I saw myself sitting at a stool on stage, a guitar in my arms. There was a crowd before me again. I looked around for my band mates, who I expected to be on stage with me. They almost always were. This time however, I was alone. Still, singing came naturally to me. It always has. I grinned at the crowd as I began to play.
“When I left home, to be who I am…some people said…no way…”
I started searching the crowd with my eyes. There were two people I knew had to be there. Two people who I knew would support me no matter what. Yet, for the first time in my life, they weren’t there when I expected them to be. Suddenly, I found myself unable to play anymore. I set the guitar down. I stood up and ripped the headset away from me. It wasn’t worth it without them. Music became nothing.
I ran out of the arena. I ran outside, and into the rain.
Suddenly, I stopped.
I didn’t want to see what was waiting for me.
“You can’t avoid it man.”
Standing out in the rain was Nick. He was drenched and looked upset. He came up and wrapped his arm around me, guided me outside. I looked up at him as lightening lit up the night around us.
“Why weren’t you inside singing with me? Where are the others?”
“Because you went solo for a little while, remember?”
“You already know the answers Frack, so why are you asking?”
I frowned. “Where’s Leigh and Bay?”
“I can’t tell you.”
I stopped walking and grabbed him by the shoulders, shook him as he stood there stoically. All I wanted was answers about my family. Nothing else mattered. Why couldn’t my best friend give them to me? He of all people should have known how badly I wanted them. I was performing; they were supposed to be there. I knew it. They weren’t home. They were meant to be here with me.
“Where are they?!”
I shot up out of bed and glanced around.
I was soaked with sweat thanks to that nightmare. It had to be intense, but when I tried to think about it, I couldn’t remember it. Sighing, I wiped my eyes in an attempt to wake up. Then, I took in my surroundings. That was when I woke up completely. It was weird, because I had no idea where I was. This wasn’t home. This wasn’t the little condo I had in LA for when we start recording. I knew I wasn’t on vacation because I couldn’t see Leighanne’s things anywhere once I climbed out of bed. It was a nice bedroom, sure. But, where was I? What was going on?
I heard a knocking at the door and I went to answer. Thankfully this was a small house. So it wasn’t too hard to find the front door. Maybe whoever was knocking could tell me what was going on. I’d never been so confused in my life. I figured I’d see if I couldn’t call Leighanne’s cell phone. Or maybe Nick. Maybe we were on tour. The last thing I remembered was…
It was raining.
Well, I wasn’t sure what I remembered.
No, we weren’t touring we were talking about something with another boyband. NKOTB. I wasn’t sure I was completely for the idea. But as a test we were going to perform at the American Music Awards in November. And we were going to start making plans for another album. We were in LA. Wait, so why wasn’t I in LA now? A glance out the window told me that wasn’t where I was. Part of me was panicking and another was telling me there had to be a reason for all of this. There just had to be.
The knocking came again, breaking me free from my thoughts. I opened the door.
There stood a young woman, smiling at me. She was only about five feet tall; her soft green eyes looked at me questioningly when I didn’t say anything to greet her. She had a sweet face with freckles along her face. I smiled at her. Maybe she was a fan?
“Can I help you?”
Her brows furrowed and her nose scrunched up. “Brendan, I came to check in on you after yesterday…”
“Brendan?” What? “I’m sorry; you must have me confused with someone else.”
“What are you talking about?”
I sighed, finding myself getting more agitated than I normally would. It was bad enough I was in a place and didn’t know how I got here. Normally I’m a pretty laid back guy. I just didn’t have the patience for this right now. I wanted to help her, but how could I?
“I’m sorry miss.”
I shut the door and turned around to find a phone. I needed to call Nick. Maybe he knew what was going on. I sat on the bed and dialed from the phone. I blinked at how much this was going to charge me. Just where was I? Of course it went directly to his voice mail. Just where was my cell phone anyway? I looked through everything in the bedroom. I found everything I normally took when I traveled, and some things I figured I bought. No cell. I hung up and dialed another number.
It was time to call my wife.
I frowned when I heard the number wasn’t in service. How could Leighanne’s phone not be in service? It had to be! An image flashed before my eyes. Me, driving in the rain. Leighanne sitting in the passenger seat beside me. I shook my head. Suddenly it felt like I couldn’t breathe. No matter what I did, I wasn’t getting enough air. The room began to spin as the phone fell from my hands. The ground reached up to greet me with ease.
Everything around me went black.
It was a relief to see Nick’s face hovering above me when my eyes opened. At least I wasn’t alone. The woman who was at my door earlier was in the kitchen, preparing something. I tried to get up and the room began to spin again. I stopped and stared at Nick. It was like he aged before my eyes. Yet, there was so much relief there. Like he’d discovered something he thought he lost. I smiled weakly.
“Oh Nick…you’re my hero!” I swooned in a high pitched voice.
“How you feeling?”
“Carlie told me you didn’t recognize her earlier.”
“Carlie?” He motioned towards the young woman in the kitchen. I could see her cheeks redden at the mention as she set a cup of tea on the coffee table beside me. I tried again to sit up on the couch.
“Oh.” I didn’t know what else to say.
“Where am I?”
“This little tiny ass island called Tristan Da Cunha.”
“How did I get here?”
“You don’t know?”
I shook my head.
“What do you remember?”
“We had a meeting with New Kids on the Block the other day…which, by the way, I don’t think is the best idea. I think it’s time to tell Howie this whole joint thing is nuts.”
He stared at me incredulously. His blue eyes were round as saucers. For a moment I was reminded of the scrawny little thirteen year old he used to be. Crazy right? I almost wanted to laugh despite the situation. In fact swallowing it back down wasn’t easy. But I knew he’d think I’d gone nuts if I let it out. What I couldn’t get is why he looked so shocked by my answer. It couldn’t have been that long.
Nick sat next to me now that I was sitting up enough to give him room. I could tell he needed to say something but didn’t have a damn clue as to how to say it. It’d been years since I’d seen that expression on him. In fact I think the last time was when he decided to break it to us that he wanted to do a solo album back in 2002. Not one of the fonder memories of our friendship. It wasn’t good news then and I suspected it wasn’t about to be good news now.
He scratched the back of his neck and focused his gaze anywhere but on me. I could feel myself getting scared. Nick wasn’t this bad at avoiding anything. I could feel myself start losing air, the same feeling I’d had earlier that day. I forced myself to ask again.
“Nick…what’s going on?”
“It’s just, that was like eight months ago.”
I sat there staring at him. I didn’t know what to say. Yet, part of me knew it had to be true. I wanted to do something. Deny it, yell, and call him a liar. I only sat there. No words came. It was like the moment they hit my lips they froze and shattered into nothing but forgotten thoughts. Nick wasn’t lying to me. I knew what lying Nick looked like, and this wasn’t it. Now I felt even more clueless.
He swallowed hard as Carlie sat on the other side of me. She reached for my hand and I pulled away. I needed Leighanne. There was the question I wanted to, no needed to ask. But the fear that grew was almost overpowering. I opened my mouth before closing it again. But I couldn’t just not ask. I took a deep breath and meet the eyes of my best friend. I could tell by his expression that he knew just exactly what I was about to ask. It was also clear he was praying I wouldn’t.
“Baylee’s fine, he’s with your parents.” He interrupted before I could even finish. I steadied myself again. The fact my son was safe and sound was a blessing. I gave a silent thank you to the Lord before starting again.
“Where’s my wife?”
When he answered me, it felt like my heart had stopped. Time froze.
Thankfully blissful darkness came to greet me for a second time.