I knew pre-competition jitters. I was more than familiar with the shaky hands, sweating palms, the weight of roles almost spun around to be when I stepped onto the stage. The hazy weeks prior to competitions were burned into my childhood like nothing else, along with the burst of adrenaline and emotion when the winners were announced. Everything that went along with competing—the nerves, the jealousy, the intense need to prove myself—was firmly ingrained in every fiber of my being. I knew pre-competition jitters better than anyone else, and that was why I was going to win today.
Ren peeked over his shoulder, at the ever-changing mass of people weaving in and out of each other on the way to their seats or to the backstage waiting area. When he turned back around again, he touched me with his elbow, raising an eyebrow in suspicion. “Nervous?”
“Of course,” I replied, running my hands up and down my biceps. "It's a competition. You’re supposed to be nervous.”
“You’re not performing, though,” Ren pointed out, scowling at the ground as he walked.
“So?” I asked indignantly. “It’s still a competition. They're still judging my song.”
“Yeah, but your song’s already good. I’m the only one who should be nervous. I’m the one who’s performing it.”
I huffed irritably, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Besides,” Ren continued nonchalantly. “I’m good. If I’m the one singing your song, there shouldn't be any trouble at all.”
I glared at the ground.
Ren pouted, kicking at the tile floor as we walked. “Why are you always mad at me?”
“Because you don’t take anything seriously,” I replied. “This is serious for me. This is a big deal. But you treat it like it’s nothing.”
“Do I have to be serious to take it seriously?” he asked.
I fell silent.
He sighed loudly, pulling his beanie down further over his dark hair. “Don’t worry about it. I'm going to win this and then you don’t have to be so mad all the time.”
Without waiting for me to reply (and I’m not sure if I would’ve), he left my side, continuing on to the backstage area where he would wait until it was his time to perform my original song. I was left alone in the halls to wonder whether to join the performers backstage or the parents in the audience. On all sides of me, people rushed in all different directions, hurrying to their places before the competition started.
I peered down at my small hands, holding gently onto a stack of sheet music.
It was called April.