The color guard showed up to the band parade wearing Darth Vader masks.
Sadie mentally counted the beats as her feet moved. She loved playing marching band music, but playing while walking still challenged her after three years. Thirty minutes and several stubbed toes later, she stood impatiently outside of the band room. Every year, Mr. Domquist dawdled back to let the students in, too busy socializing with alumni and parents to remember his roasting students. Every year, all the students swore that they’d take his keys before the march. Every year, they forgot.
Cradling her clarinet awkwardly in one arm, Sadie loosened the front panel of her uniform jacket by freeing it from the three gold buttons on her left shoulder. She pulled the front panel down, readjusted her posture, and started unfastening the remaining zippers and buttons that hid in far too many places. This wasn’t a straight jacket after all. Her clarinet bumped against her cheek. Wincing, she wriggled free of the jacket, pulled the suspenders down from her shoulders and enjoyed the freedom of her Discworld t-shirt over the confines of smelly blue wool.
“So what did you think?” A black helmet was inches from Sadie’s face.
“Don’t sneak up on me!” Sadie reprimanded Meredith.
“I’ve been calling your name for the last two minutes. That’s hardly sneaking up.”
“Sorry,” Sadie apologized.
“Your opinion of the color Vaders?”
“I can’t believe Tabitha came up with that.”
“She didn’t. I did.”
“Well, I can’t believe Tabitha allowed it. She normally doesn’t do anything to rock Mr. Domquist’s boat.”
“I can be very persuasive.” Meredith put her hands on her hips.
“Aren’t you going to take that mask off?”
“Only when I can be reassured of my anonymity.”
“What anonymity? Everyone knows who’s in the color guard.”
“I only got Tabitha to agree to the whole thing if I spun it as an initiation. If the masks come off before we’re back to the locker room, that person has to drill with the freshmen during tryouts.”
“You’re a senior. It doesn’t matter what happens. You can’t lose your spot.”
“It’s all about the solidarity of the thing, Sadie. Something you wouldn’t understand unless it hit you in the face.”
“The solidarity of spandex-wearing Darth Vaders is not something I wish to understand.”