The setting sun gleamed through the dusted windows as my lengthy legs were crammed into the backseat of Paige’s mom’s car. After what felt like hours of begging, we managed to convince her mother to sacrifice the esteemed aux cord. The loud blares of Lorde’s newly released Pure Heroine album seemed to push the car along as adrenaline overwhelmed my chest and encouraged the rare smile across my pale and smooth skin to explode. Too embarrassed to sing aloud, I quietly mouthed the words while staring at the passing stores, fantasizing about the teenage angst the songs sang about. I imagined the singer’s complex but deeply exciting life, questioning nonsensical lyrics that seamlessly floated through me, but also secretly one day hoping to have those thrilling adventures and emotions I understood the lyrics to be describing. Deep in my thought, I jumped at the sound of Paige’s shrill voice.

“Nice moves Cassidy,” she said covering a stifled laugh. Paige was always on alert. Always searching for something to mock, or correct, or judge, but always alienating herself enough to never be judged back. Her mouth twisted into a forced smile after seeing the embarrassment across my ten-year-old face as the rarity of my genuine smile dimmed. Humiliation created a pit in my already tight chest. It was not until years later did I realize she tore others down as a protective shield for her own insecurities, as most kids resort to.

It was nearly five years later to be specific, driving down the main road in my hometown past dark. Sitting next beside Paige as the same fateful album blasted nearly permanently damaging the speakers to her new car. I shouted the lyrics, hanging onto every word. Each line connected to a moment of my short lived but somehow never ending high school career. The aftermath of my recent break up and first real heartbreak came out with each ballad. Every song encapsulated a feeling I had in different ways. Despite listening to Pure Heroine for years, I was hearing it for the first time. This deep connection to Lorde’s music lead to a deep disconnection from my physical actions, as I was pounding the air and felt the tears pouring down my acne ridden face. Paige stiffened, not understanding the mental state I was truly in. After a moment of shared eye contact and silence, laughter erupted throughout the car. Finally, I turned on Lorde’s newest album Melodrama and let the music move me.

“Nice moves, Cass,” she laughed at me.

“They really are. Aren’t they?” I answered.

By Caitlin F., 15, Detroit