Roman Holiday - By Ashleyn Poston


Chapter One

I'm a classic rock kind of girl. I'm the kind of girl who head bangs to Meat Loaf and air-guitars to "Bohemian Rhapsody." I'm the kind of girl who dissects Van Halen's "Jump," can pinpoint "Hotel California" on a map, strum every chord to "Livin' on a Prayer" blindfolded, and name every single Bruce Springsteen song ever written in thirty seconds flat.

It's all because of Dad.

I didn't have the most...typical upbringing. I can do bands like Sublime and Halestorm too, but classic rock has a way of weaseling into the crevices between dateless Saturday nights and late shifts working at my family's bar, the Silver Lining. It's a dive of a place with cheap two-dollar beers, and halfway decent cover bands. It was Dad's brainchild before he took the midnight train too early.

Mom was the first of us to rebound from his death. She remarried her high school sweetheart, an architect named Charles Conway, three months after his funeral and became the black pariah of Asheville. And I was known as the black pariah's daughter.

It didn't bother me until the day before high school graduation when someone wrote in red lipstick on my locker, 'YOUR MOM'S A SLUT.'

"Forget about those dickheads," my boyfriend, Cas, told me. "You'll never see them again after graduation."

"You won't," I argued in a half-sob. We were huddled in his '78 Trans Am on a dirt road so no one would see us together. I thought, at the time, it was because I was crying so hard I could blow snot bubbles. "You'll be gone to Berkley."

"What happened to you going to going to Tech?" He wiped a tear away with his thumb and tucked a strand of my dishwater blond hair behind my ear.

I laughed ruefully. "If I leave, the Lining will sink faster than the Titanic."

"Your mom can't take care of it?"

"Between going on their monthly honeymoons to Bali and Aspen? That's funny, Cas."

He frowned. "You'll get out, babe."

No, I wouldn't. I knew I wouldn't. But I just smiled and kissed him to change the subject. The Lining still stands because I give a damn. Mom doesn't, and a part of me thinks that she'd rather have it burn down because it's too much trouble, and it needs a lot of work. Work that we can't afford because we're already scraping rock bottom. But someone has to keep Dad's soul alive, and that duty fell to me.

At the time, I didn't think I would mind.

Fast-forward a month and a half to July. Saturday night, my favorite shift. And where's Mom? Definitely not here. I squat down behind the speakers onstage, gathering the plethora of beer bottles tonight's band stashed there, and dump them into the trashcan beside the stage. Our sound guy, Danny, whistles Queen's "Killer Queen" as he flicks off the soundboard and drains the last of his strawberry mojito. I wish he would choke on an ice cube.

"Mike three was hot again tonight, Danny," I tell him, wiping my hands on my jeans. One of the bottles was sticky. Gross. "Rock Your Mouth ruined another Slipknot cover."

"I can only do so much with this equipment, darlin'," Danny retorts. "And they just sucked."

"They would've sucked less if you did your job instead of texting." I hop off the stage and begin tossing the empty bottles scattered across the bar into the trashcan. "I mean, they made me want to slipknot a noose and hang them from the rafters with it. And I usually never have a problem with Slipknot."

Danny spits through the gap in his front teeth. I inwardly cringe. He says it's a nervous habit, but I think he does it to get on my nerves. "Hey, sweetie, leave it to the professionals. Danny's got the big-boy sound stuff under control."

"Because you can text and push a slider at the same time, obviously."

"I've been doin' sound a lot longer than you've been alive, sweetie."

Sweetie, sweetie. I'm not sure what gets on my nerves more, his condescending tone, or the fact that he thinks he call me by a pet name. Danny is twenty years older than me, so it's probably the pet name. I even cringe when my boyfriend calls me "babe." I just hate pet names. Tossing a Coors Light bottle into the trash can with more force than necessary, the neck pops off as the base rings the side before finally falling in. "I'm just trying to help."

"Sweetie, maybe you should start worryin' about your own life, and not this Copyright 2016 - 2023