Grace had her pants around her ankles when she heard the bus pull up near her car. She had to piss so badly, and knew she wasn’t going to make it to the next rest stop. Her best friend Amy was supposed to be standing watch, but of
Grace and Amy’s adventure started at 6 am that morning. Amy had heard on the radio that the first five people to arrive at the Megastar Arena would get backstage passes to meet Toxic Dart, the best punk band alive. Who cared if the singer Liam was slightly whiny and wore more makeup than she did? So what if the guitarist Gannon was burning hotel rooms every third Thursday? Their lyrics were freaking awesome and, man, were they hot in that skinny jeans and black eyeliner kind of way.
“We need to drive to the Megastar Arena,” Amy squealed as she barreled through Grace’s front door. Her blonde hair was tossed together in a sloppy bun. Amy was rarely disheveled, but this was eyeliner an emergency. She also never knocked, but Grace was used to her invasions. This time, she nearly pulled the door off the hinges.
“Megastar is four hours away, Amy,” Grace said, always the voice of reason in the friendship. “And I have a midterm tomorrow. Professor Hardwicke is killing me this semester.”
“UM, GRACE?!” Amy yelled. “Toxic Dart. We are driving there to meet Toxic Dart.”
“First five people get backstage passes to hang out with them,” Amy explained. “We need to go. I need to touch Gannon’s abs.”
Grace went numb. Meet Toxic Dart. Like, in person. She had been obsessed with them since her sophomore year of high school. Now a freshman in college, her love for them just got stronger. She knew that she needed the day to study for her midterm, but holy crap, Toxic Dart. She wanted to run her fingers through Liam’s unnaturally black hair.
“I’ll get directions, oh my god,” Grace squeaked as she ran to her laptop.
The directions seemed fairly straightforward. The girls packed Grace’s 1989 ice blue Corolla as quickly as they could. Snacks, water, cute outfits to change into, toothbrushes and toothpaste in case they got to make out with band members, and of course, deodorant and body spray. They also made sure their iPhones were loaded with Toxic Dart hits so that every lyric was fresh in their minds. Radio stations sometimes made people take a pop quiz for backstage passes.
“So when we meet them,” Amy planned as she put on makeup in the passenger seat. “We can’t be, like, screechy and like ‘oh my god I love you guys!’”
“Yeah, we can’t be creepers,” Grace agreed, glancing in the rearview mirror to make sure she looked okay. Even though it was a long drive, she wanted to stay as fresh as possible. She hated how her curly brown locks got frizzy after a few hours and worried she’d look a wreck when she got there. “Make sure you keep up with the directions, Amy, ‘cause my GPS sucks and always tells me to turn left into buildings and lakes.”
“Ugh, that’s so annoying!” Amy yelled dramatically. “But we are on this road for a while so we are good. Anyway, I hope Gannon isn’t on drugs today. Like, I hope he went to rehab this week ‘cause it would suck if he were all high when we hooked up.”
“I know, right?” Grace agreed.
“And hopefully Liam isn’t crying the whole time,” Amy continued. “That would be total crap for you. But I guess we could always go to our next tier.”
“I call dibs on Greg,” Grace said. She thought the bassist had really sweet eyes.
“Oh good because I think Brian is pretty hot, and he’s a drummer so that’s, like, super-hot because he rages back there. He puts his whole body into it.”
Three hours in and Grace trusted that Amy wasn’t paying attention. Grace should’ve known better. When she saw signs for Cooper Lake, she knew they weren’t where they should be.
“Amy, you were supposed to keep track of the directions!”
“I did! I am!” Amy yelled. “Wait, Exit 3? Dude, we were supposed to take Exit 24. We went too far. Crap.”
The sound that came out of Grace’s throat was tri-harmonic, as if she had channeled Satan’s best demon to punish Amy for her transgressions. The rage she felt was palpable and climbing swiftly up her body.
“I’m sorry!” Amy cried. “I was lost in thought about Gannon!”
“Well, it’s all for nothing ‘cause we’ll never get there in time to be in the first five!” Grace howled. “I knew I should’ve just stayed home to study! Why do I listen to you?!”
They drove in silence as they backtracked on the highway to find Exit 24. Knowing Grace would kill her at a moment’s notice, Amy took very small, quiet inhales and exhales. If she made a sound or moved, Grace may stab her.
Exit 20, only four exits away…
Exit 21… 22… and then traffic came to a complete stop. Bumper to bumper.
“Bye bye meeting and possibly making out with band members,” Grace hissed under her breath. Amy cowered further away from Grace. If she could phase out the car door, she would.
“I have to pee,” Grace stated. “We can forget about meeting them, but if I don’t pull over and pee, like right now, I’m going to puke.”
Grace forced her way through the traffic until she was safely on the shoulder. There were enough trees to conceal her as she relieved herself on the side of the road. She grabbed a travel pack of tissues and headed toward the trees, telling Amy to stand guard and make sure police officers didn’t find her urinating off the highway. The last thing Grace needed was to be arrested.
Grace had her pants around her ankles when she heard the bus pull up near her car. Her best friend Amy was supposed to be standing watch, but of course she wandered off.
Or did she…
“Do you know another way around this traffic?” the male voice purred. The voice was like a warm blanket on a frigid winter night. Why did he sound so familiar? Grace finished her business and ran back to the car.
In front of her was a tour bus. Next to the tour bus stood the lanky, black-clad members of Toxic Dart. And in front of them, a silent, wide-eyed Amy.
“Ohmygodohmygodohmygod…” Amy whispered. Grace was frozen.
“Hello?” Liam nudged. “Are you alright, darling?”
“Darling…” Amy whispered. Grace pulled herself together and ran up to the band. She didn’t remember what she said. She mumbled something about back roads and her stupid GPS, and that they may be able to pick up Route 8 from the next exit. The band thanked them and got back into their bus. Liam winked at them before the door closed.
Grace and Amy stood on the side of the road for about ten minutes. Neither one moved or said a word. Toxic Dart. In front of them. Asking for directions.
“You think we can follow them? Maybe make out a little?” Amy asked smiling.