The lights reflected off the wall of glass into his eyes.
“What am I doing here in front of so many people?” he wondered.
The noise of people buying concessions and taking their seats was so loud he almost couldn't hear himself think.
“I've done this on so many different nights. Why am I still terrified every time?”
He looked around for someone to answer his thoughts, but his colleagues were engaged in their own rituals before the moment of truth; some praying, others going through the plan step by step in their mind, still others laughing and joking, trying to ignore the fact that thousands of eyes would soon be on them.
“Why do I keep getting myself into this mess?”
It had been five years since he first was standing in this very spot, about to swallow his insecurities and do what was necessary for the good of the group.
“What if I screw up and everyone laughs at me?”
He knew that he'd recover from a chorus of thousands laughing at his incompetence, but there would be one among that chorus whose laughter would cut him deep, so deep that he'd rather crawl in a hole and die than face her afterward.
“Please don't let her see me screw up.”
It was no use though, he was the most easily recognizable person there tonight, even from a hundred yards away. He had a huge target on his chest and any mistake by him would not go unnoticed by anyone. The weight of it on his shoulders seemed to grow heavier by the minute.
“I wish I hadn't forgotten my bandanna.”
The lights bearing down on him were making him sweat, and the sweat was running into his eyes—each drop a stinging wasp—and mouth, giving him that all too familiar taste in his mouth. It was an unpleasant flavor for sure, but the familiarity was strangely comforting.
“I should get lined up. It's starting soon.”
As he made his way to his position, he noticed the advertisements surrounding him and the new logo bearing down. It wasn't much different than the last logo, but it brought thousands more spectators eagerly awaiting to see what merited a revamp of all that had gone before.
“Somewhere among those thousands of tiny faces, she's watching me now. Please don't let me scr-”
His thought was cut short by the announcer's voice over the PA , “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! The associated students of Utah State University, the Caine College of the Arts, and the Department of Music are proud to present the two thousand and twelve AGGIE! MARCHING! BAND!”
Three sharp blasts from the whistle brought them to attention, followed by the tap off from the center snare drum. Terrified and exhilarated, his veins surged with adrenaline. Another marching season was finally here.