“You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”
-John Green, Looking For Alaska
My name is Chance, which is ironic since I haven’t taken that many chances. I’ve lived in the same suburb of Chicago, surrounded by the same group of people, doing the same thing for my entire life.
Which for the record is almost three decades.
And because I feel like I don’t take enough chances, I let my best friend Maggie drag me downtown to Lincoln Hall to see Broken Promises perform. They’re an up and coming local band fronted by a guy we know from college, Mitchell Slade. Maggie’s had a crush on him forever, and she watches the band play whenever she can. And since Maggie’s the kind of person who can talk you into doing just about anything, I find myself standing outside the venue on Lincoln Avenue, freezing, at nine o’clock on a Friday night in January, waiting for Maggie to show up so we can go in together.
Maggie is always late, but she’s my best friend so I’m used to it by now. We’ve known each other for fifteen years. She’s the kind of person that everyone always wants to hang out with. She’s outgoing and pretty. And she’s never had a problem getting guys to notice her.
And then there’s me.
I guess you could say that Maggie and I are polar opposites.
Maybe that’s why we’re best friends
Because we’re so different.
I’ve been here almost half an hour and there’s still no sign of Maggie. I’m just about to give up and head inside when she comes strolling down the sidewalk towards my like she’s the guest of honor at a red carpet event.
“Hey Chance. Sorry I’m late,” When she speaks I can see her breath. As usual she’s wearing her trademark black eyeliner and her lips are perfectly glossed. And although I can’t see her raven black pixie cut under her wool hat, I know there’s not a single hair out of place.
“No, you’re not,” I say smiling, as I take in her outfit. She’s wearing a sweater that looks like it’s made out of cotton candy, and a mini-skirt with leggings underneath.
I look down at my sweater and jeans ensemble and can’t help but think I should’ve tried a little harder.
I could’ve at least left my shoulder length brown hair down instead of throwing it up in a boring ponytail.
“You’re right. I’m not. She replies smiling, “I look fabulous. Have you seen Mitchell yet?”
He’s probably inside where it’s warm.
I shake my head, “I’m not here for Mitchell. I’m here to listen to the music and offer moral support.”
While Maggie and I have been talking the line has been moving steadily, and soon we’re right in front of the bouncer.
He checks our IDs and nods. He smiles at Maggie and gives me a strange look and then we’re inside the dark club that smells of alcohol, cigarette smoke, and fried food. But I’m grateful to be out of the cold. I lean toward Maggie and speak in a loud voice, so she can hear me over the people, the music, and the sounds of the club.
“I’ve got to go to the bathroom. I’ll meet you at the bar.”
Maggie nods and we take off in opposite directions. I head toward the restroom but I know without looking that Maggie is headed to the stage to look for Mitchell.
I use the bathroom and touch up my lip gloss, then head toward the bar. It’s no surprise that Maggie’s not there. I crane my neck to see over people’s heads towards the stage.
“Looking for someone?”
Despite the noise of the club, the sound of an unfamiliar voice startles me, and I jump a little before turning around.
“I was looking for my friend.” I pause, and can’t help but notice that this guy is pretty cute, in a lost puppy dog kind of way, with shaggy dark hair and sad eyes. “She’s looking for Mitchell.”
At this, one corner of his mouth turns up into a half smile, “Isn’t everybody?”
“Yeah. Pretty much.” I say, smiling back at him.
“What’s your name? He asks. Instead of being creeped out by his closeness, I find myself oddly comforted by the sound of his voice.
“Chance.” I reply softly. “What’s yours?”
He smiles at me again, and I hope he can’t see me blushing in the darkened club.
“Well Chance, enjoy the show. Stick around after and maybe I’ll introduce myself.”
Before I can say anything else, he disappears. And it’s not until after Broken Promises takes the stage that I realize just who I’d just been talking to.
The band’s drummer.
Mitchell’s younger brother.
I guess I’m taking chances tonight after all.
About the Author:
Amy Beth Outland is a freelance writer and editor with social media experience and a B.A. in English and Type: 09 teaching certification from Illinois State University. In the past, she has worked as a freelance writer and editor for both Writer.ly and Gather.com. She has also worked as English: 101 undergraduate teaching assistant while attending Illinois State University.
Amy has also had several poems published in the Chicago based fine arts journals including: Exact Change Only, Prevail N Prosper, The Insomniac Propagandist, Poetry in Motion, Reflections & Illuminations and Baby Shoes: A Flash Fiction Anthology.
Amy also works as a Service Excellence Representative at Franciscan St. James Health in Olympia Fields, Illinois.
Her first novel I’m Not Broken is available now from Amazon.com.
You can follow Amy on Twitter @amypond27 or find her on Facebook, Google + or LinkedIn.