Listen to Here Without You by 3 Doors Down while reading this.
I got up to the mike, stealing one last glance at him before we started the song. I signalled the band. Josh began picking the melancholy opening melody. Then I came in; I started to feel the song, and began to let it get to me, the true meaning behind it; the heartache, the pain, the undying love; I began to feel everything Brad must've felt while writing it.
"A hundred days have made me older,
Since the last time that I saw your pretty face.
A thousand lies have made me colder,
And I don't think I can look at this the same.
But all the miles that separate,
Disappear now when I'm dreaming of your face."
I looked at the crowd gathered at the amphitheatre, their once rowdy and wild mood now transcended into one of respectful silence and solemnity. I turned my gaze to him; he was looking at me blankly, as though the words I was singing and my evocative expression didn't mean a thing to him and didn't have any sort of impact on him. But I knew full well what was on his mind; at that moment he was just trying not to show it.
Dave and Aaron soon came in on drums and bass, respectively. As I continued to sing, I felt the song's power and hold on me grow ever stronger, to the point where it was almost overwhelming. But I gave in, and let it consume me as we moved into the chorus.
"I'm here without you baby,
But you're still on my lonely mind.
I think about you baby,
And I dream about you all the time.
I'm here without you baby,
But you're still with me in my dreams.
And tonight, it's only you and me."
Then we reached the bridge, and now, there was no holding back.
"Everything I know, and anywhere I go,
It gets hard but it wont take away my love.
And when the last one falls,
When it's all said and done,
It gets hard but it won't take away my love."
Josh's soaring voice came in and belted out the bridge, as I provided the harmonising vocals. It had all been leading up to this moment; I closed my eyes and imagined in my mind's eye, everything that had happened between us; the quiet moments and one-on-one conversations, the jokes we shared, the music we both loved, the way one cheered the other up when they were feeling down.
All that came down to the one thing, that revelation - and the following argument - that nearly destroyed all of that. I would've loved to say that nothing had changed between us, but the truth was, we were no longer the same to each other. We both saw sides of each other we had never previously known existed and said things we never would've said, with one of us going to bed nearly broken and unimaginably angry, hanging by a thin thread that would snap even if a feather of another blow landed on it; that one, was me.
With all that in mind, I took a deep breath as I joined Josh, and soared above him, my eyes still shut so I wouldn't see the reactions of the audience, and most of all, him. It was almost cathartic, just singing the harmonising vocals. It was like letting everything out; all the heartache, the pain, and the undying love; what the whole song was about. About me. I was taking that huge burden off my chest and laying it out for everyone before me to see and understand. Now that I wasn't keeping it in anymore, I felt light and unencumbered; it was the feeling of freedom.
I held my last lyric of the bridge long and hard, moving it between different notes, unlike in the original version of the song, for this time it had my personal touch to it, since I wasn't just singing it; I was feeling it. After all, the song represented me.
We repeated the chorus one last time and finished the song. Then, the amphitheatre suddenly loudened up again with the screaming cheers and applause from the crowd. I smiled, and looked at the once again wild crowd, and turned back to my band, grinning from ear to ear.
"Great job guys, we showed 'em," I said.
"Man, you were awesome, what were you thinking?" Josh said to me.
I merely chuckled, as I turned back and faced the crowd, still cheering wildy. Once again I glanced at him; this time, his expression was unreadable as he applauded with the crowd, though he saved his cheering out loud. I thanked the crowd as they started to dissipate and head off in different directions to their classes or lockers.
But he stayed behind. As we packed up and chatted about our performance then, he came up to me.
"Hey, you were really good just then," he said, though slightly awkwardly.
I looked him in the eye, my gaze piercing; unflinching, unsmiling.
"You sing better with a broken heart."
Without another word, I turned my back and went to help the others.
I left him standing there, just as he had done with me.