Dedicated to E. Hermann
Lily Lee and her best friend, Emily Thomson (Em), walk into Lee's’ Noodles. Take out boxes are stacked and scattered all over the kitchen. Lily. Mama! I’m home! (whispers to Em) Why does the family business have to be a restaurant? Why can’t it be a record store? Ugh I hate this. All my things smells like chow mein. I’m sick of Chinese food. Walking towards the stairs to Lily’s room. Lily steps on a yellow mustard packet. She freezes. Slowly looks down. Lily. Is there a stain on my shoe? Now how am I going to impress Scott like this? Forget that, how am I going to get him to like me smelling like this? Do you think he’ll want to talk to me when I smell like an eggroll? Em. Lily don’t be too loud or your mom will hear-Olivia. Her mom will hear what? Em looked like she was turning a bit pale. Lily. (said quickly) Uh how much I love God, Mama. Olivia. Why do you have to hide that from me? Lily. We were just about to go to the church to surprise you at your Bible study. Olivia. Okay you can go. Just make sure you do your homework first. I’ll-Lily. Oh shoot. I need to do my homework. I don’t think we can make it to Bible study then. Sorry Mama. Olivia. Fine. Just do your homework. You need to get into Eastern Nazarene College. Lily. Okay I’ll get right on it. Olivia. (walking out the door) And do not forget to do close up for me when you finish your homework. I might come home late like last week. Debating on what would Jesus do is very controversial at my meetings. See you girls later. Lily. Great. Now I like bible study. (looking at Em) Hello? Are you okay Em? Em still looking pale. Lily drags Em outside, into the vacant Sky Valley Public Library, and shoves a book in her face. Em breathes in.
Lily. Better, Nerd? Em. (deeply breathes) Better. Lily. We need to work on that. You can not freeze every time my mom talks to you. Walking back to Lee’s Noodles. Em lagging behind, her nose in a book. Lily. (with awe) Oh. My. God. (quickly) There’s a music store! Finally. I knew Sky Valley would get something interesting for once! I can not wait until it opens! Wait. When does it open? (frantically looking around the building) Look! Em, it opens tomorrow! (jumping up and a down squealing) Now I seem like Kelsey jumping up and down like when she found out Justin Bieber’s favorite color is the same as hers. Ew. (turning to her friend) Em? Em. (looking up from her book) Um, what? Oh my gosh! Look Lily! A music store! Is that a guitar back there? Look it opens tomorrow! (squeals, looks at Lily) Lily. (unamused) I just said that.
Lily. (rolling her eyes) in our Stars is so good. (chuckling) Did Hazel die yet? Em. Wait what? Why are you laughing? Are you kidding me? What do you mean she dies? She can’t die! If she dies how can her and Gus go to--Lily. No. Stop, Em. I’m just messing with you. Em. (exhaling) Good. If Hazel died I would cry my eyes out. Lily. (muttering under her breath) Oh boy. You are going to be crying no matter what. Em. What did you say? Lily. Uh never mind. Let’s go to your house to do our homework, I can’t stand the stench of Chinese food anymore. Em. Okay. On their way to Em’s house, Em looked up and saw a guy. While pretending to listen to Lily talk about Maroon 5’s new album, she just stared at the boy. Lily. (yelling) Em watch out! (pulling Em back onto the sidewalk) You could have gotten yourself killed! Why would you do that?
Em. (slowly waking up from her dase) Um. What? Lily. Oh. Are you crushing on the new kid? Em. Well, he is kinda cute don’t you think? (swooning) With his wild brown eyes and how his hair is always is perfectly swept over his face. Lily. You can not like him. All the girls are crushing on him. You can not turn into one of them. Em. Lily don’t worry. I would never leave you. You are my best friend. Lily. You’re my best friend, too. Entering the Thompson’s house. Em. Mom we are home! Alice. Oh, hey, honey. How was school? Any girls come in pregnant today? You know your wonderful mother can help the girls out with that. I speak from experience. Leaving home and all is a tough decision but I love my life here-Em. I know Mom. I was there. School was good. Lily. Kelsey Parker was glowing a bit today. Alice. Oh well tell her she know where to find me. Do you girls want to get chinese or pizza? Lily. No, not chinese. Anything but chinese. Em. Pizza it is. I’ll go order. Alice. Your mom would not approve of this. Lily. I’m a good liar. Alice. Okay just don’t get me in trouble. Your mom is scary. Lily and Em finish their homework early so they analyze the real meaning of “9 in the Afternoon” by Panic at the Disco. Lily walks home to find her mom not home yet so she closes the resturant and goes to sleep. The next morning she walked to Em’s house. Together Em and Lily walk to school and sit on their bench beside the school because they were early. Lily. Don’t look now, but the new kid is staring at you.
Em. The new kid? Why nobody knows me. Why would he look at me? Lily. Because he likes you. Em. What he does not like me. Lily. Then why is he looking at you like that? (standing up) I’m going to ask him. Em. (grabbing her hand and trying to pull her back) No! Do it. Lily waved at him and walked towards him. Lily. Hey I saw you looking at my friend. What’s the deal? Do you like her? CJ. Uh. Who are you? Lily. I’m Lily, that girl’s best friend. She likes you do you like her. You have to tell her because she might walk in front of a car again. She’s not unstable. She just was distracted. By you. And sort of, walked in front of a car. But I saved her so she’s fine. So do you like her or not? CJ. Well she is kind of cute-Lily. Good now ask her out. CJ. (a bit confused) Okay. I’ll ask her out during English tomorrow. Lily. (pushing him towards Em) No, do it now. CJ. (shyly walking towards Em) Okay. Lily. (to herself) They would be perfect together. I’ll give them some privacy. (texts Em, saying she will meet her at Lee’s Noodles) Strolling around Sky Valley, she waves to Chris the diner owner through the window. Chris’ was her favorite place to eat and study. He was a scruffy guy who was like a father figure to her. Even though he was a grouchy guy, he was one of the few people in her life to disappoint her. She continues her wonder. Then the new music store catches her eye. She darts towards the store that looks like it was glowing. As she got closer she walked slower in awe. She walks in. The low hum of the blues plays in the background. Guitars hang from the back wall and she keeps walking towards them. Her mind wanders off into a flashback. Olivia. You can’t just leave! Lily needs her father.
Jay. She doesn’t need me. She has you. Don’t you want me to be happy Olivia? With a big smile, Lily, age 5, walks towards the restaurant. She wants to show her father that she is a big girl and is responsible enough to open the restaurant all by herself. Lily dreamed of opening the restaurant, but she needed to prove she was good enough. She peeks around the corner to see if anyone was awake. To her surprise, both her parents were awake and yelling at each other. She tiptoed to the next was wall to see what the chaos was. She saw her father holding a ginormous violin case, a strange box that had buttons and knobs on it, and a suitcase. She wondered why he had such a big violin. Olivia. Of course I want you to be. But I thought we, your family, and this restaurant makes you happy. Jay. It does but-- I just don’t belong here anymore. I love you guys. Tell Lily everyday I lover her. Tell her her dreams will come true. (halfway out the door) Just tell her I love her. Olivia reluctantly just stood there and watched her husband leave. Lily felt a pang in her heart and ran upstairs, to her room, crying. Olivia a few feet behind walks up the stairs to wake up Lily. Lily covers herself, dries her tears and pretends to sleep. Olivia. (stroking Lily’s hair) Daddy loves you. Melody. (barks) Don’t touch! Lily wakes up from her past. Lily. (wincing) Oh. I’m sorry. (running out of the store) I have to go. Melody. (confused) Then why did you come in? Lily runs to her house, up the stairs, into confiscating room. Slides the rug away from the side of her bed. Picks up a loose floor board. Takes out the CD that is labeled “Silence” by Ichabod Todd. She removes the false backing to her closet and goes in. Lee forbidden band posters were taped up on the walls. Unapproved band tee shirts were in a neat folded pile. She places the disc in her CD player. She cries until she hears the front door open. She turns off the CD player and quickly return things like they were before. She wipes her eyes while she runs down the stairs to the hostess desk. Lily. Hi Mama! Should we open the restaurant for dinner now? Olivia. Yeah. Can you do it? If we open now I need to prepare dinner. Were you crying? Lily. No Mama. I just yawned. Why would I cry? Do you need help preparing dinner?
Olivia. Okay. (walking to the kitchen) I’m going to get started. Em. (giddily walks through the door) Hey Em! Guess who got a boyfriend! (changing her tone) Are you okay? Lily. No I’m not. I had the flashback again. Em. Oh no. Lily walked to the tables and started to flip over the chairs off the table. Confused, Em helped her. Em. Do you want to talk about it? Lily. No. My mom’s here. Em. So? Lily. She doesn’t know that I know. She still thinks I don’t remember him. She still doesn’t know that I know my dad left me. She wants to protect me by keeping this charade up. Lying and saying he died in a car accident will not protect me. It would only hurt me more. She doesn’t want me to know that he left me. Because he doesn’t love me anymore. Em. (dragging her outside) We will be back Mrs. Lee! Lily. No I have to go back to work. I’ll talk to you later. Em. Wait--(the front door is slammed) A crowd of people walk in as soon as the ‘Open’ sign is on. After all the customers leave, Lily helps her mom clean up. She then goes to bed. The next morning is a Saturday, so she has to wake up for the dim sum crowd. After she opens the restaurant, she walks to Chris’ to meet with Em and Alice. She stops in her tracks when her eyes land on the music store, ‘Melody Center.’ She walks in. Lily. Wow. Look at those. (walking towards the drum set) That’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. (spotting a poster) Drummer wanted? (her eyes widen at the price) Lily why would you even think of bringing them home? Melody. Do you want to play them? (handing her drumsticks) You can if you want. The drums suit you. Lily. Okay. (taking the drum sticks) Whoa.
Melody. You can feel the power right? Lily. Yeah. But I cannot afford them. My mom would hate that I am actually in here. (disappointed) She doesn’t approve rock and roll. (with passion) But I love bands. From AC/DC to ABBA. I love music. Melody. (handing over a sheet of paper and a pencil to Lily) Think of a deal and I will try to make it happen. Lily agrees and skips off to Chris’. While waiting for Em and Alice, Lily is trying to come up with a deal that sounds reasonable deal. Frustrated she crumples the paper up. Chris. What’s up kiddo? (placing a plate of a slice of pie on the table) You look like you need pie. Lily. Chris it’s 9 am. Isn’t it too early for pie? Chris. Nope. It’s never too early for pie. Lily. (pulling the pie closer and grabbing a fork) Good. I love pie. Chris. Are you waiting for anyone? Lily. Just Em and (winks) Alice. Same as usual. Everyone knew Chris was in love with Alice, except for Alice. Who wouldn’t love a coffee addict, that had a heart for everyone and everything. She is the most fun loving person ever. Every Friday Lily went over to the Thompson’s house and had a blast. Chris. (blushing) Okay. Why did you wink? For the thousandth time, I-Lily. Aww look you’re blushing. Just then Em and Alice came. Em. Are you good Lily? Lily. Yep I have pie. Alice. Pie already, kiddo? I thought you said last time you were going to wait for me. (smiles at Chris) Chris. (rolling his eyes, setting down another plate of pie down, and walking away) You girls are crazy.
Alice. Thank you! (to Lily) What’s up girl? Looks like you gotta spark in your eye. It’s like you found your true love. Ohmagosh! You like Chris? He’s a lot older than you but if you like him, go for it. Lily. Ohmagosh! Gross, Alice! I just went into the music shop, again. Em. Oh yeah Melody’s, right? Did you find anything? Lily. (bursted) I want to be a drummer! Em. How are you going to do that? Lily. I saw a drummer wanted sign at Melody’s. I’ll join the band and then become super famous. Maybe introduce you to Bon Jovi? Alice. Ohmygosh! I’ll do anything. Lily. Good. I need your garage. Alice. Okay. But on one condition. You have to help Em and I clean it out for you. And you have to swear on your Michael Jackson ‘Bad’ CD that if you make it big, you will introduce me to Elton John. Em. Wait, what are we going to tell you mom? Lily. Well we aren’t going to tell her. If she asks where I am, I’ll say that I’m at your house. It’s technically not lying, I will be at your house. They paid for their food and left, towards the Thompson’s house. They opened the garage door. Lily. Well this is going to take all day. I’m going to call my mom and tell her to close up. Alice. Okay hurry back! CJ. (walking up to the poarch) Hey, Em. Are you ready? Em. (face palming herself) Oh shoot! I forgot sorry. (walking to her room and closing the door) Let me change. Alice. Who are you? CJ. Um, I’m Emily’s boyfriend. You must be her mom. Alice. Yep.
They both stood there in silence. Alice was staring at CJ while he was looking around trying not to make eye contact with him. Alice. (yelling to Em) Honey, can you come here for a second? Actually, I’m coming in. Are you decent? Em. Yep come on in, Mom. Alice. (walking in and closing the door behind her) So this boy has told me you are his girlfriend? Why didn’t you tell me you had a boyfriend? I thought we told everything to each other. This best friend thing is not going to work well if you don’t tell me anything. You know how I am when I’m not in the loop. Em. (rolling her eyes) Mom we are only best friends because you are the best mom in the world. I was going to tell you about CJ if i knew it was serious. We are just going on our first date today. If you want, I’ll tell you when I come back. Alice. Okay. Fine. Perfect. By the way you look beautiful. They both walked out of the room. Em walked to CJ. Hand in hand they walked to his car. Like a gentleman, CJ opened the door for Em. Em. (waving) Bye, Mom. See you later. (opening the door and stepping out) Oh shoot. I need to tell Lily. I feel so bad. Alice. It’s okay. I’ll tell her. Em. (getting back in the car) Tell her I’m sorry. Alice. Will do. Lily comes back. Looking confused. Lily. Where did Em go? Alice. She has a date. Lily. Oh, right. I matched them up. Alice. Really. They look cute together. I wish she told me sooner. Lily. So I guess it’s just me and you fixing up the garage. Alice. You guessed it!
By the end of the day, they were done. They donated many of Em’s toys that were not needed anymore. Em. Lily! What did you do? Where are all of my childhood toys? Lily. we donated them. Your mom said you did not need them anymore so I gave them to a good cause. Em. Well at least they will have a better home. They may had made a little girl’s day brighter and that all that matters. Alice. So how was your date? Em. It was great. We watched Moana, the new Disney movie. Alice. That’s good. Lily. It’s pretty late. I gotta get home before my mom gets mad. See you ladies tomorrow? Alice. We will be here. Lily. (walking out of the garage) Great. Bye! Lily walked home and stopped at the music store. She looked at the flier and wrote down the phone number of the band. She gave Melody the deal for paying for it every month. Even though it was an investment, Lily felt like it will be worth it. She gives the payment for that month and sent Melody the Thompson’s address so that they can set it up in the garage. That night she also calls the band and the leader of the band, Wes answered. Wes. Hello? Lily. Hi. I’m calling because I saw your sign. Do you still need a drummer? Wes. Ofcourse! The guys will be so happy. Lily. Wow. Wes. Wow what? Lily. That statement was not followed by a “dude.” Wes. We are not that type of band. Anyways “dude” We need a practice space. Do you have one?
Lily. As a matter of fact I do. Wes. Can we meet tomorrow so I can see it? Lily. Yeah no problem. How does 12 sound? Wes. Perfect. I hope you don’t mind if I come in my church clothes and please don’t laugh at me. Lily. Same to you. I hope you don’t mind sneaking around, see I’m not supposed to be in a band. Or even touch the drums. Wes. What did you do, if you don’t mind me asking. Lily. Well I did not do anything wrong, my mom’s just strict. Wes. Well I hope we can make this work. Look I got to go, see you tomorrow. Lily. Yeah see you tomorrow. They hung up and Lily went to bed with a genuine smile on her face. The next morning, Lily skipped down stairs. She was in her church clothes all ready to go. Olivia. Why you seen chipper this morning. Lily. (giddily) Yes, Mama, I’m excited to go to church today. Olivia. That’s strange. I usually drag you to service with you kicking and screaming. Lily. Stop being dramatic Mama. Olivia. I’m not being dramatic. Church went on like it was supposed to. Once it ended at 11:45 Lily went on her phone and told Wes to meet her at the fountain. It was the middle of town, very out in the open. So if he decides to kidnap her people will see. She starts to walk towards the fountain. She looks up from her phone. Her face connects will something hard. Lily. Sorry. Are you okay? Wes. Yeah I think so. Sorry. Lily. Don’t apologize. It was completely my fault.
Wes. No stop it’s both our faults. I was just on my phone, a girl texted me to go to the fountain and I wasn’t looking. Lily. Wes? Wes. How’d you know-- Lily? Lily. Hi, (holding out her hand) nice to meet you. Wes. (grabbing her hand and shaking it) Hey. Lily. Do you want to get a coffee? I know a great place. Wes. I’d love to. Let's go. Lily. (walking towards Chris’) Okay follow me. (turning to him) So you go to the same church as me? Wes. I guess so. Lily. So how’s your band? What are the other members like? Wes. Well we are all sorta misfits. (shyly) We are all kind of bullied. The twins, Toni and Tori, are the people that get me through the day. But even though they are the nicest people ever, Toni is asthmatic and Tori is dyslexic and has ADHD. I know she sounds like a demigod,right? They are bullied for them being themselves, which is wrong. Lily. Wow. I’ll fit right in with you guys. Can I meet them? Wes. Yeah. After we get coffee though. (timidly) Yeah. That’s my problem. I drink way too much coffee. Lily. Great. I love coffee. Wes. Looks like we have something in common. They go into Chris’, order coffee, and go to the park and sat on a park bench. Wes. Dang this is good coffee. Lily. Yeah Chris is the best. You can usually find me there. He also has the best pies. Wes. I’m going to get some to for practice. Let me call Toni and Tori now.
Lily. I’ll text you the address of the practice space I have. I’ll meet you guys there. Lily walked to the Thompson house and set up her set. She had a natural musical talent. When she first played the drums, she was a natural! Wes showed up first. Toni and Tori arrived shortly after. Toni walked into the garage took two puffs of his inhaler. Toni. Wow. I’d never seen anything so beautiful. Tori. We never had a practice space. Wes. Is this really ours? Lily. Yes. Now let’s get set up. They got set up. Wes’ guitar was navy blue with stickers of all the countries he has gone to and Toni’s was black with pink stripes. After they were done tuning, Wes set up microphones for everyone. Tori tuned her purple bass and Lily was eating the pies Wes bought. Wes. Okay guys are you ready? We will start with The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go.” They play. It sounded like magic. Lily. (amazed) Wow. I never played so good. I think we sounded perfect together. Wes. Good job guys. Tori. (her head down) Sorry guys I messed up. I got lost in the music. Toni. It’s okay Tori. I couldn’t tell you messed up. Our sound meshes so well together. (puffs inhaler) Wes. Good. I got us a gig at the bar in Pathway and a label’s going to be there! Lily. (nervously) A label? Wes. Yes! I’m so excited! Lily. But I never played in front of people. How am I going to get there? I have a super strict mother. She’s gonna kill me! Wes. Well you have to find a way because there is no way we could play without you. Wednesday at 3:00 am don’t forget. Lily. Okay I’ll try to make it work.
They pack up and go home. On Tuesday morning, Lily debated on whether she should tell her mom about the band or not. Lily. Morning, Mama. I need to tell you something. Yesterday I joined a band. I’m so sorry. But I love to play the drums. I love it. Can I go to the gig. It’s next week on Saturday. But it starts at 3 am. How am I going to make it? Olivia. Well, I am certainly not letting you go to this gig. How do you plan on getting there, huh? Do you even know your band mates? How do you know they are not psychopathic killers? Lily. They aren’t they are my friends. They would never do such things. They are innocent. They never done anything wrong. Olivia. But you are not going! Go to your room!!!!!!! Lily. Fine! Lily stomped up to her room Lily. Why would she do this? I can make it big. In 3 days we could be the best band ever! This is so stupid. She just does not want me to be happy. She kept on telling herself over and over again. She cried and cried until she went to sleep. Now it was Wednesday morning, at 2:30. She got up and she brushed her teeth. Put on foundation, and winged her eyeliner, and applied a smokey eye shadow. She tried to sneak out. She tiptoed down the stairs and flinched every time the floor creaked. She met Wes the outside the front door. Wes drove her and himself to the gig. Later they were joined by Tori and Toni. They got there and rocked. The label guys watched them play. After their performance, backstage: Lily. Oh gosh! What if I messed up? I would ruin it for you , Tori, Toni. Oh no. I don’t want to let you down. Wes. Don’t worry, Lily you were great! Lily. Oh no! What would I do? Oh no my mom is going to be so mad at me! Wes. Calm down. I thought you said you told your mom. Lily. I did but she didn’t like it. She didn’t want me to come. Wes. Oh Lil. You should not have done that! Lily. (looking down)I know.
Wes. Just call your mom. Let her know you are okay. Please. Lily. Okay. Fine. Lily called her mom and told her where she was. On the other side, her mom yelled at her and she was disappointed in her. Olivia. Donâ€™t come back home until you are out of the band! (she then hung up)
To be continuedâ€Ś.
Christina Chin lives in Edison. She cherish the time with her friends and family. She is inspired everyday by Ananya Iyer Pandya.