2: The End of an Era

Time seemed to fly by and the boy never missed a Sunday. If he didn't have anyone to talk to, he'd draw pictures of animals, portraits and even drew pictures of the band itself. He'd imagine himself being on the stage more and more with every passing week. The boy was obsessed with his musical future.

He began to look forward to the times when the young girl would come with her mother because then he'd have someone to talk to. Someone that invited him in when he was naturally a loner. He didn't invite people in well and the best friends he had were much older than himself. Although the girl was much younger and didn't talk much, she made him feel less alone in this mainly adult setting.

The band would play and the girls mother would talk the boys ear off about how she met the boys uncle and how she thought he was amazing. The boy didn't understand the whole situation at the time, but admired how she'd drive that far just to watch a guy she liked play music. He wondered if he'd ever get to the point where someone would do that for him.

The girl always drew hearts and flowers on the bar napkins and kept glancing over every now and then, but she never had much to say. He'd scold her mother every time she'd say something exposing her feelings for the boy and although the boy didn't see her that way, he still felt pride in having someone actually look his way. He never made her feel embarrassed by it and would pretend he didn't notice the suggestions her mother kept pushing.

"Let's dance," the boy said setting down his pencil. He was working on a picture of the band member as Mount Rushmore.

She set down her pencil and smiled as she stood up. She was tense and nervous for the first couple songs every time. She would look off behind him, looking in his green eyes for only a second before smiling and turning her head away again.

Though she'd always shy away from looking at him, by the third song she was comfortable enough to lay her head on his shoulder. The girl was lost in the music. She'd close her eyes and imagine a life where they just held each other just like this forever. She dreamed of the day he would look at her the same way she looked at him.

The Girl looked forward to the times when the boy would get up on the stage. She gleamed with pride every time the bass player passed him the bass or he would sing 'Should Have Been a Cowboy.' She always felt like he was singing directly to her. Everyone else in the room would just disappear and it would just be an intimate moment of the boy sweeping her off her feet.

"Watch out there." her mother laughed, "I'm gonna have to wipe the drool off the table soon."

The girl gave her mother a sharp stare and went back to her drawing. She felt invisible. Like she was stuck in the shadows of her life and no light could pass through.

"Why can't I be older and prettier," she thought to herself as she would get discouraged and crumple up her latest artwork. She just wanted to be seen. She wanted the boy to notice her in a bigger way than some kid that had no chance.

After many weeks they developed an unspoken language. She'd walk in and just nod and that was permission to come get a hug. She wasn't shy about hugging him anymore. She'd just wrap her arms around him and pull him in hard. She never wanted to let go. The boy would just tilt his head towards the dance floor and she'd jump up almost too fast with a big smile.

Her favorite was the slow songs, because the boy would let her hug him close as they danced. It was her heaven. As she listened to him sing along with whatever song was playing, she'd imagine he was singing the song to her.

"So I tip my hat,

To the Keeper Of the Stars,

Cause he sure knew what he was doing,

When he joined these two hearts,

I hold everything,

when I hold you in my arms,

and I have all I'll ever need,

Thanks to the keeper of the stars."

For a moment, she truly felt like he was hers and she was his. She wanted that moment to last forever. She wanted him to hold her forever, but like clockwork, the song would end and the boy would find another dance partner for a few songs before coming back to her.

She watched him move around the dance floor with ease and moving in ways she wished she knew how to. Maybe he'd show her someday. Maybe when he see's her, she would be his only dance partner. She just refused to lose hope that he would one day see her.

She was always saddened when it was time to get in the car and make the over 3 hour drive back home. The boy would smile, raise and eyebrow and nod and as he looked back up, she knew that meant thank you and see you soon. She'd wrap herself in another hug, take a deep breath and go out to the car. The whole way back she'd stare out the window and watch the moon wondering if he was looking at it too.

So many weeks went exactly like this. Both the boy and girl believed it would never end. The boy in love with dancing and the music, the girl in love with the boy and his passion. They began to feel a connection deeper than a normal friendship. They were just them. Not like any other friend they'd ever had, but not a relationship that the girl so desperately wanted.

For the boy, this was the heart of his world. He wanted nothing more than to play and sing music. The dance floor was where he could close his eyes and move his feet to the drums and his arms to the singing of a lead guitar. He didn't have a thought in his mind beyond the next song and the next dance. When the girl looked at him as he was on stage, he felt like a star. When she would dance with him, he felt like she cared.

She was his biggest fan and greatest supporter. He was aware of her crush, and he really did care for her, but she was too young for him and that was just how he felt about it. He was extremely happy that she made a point to tag along just to see him.

One Sunday was different. They all got there and there was an intensity with the band and many of the regular customers there. It turns out, the new owners of the bar decided to drop the Sunday night music.

The band had played there every Sunday forever and now it was going to change everything for the boy. He looked at the ground as he wondered what he was going to do with his time. He lived for those nights and he wasn't old enough to get into any other place they played music.

The girl became scared. The only time she saw the boy was at this show. It was the only place her mom could take her to hear the music. She felt heartbroken as she watched the boy's look of confused sadness. Her heart was breaking because she'd never told him how she felt and didn't know how to. She knew this was her last chance and just couldn't work up the courage to say it.

They danced throughout the night, and she held him tighter than ever as he sang the words and she whispered, "I love you," under her breath too quiet to be heard. She wanted to say it louder. She wanted to scream it at the top of her lungs, but most of all, she wanted him to say it first. She wanted him to want her. A tear fell down her face as she buried her eyes in his shirt to soak it up before anyone noticed.

The boy's head was spinning as he danced with her. Where would he go to dance now? How can they just change everything on a moments notice? Where would he find a stage willing to let him sing? He didn't know where to go from there.

The last song played and the girl said her final goodbye. She ran out of the building to the car and before she made it to the door, her face was full of tears. She thought she'd never see him again. That he was gone forever and she'd missed her chance.

The boy sat in a chair as the band tore down their equipment. Most everything came and went with them every week but some old stage lights that they hung up when they started there over 20 years ago. They belonged to the band, so they got a latter and climbed up to tear them down.

The band was his dream. His father and uncles were his idols. He hated seeing this home away from home go away. He hated the fact that he wouldn't be able to see them every week and he would have to find other ways to get his musical needs filled. He thought about the girl and hoped she was okay. He could tell she was visibly upset and all he wanted to do was make the hurt go away. He didn't know what to say, but he hoped the final hug was enough.

The time had come to move forward. He had to say goodbye to the only friend he could be himself around and he already missed her shy smile and blue eyes.

He sat back thinking, "What Now?" and as the lights were taken down for the first time in over 20 years, he couldn't help but know, It was the end of an era.

.........To be Continued.....

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