The World Music Created: “Stay Awake”

A series of short fiction pieces continuing the stories told in concept albums.
This week’s article is inspired by All Time Low’s “Stay Awake.”

“Think about like this,” he tells himself, “you could’ve been stuck at a dead end 9-9, working hard to no avail. Instead, you’re making your dreams come true, that counts for something.” He hoists his backpack higher and ignores the ache that’s settled into his shoulders. The library enters his field of vision and he tries not to cringe as he thinks of how far behind he is on his homework. He takes a breath and readjusts his sunglasses.

The night before was a blur, but he’s determined to clean up his act, and it starts by actually turning his assignments in, completed. He’s at the library for five hours, reading, and writing, and researching. In the end, he doesn’t actually finish any of his assignments, but he gains a clue of what it is he’s learning in his classes.

The next Monday, he walks into his classroom for the first time in almost two weeks. He can feel the eyes of his other classmates, but he ignores it. His notes are organized and detailed. For the first time since he graduated high school, he sees college as a step and not an obstacle.

It’s three years later, and he’s a dropout. He’s not jaded about it, though. He learned more in his 6.5 terms than he did in any other stretch of time. The most important thing he learned was that school isn’t for everyone, and he learned how to accept that.

Tonight, though, he’s excited. Two years of hard work adjacent to schoolwork had paid off. As he steps onto the platform, blinded and warm from the stage lights, he smiles. Going to college may not have given him a degree, but it taught him how to identify what was most important to him.