Sitting on the foot of the bed, she sighed deeply.
The memories flooded her fragile mind as she poored herself a second glass of Pinot Noir, her favorite poison in times of sorrow. The hotel room was perfect, it always was… Her “team” always made sure to have things set just as she liked them, but tonight, she longed for imperfection…
In the stormy life she was living, there was not much time left for thinking. It was all about glamour, about fun, about success… And success, she had. She had money, she had fame, everybody loved her. Or did they?
The people who worked to keep the machine running loved her because they got wealth from her achievements… The fans loved the character she was on stage… The bubbly, sensual creature made up to inspire women and charm men. A lot of her close surounding seem to love being “the friend of…” or “the cousin of..” more than they really loved her anymore.
Did she love who she had become?… Hardly.
Pulling an old fashion pijama from the drawer, she knew she’d just have to call one of her “people” to have any man run to her suite after a simple phone call. She couldn’t care less.
She picked up her phone and scrolled down her contact list. She wondered if he’d come up running if she called him like that, in the middle of the night. But she couldn’t get her finger to hit the “call” button. Maybe a simple text message? But to say what? I’m in town, staying at the Grand Palace… Care to join me?
Oh, if things could be like they used to be. She remembered the good old days as if it was yesterday.
Oh, sure she struggled back then. She lived in an old basement appartment, but at least she actually lived there. Not in hotels that were nothing to her, out of suitcases that she never had to even care about.
She worked at the bar just above her crappy flat. Long hours, but she enjoyed bartending. And the clients, though not rich or many, were nice to hang around. They tipped her more than she knew they could afford, and she paid them back with her biggest smiles and friendly ways… She often thought about refusing their hard work money but she had bills to pay too…
That’s where they had met. He came every now and then, hung out his coat and sat at the bar for hours… He didn’t have anything special the first time he came to hang around. Along the weeks he made it a habit to stop by after leaving the plant where he worked. And she found herself expecting his visit…
When the bar owner bought a karaoké machine to try to lure younger clients in, she had started picking up the microphone once or twice, every night, to entertain her bar pillars. She remembered how his eyes shone while she sang, and he soon didn’t leave the pub until she had hit the stage.
You should do this for a living… He had told her, one Saturday evening, as she was taking back her place behind the bar. He was playful around her, but she knew he was serious at that particular moment. You could really make it big, sweety! I’d bet on you… If I had money to bet, that is!
She had never forgotten that moment.
The weeks had gone by. And the singing barmaid’s reputation had slowly but surely brought new clients in. She had her audience, but she noticed she really felt happy about her performances when she could get his nod of approval from his usual stool, or when he loudly applaused after his favorite tunes.
She sang for him, and he made her late evenings pass by in a flash with his stories, which seemed like a fair deal. Could they have been an item? Probably. Yes, of course they could have…
Drinking the last sip and considering a third glass she remembered that night he had stayed until closing time. It wasn’t in his habits to stay that late. He had a life outside her bar after all, and couldn’t spend her whole shift sipping on beer and entertaining her. But that night, he hadn’t excused himself, and she was about to show him the way to the door when it had happened.
They were alone, and she was about to lock the door to count the evening’s earnings. He had drunk much more than his share, and when she walked passed him, he lost balance, and started leaning towards the less than inviting bar floor. Grabbing him by the shoulders, she had stopped his fall, and time had seemed to standstill.
It was the first time they actually touched. And a chill ran her spine as she secured him back up.
Sing for me dear… Sing just for me!
She had blushed, but there was no way he had noticed. She had stepped on the small stage, and turned on the Karaoké machine to sing his favorite song. And as she worked her way through the notes of Frank Sinatra’s “It had to be you” he clumsily stood from his stool, and joined her on the stage.
Taking her hands, he stared so intensively into her eyes that she felt he plunged right into her soul… And while the last notes were still fading in the empty room, he bent down, and kissed her. “Finally” she remembered thinking. Finally. And a bit suprisingly, she had given herself completely in that unsuspected embrace. But when he stepped back, he seemed shaken by his loss of self control, and headed out, promising to be back soon…
But his spot had remained empty for days…
The following week, a famous talent head hunter was in town, and had paid a visit to the pub. She had made a good impression on him, obviously, because after a few songs, he had pulled her aside to give her his business card. She was to call him if she wanted to give a shot at a professional singing career.
For some reason, she had waited for him to show up again to discuss the matter. But he was nowhere to be found. She waited, and wondered, and finally made a call to meet with the people who thought she might have a chance.
Things had gone fast from there. Meeting, signing, and then moving on….
She had left the basement appartment, had moved into a fancy flat in Chicago, had met her head hunters’ wish and had delivered her talent. They had squeezed every ounce of her singing abilities. Made her beautiful and desirable. Made her marketable.
She got a comfortable living. Filled with glitter and Champagne. But without true bonding. Taking sheer talent and making it a product.
She looked at the note joined to the bouquet on the table….
I knew you’d make it, babe.
She shed a tear, knowing what she had lost, making it “big”…..
In response to November Notes Writing Challenge by Sarah Doughty of Heartstring Eulogies and Rosema from A Reading Writer .