Second Chances (NaNoWriMo 2016) - Chapter 6 | Penana

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Second Chances (NaNoWriMo 2016)
Writer Ruby Iodine
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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Second Chances (NaNoWriMo 2016)
A - A - A
Chapter 6
Ruby Iodine
Nov 15, 2016
21 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!2KerSmKy9MrjJkqGRHxGposted on PENANA

The rest of the week turns out to be better than expected.copyright protection157PENANAkTvsxEQnSb

I’ve slowly started to regain my bearings on novel-writing again, but this time I’ve learnt a lot since the last time I’ve written anything. Personal experience, work experience, stories shared by actual writers who are past clients—non-fiction stories, of course, about their own journey through writing their novels. I might’ve underestimated the task but I’ll never know unless I try.copyright protection157PENANA6UWkmOG6mP

And so, I did.copyright protection157PENANASN9B8Ah0hP

And by Wednesday morning, I’ve arrived to my first writer’s block.copyright protection157PENANAGBIb4fQUDJ

And yes, many might say it’s too quick for me to have my first writer’s block just four days after my return to novel-writing. I’ve had writer’s blocks before, whenever I feel uninspired or unmotivated to type anything into the blank page before me, staring at me in the face and mocking me, but I just didn’t expect to get one so quickly.copyright protection157PENANA6JD23ZRK6e

Izzy’s gone for the day, too. Her cousin is having her sixteenth birthday party and my roommate, being a freelance photographer, agreed to be their resident photographer throughout the event. The Cross family is quite a wealthy one, too—the birthday party is held in a Ritz Carlton hotel in the big city not far from here, but it takes at least two hours to drive there and that is if there’s no traffic, so I declined when she offered me to come with her. And besides, what the hell can I do in a sixteen-year-old’s birthday party?copyright protection157PENANAAY2JAajSaB

I regret it now. After spending about half an hour staring at the screen and biting my nails to the point they’ve started to bleed, I decided to step out earlier to buy some coffee, just as a quick pick-me-up, then opted to buy lunch as well since I’ll be too lazy to walk out of the house again at noon. I was kinda hoping to meet Cam at the coffee shop again, though, maybe telling him that I’ve decided to follow through with his advice and start writing again. But other than the usual barista, there was nobody there whom I recognized, so I went back home to sulk in my own thoughts and pondering where to go next in the story.copyright protection157PENANAHRdq2hGTbj

I’m not going to call him, if anything—that’s the last thing I want to do right now, because it’ll seem like I’m desperate to meet him again, which I’m not. What’s even worse is that I don’t even know what to say to him if I do, and it’ll end up as the worst, most uncomfortable phone conversation in the history of cellphones itself.copyright protection157PENANACi2gk6gcRm

Somehow, I eventually find my way back to the Internet, and for some reason I wandered to Facebook, the outdated social media website who nobody uses anymore except people over the age of thirty, including my own mother. A few of my old high school friends and also my college friends have sent friend requests to me, though, probably just so that we wouldn’t lose contact with each other. After browsing through every one of them, since the last time I opened this goddamn thing was like five months ago, my eyes land on one name that struck a bell in my mind.copyright protection157PENANAqrksbVDvNO

I accept the friend request and it turns out she’s online. Not long after, a chat notification popped up.copyright protection157PENANA6uFjVIBBCN

Emily Torres: Hi Emma! How are you?copyright protection157PENANAUf5Xvp4LBV

I can’t help but smile.copyright protection157PENANA72msvyn83a

Me: Hi, Emily. I’m fine. And you?copyright protection157PENANAX9FCtBl5cY

Emily: Oh, I’m doing great! After all, my book’s finally getting published!copyright protection157PENANAS6dX4In8uY

Me: Oh, really? That’s great, then!copyright protection157PENANA3B1q4wZsE2

Emily: Yeah, one of the publishers I contacted has agreed to publish it. There’s just one problem, though; I’d really like it if you’re the one editing it for me. I can ask them if they need another editor in their company if you want to.copyright protection157PENANACCbifFTAK6

I almost choke on air reading her last message. I start thinking twice about what I’m about to say next; should I accept the offer, or should I turn it down to keep this dream alive?copyright protection157PENANAyCdLzhuXpY

Me: Oh, that won’t be necessary, Emily. I already have another job in mind.copyright protection157PENANAWtAXUFtT78

Emily: Would you mind if I ask what it is then? :)copyright protection157PENANAVKK73ZNWAx

Me: Don’t take this personally or think that I’m copying off you or anything, but... I’m trying out to be a writer myself?copyright protection157PENANA39agVKxpHX

The reply takes a bit too long than I expected, but the response is rather surprising.copyright protection157PENANAoDrYAlE3fL

Emily: OMG, really? That’s awesome! That’s a level up, if anything! That means I don’t have to list all the things you’ll miss out on if you want to continue being an editor. Well, I guess editors get a fixed salary and there’s no guarantee that us novelists get royalties as soon as we publish our books, but I’ve regretted nothing since I’ve started. Good for you then!copyright protection157PENANAcbvXjyW6vx

Me: Hehe, thanks. Wow, I didn’t expect you to react like this.copyright protection157PENANAEyGOOByl1f

Emily: What, did you think I’m gonna go all out aggressive on you? The writing process itself will do that for me... Just kidding :p but seriously, us writers gotta stick together through tough situations. Hey, maybe we can do a collaboration sometime? Or, even better, I can hook you up with this new publisher once you finish your first novel! Or be writing buddies in NaNoWriMo!copyright protection157PENANAjpSKos62wm

I’ve heard of NaNoWriMo before—the National Novel Writing Month thing every November. I’ve never dared myself to take on the challenge though, and I don’t think that I’ll join even after I finish this one.copyright protection157PENANANJxjGRRCXn

Me: That would be great. Thank you, honestly.copyright protection157PENANA9CVQqKrY5s

Emily: No prob! ;) I gotta go now; more moving stuff to do, you know. But good luck with your novel! I wish you all the best for your future!copyright protection157PENANAeoS69gzfj6

Me: You too. Bye :)copyright protection157PENANAB6P9qv0i8Y

Emily is offline.copyright protection157PENANAFiAA80kzZq

Well, that’s the end of that, I think. I’m still in shock by how well that conversation went through. After facing Gregg last Monday, I’ve nearly lost faith in humanity and how far their ego has gone up to the point that we insult each other without a bat of an eyelid. But after talking with Emily again, maybe there is still some good in this world, without involving magic taxis and friendly ex-boyfriends.copyright protection157PENANA2dPUkYbUeu

The weekend arrives all too soon and I don’t even realize it—one of the things I still need to get used to since I’m technically considered ‘unemployed.’copyright protection157PENANA0PBPY1kZjs

Another I don’t realize is that I actually made a reminder on my phone’s calendar that today’s the music festival Cam told me about. I’d asked Drew if he wanted to attend the festival with me and he said yes, with some hesitation, but it was the confirmation I needed along with Izzy’s so I could tell Cam we were going. And Izzy was just more than happy to be hired as a photographer there.copyright protection157PENANAXYLyzTyUty

I called Cam this time and told him the news. He said he would send me the tickets through mail—which he did and just arrived yesterday—only because he said he was too busy to meet me in person to give it himself. He had the event organizers call Izzy for the job, too, and even though the event is tonight, Izzy was already picking out her outfits since this morning.copyright protection157PENANAlvMbq7aC1o

“You’re working, Izzy,” I say, shaking my head as she continues comparing dresses in front of her ceiling-to-floor mirror. “You’re not there to flirt with the crowd, or the performers.”copyright protection157PENANA61dHQcJbb3

“Well, you never know,” she retorts, not even looking in my direction. She shrugs, hangs the dresses back up then opens the other side of her wardrobe. “It’s gonna be outdoors, isn’t it? I think a tank top and jean shorts are appropriate for this one, don’t you think so?”copyright protection157PENANAE92pHCigwM

“I think you should stop worrying about how you look like because you’re still gonna be a thousand times more drop-dead gorgeous than I am.”copyright protection157PENANAPShB3IIdkJ

“If that’s so, then I would be the one having a CEO of a huge company with looks to absolutely die for as a boyfriend. Then again, he can be a dick sometimes…”copyright protection157PENANACrLP9B2SNe

“Not always, only sometimes—very rarely, even,” I say in defense. “When can you two finally bury the hatchet? I don’t want my best friend to constantly slip snide remarks into conversations with him whenever you two meet. Real life is not always a YA novel, you know.”copyright protection157PENANAVroYR5A9l6

“Better safe than sorry, Em,” she says, pulling out a pale tank top and light blue jean shorts from her wardrobe. “And now for the shoes…”copyright protection157PENANAVaZdM3Wvgh

All right, I can’t take any more of this.copyright protection157PENANAeSIZIRBLJo

“Well, you do you, and make sure you finally make your mind about what you’re gonna wear for tonight because we’re leaving in an hour.”copyright protection157PENANAZFQoDHtdRP

And within the next hour, she has indeed finished preparing, complete with make-up and everything. I’ve already finished taking a shower and prepping up as well, choosing a more conservative outfit because I already am in a relationship; denim jacket, floral top and ripped jeans along with a pair of sneakers. I don’t put too much make-up on and left my dirty-blonde hair the way it is, and just as I leave my room with my purse and phone in my hands, a car honk echoes from outside.copyright protection157PENANAkN0k1MnXiD

“Our ride is here,” I tell Izzy, who’s still fussing about her camera by the living room couch. As soon as she hears my voice, she starts to hurry and pack her stuff up before heading to the front door.copyright protection157PENANAewwWwfO80y

The same car that picked us up at the airport is right in front of our house and Izzy starts freaking out because of how expensive Drew’s car is compared to hers. Vincent is already standing beside the back door, greeting me with a smile which I return as I drag Izzy all the way into the car. Drew is already sitting inside, wearing a casual outfit for once—a black t-shirt with a few open buttons on the top and dark jeans. I grin upon seeing him, but Izzy’s panic attack immediately dies out and she turns to glare at him.copyright protection157PENANAx0dnoR4S5W

“Andrew,” she says with some contempt in her voice, something that he usually ignores most of the time they meet.copyright protection157PENANAHqJIKKv7IN

“Isabelle,” he responds as well, with the exact same tone.copyright protection157PENANALWkhTRxIZx

And here I am, sitting in the middle of the two.copyright protection157PENANAgwyuUXlZPr

Vincent closes the door and returns to the driver seat.copyright protection157PENANAVxRFfBpLI8

“Next stop, Town Square.”copyright protection157PENANAyt5SLYKiGJ

I sigh, leaning against Andrew’s arm as he looks out the window, with Izzy looking out hers. It’s a good thing that the square isn’t too far away from where we live compared to where Drew lives, which is in a penthouse all the way in the big city. He’s been begging me to move in with him since a year ago, and though typical girlfriends would jump at the earliest chance to get to live in a penthouse, I refused just because I still had the determined mindset to prove that I can be fine on my own without my boyfriend providing for me. Not to mention how Izzy would react knowing that she will have to pay all the rent instead of just half of it.copyright protection157PENANAQXgpramM9c

The ride is short, as expected and much to my relief because we can finally break the awkward silence with shock and awe from how crowded it is. The square, which used to be just a regular park with a wide clearing in the center, has been turned into a full-blown festivities area, like the fourth of July or New Year’s Eve. Tents have been set up by the side of the main pathway that leads to the stage in the back, where the backstage people are still setting up the instruments to be ready to perform live as well as a disc jockey table behind them. Banners hang from the sides of the stage and on lamp posts, which have also been adorned with string lights. People are starting to flock in, approaching the food tents and sitting on picnic blankets as they wait for the event to begin.copyright protection157PENANAd5K5KZGaLp

We step out of the car and walk towards the venue, with Izzy quickly telling us she needs to meet the organizers first before the event starts, bidding us a short goodbye before rushing ahead and disappearing to the backstage area. I watch her figure vanishing from my line of sight and turn to Drew, who has pulled out a pair of sunglasses and put it on. I don’t even question his actions—he’s constantly paranoid that someone might recognize him and start flocking around him like he’s some famous Hollywood actor. Understandable, ever since he was named as one of the top 50 hottest bachelor entrepreneurs once.copyright protection157PENANAijSncEmWX3

It’s only a good thing that nobody knows about us being together, otherwise I’ll be as paranoid as he is to step out of the house, too.copyright protection157PENANAGN0Wcr7zeg

“So, why are we here again?” he asks, scanning around the area as he puts an arm around my shoulder and start to walk towards the increasing crowd in front of the stage.copyright protection157PENANAMslwx6wdgh

“Well, Cameron offered us a couple of VIP tickets,” I tell him, poking his stomach. He doesn’t flinch. “And I figured this would be a fantastic date night thing, you know? I know it’s different from a fancy, five-star restaurant, but change is good. This change is good. We can just be outside, underneath the moon and the stars, enjoying some great music. I heard Louis Castro is playing tonight—that new up and rising DJ I told you about? He’s the type of musician who can get platinum singles right there.”copyright protection157PENANACyAvWNaiK7

“Cameron? As in Cameron Hood, your ex? I thought you haven’t spoken to him in ages.”copyright protection157PENANAmqUmn7OuH3

“Well, we just… happened to meet a while ago, and he got some spare tickets so I figured, ‘why not?’” When his frown doesn’t falter, I poke his stomach again. “We were friends before we started dating, Drew, and the break-up was mutual. You can’t be antagonistic towards all of my friends, can you?”copyright protection157PENANAKtv602dwgt

He presses his lips to a thin line but he relents, shrugging as he tears his gaze away from me. “As long as he keeps his distance from my girl, I’m fine with it.”copyright protection157PENANANT2opYczhW

We reach the food stands area, trying to avoid the center of attention while just enjoying the sweet moment between the two of us while it lasts. As Drew disappears to buy a couple bottles of fruit juice for the two of us, I take the time to try and contact Cameron—if he offered us tickets to the event, he must be here himself, right?copyright protection157PENANAGEmB0JJPdq

I dial his number and wait, all the while keeping my eyes on Drew. At the second beep, I’ve decided that this may be a bad idea after all, but just before the third beep comes, he finally picks up.copyright protection157PENANASYUo5UqiqH

“Emma, hey,” he says, sounding a lot more exhausted than usual. “Are you still coming? ‘Cause the show’s starting soon, you know.”copyright protection157PENANAMeAOD0NPz5

“I’m already here, Cam,” I say, glancing around me to make sure he’s not anywhere near because otherwise that’ll just be ridiculous. “Question is, where are you? Please tell me you gave those tickets to me because you’re not coming.”copyright protection157PENANALfJ8QKSAz5

“Oh, don’t worry, I’m here.” I take another look around me. No Cameron anywhere. “Just… had something to take care of for a moment. You’ll see me soon enough. Also, I know you’re coming here with Izzy and your boyfriend and everything, but if you have the time, stop by backstage for a moment to say hi, will you?”copyright protection157PENANA0s4VQaQhth

I frown at his odd request, but shrug. “Yeah, okay. Well, that is if Drew ever lets me out of his sight.”copyright protection157PENANAYfvz48zSY9

“Oh, don’t tell me your new man’s the clingy type.” I can practically hear him cringing all the way through the phone line. “I’ve dated clingy girls before, and I don’t know if they’re the same kind, but they’re not fun. At all.”copyright protection157PENANAYJoHSfsKP2

“He’s not clingy. He’s just… protective, that’s all. You were, too, when we were still together.”copyright protection157PENANAQQuVMl5CDz

Silence falls between us as I realize I’ve just accidentally mentioned about our shared past again; I’m pretty sure we’re over each other, but referencing to the times when we used to date has got to feel like a punch in the gut for him, because it is for me. What can I say—we did love each other back then, and the genuine kind too, not just another high-school romance. It’s just the circumstances back then that kept us apart and we can’t overcome those problems, hence why we went our separate ways.copyright protection157PENANATBOpbTyLMw

“Well, I’ll be damned,” he admits with half-guilt, giving a short chuckle afterwards. It seems forced, like he’s deliberately trying to lighten the mood after I destroyed it. “Anyway, the show’s starting soon. There’s a special opening act that I know you won’t wanna miss, and don’t worry about where I am right now because I know you won’t miss me. Well, as long as you don’t leave the event halfway through.”copyright protection157PENANAUKgjs9zVTp

“Are you kidding? I’ve never been to any concerts—ever. If this is the closest I can get to an EDM concert, or any live events at all, you won’t be getting rid of me that easily.”copyright protection157PENANAXJgsF2OKEr

He laughs. “I thought so.”copyright protection157PENANAjy38Xe2w0O

He hangs up, just as Drew comes back and hands me a bottle of apple juice. I smile and take it—I saw the stand selling all sorts of flavors, one of which happens to be strawberry which is my favorite, but instead he got the apple one. Don’t get me wrong, I like apple too, but I wish he’d at least remember some of my favorites. I remember all of his—he likes cranberry juice, the color orange, mint-chocolate ice cream, sushi at his favorite restaurant not too far from his office hence why he often goes there for lunch, prefers whiskey over wine, Apple over Microsoft, has watched The Matrix for at least ten times and read The Great Gatsby for perhaps twenty times, and sometimes watches Pretty Little Liars when he’s not watching The Walking Dead, the former of which he describes as a ‘guilty pleasure.’copyright protection157PENANA2Vzjf2sPXm

Still, I’m not the type of person who complains a lot so I keep my mouth shut as we head towards the main stage, where everybody has started to flock towards now. A security guard stands near the secluded area right in front of the stage calling for VIP ticket holders. Without further a due, we both rush to the security guard and give him our tickets, and after he verifies them, he allows us to enter the secluded area, and I nearly jump as soon as I notice how close we actually are to the stage—face-to-face with it, in fact.copyright protection157PENANAeV6unLxbvc

From the corner of my eye, I finally spot Izzy, already sporting her DSLR camera and the typical lanyard for those press people. She gives me a thumbs up before she takes a quick and sneaky snapshot of the two of us with our arms intertwined, but before I can sprint after her and tackle her to snatch the camera away, she’s already departed once more, disappearing to somewhere behind the crowd to take more pictures of the event and venue, otherwise known as her just doing her job.copyright protection157PENANACPKFYIU1eV

As the sun finally sets and engulfs the rest of the town in soothing darkness, the rest of us here are surrounded by luminescence of the lamp posts and string lights and, just a second too late, the flood lights which have just turned on along with smoke machines from backstage, creating a foggy mist that covers most of the stage and starts crawling down to the VIP section.copyright protection157PENANAQhRpB6s3Vp

A dramatic bass drop appears out of nowhere and the crowd starts cheering wildly, even though many of us know Louis Castro won’t be starting off first and there will be an opening act before him. The crowd has gone wild nonetheless, then as the music starts to escalate, a voice booms through a microphone—a voice I know all too well.copyright protection157PENANApalwEIhbUN

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, people of the beautiful Swynhill, Minnesota!”copyright protection157PENANAoxD8cBR7C5

Steam blows out from either sides of the stage, just as the bass drops once again and a young man emerges from the mist clouds, and the crowd becomes even wilder, if that’s even possible—and it’s just getting started, too. When the mist clears a bit, I’m finally able to take a look at who the opening act is, confirming my suspicions from his voice alone while still shocked that the person opening for an up-and-coming DJ is none other than Cameron Hood, my ex-boyfriend.copyright protection157PENANA3snUSY1k2X

“Let me hear you make some noise!” he yells at the top of his lungs and the crowd follows. Still in awe, I watch as he runs back up to the disc jockey table, putting on his headphones on one ear and addresses the crowd once more as the upbeat music builds up and transitions into a full-blown EDM track.copyright protection157PENANAKs75YMOfYI

Honestly, I did not expect this. Seeing him up there seems unreal, and I’m tempted to pinch myself in the arm but even when I do, I realize that this is actually happening. Cameron, on stage, with the same confidence he’s brimming with since the day I met him, grinning with pride as he entertains the crowd with a track that I could’ve mistaken for some popular song made by a much more famous DJ, and definitely not by my ex.copyright protection157PENANA3mgGuthlAU

I never knew he had this inside of him. He seems a lot happier now compared to when he was two years ago—the Cameron who would refuse to step out of his house in favor of staying indoors and playing Call of Duty all day, the Cameron who also refused to get a proper job because he would rather try a hand at competitive gaming and doing part-time jobs at fast-food joints than sitting inside an office cubicle, stuck behind a desk and a computer where the only game available was solitaire. He’s no longer the guy I broke up with because of his irresponsibility and our different goals in life—he’s a man now.copyright protection157PENANArEmPyfNzAQ

And to be honest, even though I’m not dating him anymore, I’m proud of him—maybe not as a girlfriend, but definitely as the close friend he’s known since high school. The friend who spent hours awake, late at night, just to talk and laugh about anything and everything. The friend who he confided into, about problems from his fractured family, in exchange for providing me with the support I need to deal with my own broken family.copyright protection157PENANAwliEqhqfxo

The friend who will always stand by him the way he would stand by me, and I realize now that I don’t want to lose that friend. Not anymore.copyright protection157PENANAYAKegfHyBi

The beat starts to slow down and transitions again, and I swear to all that I believe in that he glances in my direction, just for a split second with this knowing look on his face, suddenly making me awake and alert again. The booming sound of drums and bass has transformed into sounds of an acoustic guitar now, combined with progressive house elements, but the guitar plays a tune familiar to my ears, and then I realize what it is.copyright protection157PENANAs2WPRu4F4F

It’s the song he made for me, back when we used to date, back when he still wanted to pick his guitar up and sang little serenades for me. Him playing his guitar was what made me fall in love with him in the first place, and everything just picked up from there, and he would make it a habit to bring his guitar literally everywhere he went, trying out chords on his own while humming to himself. And then, one day, he showed at my doorstep, asked me to come with him to the city gardens for a picnic date, and then he played it for me. An original song he wrote himself, after all those hours spent on trying out which chords fit with which melodies, humming mindlessly to no one in particular that made all his friends think he was becoming insane.copyright protection157PENANAvB0Ofr6FGD

I just tripped and stumbled my way into love as soon as I heard the song, and it was the first time I thought that this might be the one. That Cam was the right person for me to be with, back then. That he was all I needed, for the present and future.copyright protection157PENANA4FeOTu4B3F

And then one day, he stopped playing. He got into an argument with his father, which happened more times than I can count, but this one was the worst of them all, because that was when both men have had enough and finally decided to leave it all behind; his father leaving his mother, and him leaving his music. He never picked up the guitar again ever since, especially when it was a gift from the father who had just abandoned his wife and son. Even after he moved to his own place, the one he currently lives in right now, he brought the guitar with him but never played it, just leaving it to gather dust in the corner of the storage closet.copyright protection157PENANATvHQkzlpeq

I haven’t heard this song for too long now, it seems, because as soon as it starts playing, I’ve already found myself swaying my body along with the rhythm of the music, even though I know that Drew is probably confused as hell right now as to how in the world do I know this song when I’m sure this is the first time the rest of the world has heard this song. I don’t even know what he’s trying to say by playing this song to a live audience after remixing it with the EDM touch into it, but I can’t care less and simply yearn to enjoy the song and let myself fall into the song all over again, just like I did when I first heard its original, acoustic version.copyright protection157PENANA4K15zhwFXc

Just like I did when everything was fine and everything seemed right, and we thought we were on top of the world.copyright protection157PENANAj1SxQL2Un5

Right now, seeing after all that has happened between the years we haven’t seen each other, we kind of are, in a sense, on top of the world.copyright protection157PENANAAhBh7WRsm6

It’s just not with each other.copyright protection157PENANASrQUwqb259

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