Part One – Road to Ruin
Orange and blue of the stage lights colour my sweat-drenched hair, each bead dripping off shines a dazzling icy gold before splashing on the ground. My ears ring from the indefinite pause of music yet despite that, there’s an electric buzz zapping through the air, zapping my exhaustion with every spark.
I haven’t done many gigs, this being my biggest one yet, but I get the same exhilarating feelings every time. My heart beats so hard, like it fell into the rhythm of the claps behind me.
Every step I take fills me with reluctance to leave yet relief to be out of the heat of the lights and crowds.
The excitement doesn’t wear off, even when I’m walking out the backdoor to the carpark with my Aunt. We pass puddles of moonlight-stained glass, not a ripple to be seen, as we approach the car. An eerie quiet has settled over the city, only the distant sounds of traffic fills the space around us; a huge contrast to the loud beats of music.
“That was probably the best one you’ve done,” My Aunt Kristen smiles proudly, blonde hair twisting gently in the breeze. She’s the reason I’m out here doing this. If it weren’t for her encouragement (and connections) I wouldn’t be on an adrenaline high with several thousand fans!
My throat will probably kill tomorrow, but that doesn’t stop my laughter. I’m too hysterical to stop. “It was! They knew the songs and sang along, that’s never happened before! Their poor throats!” I throw my arms around with a hop in my step and a huge smile on my face. I probably look like a kid on their first night out seeing a pantomime. I definitely feel like one!
“How are you still so jumpy? I’d be a dried up slug pulling myself across the ground after something like that.” She laughs and unlocks her car, getting in and fastening her seatbelt.
“Okay junky, you need some food before bed, I promised Ieva I’d look after you.”
“McDonald’s!” Okay I think I might actually be a kid again. My Aunt snorts at my response and pulls the car out.
Watching as the city passes by calms me down a bit. The puddles reflect the occasional reds or greens of stop lights and swirl into a glistening blur of motion as we drive on. I sift through my bag searching for my phone, taking it out to check the time. 00:13 declares itself across my kitty screensaver - Turtle is my one and only true love.
“What was your favourite part about tonight?” My Aunt breaks the settled silence, her proud smile still hasn’t left her red cheeks.
“Singing Feline. It really is a fan favourite.” I laugh at the memories of scream-singing fans. A memory jumps into my head, picking my laughter right back up, “Someone stole my water bottle right out my hands. It all happened so quickly and I don’t think they were expecting me to let go so easily. Their arms flung backwards and many people got sprayed by it.”
My Aunt laughs at that. “You’ve gotta be careful, what would your mother say?”
“I won’t be dragged off the stage, don’t worry.” I shake hers, but mostly my mom's, frets away. My mom has this image in her mind that one day someone will grab my leg and yank me right off the stage to kidnap me or pull a knife out on me. She has many strange worries, some even more irrational than those.
“Just be cautious. You’re pretty gross right now too, do not wait for tomorrow to shower again please.” She shudders at the thought of me climbing into bed as a sticky, sweaty mess.
“I won’t, I won’t,” I reassure her, looking down to assess myself and muttering out, “I could probably whiz down a dry slip and slide right now.”
“Gross!” she cries as her face scrunches, moving the green glasses on her nose up a centimeter. It sends me into another round of hysterical laughter.
“Welcome back Jem, how’d it go?” My mom asks as I step through the door. She’s smiling brightly, with tired eyes.
“It was great. Why are you still up? Go to bed!”
“Just wanted to make sure you got back okay. I’m glad you had fun.” The excitement in her tone drops, her sleepy state seeping through.
I shake my head, straightening up from pulling my shoes off. “You worry too much.” I say, wrapping her in a tight hug. She happily takes it, unaware of the grin slowly spreading across my face.
“Jem. Why is your hair wet?” She asks. I say nothing. “Ew- Jem- These PJ’s are new!”
“Then go change and go to bed.” I say between my laughter.
She huffs, the glare in her eyes cancelled out by the grin on her lips. Soon enough, I’m left alone.
Still high on my night, I’m left with the bitter feeling of loneliness. I have so much I want to talk about, so much elation to share yet nobody to deafen with my incessant talking. Not directly anyways, but I guess I do have someone I can bug.
I grab my phone with a shaky hand. The adrenaline has drained away and left me with pure excitement. My mind is still very active but I’m starting to feel the exhaustion seep through every bone in my body.
I click on Isaac’s contact and get straight to work on a new message, staring at the destruction beetle I set as his picture while I wait for a reply.
You, 00:41 I hope your day was as good as mine Doubt it though
It never takes long for Isaac to respond, even at some absurd times of night. Sometimes I wonder if he’s really human or if there’s possibly 2 of him. I mean, I have never seen him so I guess that’s possible.
Neighbour Boy, 00:43 Okay what made your day so good then?
You, 00:43 I got the best adrenaline boost! Loud music cool lights! I feel so aliivee
Neighbour Boy, 00:43 Did you only just get back?
You, 00:43 Pretty much. With a Mcds hehe
Neighbour Boy, 00:44 Gross
You, 00:44 We cant all be fancy late night cooks okay!
Neighbour Boy, 00:45 That’s why I cook in advance if I’m coming home late.
You, 00:46 I don’t need to hear your organised brags again
Neighbour Boy, 00:46 You’re jealous I have my sht together.
You, 00:46 I have my shit packed nicely thank you
Neighbour Boy, 0046 You lost your shoes at your work last week. I still don’t know how that happens.
I can feel the blush warm my cheeks, the slight embarrassment comes out in a chuckle. Why did I tell him about that?
You, 00:47 Hows uni been?
Neighbour Boy, 00:47 Alright. Not much has happened, just usual work.
You, 00:47 So I did have a better day than you
Neighbour Boy, 00:47 I had a good day. I ran into some old friends, which was a surprise.
You, 00:48 The smol friends that you left behind in your smol city?
Neighbour Boy, 00:50 You make it sound like I ditched them. Get to bed. Get off your adrenaline high.
You, 00:51 Okay mommy
Neighbour Boy, 00:51 Stop.
I chuckle and put my phone down. Guess it’s time for my shower or my Aunt will kill me. Literally. And I don’t want to die yet, I have a new album I started recording. My first ever full album- I honestly still can’t believe it!
My favourite songs to make are usually personal, upbeat but solemn and I really enjoy people finding their own meanings to them. But I can’t resist the dumber, guilty pleasure type songs. Even if my friends and family play them at personal events when I walk in the room.
I chuckle at the memory as I step into the steamy rain of my shower.
I could hear the chatter of the house as I entered, the first few glimpses I caught from my family were glittering with devious intent. Then the music changed.
“Don’t be jealous, a look so hopeless, we can’t all be a 10.. Like me.” My voice filled the speakers with a low pitch and sultry laughs (or what I thought was sultry). I can still feel the heat that ignited in my cheeks from that one moment. Ah the embarrassment!
I finish washing the sweat from my skin and finally feel the relief of the comfiest bed ever to bed. Memories of my day flash through my mind like the montage reel of photos in teen dramas. The best part of it all? I have more concerts scheduled in February.
I try my best to fight away the smile wedged between my cheeks so I can actually sleep.