Chapter 16:

A crazy idea

Bonded by Music

Eloy took a deep breath to calm himself down before writing on the Whatsapp group he shared with his parents and Elia, asking if they had a moment to talk. His parents' response was immediate, even though it was almost 11 PM in Spain. As usual, his parents picked up the call in the first ring.

“Hello sweetie! How are you? I’ve read that the temperatures are going to rise this week. Do you need more summer clothes? With your heigh, for sure you’ll have trouble finding ones that fit you–”

“Laura, honey, why don’t you let the kid say hello at least?”

Just when his parents looked about to start ‘arguing’, Elia also joined the video call. She was already in bed, in the apartment she shared with another two friends from her media degree.

“Elia? Why are you still awake? Don’t you have to wake up early tomorrow?” their mother asked with surprise.

“No, tomorrow the programme doen’t start until 9:30.” Elia looked at Eloy and smiled at him with encouragement. “So I’m here to support my scaredy-cat brother.”

Eloy narrowed his eyes at Elia when her comment caused their parents to look at him in confusion.

“Is there something wrong, son?” Eloy’s father said with sudden concern, prompting Eloy to speak hastily.

“No, no, everything is fine, don’t worry.” Eloy said, but his parents didn’t look too convinced, probably because his nervousness was too evident. “It’s just that I’ve been working on something and…well, I’ll try to summarize.”

Eloy was rather impressed with himself when he only needed five minutes to explain everything that happened during the past month, starting with his encounter with Genta and finishing with the challenge they were currently facing. Although the fact that he spoke at twice his normal speed when he was nervous had something to do with it.

“...and that’s it.” Eloy finished, feeling his throat dry since he had barely paused to take a breath.

His parents finally closed their mouths, which had gradually opened as he talked. They didn’t say anything for a few - quite long - seconds, and then his mother let out a joyful shout while applauding.

“I’m so, so happy that you are playing again!”

“Laura, honey, the neighbors–”

“You said that the contest was called ‘Turn it up’? Is it on Youtube? Can I watch it? Pedro, we still can download videos with that add-on? And we still have space in the hard drive to store things, right?”

“But wait, wait a moment,” Eloy stared at his parents in disbelief. “Are you really okay with this?”

His parents exchanged a glance before his father spoke.

“Well, you know what we think about contests, son. They’re always unfair, and there are always talented people who are left out even if they deserved to win as well.”

“Oh dear, every time I think about that oratory contest where you ended up second, I feel my anger boil–”

“But if it’s something that you really want to do, then go for it,” Pedro said, managing to softly interrupt Laura before this one could start with her rant. “And we’ll do everything we can to help.”

“Exactly, sweetie. So what shall we do? I have 100 people added on Facebook, do you want me to contact them so that they follow you? How was your group called: sevenigi?”

“SevenEG, honey.”

“Well, that’s what I said, Pedro!”

While their parents ‘argued’, Eloy had to fight against the small lump that had formed in his throat. He felt relieved that his parents had supported him unconditionally, but also guilty for having doubted that they would.

They talked for a few more minutes before saying their farewells. Eloy debated then between going back to sleep or getting out of bed to work on his thesis, when Elia video called him.

“See? I told you that you were worrying too much,” Elia said the moment her face appeared on his screen, causing Eloy to laugh with embarrassment.

Elia asked more details about how the challenge was going.

“Not too well,” Eloy admitted. “I think it’s going to be impossible to get that number of followers. But still, Eli, do you think that you could also talk about the contest–”

“–tomorrow in the programme to mention that my overthinker big brother is participating in a super popular Japanese contest? Of course I will. I’m going to reach out to everyone that is working on radio or TV so that they also promote it and–oops, I think the screen froze. Are you still there, Eloy?

Eloy finally reacted. “Y-Yeah, I’m still here. But I actually was only going to ask if you could tell your friends. I hadn’t thought about you mentioning it on the radio.”

“Well, I was always the smartest of the two,” she said jokingly before adopting a more serious tone. “So send me an email with all the info you have about the contest, okay? How many people applied, how the process was, details about the judges, about the participants, everything. The more we can attract attention to it, the better…Damn, I think this time the screen froze for real.”

But the screen wasn’t frozen. It was just that Elia’s words had made Eloy remember one particular comment that one of the judges made during their audition.

A comment that could change the odds in their favor.

“Yep. It’s frozen. I’m going to hang up and–”

“Don’t hang up, Eli. I’m still here.” Eloy’s heart was beating fast again, but now with excitement instead of nervousness. “I think I have an idea.”

* * *

“Finally!” Genta exclaimed when Eloy stomped inside Harmony. “We were supposed to meet an hour ago. What the hell happened?”

Eloy managed to straighten himself, still breathing hard because he had been running for almost 15 minutes straight not to arrive even later.

“Sorry,” he gasped. “Something came up at the last minute, but my phone’s battery died, and I couldn’t tell you. I’m really sorry.”

That last bit was true. His phone had died while he had been completely focused on his laptop, preparing everything for the plan he had come up with thanks to Elia.

“Whatever, let’s start already,” Genta snapped, logically angry. “But do me a favor and if you aren’t interested in taking this seriously anymore, just tell me to stop wasting time.”

Eloy hesitated for a second, but eventually he only apologized again. He didn’t want to tell Genta anything until he was sure his plan could work. The last thing he wanted was to give him false hopes.

That morning only Mako and Narumi were at the bar. They continued intercalating recording music trends and a few performances, and although there was some initial tension between Genta and Eloy due to his late arrival, it gradually disappeared as they worked together.

They took a quick break to rest and have lunch, then continued until 4:30 PM. By then, they had reached 1,326 followers, but they still had a long way to go.

“When the week is over, I don’t want to hear about TikTok, instagram or social media ever again,” Genta snapped while dropping on one of the cushioned chairs with his arms crossed.

Eloy also sat down, leaving some space between them. His muscles were starting to ache, since he wasn’t used to that much physical activity. Also, the time to see if his idea would work or not was approaching, so his nervousness was returning in full force.

“Hey, are you okay?” Genta inquired, pointing at Eloy’s bouncing legs with his eyes.

“Yeah,” he lied, planting his hands on his thighs to force them to stay still. “Just tired.”

Genta didn’t look too convinced but fortunately didn’t insist. They rested for another five minutes, and then Genta stood up again.

“Okay, let’s keep going. Narumi, what’s the next trend–?”

At that moment Eloy’s phone started ringing incredibly loudly, causing everyone in the bar, himself included, to jump startled. Eloy didn’t even hear Genta protest about the insane volume, which Eloy had set to the maximum on purpose to make sure he wouldn’t miss that possible call.

His eyes fixed on the incoming WhatsApp call, from a number that was too long to be spam. He answered the call, feeling his heart about to leap out of his chest.

“Hi! Am I speaking to Eloy Silva Ramos?” an animated woman's voice said, speaking in Spanish.

“Yes, it’s me,” he said after switching to his native language.

“Hello Eloy, nice to meet you! I’m Diana Friso, from ‘Espejo Público’. We’ve recently learned that you are the only Spanish contestant in an incredibly popular Japanese contest. Congratulations! Do you have a few minutes to talk to us about that experience?”

Eloy’s eyes widened as he assimilated what he had just heard.

Oh shit.

It seemed that his crazy idea had worked. 

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