Neither of them truly knew who had grunted – him, her or his guitar?
“I am so sorry!” The young man exclaimed, eyes widening as he saw the damage he and his guitar had just caused.
Ceri had been smacked flush against the wall by the neck of his black electric guitar. Her ticket, now hiding from view in a teasing manner, had flown from her grasp and she dropped hurriedly to her hand and knees to seek it out.
“Here, let me help,” he offered, crouching beside Ceri.
All she had wanted was to quickly pop into the restroom before the show started, but that ideology was rapidly disappearing just like her ticket supposedly had.
“It’s okay, I can find it myself,” Ceri murmured, ducking and wincing every time his guitar swung at her.
“Are you sure? It’ll be quicker with an extra pair of hands.”
He couldn’t help but stare at the stump on the end of her right arm. It protruded out of her pastel sleeve just like her hand did on the other wrist.
“My hand can do fine on its own, thanks,” she grumbled, sliding it in a wide arc on the carpet around her, hoping to feel her ticket out.
“C’mon, Aaron, we’re all waiting on you. Oh, problem?”
Ceri could not believe her luck! There she was, a temporarily grumpy and panicked fan, sitting at the feet of Yuni – the Yuni! – peering up at the glorious display of glitter and colours. Stunned into silence, her mouth fell open like a goldfish’s.
“Did you lose something?”
Yuni had a sweet, high-pitched voice, exactly what anyone would have expected after hearing her songs and experiencing her alternative style. All Ceri could manage was a meek squeal in response, words caught in her throat along with the emotional lump that threatened to give way to joyful tears any second.
“We can’t find her ticket.”
The three of them instantly set to work on finding it. Ceri was still on the floor, Aaron seemingly couldn’t decide between crawling and walking, and Yuni tip-toed around, playfully shoving Aaron every time her thighs received a thwack from the end of his guitar.
“Ooh! I’ve got it!” Ceri cried triumphantly, holding up her ticket like a miniature trophy.
“Hey, what’s your name?” Yuni asked, flicking her doll-like eyes over her fan with a kind smile of approval.
“Ceridwen. But everyone calls me Ceri.”
“Nice name.” Ceri barely thanked her before she continued. “Get back to your row and, when the show’s over, join us at the Meet and Greet.”
“But I didn’t get those tickets…”
“My treat,” Yuni explained in a warm, comforting tone. “I’ll get the men to let you through.”
“Thank you so much!”
With a polite bow of her head and a bubbly farewell, Ceri scuttled back to her friends, excitement building within her by the millisecond. They greeted her with squeaks of delight as she briefly spilled about her encounter with Yuni and Aaron. Just as she opened her mouth to describe the mysterious male musician they had never heard of before, the lights dimmed and the stadium erupted with cheers. A figure wandered into the spotlight, followed by three others who all took their positions by various instruments typical of a standard British boy band. As he leaned forward, pressing his lips against the cool metal of the microphone and introducing his band, F.A.S.T, Ceri realised in astonishment that it was Aaron. Of all people, the young man, or rather teen that was barely older than herself, had been given the fantastic opportunity to support Yuni here in London. She frantically tapped anyone she could reach, telling all of her friends (plus a few strangers!): “That’s Aaron! That’s Aaron!”.
He saw the commotion out of the corner of his eye and noticed Ceri, immediately recognising her handless arm. One cheeky wink thrown in her direction later, and the amplifiers were blasting drums, guitars, a bass and some heart-stopping vocals throughout the stadium. The entire structure was practically trembling with the sheer volume, but that only itensified once Yuni appeared on stage. Ceri’s intestines shivered in her stomach like a rattle snake sending out its warning. Each beat of the drums sent it shaking more and more until a stampede of wild horses bolted in the pit of her stomach.
The show flew by in a wicked mix of flashing lights and terrifically loud music. Every fan cheered, screamed, shouted and sung as noisily as their diaphragms would allow, testing their music limits with every breath they took.
“I’m so, so excited! I just –”
Cherry’s already shrill voice was cut short as she caught a glimpse of Yuni again, this time off stage. All five girls were bounding through the halls, following signs in a desperate attempt to get to the Meet and Greet as soon as possible. Connor and Thatcher tagged along behind, jogging every few steps to keep up with their energetic friends.
After what felt like forever, they all finally reached a set of double doors with two security guards stood either side, as straight as the strong pillars found outside large mansions and palaces. Ceri, after being hesitant and therefore shoved forward by Bella, tried to explain her lack of special ticket, but the expressionless guard cut her off.
“Is ‘Ceri’ the name?”
“That is the name – err – my name, I mean.”
Just like the others, Ceri could hardly think straight, her mind racing with jumbled thoughts and untamed excitement. A huge crowd of special ticket holders had followed them on the winding route backstage, adding to the mental mess of sound and confusion. Yet another jolly roar from the crowd announced the opening of the doors and the first group was admitted.
Many tears, hugs and elated squeals of delight later, Yuni, Aaron and the remainder of F.A.S.T huddled around Ceri and her friends for some photos.
“Hey, Ceri,” Aaron said after the final photo, his arm still draped over her shoulders. “I’m really sorry about earlier. I don’t normally carry my guitar around. It’s easier to focus on just singing, you know?”
Ceri nodded and grinned as if she could relate. She couldn’t at all. Any singing she did wasn’t good enough to warrant accompaniment, and she had never bothered to learn an instrument. Of course, there was that one time that Bella had insisted on teaching her how to play the ukulele, but that only lasted one session as Ceri couldn’t tell an C chord from an A minor.
“See you later! Aaron called after the group as they eventually left the room, their arms clutching precious bundles of Yuni merchandise.
In a respectful manner, everyone had selected a small something from F.A.S.T’s collection, too. Every item of clothing and every polaroid picture, all taken with Cherry’s favourite camera, had been signed, and Tasmin had even politely asked the security guards to sign hers to thank them for their work. After all, there had been no problems so it was the nicest thing she could think of.
“Come on, guys!”
“We don’t want any of you getting left behind!”
“Geez! You two are really acting like a couple,” Cherry giggled, rolling her eyes as she hopped over the gap between the train and the platform.
“Completely,” Thatcher added rigidly, arms stiff by his side – military style.
Connor and Bella hummed in unison, each raising an eyebrow. Everyone could tell there was a secret being hidden beneath blunt answers and not-very-tactful avoidance. The only clever method Tasmin and Thatcher had was mentioning Yuni, and that sent everyone spiralling into yet another discussion of their favourite artist.
The repetitive thud of the drums, from that day onwards, was ever-present in their hearts, and the gentle strumming of Aaron’s guitar from when he fiddled nervously between songs would stick with Ceri forever. But no one knew, not even Ceri herself. Without a doubt, the highlight of the event had been everything to do with Yuni, although the supporting band had been much more impressive than anyone could have expected.
Ceri fell into the front room the next day, her mouth opening the instant she saw her parents. Her words tumbled out into the space, and as her parents struggled to piece her sentences together. They figured out roughly what had gone on; Ceri had had a wonderful night out with her friends. Through some magical chance, she had been fortunate enough to speak to Yuni. On and on she rambled about a new band…F.A.S.T, was it? Who knew? Ceri barely took a breath – she was speaking so fast! Neither of her parents could really tell what on Earth she was babbling about. They had gathered that Yuni’s performance had gone well, amazingly well, but who was Aaron again? And why was he hitting people with his guitar?!
This is the sixth part of a short story by Heather. Follow Heather on Instagram and Wattpad @centaur_h. Stay tuned for the next part!