“One, two, one two three four…”
Shannon eyed her friend airily as they walked. “Will you hold it? People on the street will think you’re crazy.”
“Practicing helps me not be so nervous,” Mana replied.
“Well I know that, but can’t you wait a minute?” Shannon sighed. “Hey, thanks for staying behind with me.”
“What was I supposed to do, leave you to make the trip yourself? We have to look out for each other.”
She absent-mindedly adjusted the shoulder strap of her guitar. “Mmm…”
“Keiko’s there already, right?”
“Ya. She went with the roadies. Taco’ll be there in half an hour. Haven’t you checked your phone?”
At this Mana started digging into her pocket. “No. I’ve been practicing.”
“The whole time you were waiting for me? Seriously?”
“I’m very serious,” Mana replied.
Shannon shook her head. “Too serious.”
“Seriousness is good.”
“All in moderation. And anyway, you aren’t serious. You’re just nervous.”
Once they got onto the bus, Shannon found an empty pair of seats, scooted in next to the window, and straddled her guitar between her knees. Mana plopped down beside her and dropped her backpack to the floor. Their instruments and looks drew a few curious glances, but otherwise the other passengers paid them no mind, and the driver was quiet and amiable.
As the bus got going Mana pulled out two pairs of headphones from her backpack. “Here,” she said as she handed one to Shannon. “Long drive. You can listen to the whole album.”
“I ain’t listening to the whole album,” Shannon retorted. She put the headphones on anyway, plugged the jack into her cell phone, and started blasting the setlist for their upcoming concert. Next to her, Mana did the same, eyes closed and gently air drumming. It wasn’t really practice, but it was something – and Shannon had been right. They both needed to settle their nerves.
We’re ready, Shannon told herself. She gazed out the window as she ran through the songs in her mind, focusing on her parts, her solos, letting the music flow. Her guitar parts wove over and through Taco’s lead, Mana’s drumming, and Keiko’s bass and vocals, and hearing the recorded version of the songs once again, not as they should be but as they might be, helped to calm her. This wasn’t their first live show, but even so, experience hadn’t yet worked its supposed magic. In Mana, that was very clearly apparent; Shannon didn’t express it nearly as much, but internally she felt like she was going to burst. She put the setlist on replay, closed her eyes for a while, and started planning ideas for their next concert as a distraction.
“Shannon… Shannon.” At some point Mana jabbed her on the shoulder abruptly, drawing her out of her thoughts.
She paused the music and eyed her bandmate. “What?”
Mana pointed out the window. Shannon followed her arm with her eyes, peering up into the gray sky.
“Woah…” she whispered.
“A rainbow without rain?” Mana chuckled and leaned back into her seat. “Now that’s gotta be a good omen, right?… Right, Shannon?”
She shook her head. “A good omen for what?”