written by Lisa Malabanan
published by Lisa Malabanan
find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Goodreads
About the book: Elle Martins is a gifted musician ready to start her first year at College. She is not alone. Elle has the security of her best friends and boyfriend nearby, attending the same University. Everything seems new and exciting, but the moment she joins a rock group, her life changes. The band becomes a favorite among the college crowd. Their performances are a hit thanks to Elle’s musical genius, and the band garners recognition from a major record label.
Throughout the school year, Elle struggles over music, decisions, insecurities, and most of all, love. She is grateful for many amazing opportunities, yet the chance of a lifetime is within her grasp. Can she choose the ultimate dream or leave the people she loves behind?
Please enjoy the following excerpt from Consonance.
Similar to all things in life, we have a beginning, as well as an end. Of course, life has its share of joy and struggle. There are many delightful events to cherish, and even more painful obstacles to overcome. Yet I endured a period of life just to arrive to where I’m standing now. The travelled path was a long and difficult one. I encountered some bumps, potholes, steep hills, smooth throughways, a few wrong turns and roadblocks along the way. It felt like a lifetime ago but for me, the journey started with a dream, and a song…
A Monday afternoon, and the sun is brightly shining. Summer continues even though the vacation ends today. The car radio is booming Prince “1999” while my head bobs up and down, singing to the upbeat song.
Listening to the chorus, I wonder about the year nineteen ninety nine, a distant future. Questions regarding career, marriage, parenthood and status arise. Am I married, do I have children, will I become a music teacher, songwriter, or rock star? For now, those particular inquiries are to remain unanswered because the present time is September nineteen ninety, and I am starting my first semester of college.
As I fog the window to write my name, nervous energy permeates me. The suburban avenues soon turn into an urban scene with shops and large buildings lining the streets. People of all shapes and sizes stroll leisurely on the pathway. Traffic lights are numerous, and with each red light, I marvel at the diversity of this area.
A short interval passes before the greenery of another setting appears. Several tree-lined streets are a welcome sight again. Many students are walking around and some wear T-shirts displaying the title, Rutgers University or just plain Rutgers.
Mom turns her head back to me. “Are you excited? We’re almost there.”
Her eyes glisten with pride and hope. Though my stomach is in knots, I’m enthusiastic and anxious to move into the dorm.
“Yeah, I’m psyched! I can’t wait to see Tiff and meet the other girls.”
Dad expresses, “I’m glad Tiffany is your roommate. It’s best to live with someone you know well. Besides, James and Andrew will be around too. You’ll be in good company.”
Mom is cheerful, “You may be away from us, but at least the boys are near.”
When thinking of the brothers, Andrew and James, I sigh in content. We have been best friends since middle school. James is older than me by a year, whereas, Andrew and I are equal in age. We grew up in the same neighborhood comprised of uniform colonial, four bedrooms, and two-car garage homes.
They lived a couple of houses down from me, and we were constantly at one another’s place. Those boys are like family. Being an only child, I’m grateful they’re in my life. I love them both, each in their own special way.
Finally, we arrive at Douglass Campus. It’s been a few months since I laid eyes on the picturesque grounds, yet the vision of the place is like the first time, once the anxiety and excitement fill me again. The area is crawling with female students and their families helping out on moving day.
The Douglass dormitories are only for women; which pleases my parents and keeps them at ease. Rutgers University consists of many campuses. New Brunswick is the main location encompassing five schools connected by neighboring towns and shuttle buses. Andrew and James are roommates at the College Avenue Campus. Their dorms are coed and a few minutes away by car ride.
I was also accepted to Penn State University to study at their School of Music. My father seemed upset that I chose not to attend the prestigious facility. After numerous arguments desiring to be close-by and lower tuition cost, he relented. The music program is equally reputable at Rutgers, but the truth is I need to be near the boys. Mom is happy, and I suspect Dad is also pleased about the decision.
The hot and humid air is heavy as I gaze and breathe in the view, trying to obtain a sense of familiarity from the surroundings. This is a peaceful environment, composed of old, historic buildings and rural settings. More impressive, the campus is serene, similar to a park with gazebos, picnic tables, benches, ponds, and a bridge connecting to Cook Campus. Those aspects are principal considerations for me living at this location.
Soon, my name is shouted from a distance, “Elle…Elle.” I turn around to behold Tiffany running towards me, and she swoops in for a hug.
“I thought you would never get here. It’s not like you live miles away.”
“That’s why I took so long.” I return the embrace with a huge smile, happy to see her.
She replies “Smartass,” and then swirls around, “Hey Mr. and Mrs. Martins. I’ll help bring Elle’s stuff inside.” Without delay, she and Mom begin chattering about everything and anything.
Tiffany is sociable and outgoing, the complete opposite of my toned down and reserved self. I remember our first meeting when she visited James during the winter break last year. Tiffany is a no-nonsense and up-front type of girl; brutally honest, charismatic, and kind. We bonded in seconds.
I was not close to many females in high school. The girls were fake and catty. Their deceit and spite dismayed me. They pretended to be my friends to date Andrew or James.
Tiffany and I share some things in common. She has two younger brothers while I have two older brother figures. She is James’ girlfriend, and we both love him. They’re great together, and I wish them many years as a couple. I am happy she’s my roommate.
Meanwhile, the ruminations are disrupted by Dad nudging me. “Are you going to stand there or help move your things inside?”
“Sorry Dad. I was lost in my thoughts.”
With a scrutinizing gaze, his gentle hand touches my cheek. “I can tell.” He gestures to the boxes and suitcases. Thereupon, we carry a few to follow Tiffany and Mom.
Despite being an old building, the dormitory is cozy. I’ll be among girls so keeping up appearance for the opposite sex is unnecessary. In truth, I’ve imagined coed dorms full of guys running around half-naked, females with their faces and hair done up, strolling along in either nighties or hip fashions. Here, the women are dressed appropriately, as real college students, all with the same agenda of a good higher education.
After a few hours I have settled in. The bed is covered in a light blue floral design. The desk is organized with pens, pencils, and highlighters arranged in a caddy. Clothes hang in a closet while undergarments, T-shirts, and PJs are folded inside the cabinet. Pictures of family and friends adorn the nightstand and dresser, and my guitar, kept in a case, leans at the corner. In surveying the result, I am satisfied.
Across the room is Tiffany’s side. It is decked in colors opposite my motif: brown and red plaid. A stack of books is resting on the desk with pens and highlighters lying on top, yet still neat. A radio sits atop the dresser. The closet is closed, and a towel is folded over the chair.
Pictures and posters hang on the wall, inferring mine boring in comparison. Tiffany’s contrast in taste and personality are reasons I adore her even more. She is sincere and real, the only female friend I regard.
After smoothing out the comforter, Mom pulls me in for a long embrace and sobs. “I love you, and I’ll miss you so much. You’ve grown into a lovely young woman. I want nothing more than happiness and success for you.”
I quietly fight back the tears. “I love you too, but I’m only twenty-five minutes away.”
She shakes her head, chuckling, “I know baby, but it’s different. What am I supposed to do? It’s just your father and me in the house. He’ll drive me crazy!”
Everyone in the room bursts into laughter. “Please princess, don’t leave me. Your mother will nag me to death now that you won’t be there.” Dad pleads with an unabashed look, mocking Mom.
She swats him on the arm for the taunting reply. Next, Mom kisses me on the cheek and whispers, “You’ll always be my baby.”
I accompany them to the car to finish saying our goodbyes. A silent and tender embrace is shared before Mom settles into the passenger seat. Dad furnishes a giant bear hug.
He jokes, “Don’t go crazy partying. I don’t want to bail you out of jail then have to listen to your mother’s paranoid worrying.”
The way my father can turn a tearful farewell into something humorous is a relief for me. I whisper out, “I’m gonna miss you.”
Straightaway, he winks and mouths the word “good-bye.”
Now reality dawns, my parents are leaving, allowing me to begin the first year of college away from home. Although I’m excited, letting go is hard, and the time to grow up arrives. I observe them drive off until the car disappears from sight.
Minutes pass before I brace myself and slowly walk towards the building. Again, I glance at the scenery and ponder; today is ending, but it’s a new decade, school, and home. Tomorrow is another day, and my life starts now.
About the author: I am a graduate of Rutgers College of Nursing and work as a Professional Registered Nurse in the field of Perinatology. I currently live in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania with my husband and two children. At the age of six, I discovered piano and classical music. A variety of music genres influenced my life through the years, and I’m passing on a love of the arts to my daughter and son.
Reading fiction is my escape from the chaos and stress of a demanding yet rewarding profession. For me, writing transcends the diversion of a good book. The experience is like commuting on a New York City subway; diverse people enter and exit the scene, sometimes delays and derailment occur during creativity, and a train of thought is missed or passed over on occasion. In the end, an arrival at my destination is what I hope to accomplish, and I invite readers to take that ride with me.
Find Ms. Malabanan here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads
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