This sucks. We’re moving. The truck just left with all our stuff and my mom and dad are waiting for me in the car. We’re about to leave. I can’t believe this. I can’t believe we’re moving away from the only place I’ve lived in my whole life.
I lean into the car and say, “Wait, I think I forgot something.”
I go back into the house one last time. It’s so weird to be in here with everything empty. The couch used to be right there. There’s an impression in the carpet where it used to be—the ghost of a couch.
I walk down the hall to my room. There’s nothing left. The posters are off the walls—all that’s left are a few pieces of tape and the hole from when I tried to do a flip and put my foot right through the drywall.
My brother’s room is right across the hall. The door is closed and I don’t want to open it. When we were little we used to barricade ourselves into his room with those cardboard bricks and then bust through like we were the Incredible Hulk. I know it’s empty, but I just can’t stand to open the door and look in. I don’t want to see it empty. I want to remember it full.
There is a sign on his door that he made in Shop class. The word Maybe carved into the wood. It’s stuck on the door with some heavy-duty adhesive. Mom told me to leave it because she didn’t want to ruin the door. Fuck that. I tear it off, and some of the paint with it. I just want to have something.
I run out the front door and slam it behind me one last time. My parents are still waiting in the car. They’re sitting in the front seats being totally quiet. My dad is driving, my mom is crying, and I’m sitting in the back by myself.
Mom drives me to my new high school. Classes start in three days, and I’m supposed to meet my new guidance counselor and choose my schedule. Jesus, why do I have to do this? Why can’t someone else do this for me?
I’m sure my guidance counselor is going to be some old guy in a terrible suit and a tie that’s about six inches too short and just lie on his belly. He’s going to have this terrible breath and probably be mixing whiskey in with his coffee.
Mom drops me off out front and says she’s going to do some errands. “I’ll pick you up in an hour.” An hour? Why do I need a whole hour?
I walk through the front doors and stand in the lobby.
The school is totally empty. When a place that is usually full of people is totally empty, it’s really weird. The floors are all waxed and shiny, and it smells like heavy-duty toxic lemon cleaner.
The only place that even has lights on is the main office right in front of me.
The lady behind the desk is old but has jet-black hair and one eye that is looking at the door I just came through. The other eye is looking at me.
She says, “Hello, son. Can I help you?” Her voice is unbelievably high—like a fire-engine siren.
I say, “I’m here to meet my guidance counselor.”
The lady is wearing a muumuu—like the thing that people from Hawaii wear, except I don’t think she is from Hawaii. She asks my last name and I tell her, and she searches for a while in this really ancient computer and then looks up at me and at the door and smiles.
She says, “You’re with Mr. Scott.”
“Okay, how do I find him?”
“Follow the drumming.”
I walk out of the office and stand in the hall for a second. Was she saying that Mr. Scott was like the band director or something? There isn’t any drumming that I can hear.
Wait, now I hear the drumming. It just started. It’s not, like, crappy jazz drumming or marching-band drumming, it’s straight up rock-and-roll drumming. Real kick-ass—bass-snare-ba-bass-bass-snare—drumming.
I walk down the hall toward the sound. I get so close I feel the bass drum in my chest.
I pull open the doors to the auditorium and stand in the back and watch the guy play. He has his drum kit set up in the orchestra pit, and he’s just going crazy on the drums.
He has long hair and he’s wearing some sort of cutoff shirt, and his arms are a total blur.
I move closer to get a better look at how fast his arms are moving from drum to drum, and then he sees me and stops. “Hey,” he says. “Sorry, I didn’t know anyone was in here.”
I say, “You didn’t have to stop.” I mean, he’s a pretty damn good drummer.
“No. No. I’m almost done.” He’s out of breath. “Do you need me for something?”
“Well, I don’t know. I guess you’re supposed to be my guidance counselor.”
“Whoa. Okay. Cool. Let’s do it.”
He takes me back to his office and fills out a bunch of forms for me. He signs me up for all my required classes: Latin II, Chemistry, English, Algebra II, and U.S. History. I sign up for an elective called Visual Language, because it sounds cool and I like movies.
He says, “Okay, Brian, you’ve got one elective left. Third period. And the only classes that are open are Shop and Chorus.” He looks at me like the choice is pretty obvious. Take Shop and get your fingers cut off, or take Chorus and learn something about music.
My brother took Shop, so I sign up for Chorus.
From the Hardcover edition.