Chapter 3

Dear Britney,

Maybe if you were here you will be furious as I am. I wake up when my mother shook me from my sweet slumber. I look up at her seeing her half asleep in front of me covering the light of my room. My head is throbbing like someone made me into a small miniature, put me in the box, and shook me until I got dizzy me.

“Your friends are here, you have to take a bath now.” She informs me.

“Mom I’m not feeling well, please don’t make me go there.” I say. I hear my voice like a groggy monster.

“Stop the acting go to the bathroom now.” Mom insists.

I stands and head to the door, then I see the two witches – Arya and Zara talking in the living room with their bags. My eyes catch the wall clock in the room and I find out that it’s only 4:30 am. I walk towards them where I got a clear view of what they’re wearing; Arya is wearing a maroon miniskirt and sky blue off shoulder shirt while Zara is wearing crop top and ripped jeans.

“It’s too early and I have a headache.” I say.

“We have to catch the 5:00 am bus.” the only answer of my good friend Arya.

“Stop making excuses, E.” Zara says.

I ignore them and go to the bath room. I love my friends and I really want to be happy for them but I am not really feeling well or maybe they’re right, I’m just making an excuse not to go but I can literally feel my head aching but of course none of them believes. Even my mother told me to go, I feel like I don’t have any other choice but to go with them. Today is Tuesday and tomorrow will be my birthday I don’t know if this would be a special one since I’ll be around with the people I barely know, except Arya and Zara. I tried to be a snail but when I open the door to the bathroom and make a puddle of water from my dripping body Arya and Zara are still sitting at the sofa holding a hot chocolate where I left them, but this time they’re sitting next to my mother. Mom sees me and gives me a sandwich and warm milk. I put my clothes that my mother ready from last night for me. The bus station is one hour away from us so we have to catch the 5:00 am bus to the 7:00 am call time for the music camp. We’re on time when we got here in the bus it immediately left as soon as we settles on our seat.

The coordinator of the camp limit the tickets for the camp for 30 campers but we’re only 28 people inside the bus. I guess these kids are either a fan of the band or a music lover because the tickets are too expensive and really requires talent, though this is not just a music camp but also a talent camp. One of my friends told me that there’ll be a winner and the winner would be given a one year contract with the management. My friends told me that this camp will help me to gain some confidence since they know I don’t have any confidence, I don’t think I need it. I don’t want to be famous.

I look at the window thinking you’re here. You were the only person who knows I’m writing a song but I never expose it because I’m lacking in confidence, I am not like you, Brit. You used to be the light of the party. Every time I’m listening to music I’m always missing you, you love music so much that was why you were so enthusiastic when I told you that I’m writing a song. My silence alarmed Zara who’s sitting next to me.

“What’re you thinking, E?” she asks.

I got startled.

“Oh, nothing.” I say.

Arya who is next to Zara speaks while her eyes are shut. “She’s not feeling well, Z.

I really have no idea where we’re heading. Arya told me all the details of the camp but I am not interested so I didn’t paid much attention. I didn’t noticed I’ve fallen asleep. I wake up when the bus stops in the middle of the traffic, I turn my iPod on and listen to the music for a while. I decided to drown the noise in my head with some music.

The bus stops again, I thought this time we’re on our destination but we’re being told we only have thirty minutes to eat our lunch. We’re five hours away from the city and I have no idea if we’re heading South or North. Zara and Arya told me that they packed food for us so we look for an empty table.

“So, how long will the drive take?” I asked not really interested but I’ve been so silent in the whole ride, I try to have a conversation with them.

“It’ll take six hours in total. From here, I’m not actually sure.” Zara says with a mouthful.

The Pedal left their tour bus and goes to the line to buy food. The girls in the front of the line give way for them, but just to make the front cover on the news tomorrow morning and flood tweets of their ‘niceness’ they take the end of the line. Wow, absolutely good at making a scene as if it’s true. I thought to myself. The girls asks Harry and the other gays to take a picture with them. He finger comb his shady curly ugly hair and smile at the camera. The other kids didn’t bother to ask for a picture. Good thing, maybe they’re thinking that they will see these four gays in seven days, not counting today. But every now and then the campers especially the girls look at them.

“We’re so glad you’re here with us!” Arya squeals.

“Try to act like a fan girl.” Zara says with a wink.

“Besides, you have a good voice try to use it, maybe you’ll be the new Taylor Swift.

“Yeah, that’s why we invited you.” Zara says looking at me.

I nod at them every now and then. I’m focusing on the food they pack hating the words that they’re saying. I couldn’t eat much because of headache I’m afraid I’ll vomit everything I’ll eat so I tried to eat enough.

Arya and Zara are friends for a long time, they met when they were just seven years old in a singing contest. Imagine all the television competition, they’ve been there. I can’t imagine how brave they are. They’re famous in our school because of being exposed in television shows and gain a lot of suitors too. Though, Arya didn’t paid much attention of guys. Zara, on the other hand jut came from breakup.

“But you know I’m not a fan of those gays.” I say rolling my eyes.

“Shhh… don’t say that. You’re in the same ground as where the feet of The Pedals are.” Arya whispers putting one of her fingers on her lips.

“You’ll like it. Try to sing to a lot of people not just in your bedroom.” Says Zara.

“Yeah,” Arya pointing her fork towards me.

“God gave you a good voice.” She adds.

Maybe you’re wondering how they know I can sing. Remember during sophomore? We were video chatting, talking about the new songs of Taylor Swift, she just released an album. I had no idea they were at my doorstep – I was singing Taylor Swift’s new single when they heard me playing my guitar and they stormed inside after I finished singing and told me all the synonyms of ‘good’. Just like you did when you first heard the song I wrote.

When we go back to the bus the ride is not as boring as earlier, because some of the boys who brought music instruments are playing some songs that I didn’t know. Maybe some are songs on the radio, which are the songs I barely listen to. I feel like an outcast being with these kind of people and singing something I barely listen to. I only have a chance to listen to these kind of music when I’m in the public transportation or in a public place without my earphones.

It take us six hours to arrive here in the city then we have to ride on a motor boat to the island. Which I think has no signal and electricity. The water is clear and clean that I can see the sand and rocks on my feet: it so beautiful; the trees are tall that gives this place fresh air, the clouds here also different from Manila. Ten passengers can only occupy the boat. It took us four boats to accommodate all of us, including the band, the roadies, the manager, the tourist guides, the driver, and us-the campers. We’re the last campers to be seated on the boat and unluckily we’re being seated with the gays and their manager – I wonder why the roadies are not here with them.

“Hi girls,” their manager says.

My friends smile so I have to smile too: even though I don’t like to smile, I feel like a mirror reflection of my friends but I frown faster than I put out the smile on my face. They took the seat in front of us, let me introduce to you the gays: there’s an ugly curly shaggy brown hair name Harry, the tallest gay black hair name Landon, blue-eyes shoulder length hair rabbit tooth gay name Zack, and the last gay who hop in the boat the youngest yellow hair pale like a ghost dude Neal who seats beside Zara because it’s unbalance.

“Do you mind?” Neal asks.

Stupid, of course she doesn’t mind.

“No! Not at all.” She answers blushing.

I know their faces and names because, of course you know it, and I don’t have to explain it. The driver of the boat said that it will take us thirty minutes to the island. Arya ask if there’s an electricity there or signal before the driver can even say a word, the manager answer her.

“The house has an electricity but the residents will cut it by 8:30. And it’s an island, honey there will be no signal in any island.” He said. He says with an ordinary British accent.

After a few minutes – silence with only the sound of the motor making me feel welcome to the only world I know. I silently adore the place and the endless water in our view, I took a picture of the incredible rock formation of the mountains. The mountain and the city where we were a moment ago is connected to the island where we are heading, there are three more islands around us. The driver said that the tiniest is nothing but a rock formation but I think he’s lying because I can see trees and green grasses. In the middle there’s the biggest island and he said that it’s the most beautiful island there but no one’s allowed to camp there since it’s full of corals and sea urchin. Again, I think people can camp there I can see the famous lighthouse where is located in the top on the island. And the farthest island is a middle size that look so white. He said that it will took an hour to go there. A moment pass another silence occupy us then Harry break the silence maybe because he’s bored and wanted to bother the people around him.

“Are you friends?” he says looking at me directly at me.

So he’s expecting me to answer his question. I pretend I didn’t hear him. I continue capturing the scenery expecting one of my friends to answer his question but Arya shove my shoulder. I look at her then she made a face indicating me to answer Harry’s nonsense friends.

“Yes. We’re friends… obviously.” I say glancing at him.

“Does the three of you love music?” he asks again.

I don’t know why he starts a conversation with me. He’s a bit far from where I’m seating. I’m seating next to Arya, across their manager. Their manager is seating next to Landon and Landon is next to Zach, and he’s on the other edge of the boat.

“Oh, yes. Actually she has a good voice but she’s just keeping it to herself.” Arya answers for me.

Thank you Arya.

“So the three of you are singers?” he gazes at me.

Arya told him the story of how the three of us met because she knows I’m not good in conversation… or maybe she’s just hitting with Harry, whatever it is I love that she push me out of this situation not the other way she did earlier. Anyhow, Harry listens attentively but is glimpsing at me often. There’s something in his eyes I haven’t seen to anyone before. I’m not interested of being his friend, though. A friend that far from where I am, it’s too much: I’ve been through there it didn’t even work out. Harry is astound to what he just heard, and luckily we reach the island, which is absolutely gorgeous: the water is clear, no trash in sight, everything in this island is absolutely amazing. There are about 5 men on the shore, I assume that these are the contract people who will assist us or to guard the gays. When we reach the shore the men help the gays and help my friends when they jump out off of the boat, Harry offers his hand to me I insist not to be help. Landon and Neal smirk, Harry punches their shoulders and follow the manager and the guards to the house. I wander my eyes again at the place, this is a real paradise: white sand, blue water, fresh air, and green trees around me, and for the first time I thank my friends and my mother whom forced me to come here. I wonders why there’s no one but us in this island, people said it’s a camping site in the country and summer, I doubt if this island is private because nothings here but us or maybe they paid this place to be exclusive just for this camp. One of the men told us to follow them to the house, they carries the stuffs of the gays and offer us for help but we refuses. Our stuffs are smaller and lighter we don’t need any help. We walk deep in the forest, seems like wild boars are waiting for us to attack. I hold the straps of my bag, while Harry catching my steps behind me.

“So, you can sing.” He says when his a step away in my back.

I doubt if that’s a question or a sentence I just want to end the conversation as soon as he started it.

“Yeah. Everyone can.” I say cutting the conversation.

Fortunately he get the hint that I don’t want any conversation with him not that I don’t like him, but that’s one thing, I just don’t like to talk to anyone.

“How can a person live in this place?” I heard Zara’s complain.

“This is a paradise.” says Arya.

Neal agrees to Arya. Then a silence occupy us again. When we reach the house the people are settling in front of the porch and listening to the instruction of the guide. The roadies are giving the key to the rooms. We got our key and went straight to our room. The room has three beds and a bathroom, the walls are white just like in hospitals, two ceiling fans that looks old and rusted.

“Maybe we can go swimming.” Arya suggests.

“I want to sleep, A” Zara says.

“I can come with you.” I offer.

We change to our swimsuits and go straight to the shore, Neal and the other campers are already there swimming in the ocean. Landon and Zach with some campers are sitting on the sand, three feet away from the shore, the kid with red hair is strumming the guitar and they all singing together. Arya and I join them. Luckily I know the song, it’s popular from 90’s from American rock band. After the song is done Zach explains the regulation of the game.

“Since we have a new member…” Zach and the kids in the group laughs. “Just kidding. The rules are pretty simple.” He starts looking at the two of us. “This is Shane, when the song finishes, she’s going to pass it to her right and this young man here, Alex” he looks at him and back next to us “are going to think a lyrics starts from the last word Shane stops, understand? Don’t worry of not knowing how to play a guitar strum it anyway.” He says giggling.

Arya and I nod. Shane do what Zach instructs.

I caught myself reminiscing a memories of you. I remembered you like playing this game as much as I did, you’re good at this game. You knew a lot of songs, popular or not, pop or country. I remembered one of those late night phone calls when one of us couldn’t sleep we will play this game over the phone. You knew a lot of songs but you always ended up sleeping while I was singing. I wish you’re here, I wish you’re always in my side.

After being sink in the moment I just found myself holding the guitar. I don’t know the song that just ended but I think it ends with ‘relax’. I think about what song with a ‘relax’ lyrics for a moment then I strum the guitar while Landon and Zach pays attention to what I’m playing. They look at me with a smile. I sing the first lyrics of Father and Son and the other in the circle joins me singing the song. When the sun settles we head back to the house. Arya is walking in front of me.

“You’re really good, huh.” I jump when I heard someone talking to me so close that I feel the breath tickles my neck.

I look at my left and see Harry staring at me with a smile on his lips. His face is half covered with the shadow of his cap that makes his face almost silhouette up close. Creepy. I give him quizzical look. He points the spot where we were seating.

“I heard you sang. You’re good.” He says it widen the smile on his lip. Trying to convince me that I’m good.

“I’m actually not good.” I say. I patterned my steps to his pace.

“I’m Harry, by the way.” He says

The he wipe his hands first before offering it to me. He extends his arms when I don’t want to accept it,

“I don’t think we need this “proper” introduction.” I say doing a quote and quote in my fingers.

He gives up then put his hands on his back pocket.

“So, tell me your name that's how it works, right? When I say my name you will say yours.” He insists.

“Did you hear what I said?” I say. “I don’t think we need this “proper” introduction.” I repeat indicating the proper.

He chortles. He put his hands in the air.

“Okay, fine, I get it. So when did you realized you’re not a singer?

“When I was nine.” I say smirking. “When did you realized you can use your face to cover how untalented you are?” I say rolling my eyes.

He tilt his head to his right and grin. “I realized that I am a singer when I was ten and ever since I know how beautiful my face is.

He touches his chin. Is he trying… to flirt with me? I ask myself. I think what I’m thinking shows on my face based on his facial expression. He furrows his eyebrows that shows a wrinkles on his forehead.

“What brought you here Mister?” I asks.

Changing the topic. As we reach the doorstep we stop. He presses his hands on the door frame which makes his face five inches away from me I can feel his breath all over my face smell like mint. My heart is jumping on my chest so loud wanting it to get out of my ribs. I inhale slowly like I’m standing in a fragile glass one mistake I’ll fall in this moment any minute now then exhale even more slowly.

“We’re doing a music camp.” he says making a face like he’s asking me why I’m asking a stupid question.

“No. I know a lot of people likes your band and you’ve been doing a music camp only in your own country but what brought you here?” I say stepping back but my back meets the door.

“Our manager granted the requests of our Filipino fans. I guess you’re not one of them.” He says straightening his posture.

“But you never granted the requests of the American fans? I heard that you have more fans there than in any part of the world.

“Why you’re so curious about having a first camp here?

Because it feels surreal and I don’t know why it feels like it had to do something with me. I gasps some air like I held my lungs from breathing in solid two minutes when I thought I’m breathing. I turn the knob of the door without facing it and staring at Harry when I push the door from my back I storm inside awkwardly. I make my way to the kitchen where the campers are preparing to eat. Arya and Zara sitting together there’s an empty seat between them so I assume they reserved it for me. I make my way next to them and so does Harry next to his pals. During the meal I’m quiet while my head is banging on me I silently look how Harry interacting with the other girls on the camp, since I don’t think he the same with me, looking at me interacting with my friends, but I don’t know why I have to look at him. I don’t want to assume since he’s a celebrity and I am nothing but a Filipino student, that’s not how the world works for me and for him. Don’t think I like him, Brit it’s not like that. I swear!

As the night comes in after we finish our meal the coach told us to go straight to our room and prepare for our first activity. After I brush my teeth I’ve decide to wear my pajamas my mom pack for me. The campers are all settle on the floor with the gays at the back. It looks like there’ll be a pajama party. The gays say to sing in front of the circle one by one.

“Since it’s your first day, you will introduce yourselves first before singing okay?” the coach says.

The first performer is the girl with curly hair. “Hi, I’m Tara.” She begun.

I recognize the song she choose it’s one of the songs of the gays. The girl beside her is the next another song by the band she sang. Most of the girls sang the songs of the gays. Most of the boys choose an RnB song and tries a little dance. Some of them who choose ballad really do feel the song from their heart, it’s obvious the way they gesture their hands and close their eyes. Few of the campers sings their own composition which is I found brave that they announce it on the group so proud that they has the talent in writing, I don’t know if I can do that.

The next is a guy, he’s standing firmly holding a guitar. “I’m Roland.” He starts. “The song I’ll sing is by The Pedal.” He points where the gays seats at the back. “I’ll change a bit of the song. I tried to make it sound ballad instead of pop sound.” He begun strumming, I like how he do that.

One look

One said

One word:


One touch

He… hey…

Are you listening?

I need to say



All I need is to apologize

And this is me standing at your doorstep

Saying sorry,


All I want

All I need

Is forgiveness

One tear

It means

I’m serious

Could you please

Forgive me

One memory

One day

You’ll miss me

And I need you today

Just like yesterday

I miss, I miss you

All I need is to apologize

I don’t know the original arrangement of the song but I love his version it makes us feel like the song is so close to his heart, maybe that’s why he chose that song and even made his own version of it. He’s not the only person who sings with an instrument the other do too but some of the campers choose to sing in acapella. I can’t choose what to sing. I want a little famous song the others can join me while I sing.

I know I haven’t tekk you this, never had. Since you’re not into my music because, you’re into country music, but, I’m so glad you influenced me to your favorite singer, so I had a little ground into pop music. You told me before that you don’t like loud music with a reason you found it deafening I found it ridiculous since most of pop songs are loud too but you explained that you’re not into it you like more of a mellow another reason why you like country since it’s a soft music. I’m listening to pop now when I used to hate it, it’s just because of Taylor Swift. I love her new songs, though. Don’t kill me by calling Taylor Swift a pop singer but we can’t deny she’s into pop now. Have you heard she was just nominated as pop artist? But she’s also nominated as Best songwriter in CMA. She made two country songs and sell it to country singers, I guess she doesn’t want to return in country music.

Remember when you introduced Taylor Swift to me? I laughed at you because you knew I’m not into that kind of genre but you insisted. We were at your room that time we were just a little kids; those times where our hair was into twin pig tails and pink is just overrated. You played the Tied Together with a Smile it’s a song from Taylor Swift’s debut album. You played it in your phone on the speakers. You sing the song until the end. I was so amazed by the song, it’s not about love that we can usually hear on the radio and songs we usually hear in a soundtrack. Which was a reason I became a Swiftie because she’s not just writing more about love. I remembered when she released the last album she had in 2012 I teased you and said that she’s being a pop singer now. You slammed the table in front of us where your laptop is sitting.

“It’s country pop!” you said over the screen.

I laughed at you.

“Just because she dated a pop singer she became one of them!

You gazed at me mouth wide opened when I said that. I wonder what if we were sitting side by side that time maybe you were pulling my hair that time.

“No! She’s not!” you said. “I thought you’re a fan of her.

“I am! I just thinking maybe someday she’ll release a pure pop album.

I was right because right now she’s no longer into country music now but I heard she wrote the newest singles of Little Big Town and Sugarland. I just don’t understand why she releases her own album in pure pop. I still love her songs, even more now since she’s now a reminder that once you existed and once we were best friends.

I don’t dare to ask my friends what they're going to sing, since I guess it’s one of the songs of their idol. And now it’s Zara’s turn.

“Hi, I’m Zara. It’s a Z not a S.” she begun. She clears her throat before singing.

At the very first word I immediately recognize the song. It’s Dear John by Taylor Swift. I got amaze because she’s not a fan of Taylor but I guess those times of heartaches that brought by her ex-boyfriends’ break up the reason of choosing this song. Dear John is one of the most powerful and emotional songs of Taylor Swift and this song is suited by Zara’s own personal experience, I guess based on her version of him she got blinded by the love she thought that she dismissed and ignores the signs and now the way she sings it, it’s like she’s singing it to her ex-boyfriend through Dear John’s letter I could feel like she was the one who experience the horror of being in a relationship with John Mayer. Just like yesterday two months ago her boyfriend broke up with her. I thought she’s going to explode and we have to rash her into an asylum.

I was reviewing for my chemistry exam that time, while studying Dollhouse was playing on my phone before the refrain of the song the music stops and my phone vibrated. I rolled my eyes and looked into my phone to see whose disturbing me. I picked it up and heard the sobbing voice of my friend.

“Where are you?” was the only words came out from my mouth.

I closed my notes and books then checked my face on the mirror then I finger comb my hair.

“Uhm, Ice Cream land.” She said.

“I’ll be there in nine minutes.” I hung up the call.

It was raining I didn’t change my pajama and thin t-shirt. I grabbed my wallet and get a jacket tossing it on my shoulder. While walking to the front door I texted Arya.

Me: Go to ice cream land NOW.

I hit send.

“Mom, I’m going outside!” I shouted while opening the front door.

My mom peeked from the kitchen, if my memory was right she was cooking dinner since it was already 5:15 in the afternoon.

“Be back before dinner.” She yelled back.


Ice cream land is only ten minute walk from my house. The rain was not heavy I just put my hoody on my head to be protected by the rain. When I got there, Arya was already seated next to Zara, who was still sobbing. Zara was still wearing her school uniform and Arya was wearing her pajama but she was wearing a shoes, looked awful.

“So, who wants ice cream?” I said as soon as I reached their table.

I slammed my hands on the table that made them startled. Arya looked at me but Zara ignored me.

“I do!” said Arya, tried to sound cheerful she even raised her hand.

Zara ignored my question, she kept on sobbing. I wished she could stop but her tears seemed endless. Arya informed Zara we would go to the counter to buy ice cream she just nodded.

“What did she say?” I asked as soon as we were far enough not to be heard.

“Nothing. She just keep on crying, that’s how I saw her when I got here.” She said looking at our poor friend.

We ordered one gallon of vanilla ice cream, my favorite flavor. When we got back to the table Arya and I scooped our own ice cream without leaving our eyes on Zara. After we were satisfied on the ice cream on our glass, Zara took the ice cream and grabbed the spoon. She started eating using the container of the ice cream. We looked at her frozen unable to move.

“He told me, I’m not enough.” She said stuttering. Her voice were muffled because of non-stop crying.

“What?!” Arya and I said in unison.

Zara nodded, telling us we heard her right. She blew her nose. We kept our mouth opened.

“Wha… Why?” I asked moving closer to her.

“How?” Arya asked.

“He calls me after school. He… he wants me to go to his house, s… s… so I went there, I we… went there, we head straight to his room, hi….s room.

” she said. She paused for a moment then she went on. “I saw his collection of marvel. As if it was the first time I… saw it. Then he hugged… me from the back and kissed me on my neck to my cheek. He kissed me. For the last… time. I faced him and told me he loves… me and that I’m a good person and talented. I started laughing because it sound…ed like a good…bye...

I saw the pain on her blood shot eyes. I saw her tears on her beautiful face. I saw her crushed dreams with the guy she loves the most. I saw her broken hearts scattered on the floor. I saw her pain all over her. It was like mine. I felt I was looking on the mirror seeing those just like mine.

She stopped for a while, I felt she was gathering her words and strength by all of the heartaches in her heart. I saw the tears starting to form in her eyes again. She was about to cry but she was fighting it, gulping it like a water. I held her hands. Arya patted her on her back, she said it was going to be okay. We both knew it was not enough but we know our presence will help her cope and we did our best to make her feel better.

“He told me…” she begun again but her word was heavy seems she can’t pull it out on her mouth. She can’t finish her sentence without drowning on her own words and emotions. She was being dragged on the ocean and we didn’t let her. She fought the waves to drag her then move along with the riptide. “He said he doesn’t want to waste my time… anymore.

” She said it in bitterness and pain. It was like she just ate something she regrets. She looked at us, for the first time since we got here, showing her pain in her eyes.

“He just told me I’m wa… wasting his… time.” She says again while raising her voice.

The people at the café looked at us. She stood. We held her shoulder she looked at me. I shook my head in attempt to stop her from yelling but I failed.

“Then he told me I’m not enough.” Her voice was shaking.

She got down on her knees. We stood and help her stand but she doesn’t want to stand. She remained on her knees, she started nodding her head back and forth looked like she was praying for strength but she looked more like a mental patient.

“You have to be strong, Z.” Arya said.

“Come on get up, now.” I ordered her but she didn’t listen.

That day was so dark because of that break up. Arya and I have decided to stay at Zara’s house. When we got to their house her mother saw the storm in Zara but she respects her silence. She knows her daughter well, how strong she is and her friends were there to help her cope. After two weeks of mourning over, the flood washed away the darkness that ate her light, it all vanished, the old Z came back. I’m glad that she’s back, I’m glad she moved on. After that day we have never heard her mentioning the asshole. Maybe Dear John by Taylor Swift helped her get over with.

After Zara sang she goes straight to her seat without looking at anyone. Arya gives her a hi-five. I follow her in gaze with my eyes. She’s smiling, am so proud of her, she’s beautiful and talented she deserves better than that guy who made her cry.

“Are you a Swiftie now?” I ask smiling.

This is the first time she looks at me after her performance. She shoved me.

“It was just something emotional.” She says smiling, but I know there’s something in her eyes.

For three years of our friendship I can say that I know Zara well enough to read her, just one of the things being silent and introvert I developed how to read people.

Arya sings her favorite song of the band. She closes her eyes then takes a deep breath opened her eyes again then starts.

Can I call you mine?

Can I be the reason of your smile?

Here I am smiling at your side

All the time

But I can’t say I like you

Because I’ll lose you if I do

You are mine in my dreams

You’re my life for me

But she’s the reason of your smile

Not me

I’m the one who deserves you

She sings like an angel

I sing you my song in my dream

She’s beautiful

But for me you’re so gorgeous

She doesn’t like you

But I love you

She changes the ‘he’ to ‘she’ and ‘girl’ to ‘boy’. She made it a girl version daydreaming. I like it suits her voice the way she sang. After she sang she looks at me before she can even sit it’s a cue telling me it’s my turn. In my peripheral view I can sense the gaze of Harry, it’s overwhelming I’m not strong enough to handle it but still I tried so hard not to be affected by those eyes. When Arya finally take her seat she pinches me that makes me fully awake. I’m still sitting beside her then she pushes me that stumbles me on my seat forcing me to stand.

“You don’t have to do that!” I yell in whispers.

“It’s your turn.” Arya says.

Everyone’s eyes is on me now. I stand straight manages to do so with my shaky knees. I slowly walk to the center with my hands on my thigh like a coward kid when I reach the center I changes my posture pretends I’m used in being in front with everyone’s eyes on me but still, I don’t know what to do.

What to sing? I ask myself.

“Hi!” I wave my hand awkwardly. “I’m Elise.

I look at my friends for a little support and strength, I need it. They nod at me and give me big smile. I exhale. This is just a warm up, Elise. I remind myself.

“To be honest I don’t know what to sing. I don’t like famous songs that I can hear everywhere.” I laugh, the campers’ laughs with me.

“Just sing whatever you want to sing.” Harry says.

I look at him this time. He smile. I roll my eyes. I step towards the guy sitting in front holding a guitar, he looks old, not old, old but older than us. His hair is in dreadlocks and he’s ears are pierced with five earrings in each.

“Can I borrow your guitar?” I ask him.

This guy sang Losing My Religion by REM. I like his chosen song. He hand me the guitar without saying a word.

“Uhm, I guess just a few of you knows some songs I listen to…” I say while tuning the guitar. “I want to sing something everyone knows, so

everyone can sing with me just like everyone did before me. Since I guess there’s a hidden rule here not to sing a song that already sung by someone.

They laugh at me again. I don’t know why but I feel the pressure when I reach the center when a while ago the crowd was wild. I take a deep breath then I start strumming. I close my eyes, letting the wave of my emotion to flow freely. Even with my eyes close I can see Harry’s face, I open my eyes once again. I don’t know if the weather here is hot or maybe it’s just my plaid red long sleeves that makes me feel hot. I can feel my legs shaking luckily I’m wearing my old pajama making it less visible to the eyes of these people in front of me.

I look in the mirror

Window outside

I’m watching the rain falling from the sky

I look in the mirror

My face the tears begin to dry

You knew everything about me

Promise but I can’t live without you

Everywhere I go

Every places at the pictures

Everything are memories

How can I live without you?

If you are my world, my air, my life and all, and all, yeah

That song was written the time I just went back from Manhattan, when I just arrived with my suitcase and stuffs I brought in Manhattan, I went to the places where you and I used to go. The places that gave me nostalgic memories and emotions. The feelings that I forgotten played on my face like a movie in front of my bare eyes, I was about to lose control, I cried over by the things I missed. I remember feeling everything while I was there; my childhood with you, the happiness we shared, the secrets we keep, hope that I’ll see you again, and the pain I gathered, all those things felt like it never happened like it was all just a part of the dream – all of it. What I found out is like a joke on my own naked eyes a wishful thinking it is just a joke not my reality.

The tears begin to form, makes me want to bring back those years while I’m singing the song but I tried to balance my emotion because I don’t want to show my weakness with all these eyes judging me right now. When I finish singing the song I smile and gives back the guitar. I thank him, while walking to my seat I glance at Harry who’s giving me standing ovation. This is the first time I sing my song out loud in front of the people and I don’t know how to react I’m still shaking a bit. After me there’s only three campers left to perform after everyone perform the coach took the floor again.

“So… we already heard everyone sing.” She says.

“We like to hear The Pedal sing.” One of the campers at the back says.

Everyone is looking at him and everyone agrees with him.

Landon is the first to stand up the others follow him. They didn’t wait for the coach to tell them to stand up. When they reach the center of the circle they form another smaller circle. In which they looks like they’re in a secret force. After a moment passed they face us. Neal borrows the guitar, which I borrowed a while ago. He begins strumming, I know the song. It’s a rumor that the song was written by Harry for his ex-girlfriend. I hum along because I just know the hymn not the lyrics. Maybe after this I can be a normal kid, with a normal idol but I don’t want to be like everyone else, so maybe I’ll remain the same after this. The electricity is being shut down, it’s 8:30 pm for sure we lit a candles to light the surrounding, it interrupted the gays then starts again after the candles are being lit.

Everything is done

The moment you're gone

Now everything changes

You stole everything I have

How did I come this far?

Do I have to be afraid?

Everything happen so fast

Every face just disappear

Now left in my memory

In my broken melody

What a sorrowful melody

In the sweet serenity

Ooh what left in my sorrowful melody

My friends once told me that Harry is one of the songwriters of the group and they told me that Harry’s ex is Lizzy one of the biggest names in the world, she’s also a pop star that writes songs for her exes. Everyone says that she’s the next Taylor Swift in history but of course Taylor is better than her.

When the coach took the floor again he told us it’s time for bed. I know I will not be able to sleep yet, after I brush my teeth and wash my face I went outside using the back door at the kitchen. It’s an old door, it creeks when I open it, I fear someone might see me sneaking out but thankfully no one hears me. It’s colder out here than I thought it might be, I wrap myself with my arms around. The crunching of the leaves when I step on them gives me a chill. The moon is not full yet but maybe it will be a perfect circle on my birthday.

I wish you’re here with me Brit, remember escaping was our talent? I remember when we were eleven. I used to escape the house to go to your house and we would watch TV in your room. It was a tradition between us every three in the afternoon when my mom told me to sleep but because I’m stubborn I didn’t want to sleep because Spongebob was on TV. Luckily my mom didn’t catch me even once. Until I got old to sleep by three in the afternoon and we got old to watch cartoons I couldn’t remember when that stopped, I couldn’t remember that memory until now. Remember when I got grounded because I got a low grade on one of our subjects? I escaped and went to your room, we talked about living together by the beach or lake because we both love bodies of water. This is exactly the idea of the house we’re dreaming of.

I sit on the branch of the tree that made an arch it’s a big tree I just couldn’t figure out what’s tree is this in the dark.

“So, why are you here?” I heard a voice at my back.

I jerk to where I’m sitting nearly fall in the tree. I look from behind and see the silhouette of a man walking towards me.

“Who’s there?” I ask back without answering his question.

I stand firmly brushing my hand on my pajama to brush of the invisible dirt I get in sitting on the tree. I make my hands in to a ball making a fist with my hands, good thing I know taekwondo. He shrugs. When he’s near enough I can see his face I loosen my posture seeing Harry walking closer to where I’m standing.

“You scared me! You jerk!

He scoff and sit on the branch where I sat. “I did not, you just didn’t noticed me.

I sit beside him. “Yeah.

He offers a cigarette. I look at it with disgust. That makes me hate them times two.

“I’m sorry.

“I’m one of your haters.” I say leaning towards him.

I made puppy eyes, I did not intend to look cute but I wish it would stop him to try to be friends with me. He looks at me with a shock in his expression but he tried to hide it. He looks at the dark part of the woods.

“That explains why.” He says glancing at me.

“Explain what?” I ask innocently.

His eyes electrifies every time he’s looking at me. I don’t know if he’s doing it on purpose or it’s normal every time he’s looking at someone. I rock my feet back and forth then I look at the moon again, it so bright that could brighten up the world but I don’t think it can light the sadness of the people.

“You didn’t freak out when you first saw us and every time I’m talking to you it feels like you want to end it, always.” He says then light a cigarette.

“Not like the other girls here.” He added and blows. “And you looked annoyed when I asked you something at the boat.

Ooh, it’s obvious then, good thing. Now, stop trying to befriend with me. I say to myself but didn’t said it out loud.

Instead, I say.

“That’s nice.

I look at him he looks back at me, the only light we have is the light from the moon, it illuminates Harry’s face that makes the intensity of his eyes is heavy again even in the dark. He combs his hair using his fingers. His wearing a pants and a white t-shirt that makes him broader with his muscles.

“How old are you?” I ask just to break the awkward silence.

“Old enough to smoke.

I nod.

Then he ask me back.

“And you?

I pick up the skin of the tree. “Young enough to smoke and old enough to be left alone.

I look at him with straight a face, he looks back at me. With that look on his eyes I realized another characteristic of his eyes: the intensity of his eyes can weaken my knees. I just realized that I’ve been noticing his eyes since I laid my eyes on him it’s being overuse. I don’t know why though. I look away. It so strange being with this guy and I’ve never been closer to any guys except to my father.

“I’m sorry for intruding your serenity.” He says when I look away.

When I realized he’s standing I grab his left arm. He looks at my hands holding his arm then he looks me in the eye. It annoys me that he's here but I don’t mind either. Maybe I need someone to talk to.

“It’s okay.” I say releasing my grip.

Then he smiles which annoys me more because he smile. “Great.

He says returning to his seat.

“I like the song you sang who’s the artist?” he asks.

“Someone.” I reply.

“What kind of genre you like listening to?

“You really want to talk a lot, don’t you?” I look at him and smile.

He grins wider, and he takes his phone. “That’s the first time you give me a smile, I must take a picture of it.

Before I can react to what he said I heard the clicking sound of the camera and a flash of his camera phone.

“That so fast, nitwit!” I punch him on his arm.

He laughs. “It’s just a picture. Come on tell me the music you like.

“Why?” I ask.

“You look interesting.

“Delete the photo you’ve taken, first.” I roll my eyes. “and may I know how I became interesting?

“You’re a smart kid.” he chortles. “I won’t delete it but look, you’re at the music camp with a pop boy band that you really hate, now how can I find you not interesting?

“My friends told me to go.

“Then tell me the music you like.

He’s not really giving up to this huh. I look at the moon feeling the wind on my face. This is a great place to think and relax. I wonder how some place are still empty while there are almost three billion people on Earth. Then I think about his question for a while, I usually don’t think about it since when I discover an artist that interest me whether they’re a Filipino, American, Japanese, German, British, or anything as long they are not popular and I’ll be sure I won’t hear one of their song on the radio I will surely be an avid fan of that artist.

“Rock, punk, metal, alternative, modern folk, electronic.” I motion to him.

“Happy?” I add.

“Wow. That’s really interesting.” He says while nodding his head.

“I like rock too.

“Then why do you sing pop?

He looks at me quizzically. Maybe it’s a stupid question but I’ve know a lot of artist and I’m pretty sure what they listen and the genre in their playlist is what they also sing.

“The manager told me that my voice has more quality in pop. Come on, people, like us who wants to be popular will accept whatever the management will offer. They said they my voice is better in pop genre I believe them because they know better than I do.

“That’s stupid.” I lean on the tree. “I’m always thinking why untalented people like you has the confidence to perform and you’re much popular than those people who has more talent than you.

He laughs.

“I guess people don’t listen to a singer who can’t sing and to save my name and my bandmates from your criticism we were at the music competition before we got a name. So I guess that will tell you that we can sing.

I look at him with annoyed face. “There are a things called auto tune and lip sync and Mister you just used your look to gain popularity, so, the girls will then like you and will vote for you. I pity the great artists who didn’t win because you did.

He starts to laugh, then stop. I make a shocked face realizing that I chose a wrong word to describe his look.

“What?” Horror took his face.

“You’re not even a good looking and the other members of your group.” I smile and laugh.

I study his face he looks frustrated. My stomach is aching because I can’t stop laughing on his funny face.

“Why can’t you see other people sees in us?

I just laugh. “You should see your face.

His face turns to serious. “Stop laughing.

“I can’t. You look really funny.

He stands up and carries me like a sack of potatoes then I stop laughing.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing? Put me down!” I ordered.

Then he does what I ask him to do. He stands there looking at me while straightening my clothes.

“Good thing you stopped laughing.

“You should see your face, it’s funny, trust me.” I started laughing again.

“Why do you have to do that?” he asks then comb his hair using his fingers.

“Are you afraid of ghosts?” I look at him curiously.

“No! I thought someone or something was there.” he says it while stepping his feet around without proper direction and pointing somewhere like he can’t decide where to go or where to point at.

I smile. “I’m sorry. It’s just the way my face are.

“Then answer my question.” He sits back on the branch next to mine.

“Why don’t you think we’re not like the other people think we do?” he ask again.

I remain standing and lean on the tree.

“Maybe I’m not like them. I’m more into the quality of songs than to the artist.” I explained.

I smile at him and he smiles back. He looks so serious that I swear even though I don’t like him I can melt with those face of him.

“That makes you more interesting.

My face changes. I furrow my eyebrows when I realized it was not a compliment.

“What’s interesting? I’m judging you and your friends.

“You hate trends and famous celebrities.” he says changing the topic.

“Is that a question or a clarification?

“Clarification.” He says confidently.

“Yes, I don’t see why people listen to music they can hear everywhere or clothes that matches everybody. What I want is something I discover on my own so that I can share it to everyone not for them to like it but for them to hear some new artist from different part of the world or some sort but if you realized, well I’m sure you didn’t since you just met me in 24 hours, I’m introvert. I don’t like talking to people. But you know music interests me so much. I talked to people I met in that kind of topic and people usually find me weird. But I usually make a conversation with someone and that we can share our differences but… since I don’t like talking to someone and I don’t know how to start a conversation I always remain silent.” I twitches my lips. “I’m sorry that’s so random. I’m nervous this is the first time I talk to a guy this long.” I say.

But honestly, for the first time I talk to someone not scared to be judged and for the first time I am confident to the chosen words I speak.

He looks at me like he’s proud of what I’ve said. “Wow! We’re alike.

“What? Why?”s

“Because I also like music that’s not popular. I just told you I also like rock music. Besides, I’m listening to rock bands and artists that are underrated. I found them more interesting.

I hold up my hand wanting to clarify something. “But, you’re a pop star who has a music blasters on radio every second around the world!

He laughs at me. “Just because I’m a pop star it doesn’t mean I have to like my own genre. Listen to this.

He grab his phone and tap the screen multiple times. He plays something on this phone and place it on top of the branch in the space between us. I’ve never heard the song before the voice sounds like Harry singing over the phone a song that I never heard before. He told me he didn’t release it. A song that close to his heart. It’s a love song begging for forgiveness and to forget the girl he was referring to the song, a girl that he loved died without a goodbye. I wonder for whom he write the song and who was the dead girl.

“I like it.” I told him honestly. “It’s a different genre. The music combination was different from the other songs of yours.

“Thanks. I wrote it when I was younger.” He smile. “This one is personal but I sang during my audition. If you’re watching the show you’ll find this familiar.” He laughs.

“Why didn’t you release it?

“Because it’s personal and I don’t want to sing this song after I sang it publicly, besides none of the group writes any songs we released we just sing it.” He shrugs.

Is it written on my face that I want an explanation?

“Why are you telling me this?

“I don’t know.

“If you didn’t write any song from your albums, who wrote the Sorrowful Melody? It’s a rumor you wrote it for Lizzy.

“Some of the songs we release was written by our writers and then we tried to co-write it if we want to, because sometimes we don’t like the arrangement of the lyrics. Sorrowful Melody was one of it. I was playing the chords of it on my piano and changed some of it because I remember the days when I was with Liz, but I was the only one who change some of the lyrics.

I don’t know why but I feel honored to know all of this. I just realize one thing being in music industry: not all artist are like Taylor Swift and other artists I listen to who are the only artist who can decide to write their own songs and doesn’t have any problem in releasing their songs and how it sounds.

“Wow!” I put my hand on my chest. “That’s what the song means and a lot of the fans thought you really wrote it for Liz but the truth you just co-write it for… her.

“I didn’t say I wrote it.” He says in defense. “They assumed I wrote it and I didn’t tell you I did it for her.

“You can’t blame them. The song really fits your story.

I walk back to the house without telling him but he follow me inside.

“Are you sleepy?” he asks.

I look back to him.

“Yeah,” I replied.

Then he walk towards me.

“Thanks.” He says then left me in front of the door.

Why the heck did he thank me for?

I didn’t find him interested after this night. I found him weird but I feel like I know him more than anyone inside of this camp. I go to my room listening to the snore of Zara thinking everything I just learned about until I got bored and sleepy. Good night, Brit.

- Elise

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