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Regionals Part 2
“SPRINGBORO!!!!” The announcer shouted with vigor and I was honestly afraid that the entire band had snapped their vocal chords. The amount of screaming surrounding me was what pulled me into that ultimate band high. The raw, exposed joy was palpable and I rejoiced in it. I lived for days such as these and the happiness that filled me up was unimaginable.
Mr. Cain quickly conceded to our request to cadence out. The drum line played the wonderfully catchy cadence and we all walked, I should say strutted, out of the stadium, bopping our heads to the beat.
On the bus, the trophies were passed around so everyone got a chance to hold them all. We chanted and sang all the way to our hotel and Mr. Cain threw curfew out the window. We were all too happy for any restraints, staff included. We’d never won regionals since Mr. Cain had been in charge so he was ecstatic too.
We never really stopped celebrating to go to sleep. We just drifted into celebrating unconsciously. When the alarm woke us up the next morning, we barely grumbled. The excitement carried over into today. We all ran around packing up our things and taking a quick shower before we had to go, singing our show the whole time. Finally, we loaded the buses and chatter filled the air along with yet more singing.
We had an aura of happiness that filled the air and no one could possibly be upset. We talked endlessly of the judges, the show, the other bands that we’d looked up to but beat this time. Megan looked like the smile would never come off her face and it was people looking like her, like we’d just been declared best band in the universe, it was those people that made the glow of joy grow even brighter. I had honestly never felt happier in my entire life.
“So, what about Reeths-Puffer? We creamed them! How amazing was that! I mean they’ve won regionals how many years in a row now? We actually beat them!” Torrey was gushing. It was a sign of how excited she was, the fact that she was so bubbly. Torrie was usually more reserved. I smiled in response to her words.
Just then, we went over a bridge over a huge lake. It was breathtaking. The leaves reflected on the crystal waters and the sun sparkled on the turquoise surface. “Wow…” I heard several people mutter. It was almost as amazing as our performance, I thought with a laugh. I was just leaning back into my seat with a content sigh when the bus’ tires squealed and we swerved once, dangerously close to the edge of the bridge, then again. The cause was a stray semi, which had popped a tire and was raging wildly across the road. The third time we swerved, we ran right through the rails.
I didn’t know I had any more adrenaline in my system but as we flew down toward the frigid waters, my pulse rang in my ears. Screams filled the bus, but they were not the happy screams of last night. They were ear-shattering screams full of fear and anguish. The bus jolted violently when we hit the water and there were shouts filling the bus with terror.
“Open the doors before the pressure keeps them closed!”
“Get everyone out!”
“What do we do?!”
Orders were to gather near the doors and get out as quickly as we could and to swim up against the suction as best we could. It was our only hope. In a second that lasted forever, I looked around at my doomed friends. Anthony was hugging Natalie like his life depended on it and tears were running down both their faces. Erin’s eyes were wild, like she didn’t really know what was going on. Automatically, my eyes slid to Megan after Erin. She was staring at me with intensity that surprised me. When I caught her eye, her lip quivered and I felt my determination set.
“We ARE getting out of here, you hear me? Don’t doubt that for even a second, okay?” I whispered to her. She nodded and I saw her try to get herself under control. Scott had found Erin and was standing there, holding her hand tightly, and I saw Megan’s look of wistful longing for just a moment, self-conscious even now, but then the doors opened.
The power of the suction took me off guard and I felt myself nearly swept backwards but holding onto the seats, I fought my way towards the door. As more and more of us managed to get out the door, I felt I glimmer of hope.
I eventually fought my way out the door and into the freezing water. My breath froze in my lungs and my muscles were so stiff I could barely use them. I powered through the numbing current but when I took one second to rest my already sore arms, the water rushed me back into the back of the bus. Stars sprung in front of my eyes and my determination wavered as I realized any progress I’d made had just been erased. I flung myself against the current with urgency, now that my air was running out. My arms burned and my legs were in flames but I managed to break the surface at last. The air was the most refreshing feeling I’d ever experienced but I had to continue toward the edge of the lake as the suction was reaching all the way to the surface. The edge was close but it seemed like miles. My limbs were numb with cold and my head pounding.
I was just conscious enough to notice that when someone rose up just behind me, they weren’t gasping. I turned around to see Scott, eyes closed, and a hand retreating into the water. I instinctively grabbed for the hand since Scott was above water. I managed to pull at the hand until finally Megan emerged, spluttering and choking on the water. She started to tread water as she coughed to I let go of her and reached for Scott. I dragged him beside me as I swam, exhausted, towards the edge. I had no energy to look behind to see if Megan was following, even though I wanted to know that she was alright. I was going to check when I reached the shore of the lake but as soon as my arms reached the muddy sand, I gave in to the encroaching blackness.
TO BE CONTINUED