley?” Was I looking for some type of guidance from her?
“Mag, you’ve gotten yourself into a big, big mess. How do you plan on fixing it?”
There, with the words Hayley spoke calmly to me, I found myself at a cross-road. Zac or Trace. Constant pain or constant fun. If I decided to stay in Franklin and wait for Zac to come home for barely days at a time, I would be lonely and hurting for him. But if I decided to be with Trace, I would have to leave high school, be tutored, and have loads of fun but also be shunned upon by my once best friends. In the midst of all of the jumble in my head, one word stood out…Chicago. It wasn’t my hometown (I was born in Franklin but moved north when I was eight) but I found myself craving it.
“Maybe I should leave Franklin for a while? I would be away from Zac and Trace and I’d spend a while up there with my dad’s parents and figure everything out.” The look on Hayley’s face made me want to cry. I was the only girl friend she had and she counted on me be there when the guys couldn’t.
“We come home for you to leave huh,” she said, her attitude showing.
“Hay, please don’t be like that. You know,” my eyes were welling up and I couldn’t stop the tears, “I don’t want to leave but like you said, I’ve got a big, big mess on my hands. I need to deal with it without the pressure of any of you guys.” I don’t know where the words were coming from. I had never thought about leaving Franklin again since I had come back. I loved this place and the people in it. The school I went. Even my stupid job! I couldn’t really see my life without this town in it. Then I noticed Hayley was crying too.
“Well…” she sniffed, “if you think you should go I guess I’ll let you.” She tried to giggle but it didn’t quite work.
“Thanks, Hay. But don’t tell any one please…”
We sat there in silence until she asked when I was planning on leaving.
“I’m not sure. I’ll stay for a few more weeks I guess. I’m in no hurry. I just have to pack my stuff and drive up there before school starts.” Hayley nodded in understanding. Meanwhile, I thought about Trace and Zac. What would I tell them?
Nothing, my mind told me. Tell them nothing.
I had barely pulled away from Hayley’s parent’s house when my phone began to vibrate.
hey cupcake. what r u doin? btw cupcake is ur new pet name since u call me tracy.
It was Trace. Why did he always text me when I wasn’t thinking about him? It’s like he knew he wasn’t on my mind so he had to shove his face in there. Okay, I was a little bitter. Today was so not a good day.
Hey Trace. I’m driving home from Hayley’s.
Which was a lie. I had pulled my bus over to a little park not far from Hayley’s.
lier. ur @ a park rite now. remember my apartment isnt far from hayleys.
I saw Trace’s figure jump the fence that bordered a new apartment complex on Hillsboro and the park that contained the small merry-go-round I was slowly spinning myself on. Once he reached me he smiled.
“I pop up when you least expect it.”
I nodded my head as I continued to drag my feet against the slowly spinning ground.
“Trace, now isn’t a good time.” My tone was cold and sad.
“Cupcake, you know I can be serious for you. What’s wrong?” I felt the merry-go-round stop and Trace sit next to me. Out of reflex, I scooted closer to him. He felt safe.
“I don’t think I should be here anymore…”
“Suicide?!” I couldn’t help myself; I had to laugh at him.
“You know me better than that Tracy. No, here in Franklin.” He smiled.
“That’s why you should tag along with me and the band---.”
“Trace has it ever occurred to you that I would like to go to school, live in an actual house and have a close to normal life? I don’t want to live in a van with a bunch of guys. I want to finish high school. I want to---.” It was his turn to interrupt me.
I felt his soft lips against mine hard. Simultaneously, I felt tears trail down my cheeks.
“Since when was ‘normal’ for you?”
His kiss deepened as his hand tangled itself into my hair. Once he let me go, I just stared at him as he thumbed my tears away.
“Where are you going to go?” His voice was very calmly and I knew that I had just vowed to tell him nothing but his blue eyes were killing me so I spilled everything.
“Back to Chicago to my grandparents’ house in Glencoe.”
“Oh,” he said. “Will I ever see you again?”
I nodded my head slowly. I wasn’t even sure on my own answer. “I think,” I said quietly. I felt his hand on the small of my back and I inhaled deeply. “You’re not making this an easier Trace…please stop…” I didn’t want him to but I had to.
“Okay Cupcake. Whatever you decide is cool with me.” He was standing now. I felt the tears come again and I stood to stop him. “It’s okay Baby, I promise.” Why was Trace promising me my future would be okay? He took me by the elbow and led me to the bus. “Are you good enough to drive home?” he asked as I climbed into the driver’s seat. I nodded feebly. “Okay then. If you need anything, call me Babe…Wait about the show. The café accidentally over booked the thirty-first so it’s this coming Saturday instead. Can you still make it?”
“Anything for you,” I heard myself say. And with that Trace was convinced. He let me drive home and when I got into my bed again, I picked up the CD case from my purse, the note tucked inside it. I unfolded the note and popped the CD into my stereo.
The first song that played was “Seventeen Forever.” I smiled at the thought of how he promised me he’d write a song about me.
“Hey Cupcake,” he said. “This is kinda weird to say but I think I’m falling quite hard for you. I made this mix for your ears only. Each song on here reminds me of you and I hope that when you listen to this, you think of me. Your Tracy.”
After his voice faded, the familiar sounds of Jack’s Mannequin filled my room. The soft piano soothed me.
“…You can breathe, you can breathe now. You can breathe but the air running out…” Andrew McMahon cooed to me. I closed my eyes as he described his girlfriend who was stuck in the rain as he pulled up beside her. He slowly touches her wet skin as the seats of his car let down and they kiss. The whole song played out in my mind along with the piano.
Trace’s voice came on again as he sang the words to previous song and then he laughed.
“You have no idea what I want to do to you sometimes Maggie. I don’t mean throw your body on my bed,” he laughed, “although that would be nice. I mean, the many times I want to kiss you but I’m afraid of how you will react half of the time…Anyways, I picked Jack because I know you like them. The next song is another one of your favorite bands, Fall Out Boy. I hope you’re hopelessly hopeful for me...”
The guitar part of “I’ve Got a Dark Alley and a Bad Idea that Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)” started and I closed my eyes again.
“…And my back has been breaking from this heavy heart. We’ve never seemed so far. I’m hopelessly hopeful that you’re just hopeless enough but we never had it at all…”
“I hope you liked that song. I know you do but in the way I intended on. Anyways, since Metro has been in the studio here in Nashville and most nights I couldn’t sleep, I thought I’d cover some song acoustically. Now is the test of my courage when it comes to you.” Another laugh. “I hope you don’t mind but I needed Mason to play guitar on these too---.”
“Hi Maggie!” Mason said away from the microphone.
“I’ll start with this one. Baby, I’ll dress you in poetry whenever you want me to…” I heard a microphone being adjusted and Trace’s voice say, “Lyrical Lies, take three.” He softly dragged his pick against the strings and sang.
“…You’re moving but not aware. You’re drowsy without a care except keeping your whites behind your lids. And your lids are your best canvas; I can only imagine what you’re painting, what you’re painting. And your body on my mattress is proof. And your make-up on my pillow is proof. But do you think I’m telling you the truth? It’s just a lyrical lie made up in my mind…”
As the last chord of the song faded out, I was expecting to hear Trace come on again and tell me what the next song was but I heard the same sound of the microphone being adjusted and his voice say, “‘Work,’ take four.” He immediately started in it the part, with Mason behind him.
“If you only once would let me, only just one time. Then be happy with the consequence with whatever’s gonna happen tonight. Don’t think we’re not serious. When’s it ever not? The love we make is giving its take. I’m game to play along. All I can say, I shouldn’t say…Can we take a ride? Get out of this place while we still have time. Oh oh, oh, oh, oh. All the best DJ’s are saving the slowest songs for last. When the dance is through, it’s me and you. Come on would it really be so bad?”
As the song finished, Trace spoke again.
“Sometimes, when this all seems too much, I like to drive and I know some part of you, Maggie, doesn’t like being cooped up in this town. So all I’m asking is that will you leave this place with me. We’d come back if you really wanted to, I promise.”
Then it hit me, Trace was pouring his heart out to me through music. I felt, yet again, more tears well up as I thought of him.
“Well, here’s the last song on here. I had to learn how to play it about a week ago and again, Mason is helping me with it. I really hope you liked this. It’s quite the stretch for me to sing but I tried hard. It’s called, ‘Running from Lions.’”
I heard the two complimenting guitars start into a long introduction. At times, Mason would join in singing along softly.
“…running from lions…”
“…like a deer caught in the headlights,” Mason sang after Trace.
“…never felt like such a mistake…”
“…I won’t know what hit me…”
“Don’t forget, we’ve got unfinished business, stories yet to unfold, tales that must be retold. And I regret not knowing when to put an end to all this madness. Keeps me wanting, keeps me wanting more…”
Trace and Mason finished the song.
“I hope you keep this forever Cupcake. This mix, Maggie’s Mix, was made by Trace Christopher Cyrus on June 16, 2006, for Margaret Isabelle York. The girl Trace fell for when he was seventeen.”
I smiled at the way he finished the mix. It was touching and for a moment I actually though Trace could feel more than “like” for me…I unfolded the note that came with the disc.
“You were young but so am I and this is wrong, but who am I to judge? You feel like heaven when we touch. I guess for me this is enough. We’re one mistake from being together but let's not ask why it's not right. You won't be seventeen forever and we can get away with this tonight. You are young and I am scared. You're wise beyond your years, but I don't care and I can feel your heart beat. You know exactly where to take me. We’re one mistake from being together but let's not ask why it's not right. You won't be seventeen forever and we can get away with this tonight. ‘Will you remember me?’ You asked me as I leave, ‘Remember what I said?’ ‘Oh how could I, oh how could I forget?’ We’re one mistake from being together but let's not ask why it's not right. You won't be seventeen forever and we can get away with this tonight. We’re one mistake from being together but let's not ask why it's not right. You won't be seventeen forever and we can get away with this tonight. We’re one mistake from being together but let's not ask why it's not right. You won't be seventeen forever and we can get away with this tonight.”
I smiled at Trace’s crooked handwriting as I read “Seventeen Forever” which he no doubted wrote not long ago. The writing continued.
“I’m writing this while driving to your work so forgive me if it’s sloppy. These are just some things I couldn’t think of while I was recording. Well to start, I’m glad we met at that party. Wait glad is a stupid word. Anyways, being with you or talking to you is always the highlight of my day and you make me smile and I can see it in your eyes that you are just as grateful for me as I am for you. Well, I want you to text me as soon as you read this and maybe you will say yes and leave for the tour with me… Always, Tracy.”
Without hesitation, I pulled out my cell phone and text Trace. I was beyond eager to know what he wanted to say but couldn’t write down. But first I changed my signature to the name he gave me.
I finally listened to the CD. I loved it Trace :) Thank you.
:D np cupcake. liking the sig lol…did u read the note?
I could almost hear the nervousness that must have been pouring from him.
Yes, I did…Trace. First I want to ask you something ok.
I took a deep breath and typed.
Do you think that you are in love with me?
His answer stopped my heart.
yeah…is that ok? plz tell me its ok to love u.
I sniffed hard and typed again.
Yes. It’s okay if you love me.
:) i rly do u kno. more than nething. ive never felt lik this b4. i want u to kno tht. and i promise tht i will never ever hurt u. the only thing i want rite now is 2 b w/ u cupcake. thts all. all i want is u. and now ur leavin…
I immediately felt bad for what I was putting Trace through.
I’m so sorry :’( I don’t want to hurt you either but I feel like I need to leave.
yeah ik ik. but…
I hope Trace wasn’t…crying or anything.
Trace. Do you think you could come to Chicago with me to help me move? It’ll give you chance to know where I will be and stuff.
I smiled to myself.
Cool. Want to talk tomorrow? It’s getting late.
thts cool. goodnite baby. i’m tryn not 2 say this but i hv 2…i love u. u dont hv 2 say it back tho.
I felt my heart flutter.
Aren’t you the one who said that we can get away with this tonight? ;) You won’t be 17 forever.
thts not what i was talkn bout in tht song lol but its a start. nite baby.