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Hayley Rogers, along with hundreds of excited teenagers, elbowed her way closer to the ticket office. Cold, crisp air combined with hot breath, sent wisps of fog circling above the area. A uniformed security guard grinned at her. She read her wristband aloud like a litany of hope that her number would be the first one drawn. Like the others in the crowd, she wore a ski jacket over denim jeans. Excitement sent surges of warmth through her and she unzipped her coat several times.
Chimes from the church across the street echoed through downtown Denver. When the bells completed eight rings, two more guards arrived. One shouted, "When the first number is drawn, get in order."
The other guard stepped up to the portable microphone, drew a ticket stub from a barrel and read, "66923."
Hayley looked at the bracelet on her arm. She took a deep breath and looked again. Although Millennium had only begun performing nationwide three years ago, their current concert tour sold out months before each date. She squealed in delight.
Clutching her money tightly, she walked into the open door.
"How many tickets?" asked the clerk. Her gray hair already escaped a tightly plaited twist.
"Five." Closing her eyes while the computer processed the information, Hayley hoped she would get second row seats to the Millennium concert. She knew there was no chance for first row seats since they went to promoters. Staring at the small lavender pieces of cardboard the clerk handed her, she grinned.
"Thanks. Row B, center aisle, floor." Hayley initialed the ticketstubs to indicate she knew the location of her seats, then turned and bounded out of the building. She whirled in a circle, stopped, and clutched the tickets in her fist. "Yes! Yes! Yes! We're going to see Millennium!"
A couple of friends shouted, "Hayley! Did you get good seats?"
"Yes," she screamed, then continued running.
When she spotted her mother's car, she waved the tickets above her head and skidded to a stop. Hayley opened the door and slid into the seat.
"Mom, we have second row seats!"
Her mother smiled, green eyes twinkling. "It's a good thing you picked up your bracelet so early."
Driving home in the early morning light, Hayley and her mother discussed the concert scheduled for the second week in June.
"One thing still puzzles me. Why did the tickets go on sale over three months in advance?" A small line formed in the middle of her brow as she nibbled her bottom lip.
"Oh, Mother. Who cares? I have second row seats."
"Honey, anything could happen in three months." Her mother carefully negotiated through the traffic to the left-hand turn lane at the signal light.
"Nothing short of death will keep me from seeing Shadow. He's totally awesome."
When they arrived home, four girls burst out their front door.
"Did you get them?" asked chubby, red-haired Amanda.
"Yes." Hayley loved building suspense.
Trina bounced from one foot to the other, her long black hair swinging from side to side. Sharon held her breath, green eyes wide with excitement.
Finally, Lisa broke the tense silence. "Quit teasing. Where are the seats?"
Sighing, Hayley clutched the tickets to her heart. "He'll be close enough to touch. We're second row, center."
Delighted squeals greeted her words.
Sharon let out a whoosh of pent-up air, took a deep breath and began a rapid-fire speech. "Great. Wonderful. I just can't believe it. I'll frame the ticket. No. The stub. I'll frame the stub."
Laughing, Hayley said, "You're losing your cool. Three months! It's too long to wait."
"Are you girls skiing today?" Mrs. Rogers asked. She glanced at the tickets and continued, "If so, you need to put those in a safe place."
The girls rushed to Hayley's room chattering and laughing. Gray carpet added a pleasant touch to her mauve printed curtains and comforter. A bulletin board framed her favorite picture of Shadow. Eerie light cast deep shadows on the young man's trim profile and lit the hard lines of the glass and steel buildings. He stood on a stage surrounded by stark images of a riot torn city. His long, light brown hair streamed behind him from strong winds which blew through the ruins. Tight black jeans topped by a black shirt displayed a slim, yet well-muscled physique.
Hayley's stereo blared the latest Millennium disk. Guitars and powerful drums vibrated the walls. A compelling voice evoked images of a generation suffering from mistakes of the past, yet offered hope for change.
"This is their best song yet," Amanda said, her brown eyes glowing. She paused while pulling on a lavender ski bib. "It's hard to believe the guys are mostly our age. Most of the rock groups are ancient."
Silence, almost deafening after the loud stereo blasts, pounded Hayley's ears when Trina clicked off the system.
"I can't wait to show up that awful Krystal. She always brags about knowing someone." Trina's brown eyes deepened to almost black.
Hayley knew Trina was about to explode. "There's no way she can have better seats this time. She was too far back in line," Hayley said.
"I hope you're right." Trina took a deep, calming breath.
Zipping her neon purple ski jacket, Amanda added, "I can't believe she didn't con someone else to stand in line at six to try to fix the lottery numbers."
The security guards scanned the bracelets to be sure no one tampered with them. Only the person signing up to buy tickets got a bracelet."
Hayley felt the two-week inconvenience of wearing an ugly mustard colored piece of plastic around her wrist had proved worthwhile. Not only would she see her favorite rock bank up close and personal, but also, she finally had one up on her worst enemy, Krystal.
Mrs. Rogers met them at the front door, car keys in hand.
"Thanks, Mom. I love you." Hayley hugged her mom.
Skis fastened on top of the Explorer, Hayley backed out of the driveway. The trip to their favorite ski trail took less than an hour.
After unloading the equipment, Hayley made sure her plastic coated season pass hung right side up from her zipper. White powder glistened like diamonds in the sunlight. Colorful ski bibs sprinkled the mountainside like confetti. Hayley dangled her feet from the chair and breathed the fresh, crisp air. The ride to the top of the slope took only a few moments. The girls stood watching the other skiers.
Hayley grinned. Happiness was skiing the hardest trails with her four closest friends. The prospect of seeing the rest of the kids from her popular group at school made the day even better. Their group had become tighter than ever as the reality of the violence in their school district had increased over the years.
She squinted in the bright sunlight, trying to see who stood on the hill surrounded by boys. Only Krystal waved her hand like that.
She'd show that girl.
Today Krystal was dressed in black from head to toe, adopting the trademark dark clothes which set her new friends apart from their usual friends.
"Much as I hate to admit it, Krystal looks great today. Black looks good on her," Hayley grudgingly admitted.
The other girls turned to watch the sleek figure glide down the hill with four boys following.
Trina's powder blue-clad legs straightened from the herringbone position to send her flying down the grade after Krystal and the boys. Hayley motioned the rest to follow as she pushed off. Trees flicked past as she gained momentum. Nearing the bottom, Hayley jumped and turned quickly into a two-foot snowplow maneuver to slow her speed. Stopping in front of the boys, she caught her breath, and waited for her friends to catch up. Then she turned toward the black-clad figure.
"Hey, Krystal. What seat did you get for the Millennium concert?"
Obviously pausing for effect, Krystal blinked her eyes and grinned. "My seat is number twenty-five, center aisle, row A."
"That's impossible. You were a hundred people behind me!"
"Get real. I don't have to buy a ticket. But, I do buy them for my friends."
Amanda's expression reflected her disbelief.
"Right," Hayley grunted.
Copyright © 2003 by Wanda Horton