“I told you we’d make it to the
sunshine one day, you just got there a little quicker. . .” – Tupac Shakur
“Lillian, pay attention! This is
important. One screw-up and one of the guys could be burned.”
“I’m sorry, Thompsen,” Lillian replied contritely. She knew that
his demonstration was important because it dealt with pyrotechnics, and anytime
fire and explosives were involved everyone had to pay extra attention.
She had been distracted because in the middle of the empty stadium she
could see the band getting warmed up, and Justin was on the stage chatting with
a few of the musicians. He was messing with their instruments and generally
being a pest while they were attempting to tune their guitars and horns.
Furtively sneaking another glance at the elevated platform, she couldn’t help
but giggle as JC approached his friend and almost dragged him away bodily.
Justin waved innocently to the band as they spoke as one, “Go away!”
“Ms. Oswald, do you need another warning?!” Thompsen snapped. He was
the supervisor of the tech crew, and although Lillian didn’t like to harbor
any ill will towards anyone, he was turning out to be an exception. She was the
only female on the whole tech crew, and Thompsen enjoyed lording it over her
more than any other person.
“No, sir. I’m paying attention,” she replied dutifully. The tour
was turning out to be high school revisited, only in a stadium instead of a
classroom. The snickering peers, the condescending instructor, and the futile
crush. If she knew that the internship would have been like this, she never
would have accepted the position.
Thompsen droned on again, enjoying the sound of his own voice. Suddenly,
he frowned to himself. Another crew member asked what was wrong, and he
answered, “Nothing, just . . . I’m not sure this will work. If these are
attached to their wrists, the trajectory of the sparks could be altered due to a
slight wind. We can’t risk that.”
Lillian piped up with an idea. “If we just change the voltage of the
wrist packs, then it would produce a thinner stream of sparks, but more
concentrated too. Also, putting fireproof wristbands around the packs could
prevent any possible burns.”
The ten other interns from around the country turned to look at her in
surprise. This was the first time she had spoken in front of them for so long.
Then as a group they swiveled their gazes back to Thompsen, to gauge his
reaction. He didn’t disappoint them.
“Oswald, I will tell you if I need your interruptions. Don’t try to
be an upstart smartass. You might be number one in your college class, but here
we have the best of the best. Try to keep your thoughts and ideas to a higher
standard,” he sneered at her.
Lillian was astonished. People never spoke to her that way. At least not
to her face, and not in front of an interested crowd. She quickly nodded and
mumbled a quick apology before staring down at the ground. I hate this. I
wish I was in my dorm room, talking to Karen on the phone. What a dream come
true. More like a nightmare.
After finally finishing up his lecture and demo, Thompsen let the group
go and have some free time. Like always, Lillian went to sit in one of the front
row seats with a good view of the stage. The band was warming up now, having at
last ended adjusting their instruments and equipment. She watched as the guys
from ‘N Sync fooled around on the stage, improvising their own silly dance
moves to accompany the music.
Joey seemed fascinated with the fine art of pelvic thrusts, and Chris was
doing his own crack-head version of the Macarena. JC fairly bounced to the beat
on his toes, and Lance seemed too self-conscious to do anything more than bob
his head. Justin was a completely different story. He concentrated all his
efforts in perfecting the choreographed moves, while putting little actions in
to embellish the routine and make it his own. He even began to sing along to the
Lillian stared at him, intrigued. Suddenly, he stopped and walked over to
JC, who had begun talking to one of the girls from makeup. He sneaked behind
JC’s back and began freak-dancing, pretending to grind up against his friend.
The tall blonde girl was a receptive audience, and shouted with laughter. JC
finally realized something was up and spun around quickly.
“Justin!” he shouted. “Try not to freak unsuspecting bystanders.”
Justin grinned at him in reply and launched into a song. “I like big
butts and I cannot lie, all you other brothers can’t deny, that when a girl
walks in with an itty bitty waist and a round thing in your face you get-“
“SPRUNG!” the others shouted. Justin, encouraged by their
participation, shook his rear like there was no tomorrow. Joey whooped and
joined in the fun, while the band shook their heads at another practice being
spoiled. JC groaned, then shrugged as if saying If you can’t beat ‘em,
Justin pulled the blonde girl up onto the stage, and they preceded to get
extremely close. To Lillian, it looked like they were trying to meld their
bodies into one. The girl smiled up coyly at Justin while his strong arms snugly
held her to him and lowered his head to whisper in her ear. Abruptly, Lillian
turned away from the scene. It seemed too personal.
During the lunch break, all the harried crew and band members gathered in
the backstage area around several long folding tables to dig into the various
subs and snacks. Lance was peeking cautiously under the bread of one sandwich to
examine the ingredients when his friend grabbed it from his hands and took a
“Chris, please! Close your mouth when you freakin’ chew! You’re
like a cow.”
“Your mom’s like a cow,” Chris mumbled through the meat and bread
in his mouth, “in BED.”
“I can’t believe you just said that,” Lance said wide-eyed. “So
rude. I don’t even know who you are anymore,” he finished
passionately, pretending to wipe a tear from his eye.
“I’m Chris,” came the deadpan response.
Before Lance could say anything else, someone jumped on his back and
almost knocked him into the soda bin. He staggered to get his balance, then
managed to shrug the person off him.
“Joey?! What is this, Harass Lance and His Mom Day?” he cried out
exasperated, rolling his expressive eyes.
“We gotta get our kicks some way, and Lancey-baby, you are it!”
Joey smiled at him exuberantly.
“Thank you, Joseph, that means a lot to me. Ugh,” he groaned.
“Look, it’s Justin. You can pick on him. He’s the baby anyway.”
Justin approached the group, with food cradled in one arm and a tall,
statuesque girl hanging on the other. She was chattering to him, while he nodded
He pulled her up to his friends and introduced her. “Guys, this is
Elaine. She works in makeup. Elaine, you know everyone here.”
Elaine flipped her perfectly styled golden hair over her shoulder and
extended a well-manicured hand to each of them, smiling brightly at them all.
“Hi! Wow, I was on your last tour too, but I never got to meet any of
you! Now I can die happy!” she exclaimed cheerfully. Her attitude was
contagious, and the others immediately grinned back at her.
“It’s nice to meet you, angel. I can’t believe you were here all
this time and I never noticed! Shame on me,” Joey leered at her, falling into
his Casanova act. She giggled in reply, and flipped her hair again.
Chris offered her a bag of chips, but she declined politely. Lance just
offered a small smile in greeting, then looked at Justin, who was busily
stuffing his food into his mouth.
“Hey, I gotta get going, I have to call my mom. I’ll see you later,
Justin nodded, then turned all his attention back to his food. Chris
couldn’t resist one last jab at his retreating friend.
“Tell your mom I said hi!”
are you? I'm great! Today I met Justin and he told me that we would have to get
together sometime. All the guys in the group have been so nice, and the tech
crew has given me such an opportunity to express my ideas. I know you’ve been
dying to hear about my endless adventures on this tour, so here they are. But
actually, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Reality: I have made no friends, no one
respects me, and I am having the biggest pity party for myself. Hey, you’re
invited! I don’t know what I’m
doing here. I am out of my league, I just wish I were back in my tiny
room reading a good book. That’s
all that’s new with me, I guess. Write back.
Wait, there is another thing I want to tell you. Here’s something for
the gossip mill. But don’t tell
anyone. Remember, a secret. There’s this girl, Elaine, and she’s
beautiful, self-assured, bubbly. Like
you. Only, she’s got a mean streak. I’m her roommate, and she can
barely manage to be civil to a lowly
peasant like me. But anyway, her and Justin have been getting awfully
close lately. So yes, that’s
another dream for me, shot down. Lillian: 0. World: 2
She inspected her message one last
time before hitting the “send” button. She regretted that she had no good
news to tell Karen and the email was so glum, but her situation on the tour just
got worse and worse. Thompsen seemed to have a personal vendetta against her. He
would treat any other member of the female species with a simpering attitude,
but as soon as she came into view he would turn mean. She couldn’t figure out
why, either. Maybe he only respects remotely attractive women.
She groaned silently to herself. She had to stop having such a
pessimistic attitude. It didn’t help things any. It was a few minutes before
midnight, and she was up in her room alone. Elaine, after dropping some things
off and checking her appearance in the mirror, breezed out the door to check out
the hotel lobby’s social scene. Lillian herself didn’t feel up to standing
around aimlessly in a busy lobby, and opted instead to stay in the room.
Twenty minutes later, she shut the laptop with frustration. She was
absolutely bored out of her mind. Might as well leave. Maybe I can take a
walk or something.
She left the room, remembering to grab her room card, and headed to the
elevators at the end of the hall. As she turned the corner, she heard some
laughter and cursing.
“Stop it. I am so serious, Lance. Get your damn foot out of the
“Haha, this is revenge, buddy. Insult my mom, face the consequences.”
Lance was having the time of his life, annoying Chris to no end. He had stepped
out of the elevator to go get some money from his room when he had suddenly
turned, and right before the elevator doors slid close, stuck his shoe in their
path. That was five minutes ago. Things had gotten progressively worse.
“I am gonna kill you. Stop it!” Chris whined.
“I don’t think so! I could do this forever and ever and ever
“Stooooop!” Chris cut him off, screaming now. “I’m sorry.
I will never make fun of your mom again. I will be your slave for eternity. I
will be her slave for eternity. Come on, I need to go back down! There
was this girl! Hot! You know what I’m saying? Please, Scoop!”
Lance tapped his chin, pretending to be thinking over Chris’ offer, all
the while keeping his foot jammed in place. He ignored his friend’s attempts
to kick it out of the way. He heard a noise behind him, and looked to see who it
“Um, I could just take the stairs,” Lillian mumbled quickly. She had
frozen at the green gaze, and after a few moments had forced her mouth to say
something. Unfortunately, as soon as she said it, another pair of eyes turned to
regard her, this time dark brown.
Lance realized how stupid he and Chris looked to the casual observer, and
swiftly jerked his foot out of the way. The elevator doors immediately slid
close, cutting off Chris’ protest. He turned back to the petite girl who was
still standing several feet away.
“I’m sorry, we were being immature. Long story, you don’t want to
know,” he offered, walking towards her.
She looked at him nervously, then gave him a tentative smile. “That’s
okay, I’m not in a hurry or anything. Besides, it looked like you were having
Lance laughed at that comment. He sure was having fun. But he had to
remember his manners. “Hi, I’m Lance Bass,” he greeted, sticking out his
hand and shaking her much smaller one.
“Lillian,” she replied. “You didn’t have to introduce yourself.
Along with more than half the teenage population in the country, I already know
who you are.”
“Well, it’s just so much nicer this way, right?”
She smiled widely at him and nodded. He was being so friendly. Not at all
acting like a pampered celebrity. She immediately felt comfortable. Well, as
comfortable as any girl could be talking to Lance Bass.
He was stunned for a moment at seeing her face completely change as she
smiled. It was a prime example of the type of smile that could light a room. Her
ordinary features rearranged themselves in a way that made her seem almost
beautiful. The next thing he did surprised him. It wasn’t something that he
did often, but he just felt compelled to do it.
“Do you want to come with me to my room? I mean so I can pick something
up. Then we can go downstairs and talk some more.”
Lillian looked taken aback by the offer, but quickly agreed. This was the
most fortunate thing to happen to her since the tour began. He gave her a smile,
and they went off together.