Tears dripped down her cheek, and her heart ached. Xoe held the picture to her chest. She couldn’t believe he was dead. Her first love. Her first friend. Her first mentor. He had meant so much to her, yet he had been a part of her life for so little time.
She could ask why. Why Marcus? Why couldn’t it have been one of the others? She knew it was pointless to ask. Life was cruel and vicious at times.
Now she would be going back to where it all began. At least she would be going back as more than she had been. She was a guitarist and backup vocalist with a recording contract behind her. Maybe she didn’t have a band at the moment and was between engagements.
Maybe her life still fitted into one car. So what? She had been on the road touring since she had left Kendra, her birthplace. She had toured all over the world with her band. And in one drunken night nearly a year ago, they were gone too.
Some days she was grateful she’d had a stomach flu that had kept her in bed; other days she asked herself why she wasn’t six feet under.
People wondered why her songs were so tragic. They would just need to take one look at her story and know why. But people didn’t want to know the truth, did they? They would rather make up their own answers. Xoe just had to look at the papers and gossip magazines to know this.
She looked back down at the picture she held in her arms and then back at the death notice on her computer screen. Most days she loved technology and being able to read her hometown newspaper online from anywhere in the world.
Today wasn’t one of those days. She wanted to pretend she hadn’t seen the notice, but she wasn’t one to bury her head in the sand.
She sat there, the first rays of light coming in through the un-curtained window to her right. For a few minutes, she tapped her fingernail against her lips, the closest she came to biting her nails these days. She pushed a strand of hypnotic red hair—that’s what the bottle had called her hair colour—behind her ear as she stared at the computer screen longer.
With a few taps of her fingers, she had a road map up on her screen. Using the finger she had been tapping against her lips, she followed the line of the road. Nodding, she shut down the computer. If she left now, she would reach Kendra before nightfall.
She closed the lid on her laptop, put her head on top of the lid, and gave in one last time to the tears and the heartbreak. She let all the bottled-up emotions out in a final burst of tears and anguish. Once she was done crying, she sat there for a moment and then slowly lifted her head and wiped her tears away on one of her striped arm warmers.
Getting up, she went about gathering the few items that were scattered about—clothes, books, sheet music, and a couple of guitars. She looked at her watch, and after some calculating, she decided it was too early to ring Norm, her manager. She would do it in a few hours.
She shoved the gathered items into her carry bag she’d brought in from the car. There wasn’t all that much to gather up, as she had never unpacked her bags.
Once she was certain she had everything, she did a final check of the room and bathroom, checking inside the draws and the closet. Finally, she zipped up her bag and headed for the door with the guitars slung over her shoulders.
After checking out of the hotel, she headed to her car, protecting her eyes from the bright sun with some wraparound blackout sunglasses. After unlocking and opening the car door, she put her key in the ignition. She hit the button that opened the top on her sporty red convertible. Once the top was down, she buckled her guitars onto the back seat using the seat belts. She would hate for something to happen to them. She placed her big carry bag on the seat between the two guitars.
Climbing in, she tossed her mobile phone onto the seat beside her along with her backpack that was the shape of a coffin. Turning on the car stereo, she selected one of her favourite rock bands, this one an all-male band. She didn’t blast the music but had it on just loud enough so she could hear it over the road sounds.
Even though her heart was heavy, she sang along to the lyrics. She would always sing along to music she liked. In its own way, it was part of who she was. Generally, her music of choice was a reflection of how she felt at that moment.
While she was singing, she let herself think about Marcus and how for six months of her life, he had been her everything. This was going back ten years though.
The fact that it had been ten years made her wonder if it was a good idea to go back for his funeral. After a moment of thought, she decided she would make the choice whether she would go to the funeral or not once she was in Kendra. If she could handle going to the funeral.
The sad thing was, she had nowhere else she desperately needed to be. No auditions, no photo shoots, and no gigs lined up. She wondered if Norm did that on purpose some times. So that she and … Well, so she didn’t work herself to death.
She frowned at the red traffic light when she thought about this. Grabbing her phone, she made herself a quick note: “Get Norm a thank you present.” She entered the note just in time. The traffic light turned green as she hit “save note.” Tossing the phone back onto the seat, she gave her attention back to her driving.