The air literally shimmered with sound. The waves of music crashed over the sea of spectators, and we were completely infatuated. Our hearts were tied to the rhythm, beating oddly to keep up with the music’s innovation. The rise and swell of the bass line hugged and released our diaphragms, pulsing hungrily and making us short of breath. The lyrics were understandable. I could hear the words, but what really made me smile was the undulating undercurrent of emotion that was tugging at me. It all made an unbelievably perfect amount of sense.
His voice was incredible. Did he know how good he sounded? How attractive he looked with his hair a little ruffled from the breeze and his forehead glistening a little from the effort?
And his music—his music was perfect.
“That was brilliant, boys!” Dad clapped me on the back.
“Thanks,” I grinned as the rest of the band whooped triumphantly. I really appreciated how my old man had always supported us. He was our roadie, our manager, and my rock. I knew I could always run lyrics by him, try out a riff on his well-trained ears, bounce ideas off his concrete opinions, and I knew even more that he would always be there for me.
I started wrapping up our amp cables. “What’s up, Glenn?” When my best friend said nothing, I looked up and glimpsed his goofy expression before looking past his thumb, over his shoulder, out the door of our van, where my eyes fixated on her. Long, honey hair and a magenta headband, woven with little white daisies through the locks and behind her ear. She had perfect glowing skin and this smile that caught me completely off-guard.
“She had her eye on you the whole concert,” Glenn winked. “Go talk to her!”
I considered punching him, but then she met my stare, smiled an exceptional smile, and tucked her hair behind one ear. I felt my cheeks flush redder than cherries. “Holy cow. She’s fine.”
“Well go say hi, Freddy!” Glenn gave me a shove and I stumbled forward, then turned to give him the hairy eyeball. “Go on!” I flattened my hair, straightened my collar, and stepped out of the van. She watched me walk towards her with a coy grin. Boy, was she fine.
I almost tripped over my own feet as I approached her. I flattened my hair again nervously, hoping I didn’t make a total geek of myself. The closer I got, the more I began to see the more idiosyncratic subtleties in her features—a sprinkling of pale freckles across her perfect nose, like jimmies on ice cream; the deep dusky blue of her eyes; a little space in between her two front teeth. Then I realized how close I was. She tossed her hair behind her shoulder. “Hi,” she said. “I’m Dawn.”
I flattened my hair with the hand that wasn’t in my pocket. “Freddy Tyler,” I replied awkwardly. “I’m in the band.”
“I know,” she laughed, tucking her hair again. She looked up at me with her pretty evening eyes and smiled. “Fab concert.”
“Well gee, thanks,” I nodded. “I like your laugh. It’s really neat.” She did it again. “Yeah, that’s the one!”
Dawn eyed me, sizing me up. “You’re all right, Freddy Tyler.”
We joked around for a while and then Glenn hollered at me to get going. “We gotta book, Freddy! Come on!”
I groaned. “He’s such a spaz. Give me a minute, will ya?” I asked her.
“Sure,” she said, but I didn’t move. “It’s okay, I won’t go anywhere,” she repeated.
“I believe you,” I said, “but I don’t want to leave.”
Dawn tilted her head and smiled. “It’s okay,” she said again, but I still hesitated. She sighed, stood on her tip-toes, and kissed my cheek. “Now go on,” she insisted. “I’ll wait right here.”
I staggered back to the van where the guys were packing up the last of the equipment from our gig. “Holy cow,” Glenn gaped. “He’s completely gone with that chick. Look at his face!” He put his hands on my shoulders. “Freddy, what happened?”
“I don’t know.” I grinned suddenly, realizing that she had kissed me. Dawn, the most gorgeous girl in the world, had kissed me with her perfect lips! “I think I’ll hang here for a while, Glenn.” They’d be all right without me. Our drummer, Charlie, could pick me up later in his Chevy.
My best friend studied my face closely for a minute and then threw up his hands. “He’s ditching us, fellas! He’s ditching us for that fox!” I was about to round on him when I saw his ridiculous grin. “I’m joshing you, Freddy,” he laughed. “Have fun.”
“Welcome back.” She looked even prettier than when I’d left five minutes ago.
I took her hand. “Thanks. Miss me?”
She raised her eyebrows. “Well, you’re assuming a lot, Freddy. You’re assuming I’m keen on you.”
“You are keen on me. You kissed me, remember?”
Dawn smirked. “How can you be so confident?”
“Easy,” I replied. “I’m holding your hand.”
She pulled it away, and I took it back. She laughed again, and it was the sweetest sound I’d ever heard. Her eyes sparkled a little in the late afternoon sun, and she left her fingers linked with mine. “Well, Freddy, what do you want to do?”
I shrugged. “Talk?”
“Okay,” she agreed. We strolled through the crowd of concert-goers still milling around the park and Dawn Daveson told me all about herself. She was a flower child, for sure, but that much I’d guessed from her headband and her bare feet. Her folks were real bummers, from what I could tell, but her brother Todd sounded all right.
“They’re square. They don’t get it. Music is the only thing that makes sense any more. They just sit around listening to those flaky politicians and droning on and on about useless things. I mean, if they just took a minute and actually listened to some rock and roll, they’d understand.” She twisted her hair around her index finger and looked up at the clouds. “I guess it’s up to our generation to change things. It’s all different with us. Our eyes are open, you know? We see what they don’t see. They think we’re all just stoned—we are. We’re stoned on life.” She stopped walking and shook her head. “God, I hope I never get old.”
I looked around. We were on the outskirts of the park, and night was crawling up on us. The horizon was bleeding sunset colors and across the baseball field, we could hear the raucous laughing of some kids getting really screwed up. “Are you into that stuff?” I asked.
“What, drugs?” Dawn shrugged. “Not really.” She looked up into the sky again. “I don’t need to be stoned to see how beautiful life is.”
“Neither do I,” I agreed, watching her. Tiny strands of her hair did a ballet on the breeze. She caught me looking at her and stuck her tongue out, grinning. Out of nowhere, red and blue lights spiraled across her skin, and I heard sirens. “S***, it’s the fuzz!” I cried.
Dawn grabbed my hand and pulled me behind her. “Come on, we’ve gotta cut out!” she shrieked. “Hurry up, Freddy!”
We hauled ass into the forest and away from the flashlight beams darting quickly in our direction. Dawn tossed a glance over her shoulder and squeaked. “Help, they’re catching up!”
I slid my arms around her waist and tossed her over my shoulder in a fireman’s carry. “Quick, into the shadows!” I bellowed, sprinting into a thick tangle of trees. We hadn’t gotten far before my foot caught on a root and we tumbled to the ground behind a thick oak. We lay still, breathing heavily, until the lights began to dim and we could no longer hear the police shouting. “Those pigs are roasted,” I whispered into Dawn’s ear, and she started giggling like crazy. “Shh!” I cried. “They’ll hear us.”
“No, they won’t,” she laughed, and got to her feet. She walked out from behind the tree, stood in the clearing, and spread her arms wide. “Come get me!” she shouted. “I’m a dirty, music-loving teenager! Come find me!” She waited and I held my breath, but seconds passed and the bushes were still.
“You’re crazy,” I grinned.
She put her hands on my chest. “Well, that’s okay,” she said, “as long as I’m not sane.”
I took her hands and kissed her fingers, and she watched me intently. I had a mind to kiss her for real when she looked straight up through the space in the tree canopy at the darkening sky. “If I had a girl, that’s what I’d name her.”
She smiled softly. “No, you dipstick.” She pointed at the deep blue skyscape. “Indigo.”