Listen to Your Heart

Page 11


I stood up and walked through the door. The recording studio was mostly used for the music classes, and I looked around at the guitars, a keyboard, and a set of electric drums. The only thing Victoria and I needed were the microphones that stretched from the floor to above our heads and then angled back down again. A pair of big headphones rested on the stool. I picked them up and slid them on as I sat down.
The remaining class members stared at me through the glass. On their side was a big soundboard, a couch, phones, and a few computers. Mallory and a guy named Jed were manning the phone lines. Two other students sat behind computers, ready to fact-check or do research when called upon. Alana sat on a rolling chair with a laptop and Frank sat on the far side of the couch, scrolling through his phone. I was glad Alana’s first assignment was on the production crew. I wasn’t looking forward to when she’d switch jobs and have a different lab day than me.
“This is so exciting,” Victoria said from beside me.
I turned toward her and my headphones slipped off the back of my head. They were too big. I adjusted them. Victoria’s headphones seemed to fit perfectly. She wore bright pink lipstick, as if the listeners would actually see her. She had dressed up as well. She was in a bold cotton sundress and had straightened her normally curly dark hair. I was just wearing my standard wardrobe of shorts and a T-shirt.
I swallowed the lump in my throat that was surely going to make me sound like a frog for this recording. Maybe they could fix it in the editing process the next day.
Alana pushed a button on the long board in front of her, and her voice sounded in my headphones. “I sent out the tweet for phone calls. The lines will be ringing off the hook soon.”
“Yes, they will,” Ms. Lyon said. “You ready, ladies?”
“Definitely,” Victoria said.
Apparently they could all hear us without us needing to push any buttons because Ms. Lyon said, “Good.”
I hadn’t answered, but that didn’t seem to matter.
Alana held up her notepad to face me. On it, she had written Want to switch?
I knew she still wished that she was the one with the headphones and the microphone and I was the one with the podcast’s Twitter account. I would’ve switched places with her in a heartbeat if I could’ve. I nodded at her and she smiled and lowered her notepad.
Ms. Lyon pointed at me. “And we’re recording.” She let go of the button and pushed another.
My stomach lurched. Victoria leaned into her mic a little and said, “Hello, Oak Court! Welcome to our first podcast of the year.”
Ms. Lyon pushed the button again. “You don’t need to scream into the mic, Victoria. It will pick you up just fine. Enthusiasm yes, screaming no. Our editing team can edit a lot out, but let’s not make them edit for volume.” Ms. Lyon pushed the recording button again and pointed our way.
Victoria tried again, her enthusiasm undiminished.
“Hello, podcast listeners. We’re your hosts, Victoria and Kat. Welcome to Not My Problem. Have you heard that phrase before? Have you tried to share your angst and woes with friends and they responded with their version of ‘it’s not my problem’? Well, people, for the next thirty minutes, we are going to make your problems our problems. We are here as your listening ears, your sympathetic shoulders to cry on. Figuratively, of course.”
It was now my job to read the disclaimer. I leaned forward and my mouth hit the mic with a thump. “Oops.”
“It’s okay, we’ll fix it later,” Ms. Lyon said. “Keep going.”
I backed off the mic slightly. “Actually, my name is Kate.” That needed to be clear from the start. “And as a side note, we are not professionals.” My hands were trembling as I read off the notecard we’d prepared with Ms. Lyon. “Whatever views we express today are our own opinions. If you do feel like you have an immediate problem that needs professional help, please call 911 or any of the other emergency numbers we have posted on our website.”
Yep, the lump in my throat absolutely made me sound like a frog.
“And just some additional Sequoia High info,” Victoria said. “The Fall Festival is coming up. Most of you know what that means, but for you freshmen, who may not, the festival is a week of fun school activities, followed by a football game and an amazing carnival that takes place Friday night in the school parking lot. There are games and snacks and rides. You have five weeks to ask a date and get your tickets!”
Victoria was a natural.
Now was the time in the show when our first phone call was supposed to be waiting for us. Both Victoria and I looked at the board on the other side of the glass. It was ominously free of blinking lights. Mallory, at the phones, shook her head and shrugged her shoulders.
“We’ll edit out the silence,” Ms. Lyon said into our headphones. This was one of the benefits of a podcast, she’d told us in class last week—editing. This couldn’t be done on live shows.
I glanced over at Alana, who mouthed, I posted on every site.
I nodded, grateful she was trying.
“Before we’d ask any of you to share your problems with us, however,” Victoria said smoothly, “what kind of hosts would we be if we didn’t participate? Right, Kat?”
“Kate. Okay. Lay it on our audience. What is the biggest thing you’re struggling with right now?”
I swallowed hard. “Right now?”
“Um … having to host a podcast when I don’t like people very much.”
Alana covered her mouth with a laugh I couldn’t hear. Victoria’s laugh was not silent, on the other hand. It was a big, happy laugh that would probably sound perfect on the air. “You are too funny. Well, here we go, first bit of official advice on our baby podcast. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Relax your shoulders. And remember, only the entire student body and the greater Oak Court city area will be listening.” She was born to host a show. “I bet even Lakesprings is listening. Kat is from Lakesprings, everyone.”
“Not helpful,” I said. I tried to relax my shoulders.
Victoria smiled. “No, but really, you’ll do great. And they, whoever they are, say that the more you practice something that scares you, the easier it gets. So after twenty-four more shows, you’ll be a pro just in time for our podcast to be over.”
“Thanks, Victoria.” There were still no lights on the board. “Your turn. What is your biggest problem right now?” I asked.
“Aside from having a cohost who doesn’t like people?” she said with perfect comedic timing. Were we on a sitcom, the laugh track would’ve sounded.
“Yes,” I said drily. “Aside from that.”
“My biggest problem in life right now is being a size sixteen in a world that values size twos.”
And this was just proof that I was going to be horrible at advice. I had no idea what to say to that. I was surprised she was already being so open with our listeners. Impressed, but surprised.
“I guess we need to work on changing what the world values,” I ventured.
“I agree,” she said. “Oh, looks like we have a phone call.”
My heart skipped a beat. I zeroed in on that red blinking light through the glass. Mallory gave us a thumbs-up.
“Hello, you’re our very first caller on Not My Problem. Tell us your name and your problem,” Victoria said.