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My First Tape

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The familiar smell of my… our new home is all I need to relax. Lunch was pretty filling, but I think I just didn’t have much of an appetite from the weird looks the cashier lady gave us. Still, grabbing a couple gummies that are still left over can’t hurt. Just pickin’ random flavors, I don’t mind a mix too much, anything sweet is good to top off a meal, you know?


After sitting down and playing with my snacks a bit before I pop ‘em in my mouth, I hear the door close and foot steps getting closer to the front. As I stare out the window, I can see one of the stages. One of the last ones we went to before the end of the festival.


Lots of people were there, and I even got to try moshing! It was a lot of fun, but I was pretty knocked out as soon as we got back to the RV. Amber just let me sleep and I didn’t get up until 2:30. She lets me get away with a little too much sometimes.


“Alright, all ready to hit the road, babe?” Amber asked, taking her place as captain of the gay pirate ship formerlly sailing for treasure. Clicking her seat belt, she looks over at me. I can’t see her face that well, but her voice sounds worried. “You okay?”


“Do you remember that one band with the weird name?” I ask.


After a bit, she responds. “What, you gonna ask why they weren’t dressed like caveman royalty?” She tries to lighten the mood. “Not all bands have gimmicks, you know?”


“None of them were girls.” I spit out. “Their music was cool, but based on their name I thought there would at least be... like... a girl singer!”


“...I think they’re called that because they didn’t wanna sound super mascu-”


“And also their music was closer to what you listen to than what Mariah does. I thought stones were supposed to have something to do with ska in music.”


“...So you didn’t expect cave queens? I guess that’s fair, though.”


“Not really, I expected them to just be a bunch of Mariahs with trumpets.” I reply, still staring out the window. Amber doesn’t say anything. She’s probably just considering how exactly to reply that.


“...Thanks, now I’m gonna get nightmares about that.” She teases.


“Well, you’ve never heard her sing, she might be pretty okay at it.” I try to center her a bit. “She doesn’t seem like she’d be good at any instruments though...”


“Nah, I’ve heard her. She’s… she might be a good drummer actually.” Amber adds, sounding almost like she’s discovered some revelation about her rival. But a more important thought has occurred to me now!


“Oh! Oh!” I turn around and start pawing at my girlfriend. “That’s really cute, cause Tess can play the wind chime!”


“I don’t think you can play a wind chime.” She turns around and grabs my hand. “That’s like playing triangle or something, it’s a thing they give to kids and stuff.”


“Tess is a kid.” I remind her, resting my arms in my lap. “I believe in her ability to chime the wind.” I give a thumbs up to show my support for my bestest little friend. Amber stares.


“Alright then, what would Joe play?” Amber asks as she turns the ignition, bringing our home to life.


“Umm…” I have to think for a bit, thankfully my crane goddess is focused enough on getting us moving so I don’t have to answer instantly. Joe doesn’t seem like he’d play guitar or sing, and I don’t know any other instruments, so… “Also drums.”


Amber lets out a quick laugh. “So they’d just be an all drum band?”


“And wind chimes!” I reply, making a pouty face.


“Well two drummers worked for The Outlaws.” She manages to stop her cute giggling. “But they had guitars and stuff to go with all the drums.”


“Well, that’s what we’ll do! You can play guitar, right?”


“What? No, why would I? And there’s no way I’d be in a band with her.” She seems almost offended I asked.


“So you can’t play?” I ask, kinda shocked.


“Well, I wanted to, just never had the chance.” Amber sighs. “Plus there’s not a lot of room in the RV for a guitar, amp, pedals. You know, any thing like that.”


“It’s fine, you can learn guitar when we get our mansions, and I’ll sing!” I give another thumbs up, she gives me another ‘you’re cute’ face as she looks over to look for traffic. “And we can all wear cavemen outfits and show those other guys who the real queens are. Joe can come too.”


She laughs again. “I don’t actually think I’ve heard you sing other than mimicking words in crowd sing alongs.” She has a point I guess. “But your humming is really cute.”


“Well, this thing doesn’t have a radio, and I don’t really know the words to any of the tape songs.” Not like I haven’t tried to learn.


“Yeah, but… Oh, yeah.” Amber perks up. “I have a present for you, but it’s in my pants.”


I freeze, my face probably turns red instantly. “W-what, uh.. I mean, you’re driving, and like… I know I’m not that good at it, so I think doing it here would be too difficult, not to mention dangero-”


“What? No, it’s in my pocket. I just forgot to take it out before we got on the road.” She blushes, wanting to look away, but still having to keep her eyes on where she’s driving.


“R-right, sorry.” I apologize for maybe the third time today about saying embarrassing things. Once she’s got us on the highway, she uses a free hand to pull out a rectangle thingy with some pretty weird art on it. She hands it to me, and I just kinda stare at it. “What is it?”


“It’s your first album.” She looks over and smiles at me. “You seemed like you really liked this artist, so I went to go see if they had any tapes. Some groups still do that, but they’re hard to get outside concerts and festivals. But now you have a tape we can listen to, too. Along with me and Gramps’ old stuff.”


I squeal, and almost try to hug her before remembering where we are. “Thanks, hon! I can’t wait to listen to it.”


“Sure, just put it in when you want.” I fumble around and try to figure out how to open it, before finally just kinda trying to read it like a book. A little booklet falls between my thighs, so I pick it up and examine it.


“Amber!” I gasp! “It comes with all the lyrics!” I push the tape in, ready to read along with my helpful book friend. It looks like one of the songs is in Chinese or something, but I shrug it off. I just won’t sing that one.


She giggles and pats my head. “Yeah, just make sure not to lose it. You can’t really replace lyric sheets without buying a whole new cassette.”


“Okay, all set to…” Then I remember. “Where are we going again?”


“Well, that was what I was gonna ask you.” She smiles. “We have a few places we could go. We could visit your family in New Mexico, see your brother in Utah, go back to Zion...”


“Are you sure you’d wanna go back there?” I ask, worried it might just be another foggy day again.


“Eh, maybe… Mariah for sure won’t be there, so weather’s the only thing that could ruin it. She’s probably hunting for Nessie in Michigan or something.”


“Oh, that sounds fun, we should do that!” I tease.


“Mare..” Amber shoots me a look, I stick out my tongue in response.


“We could always mess with them and put a bunch of tiny Nessie plushes in their RV when they’re out hunting! Like she had babies in their house as revenge!” I try my best to keep a straight face during all of this, but I crack just before Amber does. Her laugh is really gorgeous, same as everything about her.


“So, where to?” She asks again.


“Hmmm… I dunno, I didn’t really think about it. I just want to get a teddy bear or something now that I joked about it.” I give a smile. “But I got you, so I’m good on things to cuddle.”


“Dork.” She gives me one of her smug looks, but I can tell she’s blushing a bit. She gets her focus back on the road. “How about the east coast after we’re done with all of that? Then maybe we could, like… try and find a place we like to settle down when we’re done traveling. It’d be best to see the whole country before we decide where to put our mansions, right?”


“Definitely! Maybe somewhere near Michigan so we can invite Nessie over for dinner.” With Amber giving a tiny laugh, I flip the tape over to side A and let the music start again.