I was in a load of serious trouble. I had perhaps just told the biggest lie of my life, and I only had 24 hours to turn it into some semblance of the truth. The worst part was that there was only one person I could go to for help, and he was my worst enemy. Which is why I found myself shifting back and forth from foot to foot on his front step that rainy Thursday afternoon after school. I really didn’t want to ring the bell. But I needed his help.

When Michael came to the door, I couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief. He didn’t look nearly as pleased to see me, which is completely understandable, but he didn’t slam the door in my face, which I decided to take as a small victory, and I was prepared to take as many of those as I could get. I cleared my throat nervously and began my pitch.

Hey, Mikey,” I began awkwardly, “I know we haven’t talked in a while, but it’s nice to see you, man.”

What do you want, Nick?” Michael asked dully, clearly unimpressed with my opening line.

Uh, well the thing is,” I stammered, “normally I wouldn’t ask you about something like this since I know you’re not usually one for displays of affection—”

Oh, come on, Nick,” Michael scoffed, preparing to swing the door shut, “I don’t have time for this crap.”

No, no, wait!” I cried a note of desperation in my voice, “I’m sorry I’m a jerk, but I’m nervous. If you just let me in, I promise I’ll explain everything.”

I could see the suspicion in Michael’s eyes as he considered his options. Honestly, I completely figured he was going to kick me out, so when he stepped aside and motioned for me to come in, I was pleasantly surprised and hurried through the door before he could change his mind. When we reached his living room, he pointed to the couch where I took a seat, and once he took a seat in a chair across from me, he just looked expectantly at me and the large case I had dragged into his house. I took that as a sign to get started with my explanation.

So there’s this girl,” I began, watching as he rolled his eyes and settled in for the rest of the story. “Rosie’s her name. She’s really smart and funny and cute, and I’ve been trying to talk to her for a long time, so when I saw her coming out of the girl’s bathroom wiping her eyes, I figured I could at least ask if she was okay. It turns out, and she wasn’t. She’s got some position on the student council and part of her job is to screen the acts for the talent show they’re putting on tomorrow to raise money for the band.”

Michael nodded from his chair as though he was hoping I’d get to the point.

Anyway, when I asked her how it was going, she told me that only two acts had signed up so far,” I explained, “And not, like, two acts today, but two acts total. She told me they were looking for people with musical talents to play during the live auction and to compete for a group of judges from the actual school band. When she asked me if I happened to have any musical abilities and I saw so much hope in her eyes, I blurted out that I could play the guitar pretty well.”

When I stopped talking, it wasn’t long before Michael began to giggle.

You can’t even play the triangle right,” he said between breaths, “How do you expect to impress this girl with your nonexistent guitar skills?”

Actually,” I answered, not quite able to make eye contact, “that’s where you come in. I know you’re a guitar whiz, Mikey, and I think if we make the most of these next 24 hours, you can teach me a thing or two that’ll at least help me fake my way through the talent show tomorrow.”

WHAT?” Michael burst out laughing, “You expect me to teach you guitar in a day? Why would I do that?”

Please, Mike,” I begged, ”I know we’ve kind of grown apart these last couple years, but I don’t want to let this girl down. Will you help me?”

It took him a short eternity to answer, but after he ran a hand through his hair, he finally spoke.

What should I teach you first?”

Four hours later, and it was quite clear that, no matter what he tried to teach me, I would no doubt manage to mess it up. I couldn’t hit the right chords or figure out all the specific fingerings, and every note I played sounded like an absolute disaster. I was just about to call it quits and thank Michael for even trying when he held up a hand and suggested a particularly brilliant idea.

It was my turn to take the stage, and I had to wipe my sweaty palms on my pants for the millionth time before striding out onto the stage and taking my seat on the stool in front of the microphone. The bright stage lights were so bright I had to squint to see anything, but I spotted Rosie out in the crowd throwing me a big thumbs up, so I took a deep breath and tapped out a 1, 2, 3 beat with my foot before moving my hands across the strings to begin the song. And I must say, it went off without a hitch.

By the time I had finished, the whole crowd was clapping for my performance, and I could feel a blush rising on my cheeks as I took my bow. The best part was that Rosie came up and gave me a big hug as I walked off the stage. As I gazed across the stage from over her shoulder, I saw Michael sneak out from behind the stage curtain with his guitar. He caught my eyes and took a look at where I’d found myself and just winked at me before sneaking out of the auditorium. It seems we’d pulled it off. No one knew my guitar hadn’t been plugged into a functioning speaker, they bought my performance, Rosie’d gotten a decent performance for the event, and I think Michael and I might just be friends again.



Learning to play the guitar.

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