October 9, 2011
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My favorite song was Hero by Foo Fighters. I loved the drum intro, the way the bass, kicked in, and then the guitars. It was when we first played it, in my mom’s basement, that I realized we had potential. We could piece a song together. My band at the time was called, If We Were Lumberjacks. We named it after an inside joke between my lead guitar player and I. It seems so long ago. I guess that just means my dad was right when he said, “A lot can happen in a year.”
My name is Benjamin Keenan. I’m fourteen and the rhythm guitarist and lead singer of my band. I started it with my best friend Jimmy, who plays lead guitar; Brendan, who plays bass; and Jared, the drummer. Jimmy and I have known each other since we were toddlers. We would cut our teeth together. Jimmy was raised by classic rock music. Black Sabbath was our favorite band. I used to listen to country music until my dad showed me grunge music and I was hooked. It started with Pearl Jam, then Foo Fighters, and eventually I started listening to bands like 30 Seconds to Mars and Breaking Benjamin.
It was a hot April morning. But of course I still wore all black. Black jeans, a black Nirvana Shirt, even black boxers. My hair is sable and I have green eyes. I’m only 5’ 4”, but being tall is overrated.

I stand at the edge of my driveway as the garbage truck stopped at our house. I walk past the truck, then jog to the end of the block. I look to my left and my heart feels as if it almost exploded, my vision gets blurry and I feel dizzy, but then the feeling goes away. This is normal. It happens to me whenever I see her. Walking down the sidewalk, 40 yards away from me is Ashlin. She’s this girl I’m crazy about and have been for over two years now. There are just a few problems.

-She’s the Sophomore girl of my dreams.

-I’m a Freshman.

-She’s one of the most popular girls in my school.

-I’m not even the most popular dudes in my house. And I’m an only child.

-I used to be a spaz and am still stuck with that reputation with some people.

-I’m crazy about her.

-I’m like a brother to her.

-People often make jokes about us being together.

-She’s in love with this Senior named Brad.

-Brad enjoyed strangling me.

-Brad has hurt her more than once.

She sees me and she screams, “Ben!” in a voice two octaves higher then her normal voice, then runs up to me and hugs me.

“Uh, hi Ashlin,” I say.

“What are you doing in town?” she asks.

“I was going for a walk, I guess. To kill time.”

“You should hang with us!” she says.

That’s when I realize that her two best friends are standing behind her. Natalie and Becca. Natalie is shorter than I am, long black hair (Like Ashlin’s), and a Seether t-shirt. Which is awesome because Seether is a great band. Becca is tall and has long blond hair. She’s wearing a Justin Bieber t-shirt.

Ashlin is an inch taller than me, which I hate, and she has really pretty brown eyes. She knows I’m obsessed with her. And I know that if I don’t hang out with her and her friends then I will miss a golden opportunity to befriend her friends. Therefore, I’ll become more notorious and maybe Ashlin won’t be so embarrassed to be seen with me at school.

Ashlin introduces me to her friends, (I already know them from Facebook), then we start walking toward an old playground that will soon be torn down. It’s covered in Graffiti and other things that you will learn about in Sex-ed. We sit down on a bench and the four of us just talk. Several times I made an amazing joke and made them all laugh. We sat there for hours until a blue Dodge pulled up behind us.

“Oh, that’s our ride,” Becca says. She and Natalie get in the car and leave, leaving Ashlin and I alone.

“Becca thinks you’re cute,” she says.

“How would you know?” I laugh.

“I saw the way she looks at you. It’s kind of funny.”

I look at the ground, “I don’t see us having a thing in the near future.”

“Then who do you want to have a thing with?” she asks.

“Do I have to answer that?” I respond.

Out of nervous habit she takes her phone out and starts sliding it open and closed. She bites her lip then looks away. Words cannot express how much I care about her.

She changes the subject, “How’s your band doing?”

I think back to the time she made me play guitar for her and I played the song that I wrote about her. I have a feeling she is too. Then I realize, it was 3:20. Band practice started twenty minutes ago.

“I gotta go!” I jump up and say bye to her, then I turn and start to run home. But before I can leave she grabs me by the shoulder. “Wait,” she says, then kisses me. I my heart does the weird, painful thing again, and it’s almost as if this kiss was hurting me. “Go,” she says. I just stand there, confused, looking at her. “Go! Your going to be late!” she says. I turn and run. I look back and I see a sad look on her face. Then I go home.

The band is there. And they are angry. Luckily, I have good news.

“Dude! Where were you?” Jimmy asks when I get down to my basement. If only he knew.

“Sorry, I’m late. But before you beat me up or kick me out,” I say, “I got us a gig.”
Everyone in the band is stoked. We’ve played gigs before but this was huge. Opening up for Chevelle. Chevelle was one of my most favorite bands. But I’m too busy thinking about Ashlin to care. This should be one of the greatest days of my life, so why did Ashlin look so sad back there. I seriously doubted it was because I had to leave.
We practice three times a week until it’s time for the gig. Saturday night playing at a concert hall in front of thousands of Chevelle fans. Very nice. We walk out onto the stage playing a song I wrote. After that we start playing Paranoid, by Black Sabbath. We play a few more of our songs before we end with My Hero. My favorite song. And the whole time I think of Ashlin.
I don’t see anyone I know in the crowd. So I’m surprised when a guy comes up and tells us that we are really good. Only after do I realize that it was he lead singer of Chevelle.

We load our instruments into the car after the concert. Jared’s mom offers me a ride, but I realize it’s such a beautiful night, and I live four block from here. So I pass.

“If you’re sure,” his mom says, then drives off. I begin to walk home alone. I pass Ashlin’s house and soon, I’m not alone.

“We need to talk,” Ashlin says.

We sit on the same bench that we sat on the last time I saw her.

“I’ve always had feelings for you. But Brad, he messed me up. I’m still crazy about him, even though I don’t want to be. I need you as a friend and I don’t want to risk losing our friendship. I’m sorry,” she has the same sad look on her face.

I realize that, in a way, I was being dumped.

“I’m sorry that I’m hurting you,” she says, “It’s just we can’t be together. I don’t want to lose you.”

“You aren’t hurting me, Ashlin,” I finally say, “I’m hurting myself. I can’t just let go of you. For almost three years, I’ve been crazy about you. And I can’t just give up. I want to be able to move on. And I punish myself for not being able to.”

She’s quiet for a while, then she says, “I wish I could believe that. I wish we had never met. At least without me you would be in so much pain. ”

“It’s true, Ashlin! I need you! I love you! And I’m sorry I’m hurting you like this!” I say.

She looks me in the eyes, “You love me?”

I didn’t really mean to say that. Don’t get me wrong, I am in love with her, but I wasn’t really ready to tell her that.


She’s quiet again and that’s when I realize she’s blinking back tears.

“I have to go,” she says. And just like that, she’s gone.
Days go bye. I change. I talk less, make less jokes, I’m serious most of the time. I look in the mirror and you can see anger in my eyes. I’m not angry at her, but at myself.
The band becomes my life. Jimmy and I get in more arguments. I begin to realize he’s holding us back.
My birthday comes. I’m fifteen. I go to band practice only to get in another argument with Jimmy. Finally he says, “What’s gotten in to you? Ashlin hurt you, let her go. She just used you!”
He went to far. I don’t even realize that my fist is in motion and I break his nose. “Don’t you ever talk about her like that!” I scream as he rolls in a pool of his blood.
Jimmy’s mom picked him up early. He was out of the band. My best friend.
The next day at school Sophie Briggs says, “Ben, you seem different. You seem...angry.”
I respond with, “I’ve just realized that maybe I’m not the person I thought I was.”
At lunch I walk to my table to sit with my friends when Brad trips me. He has blond hair, and blue eyes.
I fall to the ground and hit my head hard. My food spills all over the floor. Instincts I didn’t know I had took over and I grab Brad’s leg then lift it above his head. He screams, then falls of his chair. I stomp on his chest as hard as I can and I hear his ribs crack.
Two of his friends stand up and join the fight. I slap my hands over the first one’s ears, discombobulating him. Then I slam his head into my knee. He falls over. The third one runs at me, but I crush his foot and break his toes then punch him in the face.
Ashlin sees the whole thing and looks at me, a hurt teenage boy who was now standing over three beaten down seniors and spilt food. I get tackled by a police officer. they suspend me for two weeks. No one ever messes with me again.
We find a new guitar player, and I make a silent vow to myself to never play Ashlin’s song again. The band changes our name. Ursula. The sea witch from The Little Mermaid. We begin to play heavier, darker music. Our band plays songs by Tool, A Perfect Circle, Deftones, and Nine Inch Nails. I write even darker. angrier music. Our band wins the High School Battle of the Bands. Everyone in the band becomes popular. We record and EP and we sell all 2,000 copies in just two weeks.
We eventually get signed to a record label, and soon our first album is released. Every single song lyric is about her. And she knows it. The band becomes my life, and I will live the rest of my life trying to fill the hollow space inside that she left. The hollow space only Ashlin can fill.

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