The six-year old girl watched as Kids Incorporated performed on stage at The P*lace. At her age, she didn’t really understand the words of the song they were singing, but something else kept her eyes fixed on the stage.
Maybe it was the colorful costumes they wore on stage, all glittery and shiny. Maybe it was the energy the kids on stage put into their songs. Maybe it was the flashing lights, or the pop of the confetti cannon that shot out a blizzard of bits of paper.
She didn’t really know what it was. All she knew that she liked it. After all, she was only six years old.
The song ended, and the group on stage took a bow, acknowledging the audience’s cheers. They came down off the stage for a break.
The group gathered at the counter, where Riley, the manager of the P*lace, served up some sodas for them. They talked a little about what had transpired during the day, about school, and their friends away from the band. As they did, the youngest one, eleven-year old Stacy, glanced back at the stage.
“Hey!” she cried out, and took off running back to the stage.
Her sister, Renee, looked over. “Stacy, what’s so – “ Then she saw it too, as did the others.
The little six-year old girl had wandered on to the stage and was reaching for one of the microphones on the mike stand. She had pulled on it, and the stand was about to fall over, before Stacy grabbed the mike stand to keep it from toppling over. The others quickly made it to the stage as they gathered around Stacy and the other girl.
“That was close,” Stacy said with a sigh of relief. The others – Gloria, Ryan, The Kid, and Renee – breathed one as well.
A woman in her early thirties made her way through the crowd to the stage. “Oh, I am so sorry,” she said to the band. She went over to the little girl and knelt down to her. “You shouldn’t have done that,” she said to her.
The little girl was on the verge of tears. “I’m sorry, mommy,” she said. “I just wanted to sing.”
“I know you do, but you’re too young,” her mother said.
“They said the same thing about us,” Stacy said.
“Well, my daughter is only six,” the mother said. “When she gets as old as you, maybe she will. You all sing great, but my daughter will have to wait her turn.”
Stacy looked at the little girl. “What’s your name?” she asked.
The little girl looked up at Stacy and replied, “Haylie.”
Haylie’s mother led her daughter away. “Come on, Haylie,” she said. “Time to go home.”
As they exited The P*lace, Haylie turned back and looked at the stage. Stacy waved her hand at Haylie. Haylie waved back at her.
“I wanna be on stage mommy,” Haylie said as they went through the doors.
“You will, one day” her mother said. “Just not today.”
That didn’t make Haylie happier. She cried as they headed home, “I wanna be in Kids Incorporated….”
Stacy and the rest of Kids Incorporated finished their set at The P*lace. The crowd cheered for them, especially one girl in particular.
“Hi Stacy!” the eight-year old said to her as she came down from the stage.
“Hi there,” Stacy returned. “It’s Haylie, right?” The little girl nodded. “How have you been?”
“I’m doing great!” Haylie replied. “I’ve been singing a lot lately.”
“I was picked for a choir at school,” Haylie said to Stacy. “The teacher said I can improve but I have a good voice.”
“That’s great,” Stacy said. “That’s the best way to go.”
Stacy sat down at the table where Haylie was at. Haylie looked at the stage, saying “I still want to be up there one of these days.”
“I know you will,” Stacy said.
“My mom still says I’m too young to be there,” Haylie said.
“Well, some people said I was too young to be part of Kids Incorporated. But there’s a reason why we’re called Kids Incorporated.”
“Sometimes, I think my mom is too overprotective of me,” Haylie said.
“All moms are like that,” Stacy pointed out. “Mine still is, especially when it comes to boys.”
“Boys?” Haylie made a face. “That’s gross.”
“This time next year, you won’t be saying that.”
“Maybe next year, I’ll be a member of Kids Incorporated.”
Later, after the show ended, Haylie’s mom picked her up at The P*lace and headed home.
Next year, Haylie thought to herself. Next year….or the year after that….
It was the last day of school. The students were talking about the vacations they were going to take to places like New York, Yellowstone Park, Seattle, and Walt Disney World….
But as the day drew to a close, Haylie heard something from some older students about Kids Incorporated. Stacy, currently the oldest member of the band, and the last original member at that, was leaving to go to England to join her older sister Renee, live with their cousin in London, and study there for a year.
Kids Incorporated was undergoing some major changes. Two other members, Richie and Devyn, were leaving the group as well. That would leave just two members, Kenny and Robin, who was now the youngest of the group. Fortunately, Haylie and Robin knew each other well, so it would be easy for Haylie to find out if it was all true.
Haylie caught up to Robin outside of school. “Is it true about Stacy leaving?” she asked.
“It’s all true,” Robin replied. “Stacy is leaving for England at the end of July.”
“So what are they going to do for a band?” Haylie asked. “They can’t just perform with just two members.”
“Well, not quite,” Robin said. “My mom said her sister is moving in with us for a while. My aunt went through a divorce and they need a place to stay until they find one on their own. My cousin Ana will be with her too, and she wanted to see what Kids Incorporated was all about.”
“That’s cool,” Haylie said. “Can I try out? I want to be in Kids Incorporated, too.”
“I don’t see why not,” Robin said. “I’ll talk with Stacy, see what she thinks.”
The next day, the first day out of school, Robin called Haylie at her home.
“Come by The P*lace around noon for an audition,” Robin told her. “They want to hear you sing one, maybe two songs.”
“All right!” Haylie exclaimed. She hung up the phone excitedly and headed for The P*lace. When she got there, Robin was there, along with Stacy, waiting.
“Are you ready?” Robin asked Haylie.
Haylie nodded. “You bet!” She went up on stage and looked around, as a couple of other kids were there. Another girl, about a year or two older than Robin, had also come in and sat next to her. She was a little taller with short, dark hair. Haylie assumed that was Ana, Robin’s cousin. Kenny, the other remaining member, was at the counter, drinking a soda.
“What song do you want to sing?” Stacy asked.
“”Release Me’,” Haylie replied.
The band on stage knew the Wilson Phillips song and played it. Haylie sang it as well as a ten-year old, just short of eleven, could.
When the song was over, Haylie looked over at Robin and Stacy. Robin looked very hopeful, but she couldn’t get a read on Stacy.
Haylie asked, “Well, did you like it?”
“You sounded great!” Stacy replied, coming up to the stage. Robin followed her up to the stage as well. “I thought you sounded great too!”
“And?” Haylie asked.
“Congratulations!” Stacy said. “You’re in!”
Haylie jumped up and down in excitement, as Robin gave her a big hug. “You did it!” Robin exclaimed.
“Thanks, Stacy!” Haylie finally said. “I hope I do a good job of replacing you.”
“You’re not replacing me,” Stacy said. “I mean, you’re just continuing what me and my friends started long ago.” She then said, “You know what this means, don’t you?”
“What do you mean?”
“It means you’re the youngest member now,” Stacy replied, “just like I was when I first started.”
“Is that supposed to mean something?” Haylie asked.
“Not really,” Stacy replied. “You might get too old, but you’re never too young. After all, we’re called Kids Incorporated for a reason.”