In Miel Moreland’s heartfelt young adult debut, It Goes Like This, four queer teens realize that sometimes you have to risk hitting repeat on heartbreak.
Eva, Celeste, Gina, and Steph used to think their friendship was unbreakable. After all, they’ve been though a lot together, including the astronomical rise of Moonlight Overthrow, the world-famous queer pop band they formed in middle school, never expecting to headline anything bigger than the county fair.
But after a sudden falling out leads to the dissolution of the teens’ band, their friendship, and Eva and Celeste’s starry-eyed romance, nothing is the same. Gina and Celeste step further into the spotlight, Steph disappears completely, and Eva, heartbroken, takes refuge as a songwriter and secret online fangirl…of her own band. That is, until a storm devastates their hometown, bringing the four ex-best-friends back together. As they prepare for one last show, they’ll discover whether growing up always means growing apart.
JUNE 2021 CELESTE
Sound check was hours ago; Celeste has left her opener to their vocal warm-ups. She fiddles with her phone while makeup and hair work their magic.
She likes the blue streaks; that was a good choice on her part.
“Waiting on somebody?” Anna asks, titling Celeste’s chin for a better angle.
Yes, always, although she shouldn’t be, so—no.
“I’m still expecting the full recap of the birthday party, by the
way,” Anna says.
The birthday party. The staged pictures of her and Gina feel like
a million years ago already. Celebrity time. What’s a planned pap shoot compared to seeing Eva?
Thank god for Gina breaking the group chat moratorium.
“Actually,” says Celeste, crossing from hesitancy to excitement in the span of a single word. “Can I have five?”
Anna glances around the crowded dressing room, then at her watch. “If it really is five, go for it.”
Gina answers on the second ring. “Celeste? Is everything okay?”
Celeste’s heart skips. It’s just—so good to know that Gina will still pick up when Celeste calls.
“Are you still in L.A.? Are you doing anything tonight?” Celeste blurts. The words come out too fast, too wobbly. Dammit. She wants to sound collected, confident, casual. Not the messy little kid Gina met all those years ago, not someone pathetically trying to regrow a friendship that has lain mutually dormant.
“Still in L.A., so doing the usual orgy, babe,” Gina says. After a beat, she adds, “Going over some contracts. But don’t you . . .”
“Have a concert. Staples Center. Wanna come?”
This is—okay, objectively, asking Gina to come to her show isn’t making her more nervous than when Celeste first asked Eva out. Probably because Eva had kissed her first. Eva tried to make things easy on her like that. But an ex–best friend is still an ex.
“Yes, but are you sure?”
Celeste is done missing them. They’re all here.
(Except for Steph.)
“Absolutely. You can stay backstage the whole time, no pictures,
Celeste swallows. “Right. Just us. I mean—there’s no—it’s
whatever you want it to be, Gi.” She pauses. Get it together, C. “But I wouldn’t be doing this without you, and I want you here.”
She honestly meant to keep in touch with Gina after the band broke up, something casual while Celeste hand-stitched her heart back together. Something private, so their professional narratives could grow firmly apart. But it was just hard, okay? It felt wrong, to message her separately when there wasn’t another conversa- tion happening in their group chat at the same time. She didn’t know how to push past the awkwardness, and before she knew it, it’d been weeks, then months. They only exchanged small talk at the birthday party, since Gina was on her way somewhere else. A scheduled photo with Celeste had been nothing more than a pit stop on her way to some production party. That stung, Celeste admits.
“Is Eva coming?” Gina asks.
And hadn’t that been every fantasy for the past month, ever since the tour started—Eva shouting the lyrics Celeste wrote for her from the VIP section, Eva kissing her backstage, on the bus, in their bed. Then she actually saw Eva, and she fucked it up, trying to cover shock with cool.
“I’ll be there.”
Gina doesn’t make it before she has to go on—damned L.A.
traffic—but Celeste can’t delay the show. She makes her entrance cue, her grin a little wider than usual.
The Staples Center—twenty thousand seats—erupts. For her.
JUNE 2021 GINA
Celeste’s PA ushers Gina to a spot in the wings, but it doesn’t count as a pop concert if you’re not surrounded by cheers, screams, off- key melodies, and sweating, euphoric, dancing bodies. Their pub- licists will fix it in the morning, she decides, turning away. She has to be here for real.
There are a handful of other celebrities in the VIP section, chat- ting as best they can over the noise of the crowd as they sip their drinks, carefully bouncing along to the music. Gina slips inside, but she straightens her posture before making her way to an empty space. She’s not some kid sneaking in late to class. She’s Gina motherfucking Wright, an Oscar-nominated actress and Grammy Award–winning singer. She’s a Moonlight Overthrow alumna. She’s been here since Celeste’s first shitty chords.
She outranks all these people.
She accepts and returns greetings, but she stays focused on her goal: making it to the front of the section, for the best view of the stage. Celeste is wearing high-waisted shorts and a crop top, which is an outfit that would not have flown back in their Moonlight Overthrow days, but she looks comfortable as she jokes with the crowd between songs. She starts strumming the opening chords to a song Gina doesn’t recognize. Gina listened to both albums all the way through when they were released, of course, but she admits she doesn’t have them memorized.
“Called my sister, you know which one trilingual and married young,
so we could talk that love lifelong
and all the lessons I’d learned wrong.”
“Do you know which song this is?” Gina asks her neighbor, who was on the cover of the March issue of a foreign edition of Vogue.
“‘Before,’” the model shouts into her ear. “Bonus song on Sil- houette.”
Gina turns back to the stage, tuning out her companions’ com- mentary and focusing on Celeste. On the lyrics. Which . . .
“There’s a white flag inside my head, but in front of you I’m waving red.”
And not just the lyrics, but the emotion. There’s a rawness to Celeste’s voice, and Gina knows her: she knows when the emotion’s an act, or if not exactly an act, a shadow, a memory pulled out for the spotlight.
“I can’t just act
like we were meant to be and I was meant to stay, but when I’m driving your streets,
I’m looking for the road from before to someday.”
This is no shadow.
Celeste—solo-act Celeste, who was just as adamant as Steph, just as adamant as Gina about not continuing—Celeste, who must have been back in the studio, writing for her first solo album almost as soon as they finished their final show as a group—is still in love with Eva.
Miel Moreland was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. With time spent in California and France, she has a Midwestern heart but wandering feet. When not making pop music references and celebrating fandom, she is likely to be found drinking hot chocolate and making spreadsheets. She currently resides in Boston, where she works in higher education. It Goes Like This is her debut novel.
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