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Contemporary Fiction Inspirational

A haze still hangs in the air but my light stick has gone dark. My body is practically vibrating with excitement, and I cling tightly to it because I know in a few hours my limbs will hang like lead and my mind will replay everything that happened here tonight, already memory. Before the inevitable crash back to reality, I close my eyes and listen to muffled voices, dampened by overworked eardrums. I’m alive. Right now, I’m alive.

I didn’t know that I’d find life during a late night scroll through YouTube, but that’s what happened. I’d been contemplating dark things and trying to remember how my life got to this place, but BTS had different plans. I’ve never followed an artist or group before, so I had no idea what I was stumbling into when I clicked on that first music video. My kids were in bed, my estranged husband was snoring in the other room, and I was up late yet again, wondering if it was all worth it. I had no idea who I was anymore, and no matter the joy I found in being a parent, it didn’t seem enough to sustain me anymore.

It’s hard to say when it happened exactly, but somewhere in the “Love Yourself” messaging, I started to do just that. I watched fan made introductions to all the members and enjoyed videos of their live performances at concerts and award shows. When I learned that BTS would be touring this summer, I knew I had to be there. The rest, as they say, is history.

I came alone tonight, as always, but I’m not leaving that way. When I open my eyes, tears fall unexpectedly. When my vision focuses I see the thousands of people still shuffling around, laughing, crying, and bumping into each other. Some are grabbing cups, others are tucking newly-acquired shirts or posters under their arms, and still others – like me – remain seated, soaking in the remnants of energy circling the arena.

Molly, a fifty-something grandma of four still sits between me and her husband, Don. Looking at them, I’m reminded how wrong I’d been about everything. As I fell further and further down the BTS rabbit hole that first night on YouTube, I’d assumed that their concerts would be full of screaming teenage girls. I hadn’t believed the one video that showed the diversity of their fanbase. I now realize it was my own insecurities as a thirty-three-year-old mother. I’d felt silly for experiencing such a profound connection to their music, and to the members themselves, at my age.

Now, glancing around the stadium, all I see is a beautiful representation of what our world could be. Strangers-turned-friends embrace and exchange contact information. Tears flow freely and smiles shine brightly. I’m far from the oldest person, and I swear anyone would feel at home here amidst the full spectrum of humanity. 

I rub my thumb absentmindedly over the button on my light stick, remembering the sea of color created throughout the night, pulsing and changing with every song, perfectly synchronized. For a few beautiful hours I was a part of something. My light glowed right alongside thousands of others, and we created something unforgettable together. Lyrics, melody, and beat combined with the chorus of voices in the crowd. It was alchemy. Pure and essential magic. All of our experiences and emotions and energy flowed together as one, infusing us with something not unlike life itself.

My chest tightens knowing that this is temporary. Tomorrow I will wake up in my own bed, surrounded by dishes and work and laundry instead of the powerful music and open hearts of this night. I take a moment to gather this energy, sweeping what I can into the tender part of my soul, creating a space for it there. 

“You okay?” Molly places her hand on mine, and I realize I’m shaking.

No, I’m not. I don’t want to leave. “Yes, I’m alright, just soaking it in.”

“I know the feeling.” She elbows her husband and tips her head dramatically towards the man. “I’m trying to convince this guy that we should see about getting tickets for tomorrow night’s show.”

Don leans over with a laugh. “Not much convincing to do! That was a fantastic concert, wasn’t it?”

It’s so much more than that. “It really was. I hope you’re able to get tickets.” I wish I could, too.

“What was your absolute favorite song?” Molly asks the question but they’re both staring at me, showing genuine interest. 

I’m not used to any attention being on me, so I squirm nervously but try to hide it by pretending I’m searching for a piece of gum in my bag, unwrapping the piece thoughtfully when I find it. “Just one? Hmmm… I’d say Serendipity was probably my favorite. Jimin’s voice, the dancing, the bubbles –”

“And popping the globe at the beginning!” Molly points her finger to the sky, breaking an imaginary bubble. “That was magical.”

It really was. “That’s the perfect word for it. How about you? Any favorites?”

“Well, he liked the rapline part best I think.” She juts her thumb towards her partner.

Don looks like a little kid again, eyes wide and smile pressing creases into his cheeks and the corners of his eyes. “Yes! I loved it. And I don’t like rap!”

“He really doesn’t,” Molly confirms, seemingly proud of him for his choice of favorite concert moment. “Mine was when Jungkook flew over the crowd. As a mom with a son about his age, I’d be terrified if my own child did it, but he truly was spectacular. I don’t know how he is able to do it at all, let alone sing so perfectly at the same time. I can’t even believe that really happened. And he sounded just like the CD, too, don’t you think?”

I feel emotion swelling, not at their words, but at the fact that these two people are so different from me in so many ways, yet we’re all experiencing the same awe and wonder. We are connected. “He sounded incredible. I think that every song was even better than any of the recordings or videos. And the energy…”

“Truly,” the older man reflects. “I’m not sure I’ve ever felt anything like tonight.”

So it’s not just me then. “I couldn’t agree more.”

“Well, we should be getting home and we won’t keep you. I know you’ve got kids to get home to, and it’s already quite late for us. Plus, we’ve got a two hour drive home still.” Molly slides her phone into an interior pocket of the clear backpack she’s using as a purse, and the two rise, checking under their seats to make sure they haven’t left anything  behind. “It was so great to meet you. Don’t be a stranger!”

“I won’t. We’ll talk soon.” I stand to hug my new friends, glad that we’ve exchanged numbers. They live about an hour away from me, but we’ve already made plans to meet for coffee in a few weeks.

As the couple walks away toward the exit, I stand, frozen. Entire sections of the venue now sit empty, vacated save the odd napkin or cup left behind.  Someone is sweeping the stage, creating piles of confetti here and there, but my gaze follows an older black man and what seems to be a few grandchildren a few blocks down. They’re waiting patiently for a group of young girls donning Chimmy headbands to make their way to the end of the row of seats. I remember what it was like to be their age, and I can’t help thinking how fortunate they are to have found BTS during such a crucial time in their lives. Maybe they’ll love themselves now, and be spared decades of trying to unbury who they are later. 

Or maybe not. Maybe that’s just part of life for us all. What do I know?

I look around my chair, picking up a discarded hot dog foil, while double checking to make sure that my little energy reserve is still tucked safely away inside of me. It is. I imagine bringing my kids when they’re older, so they can have this, too. I close my eyes and take one last deep breath in, filling my nostrils with the smells of popcorn, sweat, and something sweet I can’t quite place. Time to go home.

June 07, 2023 20:07

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4 comments

Mary Bendickson
22:28 Jun 14, 2023

Welcome to Reedsy. A creative entry entree. I have been graced with your story in the critique circle. I find myself a poor critic because most of the writers here have much more experience in their craft than I do. I suspect that is the case with your writing, too. You seem to know what you are doing. Fine job. Even though I know little about the subject I thought it captured the feel well.

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Awen Kerr
04:39 Jun 18, 2023

Thank you, Mary! I'm so excited to have found Reedsy. I'm not sure what rock I've been under, but I'm loving these writing prompts. I'm also a poor critic, because I tend to just love to read good stories! (And so far, that's all I've seen on here)

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David Sweet
13:57 Jun 13, 2023

I attended a much different kind of concert last weekend (Eric Gales, blues guitarist), but know what you mean. He asked some profound questions in his music, the audience was diverse, and at times I found myself in only what I can describe as being in water, yet it was being surrounded in sound. It's nice to be able to share that empathy that only true performing artists can bring to a show. And for those of us who are older and who are parents, we do experience it differently. Thanks for writing in this perspective. Welcome to Reedsy. I ...

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Awen Kerr
14:47 Jun 13, 2023

Thank you so much. "Being in water, yet being surrounded by sound" is such an apt description of the experience. It's been years since I've attended a concert like this one, but it never quite fades. I'm glad to have found Reedsy - especially the writing prompts. They're a fun way to break through writer's block and just have fun while I'm not working on my long form projects! (Checking out Eric Gales now, and what a talent. The Crown album is a masterpiece! Thanks for mentioning him.)

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