Left, Right, Left (p. 3)
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Kevin couldn't feel his lips anymore. Erin had decided to devote the majority of Thursday's practice to drilling "Sing, Sing, Sing." Her arms chopped dramatically through the air; as if by sheer force of will she could squeeze more volume and energy from the band. Kevin's eyes skimmed along the music. The rise and fall of the trombone line was familiar, agreeing with his arm and lips' recollections. He supposed it wouldn't take much to memorize the show. But he chafed at permanently devoting a sector of his brain to a Marching Band field show. He would doubtless want the space later. As final lick blared out, the entire formation floated forward. It stopped in a fairly straight line roughly eight steps from the sideline.
"Okay, that's a little better," Erin said, recentering her weight on her crutches. "But you have to keep watching what's going on around you! I want us to sound good when we play at the West Mountain game, but to do that I need you to work together."
Kevin looked at his watch. It was a quarter to four.
"Hey, Erin, it's time for me to go," he called.
"So you're just going to skip out of practice?"
"Hey, I was here for the first forty-five minutes. And I have to be at the pool in fifteen so that nobody drowns."
"We've talked about this before." Erin's voice bordered on a whine. "Marching Band isn't like some social club where you can come when it's convenient. What if everyone started taking days off?"
"Everyone's not taking days off, replied Kevin in an exaggeratedly condescending tone. "I'm leaving half an hour early to go to work, because I happen to have other obligations besides band."
"If we don't practice together, we're going to sound like crap on Friday." Erin poked at Kevin's music with one rubber-tipped crutch. "You don't even have your music memorized! Plus, we haven't gone over your solo in 'Sister Sadie' today."
"You're the one who took the solo from Jeremy and gave it to me!" Kevin took a deep breath and said, "Now, I have to go to work." He turned and began to walk toward the school.
"This is the last time!" Erin said.
Kevin stopped and turned. "You can't tell me how to schedule my life. Bart's paying me to be a lifeguard. I'm marching out of the goodness of my heart!"
"I know Bart. I think if you talked to him he'd adjust your schedule so you can come to band in the future."
"It's none of your business!" Kevin stabbed his trombone emphatically toward Erin. Too late, he realized that he hadn't locked his slide. It flew off, clanking against a protectively extended crutch. Kevin stared stupidly at the pair of silver tubes on which the slide normally ran, watching them wobble from the force of his gesture. He thought about what the instrument had cost him. Five hundred dollars, for starters. Hours he could have been working at the pool during band camp. Laughs from Matt's new friends. Matt himself. In return, what had he gotten? A flag from St. Stephen's stadium, a sore lip, and a scolding from Erin.
"I can't believe you're being so careless with your instrument," Erin said in a shocked whisper.
"No, this would be careless." Kevin stepped back, cocked his arm, and launched his instrument at the sideline. The extended tubing caught in the turf and crumpled. The bell fell back onto the edge of the pavement with a thin clank.
Kevin stalked away before Erin could criticize him for breaking his own instrument.
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