Words and Hearts (A Story For Zori's Contest)
This is written for http://www.quibblo.com/user/BookWriter, and her contest. The idea is to choose a picture from her photo album and write a story based on the image. I have included that image as the heading for this story (since the one for the chapter tends to disappear). This was a plot line that I had been intending to write for a long time, but just decided to use it in conjunction with the picture. Hope you enjoy it! ~Clue_Plus_Note/CharmingPotion
The Hardest Things to Repair
Everyone envied us. Everyone wanted to be us, wanted to experience what we had. Stress the had. Because we--well, I--have it no longer.
There comes along, every once in a while, the perfect person. The one you will absolutely, without doubt, spend the rest of your life with in eternally happy bliss. The one person who makes everything okay, everything workable, everything less scary than it once was. The one person you never seem to have an argument with, the one you never even fleetingly think about leaving.
She was like that. She made me feel perfect inside. I was already popular and felt rather invincible, but she made it feel so blissfully real. With her by my side, nothing was going to take me down. The world was pearls and roses and fine wine, beautiful and heady.
Even though I was busy--like going on world concert tours busy--there was always enough time to see her. Even if there was just a quick kiss on the cheek and a smile before I raced down the hall and entered the stage, those seconds seemed to stretch on in our own little bubble and that made every exhausting minute worth it. I loved singing, I loved dancing. I loved making the crowd happy and coming back to the dorms late. But I loved her more. I still love her more.
...for words when spoken....
I couldn't believe my manager's words that morning. He didn't even seem remorseful or awkward for having to say it. It was like he had just come in with the schedule for the week and was announcing the time we had to be on the plane. I was breathless for a solid ten minutes, and practice was an indefinable blur.
"You need to leave Bekah, Tae," he said, eyes not even looking up from the page on his clipboard. "It's bad for publicity. The fangirls are upset you're with someone. It makes you unreachable." That's when his eyes came up to meet mine. "I don't want to see you with her any more. You've got a week to get rid of her."
And that was all. He turned to the other band members and cued them to step up to the microphones. The studio filled with the sound of our song, and my bandmates started to sing. I still stood there, eyes wide and disbelieving, my hands trembling.
"Tae?" Someone had just noticed that I wasn't singing when I was supposed to be. "Tae!"
One single tear slipped down my face. And then I was racing forward, slamming through the studio door, and stumbling blindly down the hall.
...My Love is Pain...
The manager's words hung heavy in my brain, a pressing weight drowning out even the thought of Bekah and her smile; Bekah and her laugh; Bekah and her hesitant way of doing nearly everything. The dorm was quiet for now, but I knew the others would find me soon enough. I wanted to scream and shout that it wasn't fair, that I couldn't do this; I wanted to run to her, but most of all I just wanted to wake up and realize those disgusting words that weighed me down were no more than a nightmare.
I realized I was standing in front of the sink, and I looked straight across into an unrecognizable face. My hands made fists over the sides of the pedestal sink, and I suddenly flared with anger. I finally was able to shout, not words, just sounds of anguish, trying my hardest to shake the stupid sink to pieces, and failing miserably. The mirror shook at my efforts though, and I laughed as sorrowfully as I felt. I couldn't even destroy anything in my anger....How pathetic was that?
Oh no. They'd come and found me.
"Tae, what happened?!"
"Go away! Leave me alone!" I hissed, but my voice cracked nontheless, and tears poured fresh down my face.
"Tae, what's wrong?!" I heard the other band members crowding at the door of the bathroomm, and I wanted to hit every one of their curious, prying selves.
"Come on Tae, what is it?" The tallest of our group pulled me gently away from the sink, and into his arms. "Tell us."
"The manager--" I whispered, but couldn't continue. I swallowed and shook my head helplessly. "Bekah--Oh, no....."
"What is it?!" he begged me. "Has something happened to her? Is Bekah alright?" I felt the worry suddenly go up another notch in the cramped space.
"No..." I moaned. Then it all came out in a rush: "The manager told me today that I have to break up with Bekah because she's bad for publicity." Silence. I even held my breath.
"Oh, Tae," was the only response, and I was drawn back into a hug. I sobbed in earnest then. There was nothing they could do. Other singers had lost their contracts, or come close to, for failing to listen to their manager's orders. And now I would lose what was most precious to me, what made everything I went through worth it.
"We'll talk to the managers, Tae," someone else said, a hand brushing over my shoulder in reassurance. "We'll get them to rethink their decision."
"I can't leave her!" I said, like I was a child.
"I know, Tae, I know."
But he didn't know. There was no way he had any idea.
...hearts when broken...
She was here. The manager said it with a stern look in his eye, a deeper meaning to the statement as he walked past me. I tried to ignore it. She came in the door, her soft smile immediately lighting her face when she saw me. Her bag was discarded in a nearby chair as I stood out of habit and swept her up in a hug.
"Bekah," I said softly, just standing there and breathing. Just standing there and feeling the worst mixture of perfect and miserable. I heard the manager clear his throat behind me. I pulled away reluctantly. She just smiled again, unknowing, ignorant of the heartbreak about to come.
"Hey, um, I--I have to say something." I said, rubbing absently at the back of my neck. I glared at the manager out of the corner of my eye, and he got the hint. He left through another door quietly. Bekah looked between me and the departing man with a curious expression, but said nothing, waiting patiently for what I had to say.
"I--I have to--it's bad for publicity apparently, and I have to--" I was rambling and not saying anything. Bekah became very still and looked at me, her eyebrows drawing together.
"I've been told--I have to....Oh gods....I um. Bekah--" I held my breath. "I have to break up with you. Now."
Her mouth fell open as she registered what I had said at last.
"I've--it's bad for publicity, if I'm with someone, so I have to, um. Break up. With. You." I said, hating myself with every word that spilled unbidden from my mouth. I said the last words as separate sentences, heavy, dragging pauses between each, finally saying 'you' in a sighing whisper. As though saying it slowly and softer would make them untrue. Would make them disappear before she heard them. Would make this situation....go away.
"Tae...?" she said, in that soft, hesitant way she had when she was confused. I felt my eyes well up with tears, and I was horrified. There was no way I could continue with this if I started crying! Her eyes widened, and she stood, coming towards me, and I stepped quickly back. She stopped, her hands wringing together like they always did when she was unsure of what to do next.
"I'm sorry Bekah. This is goodbye." I choked out--then I ran. I literally ran from her, out of the room, and to the exit. I slammed out of the door, tears blinding my vision yet again, and ran to nowhere. My feet hit and stumbled over pavement, concrete, up and onto sidewalks, down across crosswalks, and through back alleys before I finally stopped, heaving out my sorrow and tears on a lonely corner.
...the hardest things to repair...
Someone had leaked the story. Of course. Online headlines splashed across my vision as I clicked link after link in horror. All of them amounted to 'famous singer leaves girlfriend to help CD sales.' Comment after comment on each article echoed the same words again and again--how self-centred I must be, what a loser I must be, how I could be so cruel as to break up with someone so invested in me, so clearly in love with me....
Our sales took a massive hit. The numbers plummeted, and there was even an entire website devoted to boycotting everything to do with our label and our group. The managers were scrambling, though on the outside attempting to look like everything was going as planned. How could this be anything but predictable? How foolish was I not to just stand up and say 'no' and forget the consequences? How truly self-centred was I to think that hurting her was preferable over the slim possibility I might lose my contract?
We had had one concert since then. I couldn't sing the first song, too caught up in remembering all the times she had been there with me right up to the moment I went out on stage. I could barely remember the dance moves. The other songs weren't as bad, but I knew I was nothing like my usual self, and any fan--heck, even an anti-fan--would notice I was upset. I nearly started crying by the end of the last song, knowing that she wouldn't be there to walk back with me to the car, her hand in mine, a silent comforting presence as I dragged tired feet to the exit. No, this time, I was all alone. Unbearably alone.
The next headlines were of my terrible performance, and all the comments managed to close in on exactly why I was bad. "He looks terrible....must be missing Bekah! :S" "Wow, he was so not there....serves him right for being such a loser." The managers tried to talk to me about at least being on form for the fans, but gave up quickly, not really being able to talk since they were the cause of all this horrible mess.
It had been two weeks since I broke up with her, and every day was as raw and painful as the last. There's a reason you never even think about leaving that one person that completes you--you realize just how much of you is missing once they're gone.
I mourned her like she had died, I realized later, looking back at how I had been. Everything I remembered her doing, all the things she would have said, would have done, the routines we had fallen into so easily....it was like she had died suddenly and I was left alone, rather than what it really was.
...Everybody knows it hurts...
They were talking about it on the TV shows. The hosts even said it while I was there. "The cute couple" they called us. "The glowing couple" was even our nickname. "What's happened to the cute couple?" The woman had asked, looking straight at me. And I had just shut down. I've never watched that episode. I feared what I might have said.
Time was passing and it wasn't getting any better. It had been two months, and I was actively trying to move on. I could see everyone around me getting dragged down and becoming exasperated with my behaviour. Our stage presence was lacking because of my disinterest, our recordings were constantly being rescheduled, because my voice was flat, or it cracked too often. But I just couldn't do it.
Wasn't time supposed to heal all wounds? I tried my hardest to 'give time some time,' but I was annoyed at how badly it still felt. Just as badly as day one, rather than day sixty-one. Or day one-hundred-one.
Our sales still weren't picking up, even with new promotions, and a new style, trying to stir interest back up. The only thing that happened in response was that the boycotting website was revived and got more hits than ever. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who couldn't move on from day one.
Every time someone got me alone, and opened their mouth with that look on their face, I escaped. I changed the topic, ran off to find food, claimed tiredness or need to practice whatever, and made sure they never got the words out. I wasn't going to be told that I needed to straighten myself out and get back going. I wasn't going to be told that I needed to stand up and walk forward, rather than wallowing in the past. Because I'd told myself all that already. And it wasn't doing any good.
...No, No, No...
"Bekah!" The name tumbled from my lips before I could stop it, staring at the woman before me in the checkout line. She turned automatically, and it was her. Here. Right in front of me. Oh gods. She met my eyes briefly, her gaze flat and dull, like I had never seen it before, nodded in greeting, and turned right back around.
"Bekah." I said again in a kind of choked manner, and I grabbed her in a hug before I realized what I was doing. She inhaled sharply, and tensed, but I didn't care. The only things I did care about at that moment was that she was in my arms again, and that this was one awkward angle to hug at.
"Tae," she mumbled, trying to pull away from me. People around us in the store were beginning to stare. Some were pulling out phones and cameras, obviously recognizing us.
"Bekah, I'm so sorry," I began, wanting somehow to make up for all the months of agony that we both had gone through.
"Please, don't start," she whispered, pulling away completely. I was still for a moment, floored. Was she....over me? Was she better at coping with what had occurred? Of course she would be, she didn't have a guilty conscience! I winced at my thoughts.
"Bekah!" Another voice suddenly called. A man's voice. And also a voice I knew well. My mouth fell open as one of my bandmates came out of the aisles, and cut in line in front of me. "Sorry for the wait, I couldn't find it at first." He added something--it looked like a box of snackbars--to the basket Bekah held. Then he leaned forward and kissed her cheek. A hot, angry feeling I hadn't felt in a long time swooped in my gut. Then he noticed me standing there.
"Tae! What--what are you doing here?" he looked nearly panicked. And he should be. He was the first to comfort me after I had been ordered to break up with Bekah, and here he was, obviously involved with her? How long had this been going on? Had they been together...before? Were they cheating behind my back all this time, and used my breakup with her to their advantage?
"What the hell are you doing here?" I snapped, my fists balling at my sides.
"Tae, don't--" he started, but seemed not to know what else to say.
"Don't what? " I hissed. " 'Don't get mad that I'm here with your soulmate, Tae, obviously involved with her--' "
"Soulmate?" Bekah said suddenly. I blinked. I had nearly forgotten she stood there. Then my anger flared at her, too. Relationships weren't one-way streets.
"Weren't you the least bit upset that I broke up with you? Or were you excited that you could finally be with the one you really love?!" I spat. "How long were you going to keep it up before you told me?"
"Told you what?" she was completely and utterly confused, I could see it. But was she really a good actress? She would have to have been if she'd been with him all this time.
"That you're with him!" I nearly shouted. More people were staring, but I didn't even care anymore. Let them notice! Maybe then the headlines will start talking about what a loser she is, and not me! Maybe it'll turn out to be a good thing my stupid manager told me to 'get rid of her!'
The stinging feeling spreading through my left cheek took a moment to sink in. I gaped at her, taking in her furious expression.
"Were you the least bit upset you broke up with me?" she hissed at me, her voice low and quick. "Tell me just how easy the last few months have been without me, how nice it was to be able to go perform without me tagging along." Ice slid down my spine. "Let me know just how high your sales went after you left me," she bit out sarcastically. "And maybe you'll have found your answer without me having to tell you."
She turned sharply and marched up to the register, slapping the contents of her handbasket onto the counter. The storekeeper hesitantly picked up one of the bags and rang it up, moving slowly as though Bekah might snap his hand off at a moment's notice.
"Bekah..." I said uncertainly, my hand still lingering at my reddened cheek. She didn't move. "I didn't want to," I muttered helplessly. "I didn't--didn't want to break up with you. I was....told to." Gods I sounded so pathetic! "My manager thought it would be a good idea. I didn't want to, Bekah, I swear!" I said, my voice suddenly turning panicked and high. She still didn't move. My stupid bandmate was hovering just behind her, eyes flicking between the two of us.
"I know," she mumbled.
"You know? " I was stunned, my eyes meeting with my bandmate's. "How?" She made a small movement, and it clicked. She had been told by no other than the man beside her.
"Why'd you tell her?!" I asked, puzzled more than anything.
"She was upset, Tae," was the response. "You ran out of the building after you broke up with her. You weren't there."
"But you were?" I said, accusing.
"Yes," he replied, unflinching. I felt immediately shamed all over again.
"But....Bekah," I said, trying to meet her eyes, which she stubbornly avoided.
"I'm sorry Tae," she murmured, paying the shopkeeper, and grabbing her bag. She looked up at my bandmate hesitantly, and he reached down, taking her hand. She relaxed a little.
"So this is it, huh? You'll just go with him and forget about me?" I said, bitter, already stepping out of their way for them to leave me behind. All I could think was how much worse this was going to make it for all of us--Tae leaves girlfriend to help sales, sales plummet, bandmate takes pity on ex-girlfriend and becomes her boyfriend instead. Wow, Tae, how heartless are you? All I could think was that she was going to be around more often if she really was his girlfriend, and that I would have to endure being near her but not being allowed to touch her, not being allowed to hug her as I once did.
"Sometimes, Tae, you screw the managers and do the right thing." Everyone around us, including me, gasped at my bandmate's words. And then they both left, the stupid little bell above the door ringing cheerily in the tense silence of the shop.
A/N: Right. I'm sorry if that made no sense, or if you didn't like it. I'm sure fans like me will pick up on who the band is, but I tried not to let it show through. It's just a storyline I wanted to try my hand at, since I've never done something quite like this before. Hopefully you made it this far (I'm a fan of long chapters!), and hopefully you liked it all the way through. This probably won't win the contest, since there are much more popular, interesting, writers on here who will stick closer to the image they chose than I did, but that's okay. :) I had fun writing. Please leave a comment about what you thought!