It Goes Like This
Published by: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: May 18th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Young Adult
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.
Seeing the pictures is like someone pouring a bucket of ice water over her head. The kind of shock where you can’t even breathe.
“Eva,” her mom says, still in her ear, because she’s still clutching her phone.
Eva tries to reply, but sound is beyond her.
Her other hand rests, shaking, on her tablet. She scrolls. Another photo, another, each a discordant note because this wasn’t supposed to happen. Gina, Celeste, a party. The two of them, together, in pub- lic. Without her. (Without Steph, either, for that matter.)
Eva wants to throw the tablet across the room.
She wants to dive into it, insert herself into the picture, be laughing and close, for the world to see.
“Eva?” her mom says again, more worried than the first time. “I wanted to make sure that you didn’t find out from Twitter.” Sometimes Eva regrets teaching her mom about Twitter.
Sometimes Eva tries to pretend she regrets Moonlight Over- throw.
“Yeah,” Eva manages. “Yes, okay. Thanks.” If hurt is sadness overlaid with anger, Eva bumps the anger way up. “I mean, I’m in L.A. too, it’s not like they don’t know that. We have a freaking group chat, technically.”
They all still change phone numbers a lot—even Steph—and keeping the current number in the chat is all the direct contact they’ve had after those final meetings, a year and a half ago.
After that final breakup.
At least, that’s what Eva thought. Maybe Celeste and Gina have stayed friends, quietly, without her.
“Evie, you’ve had other opportunities too,” her mom chides gently. She means opportunities to reach out. To reconnect.
But her mom also knows why Eva wouldn’t contribute to the soundtrack for one of Gina’s movies. She knows why Eva didn’t bother to return the call from Celeste’s label—their old label— asking if Eva would write a song for what she, along with the rest of the fandom, was still thinking of as CR2. Celeste’s second album turned into the probably-going-platinum Silhouette, no thanks to Eva.
To her credit, the rep called back the next day and left Eva a second awkward voice mail, this one apologizing for intruding. She assured Eva this was all her idea, all the label’s idea, nothing to do with Celeste. As if Eva hadn’t known all that. With Hayley Kiyoko and Ariana Grande featured on separate Silhouette songs, it wasn’t like Celeste was hurting for collaborators.
“Work isn’t the same,” says Eva, keeping her voice harsh so it doesn’t wobble. “They went to a party.”
She continues to scroll through one of the tabloid articles, each additional photo accompanied by some new tidbit: attendance numbers at Celeste’s latest concert, the expected release month of Gina’s new Netflix series, what they’re both wearing. Gina’s natu- ral curls are longer than they were in the spring, when she’d had a short Afro while filming, and she’s working with a new stylist: bright, bold colors, shades that wouldn’t work on her pasty-white ex-bandmates.
Former bandmates, Eva means. That’s what the press always writes. She doesn’t know how their publicist got them all on board, but they were, they are. That’s what Eva said in interviews, back when she was still giving interviews. There’s something very bitter about that “ex” prefix, and they couldn’t have that.
Celeste is . . .
In one picture, her hand is on Gina’s arm. She has a fresh, silvery manicure—nothing new there—and there are blue highlights in her hair, which are.
The word lodges in Eva’s throat.
“Try not to get too caught up in this, okay?” her mom says. Fifty percent of her ex (former) bandmates went to the hottest
party in town last night. The last time they’d gone to a party as a foursome, Steph was the only one who could vote.
Getting caught up in this isn’t a choice.
Her mom clears her throat. “Any plans for the day?” “Homework.”
“It’s just the one summer class, right?”
Eva’s nineteen years old, a chart-topping songwriter, and a former member of a two-time Grammy Award–winning band— and her mom is still asking about her schoolwork. Eva wants to be annoyed about it—the worrying, the insistence that she not dwell for more than thirty seconds on people who used to shine so brightly in her life—but there’s a little tendril of gratitude, too. It loosens her shoulders. She flips her tablet facedown on her bed.
“Hope you’re okay with whatever weird December graduation speaker they get, two years from now,” Eva says.
Her mom’s right: it’s just the one summer class this year, but she’s planning on taking a full load the next two summers, so she can graduate two quarters early.
“You know I will be,” her mom says.
“And hey, you’ll get to see me onstage again, how about that?” Eva tries to keep her voice light. After the years of media training, you’d think she’d be able to do it, but even ex (former) pop stars can’t lie to their moms.
“I’ll be just as proud for this one as I was for all the others,” her mom says.
She really will be, is the thing. Eva’s not sure she’s there yet. Most days, she thinks she is. Today is an exception to all her new rules.
They hang up, and Eva conducts a quick self-survey about whether it’s worth getting dressed before breakfast. No class today, no studio sessions, so she’s free to never change, if she doesn’t want to. Most of the time, she still goes through the motions. It was freeing, those first couple of months, to be able to pick out her own clothes. It was the only good thing, really. Eva clung hard.
She’s kept a stylist on retainer—for the interviews she did right after, for that awful awards show in which she was the only one on hand to not accept the Grammy they didn’t win—but dresses herself, for the most part. She hasn’t lost the habit of getting most of her clothes tailored, though. It really does make a difference.
Eva wanders downstairs in her pajamas, opening the curtains as she goes. The midmorning Hollywood Hills sun streams in. She flops onto one of the couches, turning the pictures over in her mind, one element at a time, like if she can focus on just one thing—Gina’s hoop earrings, Celeste’s wedges—the whole will hurt less.
They can’t do this without me, Eva thinks. They’re not supposed to do anything without me.
The four of them scattered to the four winds: fine. But cutting Eva out like this? With no warning?
Stop, she tries to tell herself. Don’t go there.
But she sinks into it, falls under it, the feeling weighing her down stronger than gravity. Around her, the house seems to pulsate with emptiness, a silent, remonstrative echo.
Nineteen is too young to have a house this big, except in L.A., and she couldn’t leave L.A., after. She wanted to stay stateside, a music city, and Celeste had already claimed New York. Where else was Eva going to go? Nashville?
So it was L.A. and a six-bedroom house for Eva.
Besides, she also had to think about where she was going to go to college. She’s the only one of them who has, properly, at least. Gina did an acting intensive last summer, or something, what- ever they’re called. She’s had some training, Eva means. They’re not casting her just for the publicity boost, and Eva will face down anyone who insinuates that they are.
Privately, that is. Anonymously. Eva doesn’t do those kinds of interviews anymore.
But there are limited options for a child star who wants to get a four-year degree without being a total freak on campus: Harvard, Brown, NYU, Stanford. And UCLA.
She had to meet with an academic adviser before her first quarter, who’d been surprised when Eva said she didn’t plan on adding a minor in music industry (a real option, who knew?) to her comparative literature major.
Eva’s already put in three years full-time in the industry, thanks to the band, and she’s coming up on two years part-time, thanks to the breakup. Luckily, she’s in the part of the business that will sub- stitute experience for education. Thirty-plus songwriting credits and counting, four number one singles (and counting, probably). It’s not usually a hard sell.
Eva leverages herself off the couch and wanders into the kitchen. She puts Halsey on her speakers as she makes a smoothie for breakfast. It’s been that kind of morning. You need a voice like hers when you see your ex looking beautiful on the arm of another girl.
Even though Eva knows it’s never been like that between Celeste and Gina.
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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