10 3d

The real lj idol, week 26: Open-topic

This is for week 26 of therealljidol. The topic is an "open topic" I've got something different for you all this week. This is the start of what could [and may still be] a longer fiction story based on a conversation I had with BFFL Hillary xlovebecomesher recently. It's not the usual creative nonfiction autobiographical stuff I usually write, but I hope everyone enjoys it and considers voting for me. We've reached The Top 14!

It all started at a Starbucks.

Every Monday, Rose would bring her laptop to Starbucks. She would sit at the same booth in the corner with her rose gold MacBook. She would order a skinny vanilla latte. Then she would log onto Facebook. She was a proud independent fashion retailer, and she held her virtual parties like clockwork every Monday.

She took out her bedazzled compact and double-checked to make sure her makeup and hair were perfect. She reached into the large beach bag that she kept by her side and started lining up her inventory in the empty space next to the wall. The summer collection was amazing… red leggings with white stars, blue and yellow camo print with the American flag, black leggings with flag-printed peace signs… red, white, and blue tie-dyed tee-shirts, red and white striped tank tops, a navy dress with white yachts and red anchors… Her followers were going to love it.

She opened the Zoom app and picked out the perfect background. It was a gorgeous room with a chandelier with tear-shaped crystal hanging down, a white couch with colorful accent pictures, and a glass coffee table covered with a vase of orchids and glossy art books. She checked her Hermès watch that she had bought on the streets during a sponsored trip to New York City. She was satisfied her façade was complete, as her customers would accept nothing less. Only five minutes to go, she thought… And that’s when she spotted him.

He wasn’t the greatest looking man she had ever seen. That would be Brad Pitt, especially in Legends of the Fall. But there was something about him. He sat with a small group of both men and women. A few of them had laptops and some of them had notebooks. He seemed to be leading them in some sort of conversation. She wondered what they were talking about. She wondered who they were. However, before she could contemplate more about him, her phone started beeping. It was meeting time.

She opened her app, and started admitting people into her chat.

“Hey everyone, this is Rose, and I can’t wait to show you the gorgeous clothes that I have for you this month. Remember guys, this is limited qualities, so you have to be fast if you want to claim the amazing bargains, I have for you today.”

Her meeting ended after about two hours. She had sold a decent amount of her inventory, but not enough to make a dent in the fees she still owed to her credit card company. He was gone. She was curious about him. She walked over to the counter and flagged over a pierced barista with purple hair. She had seen him working here almost every week for a month. Maybe he could give her a clue as to who that was. The sunlight from outside the windows caught her cubic zirconia ring and made little rainbows on the ceiling.

“Can I help you?” the barista asked.

“Who was that man? Who were those people who were over there?” She shook her left hand in the direction as she pointed, the chunky bangles on her wrist made noise.

“I think they’re some sort of writing group,” the barista said, “They meet here every week. They usually come on Tuesdays, but they came on Monday this week.”

“What kind of writing group?”

“Have you ever heard of Camp NanoWriMo?”

“No, but I can google it,” Rose said, and with that, she walked back to her booth, gathered up her things, and walked outside to her car.

Rose drove back to her apartment. She lived in a small studio apartment in Bedford, Massachusetts. She unlocked her door. The apartment smelled like smoke and kitty litter. Right on cue, her runty black cat came over and rubbed against her legs. “You don’t love me,” Rose muttered, “You just want treats.” She walked over to the card table that doubled as her kitchen table and picked up the bag of catnip scented treats. She threw a few on the ground, and her eager cat started to munch on them. Then she threw herself down on the stained mattress that doubled as her bed on the floor. She grabbed a cigarette from a candy bowl she kept next to her bed and lit it. She blew smoke rings, but it only came out as a solid puff of smoke. She started googling things on her cracked cellphone.

“Hmm. NanoWriMo?” She found a bunch of pointless websites. It looked like some stupid writing contest. She tried to make her search more specific by entering NanoWriMo plus Bedford,” and that when she found him.

He went by CallMeIshmael14 on the NanoWriMo website. He was the liaison for the Bedford area. They had a Facebook page. It was dedicated to aspiring writers and authors, who wanted feedback on novels they were trying to write. His real name was Greg Benjamin. [Rose Benjamin had a nice ring to it, she thought] Unfortunately, other than that, she couldn’t see anything else about him.

She didn’t know what it was about him, but she felt drawn to him, and God knows she could use a man. Maybe a man could help get her out of the debt she was in, she thought as she glanced around at her tiny apartment. She decided to sign up for this writing contest… at least that’s what she thought it was. But she didn’t want to be her. She wanted to reinvent herself. She would make herself become whatever it is that she thought Greg would like.

She logged out of her own personal Facebook page, and decided to make a new email address… She couldn’t be Rose here, she needed to be someone else. She decided to use her middle name: Linda. She remembered all the old jokes from high school, where your middle name and the street you grew up on would be your “pornstar name.” Therefore, she could be Linda Alcott. She registered the email address and started a new Facebook account. She tried to join Greg’s group immediately but saw it was a private group. She skimmed all the rules… stuff about respecting others, not being racist, trigger warnings, and bullshit like that. Then she clicked “join the group.”

She went back to CallMeIshmael14’s NanoWriMo profile and saw she couldn’t read that either. She decided to sign up for that website too. She tried to think of an “artsy” name to match his, but aside from Harlequin romance novels that she found at Walmart, she didn’t read very much. The last “real” book she had read was Twilight. They had made a movie about that, right? It must be a good book. She named herself BellaSwan14 and then went back to his profile.

He lived in Bedford. His birthday was at the beginning of November, which made him Scorpio. [Capricorns and Scorpios were compatible, right?]. He liked to listen to classic rock like Bon Jovi and Billy Joel while he wrote. He worked as an international stockbroker according to his profile. Rose’s eyes lit up as she read that. His favorite books were Frankenstein, Dracula, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and anything by Hemingway. Surely a well-known author like Hemingway had movies of his books, right?

Rose could not wait to meet him. She would just have to pretend she liked to write. Writing couldn’t be too hard. Poems just needed to rhyme. She could always just pretend to be an aspiring poet. Or maybe she could just write some sort of romance story. Everyone liked 5o Shades of Gray, right? She could write the next great romance novel.

She couldn’t do anything until she heard back from the Facebook group. Until then, she could just pray she ran into him. Wait… Didn’t the barista say they came on Tuesdays? Maybe she should go back to Starbucks tomorrow. Or every day until she saw him.

She put her phone away and laid back on the pile of leggings that served as her pillow. She couldn’t wait to become Mrs. Rose Benjamin.
10 3d

Lj Idol: Week 25 [I think?] The Catbird's Seat

This was written for week 25 of therealljidol. The Theme is the Catbird's Seat. I hope you enjoy reading this and please consider voting for me and any of the other talented writers who are participating in therealljidol. Voting info shall follow once I get it.

I have track blood in my family. My Great Uncle Irvine won the 1944 Olympic Trials for the decathlon and would have represented the United States in the Olympics weren’t canceled due to World War II. He competed in the 1948 Olympics and came in eighth place. He eventually became the coach at the University of Pennsylvania and coached the 1988 Olympics. Everybody knew who Moon Mondschein was in the track world.

My Grandpa Stanley was also a track star. He attended NYU and was an All-American in the shot put and discus. He competed for the United States in the Maccabiah Games, where he was a double gold medal winner for both of those events. In 1954, he also set a world record in the shotput. At one point, he was one of the top 5 shotput throwers in the world. He would have competed in the 1954 Olympics if it wasn’t for a knee injury.

My dad was also a track star. He ran the 200- and 400-meter races and set several records at his high school. He was also an anchor in the mile relay. He was an all-state runner by his senior year and went on to run in college. Because of his last name, everybody who was anyone in the track circles knew who he was. One of his favorite stories is that when he was in college, running the mile relay in the Penn Relays, there was some sort of mess up with the timing and they were unable to record his split. But since he was related to Moon Mondschein and Grandpa Stanley, the coaches in the stands all had timed him instead.

Therefore, when I got to high school, it was expected of me that I join the track team too because of my track blood.

I guess that’s why it’s sort of twisted that I hated track. Freshman year was the worst. I was never allowed NOT to run track. My dad did not give me a choice. I couldn’t just come straight home after school, but I never wanted to be at track practice either, so I got very creative. I would feign make-up labs with my physical science teacher, but instead, I would sit in the auditorium of my high school and watch rehearsals for our spring musical. Sometimes, I would go home with my friends, who were lucky enough not to have to participate in a sport and be back at school, in track clothes just before my dad picked me up. Other times I would feign injuries such as twisted ankles and sprained ankles. I’d go to the trainer. The track team was considered to be not nearly as important as our baseball or softball teams, so by the time the trainer was done attending to their injuries, and finally wrapped my ankle, the practice was pretty much over.

Why did I hate track you ask? Well, it was because the pressure from my dad made it miserable. My dad was reliving his track career through me. I never felt like I was ever going to be as good as him at running. He would constantly critique my running form. He’d compare his times to my time. He’d make a big deal about what I ate at meals. And all I ever heard from him was that I needed to prove I inherited the track blood that coursed through the veins of our family.

I couldn’t completely get away with skipping track altogether. My high school had a strict policy where all students were allowed to participate in sports teams with no exceptions. I would probably attend 2-3 practices a week, out of 6. I still participated in all the track meets especially because there were freshman heats. My dad came to all of my meets. He charted my race times. I ran the 100 -meter and 200-meter relay because those were the races that they basically stuck anyone, who wanted to run track, in. I wasn’t the worst runner. In fact, I was one of the better freshman runners, especially at my school. But at the same time, I didn’t really care. All I heard from my dad was how I had so much potential and needed to work harder so I could be as good as he was when he was in high school.

After the season ended, the track captain told me I needed to stop by Coach Wallace’s office to return my uniform and get an award. What award?

After school, I stopped by his office and gave him my uniform. I asked him where my award was. What award? He screamed at me and lectured me about my piss poor attitude and told me that I didn’t even deserve the freshman letter in track that he was required to give him and if he could hold it back, he would.

During my sophomore year, I decided that I wanted to hurdle. I was always a really good jumper, and I thought it looked fun. Also, my dad had never hurdled, so it was finally an event that he couldn’t compare himself to me in.

I loved running the hurdles. There were so few of us that were crazy enough to attempt them and it became my event. My attitude in track completely changed. I started to look forward to 6 days a week practice. In winter track, I ran the 55-meter hurdle dash. I wasn’t the best and I was far from the worst, and I enjoyed it.

There are two hurdle events in Spring track. There were the 400-meter low hurdles and the 100-meter-high hurdles. I hated the 400 hurdles. I ran them in the first meet of the season, and after one race, I literally thought I was going to die. I walked up to Coach Wallace and told him I was never running the 40o hurdles again. He looked at me and told me that he thought I finally changed, but he was wrong.

Junior year was when I decided to quit soccer. My dad thought that I need to play a sport for all three seasons in high school. Therefore, he decided I needed to sign up for cross country since he loved cross country.

Needless to say, I HATED cross country. I hated running distances. I had a horrible sense of direction, and when we went on street runs, not only did I get lost, but I was dead last. I reverted back to my old tactics, feigning ankle, and foot pain. Football was so much higher on the sport scale than cross country, so I was really late to practice. I would also miss meets. I’d be waiting to get my ankle wrapped, and the bus for meets left before I had even gotten my ankle taped.

The final meet of the season was on a Saturday. Coach Wallace told me I had better be there, or else. I joined the team on the bus to the meet, feeling like a complete stranger since I had skipped so many practices and other meets. The course was at a local place named Darlington Park. I lined up for the race. I don’t know if it was my horrible sense of direction or just general lack of geography, but I got lost during the race. The other runners were so much better than me and so much more conditioned than me, so they were so far ahead of me and I had nobody to follow.

I finished dead last. By the time I found my way to the finish line. Everyone had left. The only one waiting there was my dad. Coach Wallace hadn’t even bothered to wait for me to finish the race. He had even left on the bus with the team knowing that my dad could drive me home himself. My dad handed me my participation medal, and we walked back to his car together.

That was when I decided that I needed to stop being a brat.

Junior year winter track my entire attitude changed. I showed up early for every practice. I befriended the underclassmen, who had joined the team that year. I did my 55 hurdles and ran the 300-meter race. I made it all the way to the county meet for the hurdles. I earned my first varsity letter.

During spring track, the team was short a 400-hurdle racer to qualify for the 400-hurdle relay. Coach Wallace looked at me and told me that he needed me to run the race. He didn’t care if I came in dead last, as long I ran the race. I agreed. Our 400-hurdle team came in first place in the league and eventually in the county. I still hated that race and felt like I was going to die at the end of it, but it was nothing that a bottle of orange Powerade couldn’t fix. I anchored the mile relay team and we also placed in the league championship, where I ran my best split ever at 67 seconds. I placed in almost every high hurdle event. I never quite mastered three-stepping between hurdles, but I was still good enough to qualify for state. I became the “go-to” runner. Whenever we were short in a sprinting event, I was the person they called on. I started to love track and finally appreciate my track blood.

But nothing matched the feelings I felt at the varsity letter ceremony in the spring when Coach Wallace gave me the sportsmanship award for the season. And that was my own personal catbird’s seat.
10 3d

Lj Idol: Week 24/intersection, take 2

This was written for week 24 of therealljidol. This is an intersection piece that was written with the very talented viagra. The topic was the same as last week, only this week my piece is based on the quote "I'm the Usain Bolt of Running From My Problems." I hope you enjoy reading this and please read viagra 's amazing half as well here: https://viagra.livejournal.com/133027.html

My entire life, I’ve been known to try things, give up on them, and then quit them altogether. I know what you’re thinking… you need to keep trying something to get better at it, but I’ve never been the type to listen to other people… Oh and I hate failure, there’s that too.

When I was about four years old, my parents enrolled me in dance class. That’s when it all started. I’m not sure why my parents chose to enroll me in ballet. I guess they loved how I looked in my pink tutu with my blond curls. People would say I look “like an angel, but I was never graceful enough to dance “like an angel.” With a few weeks, when it was apparent that my two left feet were never meant to be a ballerina, the teacher told me parents that I should quit. She told me that they were wasting their money, and I didn’t have any potential as a dancer. Perhaps they should enroll me in art class?

When I was nine, my Aunt Shari took me to see my first Broadway musical in New York City. We saw “A Secret Garden.” I loved it. After we saw it, I spent many hours in my room recording myself singing the songs loudly on my tape recorder. When a local theater group posted a sign for auditions for “Annie,” I told my parents that I wanted to try out. I spent hours in my room, listening to the soundtrack over and over again. When I auditioned, I wanted to sing the best rendition of “Tomorrow” that they ever heard.

The audition finally came around. I sat in the waiting room with hundreds of girls my age. Some of them were even wearing the signature red wig. They called my name. I went in, and thought I was awesome. I even got a callback. A few days later, I found out that I got the role of “nameless orphan number 5.” I mean it wasn’t the lead, but it was a start. I was sure after I got a musical or two under my belt, I would be the next big thing… Maybe I could even audition to be young Cosette in Les Misérables. This was the start of something big, I just knew it.

When I was fourteen, I finally gave up on acting. My career just wasn’t going anywhere. My theater friends had graduated from “nameless ensemble member number 2” to real lead roles such as Peter Pan in “Peter Pan” or Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” and I was still nameless, and my two left feet weren’t helping. Oh well, time to move on to something else, like sports.

When I was in ninth grade, I played soccer. My soccer phase lasted for about two years. It wasn’t that I minded being on the bench so much, it gave me a lot of time to appreciate nature and the changing trees. The coach was probably just giving everyone playing time. But then in the fall of my junior year, when all the underclassmen were supposed to be promoted from JV to Varsity, he left me on JV and promoted a bunch of sophomores instead. Oh well, track and field sounded more interesting anyway.

In eleventh grade, my best friends Cat and Juliet wanted me to take choir as my fine arts elective. The choir was going on a cruise over the spring break. They were both super excited about it, it was going to Bermuda and Nassau, but it was only open to choir and band members. Instruments were never really my thing, especially after a failed attempt to learn clarinet during fifth grade, but I could sort of sing…. I mean I did play numerous “name ensemble members” throughout several musicals. Choir would be the same thing, so I signed up for it.

During the first week of choir practice, the teacher had each of us audition so she could figure out what our range was. After my audition, she looked at me and told me I had a very unusual voice that had a lot of potential, but I would need several private lessons to reach that potential. Well, I had no time for that in-between cross-country practice and track practice, so I decided to quit choir and transfer to woodworking. Besides, my Spanish IV class that year was planning a trip to Madrid that summer, and drinking sangria in the Plaza Mayor cave bars sounded a lot better than singing weird songs in foreign languages to older people on a boat. And there were no “private lessons” that I needed to join that trip instead.

During my senior year, I had to go to my college orientation in May. I decided to enroll in Kutztown University with the intent to be a special education and elementary education major. During the orientation, we had to meet with our advisors to help pick the courses that we would take during freshman year of college. My advisor sat down with me and looked over my student file and noticed that I had a documented learning disability. He told me that most people, who have any sort of disability, whether it be dyslexia or dyscalculia probably weren’t going to be successful as an education major because it was very demanding. Well okay, I decided right then and there to change my major. Clinical Psychology sounded more like my jam anyway.

I decided to join the university’s track team. I was good enough to make state for hurdles during my senior year, and I was sure I’d fit right into Kutztown’s team. After about two weeks of practice, I decided it wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t that I was the slowest runner, it was just too demanding of my time. Not only did I have a practice every day from 4 to 6, but I also had to go to study hall, two days a week from 7 pm to 10 pm. That interfered with my college experience. How the hell could I attend parties with my friends if I was always in practice or at study hall? So, I quit that too and spent my nights learning how to play “Circle of Death” and “Asshole” at various parties on Main Street. That was a much better use of my free time.

For the most part, life was pretty much that. I would start new hobbies. They included but were not limited to making beaded bracelets, making friendship bracelets out of floss, learning to play magic the gathering, digital photography editing, and collage making, but I would get bored of those after awhile, and quit. Then I would just move on to something else that seemed less challenging.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. It was detected very early. It was at stage zero, but even stage zero had serious consequences. To get rid of cancer, I would have to get a complete hysterectomy. If I got a complete hysterectomy, I could never have biological children. I had just gotten engaged to my boyfriend at the end of the previous year, and now our future was completely changing, for once it was out of my control. For once, something quit on me, instead of me quitting on it.

My life changed after that. I didn’t like not being in control, and I didn’t like the idea of something else making my important decisions for me. It was time to stop being a quitter.

One of the first big steps I made was when Justin and I went to Utah to visit the national parks in winter. Our third park on the trip was Bryce Canyon. We really wanted to experience the national park, but none of the hikes were beginner-friendly. I spent the entire night reading the internet, obsessing over the hike and wondering if we could even do it. Or would we die of hypothermia at the bottom of a canyon? I googled hike reviews, hiking blogs, and read all the information about the hike we were thinking of doing. The hike to Queen’s garden had a descent of 357 feet and to get from the bottom of the canyon, we would have to ascend 550 feet on narrow switchbacks. We were pretty close to saying “fuck it” and just visiting the gift store, getting our passports stamped, and calling it a day. But no, we were determined. I mean, if we could kick cancer’s ass, we could do a hike, right?

It was one of the hardest hikes we’ve ever done. I tried to ignore the pessimistic voice in my head by blasting prog rock as we started the hike. When we got to the switchbacks, I was determined. I took them slowly, as in, I complained the entire way up a switchback, rested for like ten minutes before I attempted another, but I did it. For the first time, in basically my entire life, I didn’t quit something because it was too challenging or out of boredom.

My new hobby is painting. I’ve really been enjoying virtual “paint and sips.” I’ve spent so much money on canvas and acrylic paint that I could own my own art store. I tried to follow along and paint a picture of the Northern Lights last night. I’m really not sure what it looked like by the end. It looked like very colorful abstract art. I’ll never post it on Instagram because I don’t want anyone to see how bad it is. But do you know what? That’s okay, I’ll just pick another painting tomorrow. Maybe that one will turn out decent. I’m done being a quitter.
10 3d

Lj Idol: Week 23/intersection

This is my part of an intersection piece with xlovebecomesher [Unknown LJ tag]based on the prompt "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn." You can read her part here: https://xlovebecomesher.livejournal.com/447942.html . These were written for week 23 of therealljidol please consider supporting us and the other talented writers who post there

I’ve always known I had a lisp. In elementary school, I went to speech therapy for it. I don’t remember much about the therapy. The therapist would always give me some sort of candy afterward, usually, a mini Hershey’s bar or a Dum Dum lollipop, and whenever I went back to class, I would be the envy of my classmates. I didn’t really stay in therapy for very long, perhaps a year or two. The therapists and my parents decided that since my speech impediment didn’t bother me or heed my progress in class, they would let me be. Also, in elementary school, nobody really cares what you sound like. I had my friends and my sports, and nobody ever told me I talked funny.

It all changed in middle school. My parents moved us to a different town after sixth grade. These were the days before the internet and cell phones, and it was like starting over. I left my friends and everything else behind. The teasing started during sixth-grade language arts class. We had to write about ourselves and read it to the class as a bonding activity. When it was my turn, I started to read my piece aloud and the snickering started as soon as I started saying “I liked to play soccer.” The teasing never stopped. People started making fun of the way I talked and would bully me for no reason. That’s when I decided I was never going to participate in a class ever again.

I did manage to scrape by middle school and high school with this strategy. I wouldn’t say I was an outstanding student or anything. I was an excellent note-taker and a visual learner, so I passed my classes. I was a decent writer, so my essays and reports were good. I was able to read at a sixth-grade level when I was three, so I would just read my textbooks from beginning to end, if there was something I didn’t understand in a lecture, as opposed to just asking a teacher a question. My grades were not stellar or anything. There was no way I was ever getting into an ivy league school with my grades or SAT scores, but I managed to graduate high school. I even got accepted into a college without participation. I decided to be a psychology major.

The summer before college, my mother made me work at my brother’s sleepaway camp because she thought I needed to learn to be more independent. I was relatively young, I didn’t turn 18 until September of my freshman year at college, and was not old enough to be a counselor so I worked in the office. For the most part, I enjoyed my office job. I had a lot of downtime so I had Tetris tournaments with the head counselor, wrote letters to my friends, and read books. However, part of the job included using a walkie-talking to contact other counselors and staff throughout the day and making daily announcements over the PA system. I cringed whenever I had to call somebody on the walkie or announce something to the camp. I could hear myself echo back, and my speech impediment seemed magnified one thousand times with every word. However, nobody ever said anything or made fun of me for how I sounded, so for the first time in a long time, I was accepting of my voice.

That all changed during Color War.

For those of you unfamiliar with camp traditions, a Color War is when the camp is divided into two different teams, usually gray or white and a blue. For several days after Color War breaks, the two teams compete against one another in various activities from sporting events to art projects to sing-alongs to dramatizations. The team with the highest total points at the end of three days is the winner. Color War is a BIG DEAL at all the camps I’ve attended and worked at. Campers and counselors look forward to the event the entire summer.

During Color War, I was a judge. I helped umpire the swim meets. All that meant was I stood at the end of the dock, where the race finished, and watching for the first-place swimmer and told the referee so it could be recorded. On the first morning of Color War, I was walking down to the waterfront. There was a group of older campers standing in front of the office, my brother included. They were doing the daily skit that got judged. Two of my brother’s cabinmates were talking. I stopped to watch, mostly out of curiosity.

“Counselor Shane come to the office,” the boy said. He exaggerated every syllable, spit purposely afterword, and made the s noises sound like th noises… That’s when I realized he was making fun of me in the skit. I couldn’t help it, I started crying, it didn’t matter that this was a fourteen-year-old camper, and I was about to be a college freshman. It hurt. I ran into the office, locked myself in the sports ball supply closet, and refused to come out. Even when Austin, the boy’s counselor came to apologize and tell me that he had punished his camper, I stayed put. That’s when I decided I was done talking again and refused to make any more announcements for the rest of the summer.

When I got to college, it was easy to disappear and be invisible during class. Most of my classes were in lecture halls with anywhere from 20 to 60 students. The professors never really demanded participation. There were a few students, who were more than happy to partake in class discussions, but there was also a good amount, who just took notes and attended lectures, and never said a word. I was one of them.

However, passing college was not as easy as passing middle and high school. I struggled with a lot of the material I was taught, mostly in math classes and humanities classes like art history. I didn’t want to ask questions in class because I was pretty sure that everyone would judge how I sounded and laugh at the way I talked and said my “s” and “z” sounds, and it would be just like middle school, high school, and sleepaway camp all-over-again. I did graduate college in four years, but by graduating, I mean I barely squeaked by with a 2.3 GPA.

I spent the next two years after graduation trying to figure out what I could do with my life. My undergraduate GPA and GRE scores weren’t impressive enough to get into a graduate program to continue my study of psychology. I didn’t want to apply for jobs at places where I would have to talk to customers like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. I eventually got a job as a TA in an autism class.

I excelled at my job. I loved working with the students, and for the first time, I actually worked with mature adults. My coworkers became my best friends. They never said anything about my speech impediment, and when I brought it up to one of them, several years in the future, she said she didn’t even notice it. I finally felt accepted. My coworkers encouraged me to go back to school. They said getting into a graduate program didn’t matter, and I should try undergraduate again, and study special education because of how much I loved the students and how they reacted to me. With their support, I applied to college, again. The university I applied to accepted me as a second undergraduate degree student. At the end of the school year, I said a teary-filled goodbye to my co-workers and prepared to go to college again. But this time, I was more motivated.

The first day of my second attempt at a college, I decided things were going to be different this time. I was determined to not suck at school like I had all the years before. But I was still afraid to talk. It seemed every time I finally gained some confidence, something happened that made it all vanish.

My first class was an Introduction to Critical Writing. As soon as I walked into the classroom, I knew this was going to be a different sort of class. The desks were arranged in a circle, not rows. The professor, Dr. Marshall, sat at one of the desks, along with the students, who had already gotten there. I sat down and we waited for the rest of the students to show up. When they call got there, Dr. Marshall stood up and told us that “this wasn’t a regular class.” He went on to say that he didn’t give lectures, he didn’t give notes, and he didn’t give tests. We were the ones, who taught the class. Every class was taught by a student, who would research the article assigned, and they would be the ones prepping the lectures. We HAD to participate or we were not going to pass his class. There would be no exceptions. That was when I knew I had to finally speak and for the first time ever, since elementary school, I raised my hand to participate in a classroom discussion.

I ended up excelling in Dr. Marshall’s class. Once I started talking, I never stopped. My classmates appreciated my ideas and thoughts. I led the lectures I was assigned with glee. There were certain times throughout the semester when Dr. Marshall would ask me NOT to talk because he wanted to give other students a chance to express their ideas and thoughts, and I along with other outspoken classmates dominated the class.

One day, I was exhausted because I had been out babysitting until three am the night before and I was too tired to talk. Dr. Marshall ordered me to go to the cafeteria, get coffee or caffeinated tea and not return to class until I was awake enough to talk because my words mattered.

I graduated magna cum laude. I excelled in all of my classes. Everyone in the English department and the Special Elementary department knew me. I led study groups. I was the person that everyone went to when they needed help with a presentation or assignment. I was smart, my words mattered, and nobody cared what I sounded like.

To this day, I still keep in touch with Dr. Marshall. We exchange Christmas cards every year and send the occasional email. When I visit my family in NJ, I will sometimes drive to my old university to visit him. I hold him accountable for helping me believe in myself. He helped me realize that I was smarter than I had ever given myself credit for, and gave me back the self-confidence that had been lost then found only to be lost again so many times.
10 3d

Week 22, lj idol: hiraeth

This was written for week 22 of therealljidol if you like my story, please consider voting for me, and any of the other talented writers

I’ll never forget the day that my dad brought it home. It was the first night of Hanukah, and the four of us were lighting the menorah. After a dinner of microwaves latkes, which resulted in them being soggy, and Nana’s applesauce, it was time for presents. First, we got our individual presents. My brother got some Ghostbusters action figures, including a green Slimer one. I got some books. I was really into The Babysitter’s Club. Then my dad led us downstairs into the family room.

One thing I will always remember about the house that I grew up in was the family room. My brother and I probably spent ninety percent of our waking hours in that room. When my parents had bought the house, the family room had had a wet bar in it. Behind the wet bar were mirrored shelves that were meant to keep liquor on it. Instead, my dad had stacked his collection of science-fiction and fantasy novels on the shelves. On the bar itself, was my dad’s alphabetized record collection even though we didn’t have a working record player in the house. To the right of the room was a couch that turned into a bed. Just above the bed was a very wide and flat wooden windowsill. My favorite thing to do was to sit on the couch and play with my barbie and my little pony dolls on that windowsill. Across from the sleeper sofa was a brown leather sofa. This brown leather sofa had traveled with my dad since he had been a student at Penn. Next to the sofa, on the left, was a huge cabinet that was jammed with different toys, art supplies, and books. On the right, was another bookshelf that was built into the wall, also jammed with more of my dad’s book collection. The carpet of the family room was a shaggy lime green carpet that had come with the house.

My brother and I looked at each other, we had no idea why dad had brought us down here. Dad walked to the TV and turned it on. A weird musical tune came on, and the screen was bright blue. Words in white appeared on the screen, my dad and I read them aloud together as they appeared, “The world is veiled in darkness. The wind stops, the sea is wild, and the earth begins to rot. The people wait, there only hope is a prophecy…. ‘When the world is in darkness Four Warriors will come….’ After a long journey, four young warriors arrive, each holding an ORB.”

“What is it?” asked my brother, obviously as confused as I was.
“It’s a Nintendo, we got a Nintendo,” Dad said. I think he was more excited than we were.
“Where’s Mario?” my brother asked. The only things my brother and I knew about Nintendo was based on the cartoon shows we watched. Every Saturday, one of us would wake up around five am, usually me, and we were in charge of waking the other for a show based off of the game Dragon Warriors. I would sit through religious broadcasting in the morning until the show started at seven am. After school, we would come home and watch The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, The Legend of Zelda, and Captain N: The Game Master.
“We have it,” my dad said, “This game is called Final Fantasy. My secretary Beth got it for me. She saw the sword and shield on the box and I thought I would like it.”
“I want Mario,” my brother said.
“You and Jamie can play Mario tomorrow. Do you want to watch me play?”
“No,” said my brother, and he went upstairs.
“Do you want to watch me play?”
“Sure,” I said.

My dad sat down on the couch, and I sat next to him. He pressed a few buttons on the controller and entered the new game screen. He made himself a fighter called Dad. “Do you and Randy want to be in my game?”
“I do,” I said.
“What do you want to be? You can be a fighter, a white wizard, a black wizard, a red wizard, a thief, or a blackbelt.”
“The white wizard, I think it looks the most like a girl.” Dad chose the white wizard and named it ‘Jami’ since there was a four-character text limit.
“I’ll put your brother in too since he’ll get mad if he’s not in the game. He can be a black wizard.” Dad chose the black wizard and named it ‘Rand’ for Randy. For the fourth character on the party, he chose a blackbelt and named it “BLEE” after Bruce Lee. My dad was a huge kung fu movie fan. And from there on our, Bruce Lee was forever known as ‘BLEE’ in our household.
For the next few hours, I watched my dad play the game until it was bedtime.

Final Fantasy sort of became our thing. Every night, after I did my homework, I would go downstairs and watch my dad play his game. I would build Lego robots or make up full-length Broadway musicals starring my dolls while he played, but I would be there. When my dad finished the game, he just started it over with a different team. I once did the calculations, and there were about 126 different team combinations that you could make within the game.

As gaming systems advanced, my dad would buy the new final fantasy games that came out for every system. He played them up until about Final Fantasy X, when the games because “too weird” for him. But even though there were a few others he enjoyed, particularly, Final Fantasy IX, they just didn’t hold the same magic that the original had for him, but our NES had long-stopped working.

I play my own video-games now. I’ve beaten most of the Final Fantasy games, and I’ve moved on the different games such as Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, and Stardew Valley. But now that I’m older, beating games just doesn’t have the same magic, as it did that first time, I watched my dad beat Final Fantasy from start to finish.

Several years ago, before I moved to Texas, I wanted to give my dad a going-away present. Being the huge video-game nerd, I am thanks to my dad, I had a Gameboy SP that I had bought to beat a Pokémon game. The Gameboy SP had been discontinued, and I didn’t really need it anymore. I left my dad with my Gameboy SP and the Gameboy Advance remake of Final Fantasy that I had found on eBay.

Every so often, my dad calls me and tells me about the latest in his “Final Fantasy” world, perhaps more now than before thanks to COVID. He loves to tell me all about how strong his team is, what bad guy he beat, and all the dungeons he dominated. And yes, the blackbelt is still named BLEE.

the topic for this week is hiraeth, which means nostalgia, and I can't think of anything more nostalgic than childhood
10 3d

Open Topic: Mother's Day

This was written for a sudden death tie-breaker open topic entry for therealljidol

In honor of Mother's Day being tomorrow, I decided to write about my Nana. The pic below is actually a picture I scanned from an old photo album she gave me recently from one of our Disney World trips like the one mentioned in this story

Also, my birth first name is Jamie, I just go by Lyssa, which is my middle name


My nana called me today. She usually doesn’t call me very much, so whenever I see her name on the caller ID, I mentally panic. The same goes for anytime a member of my family calls me. We aren’t the most social family. My dad recently discovered text messaging, but it’s hard to interpret his messages when he invents his own acronyms and emojis, and every so often I’ll get a text from him, but that’s really it. The extent of our communication is the weekly phone calls I make to them. To be honest, I tend to avoid my family, they are the main reason I decided to move to Texas, and usually, when they call me, it’s because there’s some sort of bad news.

Nana is ninety-eight years old. She can’t really see anymore. Earlier this year I convinced my parents to get her an “Alexa.” Her eyesight is too bad to see the numbers on a phone anymore. Now whenever she wants to call somebody, she just asks Alexa to call whoever. She doesn’t really understand technology either. Whenever the internet stops working, she complains that Alexa is mad at her. She takes it personally too.
“Hi, Nana?” I say.
“Jamie, this is Nana Rebeca,” she always says. I tried to explain to her once that my cell phone automatically tells me that she’s calling me, and she doesn’t need to tell me it’s her, but she doesn’t listen. “I got your Mother’s Day card in the mail.”
“I’m glad it got there,” I said, “You never know with Texas mail.”
“It’s a beautiful card,” she says.

I can picture her in my mind. She was probably sitting at her kitchen table. I can hear mumbled Spanish in the background, and I’m pretty sure she was watching her Spanish soap operas. My grandmother grew up in Mexico. She was born in Russia, but during World War Two, she immigrated to Mexico and was raised there. When I was little, she tried to teach me how to speak Spanish. She often tells me about how she used to teach me to sing songs in Spanish when I would go over there to visit. I took Spanish in high school and college, but I never really used it outside of class and lost most of the language. Sometimes on the phone, she’ll talk to me in Spanish, and I understand her, but I answer in English. I’ve been trying to get my Spanish language skills back with duo lingo, but phrases like “soy un mujer” and “como pan” aren’t exactly her idea of conversing in Spanish. She was probably drinking green tea as she watched her soap opera. “How are my grand kitties?”
“They’re good,” I answer, “They’re sleeping.”
“Do you remember when you were little?” Do you remember our trips to Disney World?”
“I remember when we went to Disney,” I say, “I remember riding the Dumbo ride with Papa.” I don’t mention how I remember the Dumbo ride breaking as Papa and I rode on it, and we were stranded what seemed like very high up when I was five, but was probably maybe only ten or twelve feet in the air, in reality. I haven’t ridden the Dumbo ride since. “I also remember riding Peter Pan and Space Mountain.”

My grandparents used to have an apartment in Orlando. Every morning, after breakfast, Papa and I would go to the pool. We used to race across the pool. I would always win. My papa would make a big deal about how hard he tried to beat me, but he just couldn’t because I was too fast. Years later, I realized he had always let me win. We would go to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot during the day. Nana always really liked Epcot. She liked walking through the world showcase and going to the Mexico pavilion. She loved the “El Rio del Tiempo” ride. I don’t remember much about it except it a lot like “It’s a Small World.” The dolls were clad in the clothing and music that my nana had grown up with, in Mexico. She said it reminded her of home. After we spent the day at the park, we would go back to the apartment. We would eat dinner and then Nana would give me Neapolitan ice cream in my Mickey Mouse bowl. Papa and I would sit on the balcony and he would teach me about the stars and outer space.

“When we were in the park, people would stop me. They would tell me that you had the most beautiful curly hair. You have beautiful curly blond hair, Jamie.” I wince on the other end of the phone as I pace around my den, my hair in a shower cap because I decided to dye it purple several hours earlier.
“Thank you,” I say.
“I’m going to go. I’m tired. I just wanted to say thank you for the card. I haven’t gotten a card in years. Thank you for thinking of me, Jamie. I hope the world gets less mashugana soon and you can come home and visit.”
“Happy Mother’s Day, Nana.”
10 3d

Lj Idol: The Way Back

This was written for week 21 of therealljidol

This story is based on a real event and takes place in a real place. Peanut Falls are part of several hiking trails at the Palisades in New Jersey/New York. Since this story, the trail has been rebuilt. I recently hiked there last time I visited home. Here is a picture I took


We had made it down the cliffs, but I wasn’t very sure of the way back to the top. There used to be a path to get back to the main hiking trail. But when Hurricane Floyd had come to New Jersey in September, he had washed out the path. That had never stopped my friends and me before. We probably hiked down to the waterfall, at least a couple of times a month, but usually, Cat was the one, who led us up and down the cliffs. It was just him and I for now. But I could just worry about that later.

It was pretty quiet at the bank of the Hudson River. The two of us were sitting on a fallen tree. The tree probably fell during the hurricane too because I didn’t remember it being there before. The only sounds were the crashing of the water lapping as it splashed on the bank and the trickle of the water as it dripped down Peanut Falls. The cascade wasn’t really impressive. The only time it was impressive was after a marginally heavy rainstorm. At the same time, you didn’t really want to hike down a washed-out trail when it was just a hill of mud.

“I think I’m going to climb the fall,” Jeremy said.
“I’ll watch,” I said.
“Where’s your sense of adventure?” he asked.
“Nonexistent when it comes to climbing things. You know I’m a klutz. Slippery rocks and me probably aren’t the best idea.”
“Your loss,” he said.

We walked towards the falls. The pool in front of the falls wasn’t very big, nor was it very deep. It had been a particularly dry winter with only a few snow flurries to my dad’s disdain. April hadn’t brought us many showers either. I walked over to the stone wall to the right of the falls and sat down.

A long time ago there used to be a garden. None of us knew very much about the garden except that it used to be a part of a much larger estate in the 1800s. All that was left of the garden was dilapidated stone and brick walls built into the cliff and the remnants of columns scattered on the ground. Empty beer bottles, cigarettes, and graffiti-filled what was left of the foundation of the estate, but even so, there was something beautiful about its decay. It was one of our favorite places to hike to.

Jeremy managed to scale the waterfall pretty easily. He shouted my name from the top and waved at me. I gave him a thumbs up.

Climbing had been his thing. We had been counselors-in-training together at sleepaway camp; he spent most of his time at climbing tower. I did too. I would lie on the benches and read one of the millions of books I had brought to camp over the summer. Occasionally, I would move and change whatever CD was playing in the wooden shack. Jeremy had tried to get me to attempt to climb the tower many times, but I always said “no.” Once in a while, I would rappel. Rappelling was easier. I just had to climb a ladder, and then sort of hop down the wall, on belay. It was easier to go down then up. I was sure hiking back to my car later today would follow that same motto.

Hiking had been our thing. During the day, we would go for short hikes in the woods. We would hike to the low rope course, and play on the different obstacles. The rope swing was my favorite. After curfew, the two of us would meet up behind the cafeteria, and hike up to The Rock. The Rock had been the campout area at camp. I wasn’t really sure why it was called The Rock, there wasn’t any rock. The two of us would hike up to the campsite. Jeremy could find his way there in the dark without a flashlight. It probably wasn’t a very far hike, but it always seemed long under the guise of moonlight and stars. I would point out the two constellations I knew, Draco and Scorpius, and he would try to teach me the others. Occasionally, I recognized a planet or two, usually Mars or Venus.

The hike went up a hill behind the cafeteria and into the junkyard. The junkyard was covered with old camp equipment. There were rusty bicycles, broken down Hobie Cats, deflated soccer balls and basketballs, old pottery wheels, and faded lifejackets. Once you passed through the junkyard, there was a small clearing in the woods, and then you made it to The Rock.

We would spend most of our nights at The Rock. We were close with the pioneering counselors, who didn’t care that we were violating curfew. In fact, one of my counselors was a pioneering counselor, and the other had been a CIT the summer before, and breaking curfew was just a CIT Rite of Passage. We would toast marshmallows for S’mores. Jeremy would laugh at me because I would light mine on fire. Sometimes, Jeremy or one of the other counselors had a guitar and they would play songs around the fire. My favorite was Fade to Black by Metallica. I loved to watch the sky for shooting stars. But mostly, we would sit in comfortable silence.

“I think I’m ready to go,” his voice brought me back from my reminiscing.
“Okay,” I said.
“Thanks for bringing me here. It reminded me of the summer.”
“Thanks for visiting me. I’ve missed hanging out with you.”

We started up what was left of the stone stairs. It was going to be a long way back, especially if we trusted my sense of direction.

Author's note: We did eventually find our way back to my car. We bushwhacked through a lot of the off-trail land. About three days later, my legs were covered in poison ivy. It's also when I discovered I was allergic to poison ivy. My legs were so swollen that I couldn't walk and missed school and prom because of the severity of the reaction to poison ivy.
10 3d

LJ Idol: Boondoggle

Author's note: There is a real bar in the Houston area called Boondoggle's

Second Author's note: This is just a part of the story, albeit a sligtly fictionalized version, of how I met Justin, my husband. I hope I have an opportunity to write more of it.

Third Author's note: I really do love pineapple and chicken pizza. It's delicious.

“We’re here,” Kat said. She pointed to the building in front of us. It was a two-story brick building, lanterns with electric tea-lights hung from the ceiling of a covered porch. There were a few wooden tables there. A few were occupied by people sharing pitchers of beer and thin crust pizza. “This is Boondoggles.”

There were a small group of us. Kat and her boyfriend Chris, there was also a couple, who had introduced themselves to me when we had first met them in the parking lot. I forgot their names already, All I remembered was that they liked roller coasters, and were planning a road trip this summer, where they planned to drive from state to state, go to amusement parks, and ride the popular coasters, make vlogs for YouTube, and rate them on their blog.

And then there was him. We had met at the New Year’s Party a few nights ago. I wasn’t really sure what I thought off him. We had played a few board and card games together, but he had been drunk. We had “talked” a little bit, if by talking, you meant I wrote words down on a yellow legal pad, he read them and responded, and then I would write more words. I had had laryngitis that night. I remembered he liked Doctor Who and had never seen Firefly.

We walked into the bar. Kat and Chris waved to the bartender, who waved back. The hostess nodded at them. It was obvious that they were frequent diners. They led our group to a tall wooden table in the back. White fairy lights hung all around the bar, and various animal heads hung on the wall next to lit up oversized beer bottles. Kat and Chris sat at the head of the long vertical table, I sat next to Kat, he sat across from me, and the nameless couple sat to my right. The hostess handed us menus.

“It’s not New Jersey pizza,” Kat said, “But it’s not too bad for Texas.” She shrugged.

“Do you want to share a pizza?” he said, “The pizzas are pretty big here.”

“That depends… how do you feel about pineapple and chicken on pizza?”

“I hate pineapple pizza.”

“I don’t think this is going to work out,” I said, half serious, half joking, and not sure if I meant sharing a pizza, or having a future.

“Half pineapple? Half bacon? I’m okay with the chicken.”

“I can work with that,” I agreed.

The waitress came and we placed our pizza order. I also ordered a cider and a cup of maraschino cherries on the side.

“Cherries?” he asked.

“They’re good,” I said.

Next to us, the couple were having a conversation about whether or not they wanted to add Disney World to their road trip plans so they could blog about Splash and Space Mountain, for any possible families, who subscribed to their blog and or YouTube channel. On my other side, Chris and Kat were talking to each other in baby voices.

I could either… stare at my cell phone, and hope one of my friends from NJ would answer one of the frantic texts I had sent several hours ago or I could try talking to him… I hate blind dates; I have no idea why I let Kat set me up with one of her “friends.” I wasn’t like I lived here, I was from New Jersey, and I was only here for the week. I stared at my phone for a few more minutes… why did my friends at home choose tonight to have a life?

“So, what do you do?” he asked.

“Can you be more specific? Like what do I do as a job? Or what do I do in my spare time?”

“Both, I guess,” he shrugs.

The waitress comes to the table with our drinks, and a Jell-O shot sized container of cherries for me. I eagerly take the first cherry and put it in my mouth.

“I’m in school,” I say, after I swallow the cherry. “I graduate this May. I’m studying to become a special ed teacher. I also tutor and babysit almost every night.”

“Cool, I’m a teacher too.”

“What do you teach?”


“I hate math.”

“Most people do.”

“I had a lot of bad math teachers in school. I also have dyscalculia. I think my teachers focused more on my disability and because of it I didn’t really get any confidence in my math ability. I’m really good at statistics though, and I took some weird advanced math like factorials and truth tables and I was pretty good at it… So sometimes I wonder I’m actually better at math then I was left to believe.” I shrugged. I really didn’t want to talk about math all night. I needed to change the subject. “I also like hiking and camping. I like to visit national parks.”

“I’ve never been to a national park before. Which one is your favorite?”

“I’ve only been to Acadia National Park in Maine. I was in middle school. I don’t remember very much of it except there was this island. You could walk to it when the tide was low, but you had to get back before high tide came in or else you’d be trapped there.”

“That sounds pretty cool.”

“I’ve always wanted to visit Olympic National Park. That’s in Washington state. When I was in sixth or seventh grade, we had US history, and everyone was assigned a national park. Our social studies teacher had a baseball cap and everyone randomly pulled the name of the park out of the bag so people wouldn’t fight over a park. I got Olympic. I don’t remember much about my report, but I remember looking at pictures of it in a magazine and there were these beautiful waterfalls. I love waterfalls.”

“I’ve never seen a waterfall before…”

“Not even Niagara Falls? It’s like a rite of passage for every high school on the east coast to take a trip to Niagara Falls. You poor deprived thing.”

The conversation continued. More national parks were discussed. Favorite bands were compared. Embarrassing stories about our mutual friends were shared. I wasn’t sure if this was the start of a relationship, but at the very least, it could be the start of a friendship, and at that moment in time, that didn’t seem like the worst thing.

This was written for week 20 of therealljidol if you enjoyed my story, please consider voting for me, as well as for any of the other talented writers in the competition.
10 3d

LJ Idol: "I can't get calm"

The car ride had seemed long. Long but interesting. Highways weren’t the most fascinating things on Earth, especially when driving at night. But the sunset had been pretty, and it was always fun to read the exit names in new places.

For the most part, during the 1.5-hour car ride from Kutztown, she had played DJ with different burned CDs, most which skipped during songs due to the fact that she had no place to safely store them in her car and sipped her drink that was mostly cream with a touch of coffee. Mike, her best friend at college, had been silent during most of the drive, keeping his eyes on the road, and occasionally telling her something random from his life story.

They drove into the lane made of orange and yellow safety cones and paid for their parking. The lot was filled to the brim, but they found a spot in the back. The two of them got out of the car.

“Do you have the tickets?” Mike asked. She could barely see his face in the clouded orange light of the parking lot, but she could tell from his voice that he was just as excited as she was.

“They’re in here,” she said, getting a folded crinkly envelope out of her purple striped Nightmare Before Christmas purse. She preferred to keep things in her back-jean pockets, but she had also already lost 2 school ID cards that had been in her pocket, and they had only been in school for about a month. “They were a birthday present from my dad.”

Mike said nothing.

The two of them walked towards the building. Part of the it was domed, and there were a lot of windows. Through the windows, the crowds of people made a living and blurring mural. The name of the place made eerie shadows on the outside of the building under the harsh lighting.

They didn’t really have much time before the show started. There were classes and traffic. Mike had picked her up, right as her 4 pm psychology class had ended, and they were just barely on the road at 6. The show started at 8. As they got to the door, the line was barely ten people long consisting of last-minute non-cohesive stragglers in a crescendo of gratitude because they had just made it on time.

They rushed through security. The security man barely glanced through her bag, not even giving the pack of cigarettes a second glance before he handed it back to her.

The two of them followed the signs to their seats. They were so close to the stage that she could practically touch it. The arena smelled like sweat and cigarettes. It was so different from a ballet or opera in New York City, where people dressed in their most expensive clothing and the theater reeked of expensive perfume and mothballs. Instead of opera glasses and binoculars, the crowd had lighters and cups of sloshing beer.

“Is this really your first rock concert?” Mike asked.

She barely got a chance to nod when suddenly the lights went off, and the guitar riffs and drum beats started. The band on stage started playing her favorite song. The singer started singing. She remembered the first time she had ever heard this song. He sounded nothing like it did on the various scratched CDs in her car, but she loved every second of it.

The stage was chaos. The lead singer moved around and jumped so quickly. As your eyes darted in one direction towards him, he had already pranced to the other side of the stage. One second, he was at the front of the stage, slapping hi-fives and taking a quick selfie with the lucky people in the mosh pit. The next second, he was shaking his fist in the air. Under the stage lights, the sweat started dripping down his face, his eyeliner melting in uneven streaks. The crowd thrusting devil horns in the air with their hands. People were singing, the voices of the audience was a cacophony of melodious and unmelodious screams.

The song finished. She started screaming with the rest of the concert-goers.