Posted on: July 22, 2013

1. “Better Off Alone” by Alice Deejay

The first time Kat met Mason, she was walking out of the lunch line into the cafeteria with an orange tray of fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, and a carton of chocolate milk. The girls her age were all so skinny, wore shorts that made her panties seem like boxer briefs, and knew what it was like to make out. Kat spent most of her time cheek-deep in a fantasy novel and watching Sailor Moon. She was pretty convinced that no one would be interested in her for a long time, if ever.

Her best friend Sophia waved her over to a table by the vending machines, smiling with a mouthful of braces. Kat took a seat across from her and noticed the boy to her left wearing a black Linkin Park tee and leather wrist cuff. She noticed the moon-like craters in his blue eyes when he met her gaze as she managed a tight, closed-lip smile.

“Omigosh, Mason! This is Kat,” Sophia began. “She’s been my BFF for like ever! She plays guitar and knows the lyrics to every Spice Girls song!”

Slightly embarrassed by the introduction, Kat looked down at her mashed potatoes and wondered if she should stop getting lunch from the hot line.

“I’m not really into them as much anymore,” Kat said, pushing the green beans around with her fork. “I’ve been listening to a lot more techno lately.”

She noticed Mason perk up and lean forward with his forearms crossed on the tabletop. “Oh, cool! So, you’re into like BT and Alice Deejay?”

Kat’s eyes shot up and her back straightened with renewed confidence. Mason was smiling at her and she realized she would totally make out with him if he asked her.

2. “Meant to Live” by Switchfoot

Kat and Mason were sitting in his Pontiac Sunfire in the parking lot of their favorite coffee shop. Kat’s first gig was in an hour and her performance anxiety was not agreeing with her dinner of Japanese fast food. Mason knew better than to bother her with encouragement, so he turned up the volume on the radio and smiled as a familiar guitar riff opened up their favorite song of senior year.

“Fumbling his confidence and wondering why the world has passed him by...”

He held her hand resting on her thigh and leaned his head back, closing his eyes. Kat was singing with the chorus quietly as she looked out the passenger side window at passing traffic, a setting sun, and cars pulling in. She took in a deep breath.

“Okay,” she sighed. “I’m ready.”

Mason cut off the ignition and leaned over to kiss her cheek.

3. “Fix You” by Coldplay

When Kat got off the phone, she curled up into a ball on her tiny bed in the dorm room she shared with a predominantly absent roommate. It was the week before final exams during Spring Semester of her freshman year at the College of Charleston. She held a pillow against her face and sobbed, a deep and guttural sound that made her body quake. There was no one to comfort her, no one around to explain why something so terrible could happen. Why did Sophia go to that party? Why did she have to drink so much? Why didn’t they go to the same school so Kat could have stopped her?

Her phone rang. She didn’t want someone else to say her best friend was dead, but she looked at the screen anyway and saw Mason’s name. He was at Savannah College of Art and Design, which meant he was over two hours away. Kat wiped her nose on the pillow, rolled over onto her back, and answered the call without saying anything.

“Hey, Kat.”

She didn’t respond.

“I know you’re really upset, but can you come downstairs? I’m here.”

Kat immediately started sobbing again as she got out of bed and mumbled through salty saliva and grief, “I love you so much. I love you so so much.”

4. “Politics of Resignation” by Motionless

They were on a bus headed from Madrid to Trujillo, Spain. Mason had his headphones on, listening to some obscure post-rock instrumental band as was the trend since they graduated in the Spring. It was their first time being in a foreign country together and a way to kick off the their professional futures. Teach for America assigned Kat to a team in Los Angeles and Mason took a job with a video game company in Santa Monica.

Mason placed a bud in Kat’s ear and said, “Listen to this one.”

Kat placed her book in the seat pocket in front of her and curled up in the crook of Mason’s arm as she closed her eyes. The electric guitars made her heart hurt and the drums pressed her into the future.

5. “The Only Moment We Were Alone” by Explosions in the Sky

The heat and humidity of the concert venue made Kat want to vomit. There were so many people with clammy skin brushing against her bare arms. The look of disgust was obvious enough to make Mason laugh and pull her close to him. He leaned against the wall and she against his chest as he wrapped his arms around her. Kat was already feeling a little sick, wondering if she should take a pregnancy test when they got home. Mason was playing with the fingers of her left hand as the band plucked the first notes of their favorite song. They were silent in the car ride home, the music still resonating in their bones. Mason pulled into the driveway and got out first. When the light turned on in the car, Kat suddenly noticed a thin gold band holding a small emerald on her left ring finger. Mason opened the passenger side door and leaned in, smiling. Kat looked into his face and nodded, leaping from her seat and into his arms.

Photograph By: Emily Blincoe
Written By: Natasha Akery

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