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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

American Girl on Saturn: The Story Behind WORDS

If you know me well enough, you know that I sneak special things and inside secrets into my books. More times than not, no one even knows it's there. But then there are moments when my sister Emily and my BFF Rachel catch things and we freak out and squee because our memories are forever immortalized. One of those memories is preserved in American Girl on Saturn. The memory is simply WORDS.

Rachel & me - pre-show - 10.21.2008
In October 2008, Rachel and I traveled to Atlanta, GA, to see Hawthorne Heights live for the first time. It was 11 months after the death of their guitarist/screamer Casey Calvert. Seeing your favorite band live is one thing, but having had a band literally be your sanity for two years and then suffering through the ultimate tragedy with them is on a whole new level. You guys see me talk about my love for HH at times, but for the most part, I don't speak out on it because it's so personal that it's hard to really put into words.

Before we ventured off on this huge journey, we planned out exactly what we needed/wanted to say. Rachel and I both had different journeys with this band, but ultimately, they got us through the hardest time of our lives (which seemed to happen at the same time because of BFF ESP and such). HH was our sanity in 2006. We lost Casey in 2007. I almost gave up on this band. I almost quit. I almost left. I almost gave up on life. But I didn't. They didn't. We didn't. And to this day, this band and Casey's life/death impacts me daily.

I prepared "icebreaker lines" and rehearsed them with Rachel. I told her all the things I needed to say to Micah, their lead guitarist. She told me what she needed to say to JT, their lead singer. If all else failed, we'd speak for the other one. We were as prepared as we could be. Before we left, Rachel's friend Erin gave her the piece of paper you see to the right. She told Rachel that you speak with WORDS. And if she forgot how to speak, she just had to use WORDS. Rachel took the 'WORDS' with us that night, in her back pocket, for good luck and strength and because the symbolism itself was beautiful.

So, did we find our WORDS? Of course. I've found them three times since then as well. I don't leave a HH show without talking to Micah. And it's the easiest thing in the world. It all began in 2008 with WORDS. Because of that, WORDS is a special part of American Girl on Saturn. The scene below is where WORDS is first mentioned in AGOS.

Crickets and toads chirp in the night as we trek back toward the house. I still like to believe it’s really aliens doing Morse code. That just sounds much more exciting.
“So, my orange butterfly, can I wake you up early in the morning?” Milo asks.
“I can’t be your butterfly,” I say, wishing immediately that I hadn’t. “You can’t be mine, either.”
“Whoa, what?” He stops in the middle of the grass and pulls me back toward him.
His skin radiates in the moonlight. He was meant to shine. He was meant to bleed colors.
“Chloe,” he says. “Talk. Explain. Something?”
“I don’t know how,” I say, trying to unfizzle my thoughts.
“Words!” he says much too loudly. “With words! Speak! Words!”
“Shhhh,” I say, pulling him toward me. “You can’t be my butterfly because…they bleed and die and dissolve into wing particles. But you have to bleed, even if I hate it.”
“Okay, if you want to talk in metaphors, I can do that,” he says.
Oh Saturn. Why? Why must he be beautiful, talented, and smart?
“You’re right,” he says, pulling his arms free of my grasp and taking my hands in his. “Eventually, the sun will rise, I’ll have to bleed with my butterfly brothers, and the rest of the world will get to see my blue ink, not just you.”
I never thought I could smile at the thought of Milo leaving, but this boy seriously just made it happen.
“But here’s the thing,” he says. “I may bleed every single day for the world, but I bleed the most for you.”

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