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Music of the Heart

By´╝ÜKatie Ashley

My cowboy boots clomped across the pockmarked pavement as I weaved in and out of the rows of tour buses. Screamo rock music blared around me, echoing through the cramped parking lot. Roadies and technicians brushed past me with scratchy conversations emitting from their headsets and walkie-talkies. Once they swept their gaze over the dangling authorized pass around my neck, they didn’t ask what I was doing, nor did they ask if they could give me a hand.

Intense June heat beat against my back and singed the bare flesh above my thin sundress straps. I grunted and gave a tug on the rolling suitcase behind me while the guitar case I carried at my right side felt like it was weighed down with lead.

Rock Nation was one of the biggest music festivals in the country. A hundred bands performed over three days, and the shows lasted around the clock. Music fanatics camped out in the middle of the desert and somewhat recreated Woodstock. Well, that’s just what I’d been told. It wasn’t like I’d spent the last two days with thousands of stinky, mud-caked strangers. I’d just come off a 737 from Austin, Texas, and hopped the closest cab to the arena.

My only real interest in being at Rock Nation was seeing Jacob’s Ladder—the chart topping, Christian rock cross-over band. The three members, Gabe, Eli, and Micah, just happened to be my older brothers, and the reason I was wandering around a parking lot in the middle of the desert.

Sweating profusely, lost, and frustrated was not quite what I had envisioned when my brothers asked me to join them on their summer tour. It wasn’t the first time I had gone around the country with them since they had burst into the limelight two years ago. But it was the first time I had to decide if the rootless existence of a musician was really for me. After singing my ass off, as my brother Eli claimed, for the label executives, I had been offered the role as lead singer. The role was available because my oldest brother, Micah, was exiting the band to get married and join the seminary.

After rolling my suitcase to a halt, I sat my guitar case down. Shielding my hand over my eyes from the glaring sun, I peered at the buses. Trust me, when you’ve seen one tour bus, you’ve seen them all. Very few boasted the band’s name who called them their home away from home. Right now, I was faced with row after row of them compressed together so tight you could barely move between them.

Peering at the windshields, I looked for the usual multicolored paper with the bus number. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what number I was supposed to be looking for. I dug my phone out of my purse and gazed at Micah’s text. Can’t come to meet you like we planned. Crashing after the 4am show. Pass will be at the box office. Come on to the bus. It’s 419. We take off at 9am with or without you.

With a frustrated grunt, I shoved my phone back into my purse. Most of the time, the boys were a lot more considerate of me. I guess they thought since this wasn’t my first time at the rodeo, so to speak, I should be able to take care of myself. Usually, they tried to treat me like I was still ten, instead of twenty-one.

“Where the heck is bus 419?” I growled.

“Yeah, just how much do you wanna see Blaine Bennett?” a voice asked over my shoulder.

I whirled around to see a roadie grinning wickedly at a very scantily clad girl. At the mention of getting closer to her idol, she pressed herself against him. “Really bad,” she purred.

Oh, ew. It was way too early for this kinda crap. “Um, excuse me?” I questioned.

While the girl acknowledged me, the roadie tuned me out. “Hello, I’m talking to you! I mean, I may not be rubbed up against you, but I am speaking.”

The roadie gave a grunt of frustration before turning around. His irritation faded a little as he did a pervy head to toe appraisal of me. “And just what can I do for you, sugar?”

The girl must’ve thought she was losing her chance to see Blaine whoever he was because she stepped around the roadie and tried blocking his view of me.

Craning my neck, I said, “Listen, I really need to find bus 419. I’ve got to find Jacob’s Ladder.”

The roadie’s eyes rolled back in his head, and I didn’t even want to guess what Miss Thing was doing to him. I glanced away and let the waves of disgust roll over me. I was so going to give the boys a piece of my mind when I finally found them. Realizing I was getting nowhere with the roadie, I stomped my boot on the pavement like the irritated child I felt like. “Look, I have a pass, and if I don’t get to Jacob’s Ladder’s bus ASAP, they’re going to be epically pissed, and I’m going to give them a full-on description of you so they can totally get your useless ass fired!”