I stopped brushing my hair and stared at my reflection in the mirror. Slowly, I put the brush on the rim of the sink, mustering my face. Blinking, I moved closer to the mirror.
I didn’t like the eyes of my mother looking back at me. I didn’t like the pale tan skin tone that I had inherited from her. I didn’t want to look like her. But I did. The older I got, the more I started finding similarities between her and I.
Frowning, I pulled a grimace and walked out of the bathroom of my little two-room apartment. Last week I had turned 33. Since then, my mood had gradually worsened – today it felt like I was about to hit the ground. I sighed and went over to my wardrobe, picking a black tee-shirt and a dark gray pair of jeans. I didn’t really care about what I was wearing, it didn’t matter in my job anyways.
Fully dressed, I entered the living room, wondering what to do with all the spare time. It was 11:30 in the morning and I had hours left until I had to be at the venue. It simply wasn’t possible for me to sleep through, I always woke up 11 o’clock sharp, like I had a built-in alarm clock. I glanced at my laptop but shook my head. Surfing through the net had sounded like a good distraction in my head but now I just didn’t feel like it. Was there nothing I could do?
Frustrated with myself, I went back into the bedroom of my small two-room apartment, passing the bathroom door. The walls of the room were painted a candy blue, the furniture was mostly out of dark wood and there was a window by the headboard of my bed that brightened up the room. On one of the walls, a clock was ticking away.
If I couldn’t distract myself, I had to confront myself. That, or stare at the wall. I kneeled on the wooden floor and pulled out a box from beneath my bed. It was gray from all the dust that had gathered on it since I had put it there. Leaning against my bed I carefully lifted the lid, putting it aside.
It was a box full of memories.
The fist thing I saw was a bunch of photos of my childhood. On the first one I was pretty young, probably about 7 years of age. I was with two girls of my class back then, playing in the sand, smiling. I noticed that the older I got, the more the smile on my face looked fake, forced. I sighed, putting the photos aside.
I hadn’t had a nice childhood. Overall, I had always been popular – my parents were wealthy and that was all the kids at my school cared about – but never really happy. It had been hell. I had never had anyone to honestly talk to since… My friends hadn’t been my friends. My parents had been my enemies. My life had been theirs.
I had moved out one week after I had graduated. Out of Colorado, away from everything, away from my mother.
I shook the thought of her off, opening one of the school yearbooks that lay at the bottom of the box, underneath my graduation papers. The town we had lived in hadn’t been big, not at all, and the schools had been small as well. The elementary, the Junior High and the High School hadn’t had enough students in order to have a yearbook of their own each year so one day they had come up with the idea of putting the pictures of all the schools into one book.
I opened it, looking at the date and trying to remember how old I must’ve been at that time. I flipped through the pages of the elementary school part, looking for my picture. It was strange how many faces I remembered and how many I didn’t recognize. I felt uneasy at some and couldn’t quite grasp why – the kind of thing when the memory fades but the feelings stay behind.
When I finally found my name I smiled wryly at the photograph. An uncomfortable little girl looked back at me, chubby cheeked and her dark hair in a braid.
Browsing through the yearbook a little more, I even looked at some of the highschoolers, even remembered some of their faces at a second glance.
“Whatever,” I said aloud, clapping the thing shut. I glanced at the clock. I still had about two hours left.
I was startled when a melody started to fill the room. Getting up from the floor, I looked around for my cellphone. It lay on the windowsill, glistening in the sunlight that was shining through the glass. Walking over, I grabbed it and accepted the call without looking at the caller ID.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Miss Bradley? It’s Mr Jones, I hope I didn’t disturb you.”
Why the hell was my boss phoning me?
“Oh, no you didn’t. What is it?”
“It’s kind of chaotic here, apparently the line’s larger than expected at this time of day. We would appreciate your helping hand,” he said.
I sighed quietly but I had nothing else to do anyways. “When am I supposed to be there, sir?”
“As soon as you can.”
“I’m on my way,” I grunted.
“Alright, thank you.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll be there in a few.”
I hung up. Well, I hoped I’d at least get money for the extra hours. Gathering keys and wallet and slipping on my shoes, I let the door fall closed behind me as I went for the elevator. An obnoxious scent hit me in the face when I stepped into it and I wrinkled my nose in an attempt to suppress the urge to gag. Now, this was plain disgusting. I pressed the button for the first floor and watched as the elevator doors closed. I forced myself to look away from the mirror that was mounted on one wall. It bothered me more than ever before. Next time I would use the stairs, I agreed with myself.
‘Ping’ it made and the doors opened. I literally fled and was outdoors in no time at all. I got into my car and drove out of the driveway, taking a deep breath when I turned into the street. The rain came splashing down at the windshield and I almost forgot to switch the wipers on. The sky was gray with heavy clouds, it was raining relatively hard and I saw trees bending under the force of the wind. “Oh man,” I muttered to myself, thinking of the poor souls standing in line for today’s concert. I was going to have to make Jeff hand out the few rain capes we had in stock when I arrived there.
“You’re early,” Jeff greeted me. He was already wearing his work clothes, standing near the back entrance. The rain had stopped halfway into the drive to the venue.
“Hullo,” I said when I arrived in front of him. Shooting a look over my shoulder I scowled. “What’s up with all these people already standing in line? My boss called because they needed my help but I really thought he was just exaggerating.”
“I don’t know, looks like that band’s got some really dedicated fans there,” he smirked. Jeff was a security guard working for a concert security service the venue’s management worked with.
“Which band is it?” I wondered, suspiciously eying the forms loitering outside the parking lot’s fence, waiting for the band buses to arrive.
“Can’t recall. I’ve read their name somewhere before. Something with planets in it.”
“Planets,” I repeated. I couldn’t think of any band with planets in their name. “Anyhow, I’ve got to get to work. The sky looks like it’s going to pour down again soon.” What’s up with the weather? This was California, not Washington.
“So? Want to avoid getting wet?” Jeff raised an eyebrow, smirking.
“No but the all these people in the front don’t appear to have brought rain coats with them, they’re all wearing t-shirts. They must be soaked from the earlier downpour.”
“Have fun playing the good Samaritan,” he scoffed.
“No way, you’re going to help. There should be a bunch of plastic rain capes in the storage room, come on,” I said, pushing open the back door. Reluctantly, Jeff followed my lead and closed the door behind us; it clicked shut. On the way to the store room we passed my boss, Mr Jones. His hair was messed up, like he had ran his fingers through it in stress one time too much – or just had sex. Either way, his brown hair looked like a mop.
“Oh, you’re there. Finally,” he addressed me, sounding relieved.
I nodded, smiling politely.
“Did you see how many there are? At this time?” he went on.
“Yes and first of I’m going to get them rain capes in case it’ll start raining again.”
“What – er, yes. That’s a good idea. Thank you for coming here early, things are completely out of control.”
I frowned. “The people in line looked pretty peaceful to me, just sitting there.”
“Except for those dudes at the back. I don’t know how they’ll react when the band arrives,” Jeff chimed in. There was a crease between his brows that made his young face look a lot older. But I honestly didn’t see what the big deal was. Every band had groupies, right? To me that didn’t look like a reason to be worrying.
I shook my head. “I think the only thing we’ll need to work ourselves up about is when the doors open. With this many people there is going to be a lot of running involved. Is the concert sold out?”
“Yes,” Mr Jones said. “And you’re right – but that’s the Security’s job.” He looked over at Jeff, who pretended not to notice.
“And the Stewards’. So it’s my job, too. Is there anything else I should help with?”
It was weird talking to my boss like this, I had never seen him this way. Alright, our company was fairly young and we hadn’t had any big acts yet but being this overwhelmed? The dark rings around his eyes indicated that he hadn’t slept all night. If it was because of today or something private, I couldn’t tell.
“Just do your job, make all of this work. Now please excuse me,” he muttered, turning and hurrying away. I looked after him, irritated. ‘Make all of this work’ – thank you very much. Groaning, I looked at Jeff, who shrugged helplessly. I wasn’t feeling very good today, I hadn’t since last week, but especially today. There was this voice in the back of my head, mumbling incoherent, depressing words that were hard to ignore.
“I guess it’s just not his day,” my friend uttered, scratching his head.
“But it isn’t mine either. I don’t feel like being professional at all,” I said more to myself than to anyone else. I noticed Jeff looking at me worriedly and ignored it.
“Let’s go get those rain capes,” I said as lightly as possible, heading down the hallway.
It was an hour and a half later that the band and their crew arrived at the venue here in San Francisco. The waiting fans had been thankful for the rain capes, even though there hadn’t been enough and it had only rained again for about ten minutes before the sun peaked out through the clouds. I had resumed to shoeing people around, telling them to lock the back door behind them in case some crazy groupie felt courageous enough to try and get into the building early. I watched as the less-important people of the crew started carrying their equipment out of the truck which had parked against the platform leading into the backstage area of the building.
The air was humid and I felt somewhat sickly. Other than making sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to, I had nothing to do. Luckily, almost everything went well except for the group of nervous fans that had gathered at the fence demanding to get autographs from their heroes, frequently calling their names – I didn’t quite catch them though. It was too far away for me to see, but at one point two men walked up to the fans, signing things and taking photographs. Smiling, I turned my head away from them to do my job – supervising my colleagues. I thought it was very nice of them to take pity in their fans who had most likely given up their place in line in order to get a photograph with the band.
Still, it was getting hotter and hotter and I found myself wishing back the rain from a few hours ago. After every box had been moved out of the truck, I gladly went back into the air-conditioned venue.
“Hey,” someone called from behind me. I whirled around – it was Jeff, a water bottle in hand. “You look thirsty.” He handed me the bottle and I took a few big gulps.
“Thanks a lot,” I said and wiped my mouth with my hand. I gave it back to him. “When will you be going out into the hall?” I asked him, just to say something.
“The doors open at 7pm so I have a few hours left. What about you, did you see them?” There was curiosity shining at me through his brown eyes. His hair looked somewhat damp in the light.
“Kind of… They gave autographs to the fans waiting by the fence.”
“Really? Wow, that’s nice. What do they look like? Recognized them?”
“I couldn’t see from afar – should I have recognized them?” I looked up at him, trying to read something in his face. Did I mention that Jeff was a lot taller than me? Long and slim, that’s what he was.
“Well, kind of. They’re 30 Seconds To Mars,” he enlightened me, or tried to.
He laughed huskily. “30 Seconds To Mars. They have a few singles out right now. They’re good, I think.”
“I gotta admit, the name rings a bell.” I wrecked my brain for information, but came up with nothing. “What music do they make?”
“Their singles are hymnal and rock-y. Other than that I don’t –”
We were interrupted by a mingle of voices coming our way. A little irritated, I looked at Jeff who was staring into the direction the voices were coming from. I copied him and the first thing I saw was my boss, seemingly even more hurried than before. Internally sighing, I averted my gaze to the ones walking behind him; five men and two women, talking.
“Who’s that…,” I began asking but stopped myself.
“Miss Bradley, there you are. You’re exactly who I need right now,” I heard Mr Jones address me. However, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the group chattering behind him. I felt my throat clenching.