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AN: Next chapters doubly long, that's why the break was there, rip. Also I had an unscheduled panic attack about my poor snake. (All signs act point to him shedding, not being horribly sick and about to die.) Alas, his enclosure is still set up for observation.

Scarlet crept up to the mic as the other band members were fumbling with instruments, getting ready to play the new song. Lee placed the lyrics and something that kind of resembled sheet-music in front of her.

The vampire girl looked it over, running a finger along the marks and I could see her mentally sounding it out. Still, her eyes almost glazed over in indifference until she finished it. Lee took to explaining some of the parts that were up to change.

And then they started a few warm up exercises. I settled on a folding chair in the corner of the garage and took to doom scrolling, trying to feel better. It was better now that I could hug Scarlet when needed but… it was almost worse knowing in not that long, there’d be no emotional support from her. I blinked at my phone. Could I…?

The research answered ‘absolutely not.’ My savings were two-hundred dollars, barely enough to get a reasonable present for everybody. Even if I could afford a basic phone for her, I’d have nothing left to pay for a plan so she could at least text me.

And snail mail wouldn’t work since there was no address to send it to. I rubbed at my eyes, feeling them getting weepy at the thought. 

Internet? Could I show her how to send email, at least? Yes, she could get to a public library computer, right? We could email back and forth. I nodded in my sorrow, and suddenly tuned back in to hear Lee working out some of the more difficult lyrics, trying to figure out why ‘a tad unhinged means a bit crazy, a bit wacky, a bit cadillac-y’ didn’t sound right when sung and I tried not to let the poetry lessons come back to me. I hated poetry. But they were struggling with their poetic meter, which was the most important part of song lyrics.

“How about you use assonance instead?” I suggested.

Lee paused looking up at me, “the what?” she asked.

“Repetition?” I offered. “‘A tad unhinged means a bit crazy. I’m just a bit crazy.’” The sharp decrease in syllables matched the rhythm of the rest of the song. With Scarlet’s voice being so akin to Amy Lee’s it was easier to have a slower-tempo than what they’d been trying to press with their lyrics so far.

Lee mouthed out the words with a furrow in her brow, then nodded. “Yeah, that feels better.”

It was sad the best of our skills were based entirely off of what felt right. Sierra was decent at maintaining a beat and directing a melody to go with a harmony, but so far it was basic. A few chords matching up with the beating of the computer drum and a second set of chords to match between the guitar and bass. Lee’s violin wasn’t even used in this song so far as that would be too much for them to choreograph together.

Scarlet glanced over where Lee was scribbling out the previous lyrics to scrawl the new ones in a half-legible script. ‘Punk’ was a good word to describe most of what she did.

They started again, trying out the new lyrics as I sank back into indifference and doom scrolling. When they finally stopped the second time I looked up to see Scarlet staring off into distance.

“Hey, Scarlet,” Lee said gently. “What’s up with you?”

Scarlet snapped back into focus.

She blinked at Lee and then realized the rest of the band was also looking at her.

“You seem very distracted,” Lee pointed out. “To the point you’ve been missing your entrances.”

“Oh, I’m…” Scarlet trailed off, looking both sad and embarrassed. She turned her gaze to me, needing help.

“It’s okay,” I put in. “We’re just tired,” I said. I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation with the band losing one of their members. That wasn’t good either and I hadn’t even thought about it until I was suddenly faced with them looking at Scarlet and I. It wouldn’t be good for them, and the panic was coming back quickly.

Lee nodded, “Okay, well. We’ll have more practice sessions.” She looked at our group, and then smiled, putting her hands on her hips. “I know,” she said. “We should do a little band-retreat. Go and do something fun, you know.”

“Like what?” I could do with a break from their noise and would appreciate hanging out with my friends without needing all the instruments and lyrics scribbled on every bit of paper within arms reach.

“What if tomorrow–it’s Saturday, right?—We go to the FunPark and see their Halloween attractions?”

“They’re going to be mobbed,” I put in. The Saturday before Halloween? At a Halloween attraction? The crowds would be everywhere.

Lee shrugged.

“It hasn’t been a problem in the past,” Christian pointed out. “Even at its most crowded, the longest lines are only an hour or so.”

Waiting in line for an hour sounded awful, but I looked at this group of friends. We’d had plenty of long wait times and just chatting usually passed it quickly. Then I looked at Scarlet.

“Do you want to go to an amusement park?” I asked.

Her look indicated she didn’t know entirely what that was. “Is that like… a fair?” she asked.

“Yeah, but permanent,” I told her.

She nodded eagerly and pranced over to my spot.

“Will they have the chocolate apples?” she asked.

“Uhh… they’ll have caramel apples at least,” I said. “So they’ll probably have a chocolate variety.”

Lee was amused by her excitement over chocolate and then looked at the others.

“Are we agreed?” she asked. “Spoopy park tomorrow?”

The others agreed. Sierra was probably the most excited for such a thing but she wasn’t the type to express excitement outright. Just a silent fist pump, still holding a pen from doing work.

“Spoopy park tomorrow, then,” Lee announced. “Be there and be square.”