Yet for some reason I can’t seem to make my way up those final steps to the concert hall’s rear entrance. And, at the same time, I can’t seem to just walk away either.
So I continue.
On pass number twenty, maybe a few more, my gaze is caught by her glamorous picture, or what’s left of it, plastered on the building’s corner. It’s from her very first show, almost exactly a year ago today, and like her, the edges are now curled, the image faded, the luster lost from what was once a shining star.
With her premiere, it became obvious that she would be taking the world by storm. In fact, after only her first week on tour, she had already been dubbed “The Fire From Down Under.” They packed the stadiums, awed by her beauty and raw talent.
But then came March, just two months in, and the cracks began to show. Yeah, there’d been the illness, and most say that’s where her downfall started, especially since it continued to drag on and on. And maybe they were right. After all, from that point forward everything seemed to go awry for her. Even the critics, who’d spoken of her with a golden tongue, began to eat her alive.
Am I ready for that sort of life? Do I want to step on the stage, filling those shoes?
Before I can answer my own question, the door opens and the producer steps out, his eyes wide, his mouth agape.
“Do you have any idea what time it is, young lady?”
I start to answer, but he grabs my arm and drags me in. I’m pulled through the dressing area, costumes hanging on rolling carts, to the stage’s side. There he plops me into a captain’s chair, leaning in close enough I can tell the brand of whiskey he’s been drinking.
“We’ve only got two minutes.”
From nowhere the makeup artist shows, pounding my face with a powder puff, while someone behind brushes my hair.
I can see her on the stage, looking as though she’s aged a thousand years. Her voice is strained as she sings, her timing off. Somewhere out of my sight, just around the curtain, the audience heckles and boos. I can almost imagine a different time when rotten tomatoes would be tossed.
She tries to finish the song, but the crowd reaches their crescendo, and she is overwhelmed. She stops, moving closer to the edge.
“Up yours,” she shouts. Middle finger raised, she stomps off the stage, coming right at me.
“HA,” 2020 says, seeing me there. “They’re all yours, 2021.”
And with that, she tosses me the mic.