The Wombat Garden was an enormous, state-of-the-art concert arena that seated roughly forty-thousand people in plush, comfortable chairs, most of which were full by the time Paige wandered in.
In a frenzied panic, the teenager walked up and down one aisle after another, searching for a free seat to no avail until someone shouted, “Hey!”
Paige turned her head. A freckled faced girl about the same age as Paige lifted a jacket off of the chair next to her and pointed to it.
It was right on the edge of a row so luckily, Paige didn’t even have to scooch past a bunch of people to reach it. She sat down right away.
“Thank you,” Paige said.
“No problem,” the girl replied as she shook Paige’s hand. “I’m Laura.”
The teens looked around for a bit. The excitement in the room was palpable. Thousands of hormonal girls wearing Boyz a’Plenty shirts, holding up posters with their favorite boy on them, chatting away to each other incessantly.
“I’m sorry,” Paige said. “Were you saving this seat for someone?”
“In a way,” Laura said.
“Friend that couldn’t make it?” Paige asked.
Laura stared off into space and flashed a wry smile. “In a way,” she repeated.
“OK then,” Paige said as she leaned back. “Hashtag cryptic.”
Laura giggled. “My twin sister.”
“OMG,” Paige said. “Did she get lost or something?”
“She died,” Laura said.
Paige frowned. “OMG.”
“Oh its ok,” Laura said as she flipped through her official souvenir Boyz a’Plenty concert program. “Well, no, it’ll never be ok but it’s about as ok as it will ever be. We always went everywhere together. Movies, shows, concerts and she was always late, so I got in the habit of saving a seat for her.”
Laura’s eyes welled up.
“I’m sorry,” Laura said.
“It’s ok,” Paige replied.
“Its just that, she lost her battle with cancer two years ago,” Paige said. “And here I am, still putting my jacket on a seat like a big dummy hoping she’ll just walk right in and sit down.”
Now Paige was crying. “That’s not dumb. That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.”
“It is?” Laura asked.
“Hashtag love is forever,” Paige said.
“Hashtag love really is forever isn’t it?” Laura asked.
The girls traded a hug then Paige held up her tablet.
“Do you mind if I commemorate this moment with a selfie?” Paige asked.
“Commemorate away,” Laura answered.
The girls immediately pursed their lips into duck bills as Paige snapped.
“Hashtag bravest person I’ve ever met,” Paige said as she typed. “And posted!”
“So who’s your favorite?” Laura asked.
“OMG,” Paige said. “Hashtag a question for the ages. Let’s see. A.J. is dreamy but B.J. seems kind of damaged yet not so much that the love of a good woman couldn’t fix him, you know?”
“I totally know,” Laura said. “Sometimes I like to pretend that woman is me.”
“Me too,” Paige said.
“C.J. is the bad boy for sure,” Laura said.
“He is,” Paige said. “But you know, Davey just seems really sweet and down to earth so I’d have to go with him.”
“Everyone loves Davey,” Laura said.
“Hashtag so true,” Paige said.
The lights dimmed and thousands of girls instantly screamed in glee.
“Hello girls,” an announcer said.
More happy screams.
“Are you ready for the boys?” the announcer asked.
The lights flickered across the arena in a strobe effect. A hole opened in the stage and out of it, a platform immersed in fog slowly rose up.
“Coming to you from the Wombat Garden in fabulous Wombat World,” the announcer continued. “You’ve heard their hit singles ‘What Up, Girl?’ and ‘Don’t Be Sad, Girl.’”
The fog dissipated as the platform locked into the rest of the stage. Four shadowy boyish silhouettes were now visible.
Paige and Laura, like every other girl in the crowd, were on their feet, screaming like maniacs and bouncing up and down.
Choice words shouted from the audience included, “I love you, A.J!” and “Davey, I want to have ten thousand of your babies!”
“OMG,” Paige said. “Hashtag I’m gonna pass out!”
“I know,” Laura said. “Me too.”
Paige hit the record button on her tablet, pointed it at the stage and started a live stream.
“Here to perform their latest smash hit ‘Girl, Won’t You Be My Girl?’ its A.J., B.J., C.J. and Davey aka…Boyz a’Plenty!”
The spotlight hit the boys. They turned around, smiled and waved and every girl in attendance impersonated a mental patient that had just escaped from an insane asylum.
“OMG,” Paige said as she squinted at the stage. “Davey has peach fuzz on his chin!”
Laura squinted. “He does!”
The boys wore flesh colored headsets that amplified their voices.
“Hey girls,” A.J. said.
That was met with a resounding, “Woooooo!”
B.J. strutted right up to the edge of the stage. “You ready to make some noise, Wombat World?”
Oh they were. And oh they did.
“Come on,” C.J. said. “You can do better than that!”
The girls belted out an even louder, “Wooooooo!”
“Hey fellas,” Davey said. “I love Wombat World, don’t you?”
“We sure do,” A.J. said. “And not just because we’re contractually obligated to as we’re signed with the music division of Carruthers Brothers Amalgamated Studios.”
“I love the rides,” B.J. said.
“I love the cotton candy,” C.J. said.
“That’s all great,” Davey said. “But you know what would would make a day like today even more special?”
“What’s that, Davey?” A.J. asked.
“If one of these girls…”
The girls lost it. Ear drums were shattered as they screeched at a dog whistle pitch and lobbed various undergarments at the boys.
Davey grinned and looked out at the crowd. “…would be my girl.”
More hysterics until the announcer took over.
“Attention girls. If you are sitting in seat 47A, congratulations! Head up on stage so your fun filled day with Boyz a’Plenty can begin!”
Every girl in the joint frantically checked her seat. Paige’s heart pounded as she stared at the number printed on the back of her chair – 47A.
“OMG,” Paige said.
“What do I do?” Paige asked.
“What do you mean, ‘what do you do?’” Laura asked. “Get up there!”
Paige looked up at the boys on stage, then around at the auditorium filled with insane girls, then at Laura.
“No,” Paige said. “This is your sister’s seat. It should be you.”
Laura grabbed Paige’s hand. “Don’t even worry…”
Before Laura could finish her sentence, Paige was shouting, “OMG thank you Laura, I’ll never forget you!” as she beat feet towards the stage.
Laura folded her arms in disgust. “Shit,” she said to a Paige who was no longer there. “You were supposed to call my bluff so could be all like, ‘Well, if you insist’ but just run your stupid, inconsiderate ass right up there.”
The lights went dark. A few minutes later, the spotlight hit the stage again and Paige was sitting in a chair, flipping out and live streaming away on her tablet as the boys surrounded her.
“Hey girls,” A.J. said to the audience.
“We’ve got a very special guest with us,” B.J. said.
“Her name is Paige,” C.J. said.
Davey walked over to Paige and got down on one knee. Tears of epic elation streamed down Paige’s cheeks.
“Paige, I’ve just got one question for you…”
The boy band member with the peach fuzz on his chin took Paige’s hand into his, looked her in the eyes and asked, “Girl…will you be my girl?”
Paige looked as though her head was about to physically explode.
Background music filled the speakers. It was a hip, funky beat.
The boys broke out into elaborate dance moves as they sang in unison, “Girl, won’t you be my, be my girl…”
All the girls in the arena cheered.
“…won’t you be my whole wide world? Oh girl, won’t you be my, be my girl?”
A fuming mad Laura remained seated. “What a bitch.”