Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like if I had some kind of show dedicated to me. You know, like the ones on VH1 or something. I could just imagine it so clearly in my mind: Driven: Chantel Grigney. I spent hours just daydreaming about how the show would be, what people would say about me ("Chantel, she was so talented. I remember when she was 5, we were having this celebration party for my new job and out of nowhere, Chantel stood up in a chair and started belting out this Disney song. Everyone literally stopped and were like, who is this girl?). They would mention the problems that I had encountered on my rise to the top like, I don't know, money problems or no one wanted to sign me or something weird like that. But NEVER, let me say that again, NEVER could I have imagined what I was going through right now.
It's weird, you know? You anticipate something so clearly, make it so real and it never turns out the way you want it to. You hear me? NEVER. Trust me. I once had a daydream in the middle of Algebra about Tommy finally asking me to the Winter Ball and guess what? It's too painful to think of the outcome. But anyway, nothing is going like I had thought it would. 19 Management signed me on and everyone was thrilled. It's been three months since that happened and school is out. But I feel as if something isn't quite right. Everyday I wake up and it's like starting a new life over and over. All the meetings with Polydor and 19 Management. All the vocal sessions with Kelly Thorn. EVERYTHING pertaining to my ultimate goal seems so… I can't even explain it. Everything is happening way too fast. Everything is going by in a rush.
It's summer now. In the past, that meant lazy days lying in the sun with Alexz, dreaming about Tommy and looking for opportunities to sing. Now, I'm not sure if those lazy days were once part of my life. I've gone from an ordinary, average girl to this, "star-in-making" as my manager, Tim, calls me.
Today is the day when I go meet with Tim, Kelly, Linda (my publicist) and some other people I don't even know to discuss a first single. So what have I been doing for the past three months, if not working on my first record? Perfecting my voice, I guess. Making it sound "star-like." Funny. I thought that the reason why people get signed on in the first place was BECAUSE their voice was "star-like."
As the car pulled up to the hotel where all my meetings are held, I started fiddling with my bracelet. My mom gave me this bracelet on the first day of high school, sort of as a good-luck thing. It worked, obviously. I just hope that it will continue working.
For the umpteenth time I walked through the fancy white doors of the hotel of which I cannot pronounce the name as it is long and complicated. It's the best hotel in San Francisco, you know. The receptionist took one look at me and immediately pointed me down the hall. Not that I needed it. I knew exactly where the meetings were held: in the Conference Room.
As I walked in, I was greeted by Kelly with a friendly, "Hey, Chantel. You've been working on the notes we went over yesterday, I hope." I just smiled and nodded. Don't get me wrong; I really like Kelly. She's really nice and is the kind of person who is always willing to help, not to mention a great teacher. But right now, there is only one man I wanted to see: Tim. I sat down at the table next to him. As he saw me, he announced, "Ok, everyone. Now that we're all here, let's get down to business. We're talking a debut record here. Not a simple, off-the-rack single but a SMASH HIT. Any suggestions Linda?" Linda, a short but skinny lady with round, black glasses stood up.
"Well, according to this print-out, hip-hop and rap are basically "in" right now. Well, with a few exceptions, of course. How about a hip-hop song? Or R&B?" I saw Tim nod,
"I think we could work on that."
"No," Kelly said and stood up. "You haven't been coaching Chantel for three months. You don't her strengths and weaknesses."
"So what do you suggest, Ms. Thorn?" Tim asked.
"Something different. Something hard-hitting. Something that goes BAM." Linda raised an eyebrow.
"And do you know what this BAM is?" she asked. Kelly turned to me.
"You know what I've taught you. Go ahead." It was this song Kelly had been working on for me. It was actually pretty cool and since it was written especially for my voice, I could really do things with it. I opened my mouth and started to sing.
I stand here alone
Waiting for the moment to strike back at you
I watch you while you sleep
Reach out my hand and stroke your cheek
Where has the truth gone?
Don't you know that I'm stronger than you thought?
I've got it all planned out
When the moment strikes, you'll be out that door
Fly beyond the light
Away from the light you shine darkness on
Walk out of my life
Leave me at peace without your despair
I saw Kelly beaming at me, Tim was smiling and Linda was nodding approvingly. The others were whispering amongst themselves. One guy with a Raiders jersey on stood up.
"Not bad, missy. Not bad at all. In fact, I LIKE it." Several people laughed, not including me. Someone else spoke up.
"Kelly, you've got music for this, I suppose?" Kelly reached into her bag and pulled out the sheet music. Taking it carefully, that person looked at it and whistled softly.
"This-this is great. I could definitely work up some kind of video for this one." Now I knew who that guy was. His name was Kevin Maxfield, a major director for music videos. WOW. HE was here?
Another guy pulled out a guitar and started playing some of it. It sounded way cool, considering that I have never heard any of the instrumental parts except for the piano. Tim interrupted.
"Does this song have a name, Kelly?"
"Anywhere." Tim than turned to me.
"How long do you think it would take you to master this song?"
"Three weeks at the most," I replied. Well, it was true.
"Jay, how long would it be until the studio musicians are ready?" Tim asked the Raiders guy. Jay shrugged.
"I'd say, at least two weeks." Tim nodded and turned to Kevin, the director.
"Well, then, Kevin, I'd say the song should be recorded and ready by, say, October. Though, we'll give you a pre-recording in about two weeks so that you can get started on the video."
"Wait a minute. Don't I get a say in this?" I asked. I've noticed that today, they were talking as if I wasn't even here. Everyone, literally EVERYONE, turned to look at me. Tim smiled.
"I'm sorry, Chantel. Do you like the song?" God, he was talking to me as if I was 9. Adults. Sometimes, they just don't understand.
"Hell yea. I was talking about the video. Don't I get a say in the video?" Everyone laughed and for the first time, I felt as if I didn't belong here.
"Of COURSE, Chantel. See, the director comes up with the idea usually. But if you have any idea, well, I'm sure Kevin would listen." Kevin took out his business card and handed it to me.
"Anytime something comes to mind, give me a call. This is your career, not mine. Not Kelly's. Not Jay's. And most certainly not Tim's. Yours. You can do whatever you want." I smiled. I liked Kevin.
"Thank you." Tim looked around the table.
"Anything else?" No one answered.
"Meeting adjourned." Everyone got up and left except for me. I sat there, alone, thinking about the song. I was really doing it, really an artist with a manager and a contract. But something wasn't quite right. I guess I had never thought about all the work behind it.
My cell phone, courtesy of 19 Management, rang shrilly in my pocket. I flipped open the blue and silver cover and answered.
"Hello?" It turned out to be Tommy.
"Hey, Chantel. Wanna hang out?" Aw. How sweet of Tommy. Did I mention how sweet he is? Well, he is. During Spanish one day, this really dumb guy said something rude to me (I don't remember what it was) and Tommy got all defensive. You could totally see it in his eyes—all the anger and stuff. I didn't get one word in. How can you NOT like a guy like that?
"Sure. When?" I asked. I haven't seen him in a month at least with all the stuff I've been doing.
"Anytime. How about now? I really need to talk with you." Uh-oh. Something was up.
"Where are you?" I asked.
"Chinatown," he replied. What the hell was he doing in San Francisco?
"I'll meet you by the pier where the fishermen are unloading."
"Sure. See you soon."
"Bye." I hung up and rushed out the door.
Ten minutes later, I saw Tommy sitting at one of the benches alone. I walked over to him.
"Hey." He looked up at me and smiled.
"Chantel. I'm glad you're here," he said, waving to me to sit down. I did.
"What's up?" I asked. His blue eyes gazed at me intently.
"I'm worried," he said finally. I laughed but Tommy looked serious.
"About you." I stared at him. He hastened to continue.
"Ok, so maybe I've only known you for a couple of months. But still, you've been acting weird lately. I know, I know. How could I possibly know if I haven't seen you since June? Well even before June, I noticed a change. You've become…meaner." I stared.
"What?" I asked. That was ridiculous. I haven't change one bit.
"It's true. Even Alexz noticed it. You act as if you don't care."
"Care about what?"
"I don't know! About anything, I guess. About school, about your family. You have this attitude where it's like, whatever. I don't care what happens. I'm an artist now."
I hated this. Not only did I found that my best friend in the entire world hated me, the love of my life is sitting here telling me I have an attitude problem. Have I really changed? Did this whole record deal and all really give me an attitude? I thought nothing had changed. Well, except for the fact that I was a lot busier now.
"Tommy—I'm sorry. I—I can't—" I trailed of. What could I say? That everything was better now and things would go back to normal? I took a deep breath.
"Look, I can't really say much. I never noticed that I had changed. I don't even know right now if I had. And I'm sorry. I really can't help it." He shook his head.
"How come you never want to talk to anyone anymore?"
"That's not true."
"Yes it is. I always call but you never call me back. Same with Alexz. Same with Twister. Same with everyone, Chantel. It seems that all you care about is this record deal."
I couldn't help it; I started crying. It must have looked really weird, me sitting at a bench in the pier crying. Some people who passed by gave Tommy dirty looks. I felt Tommy reach out and stroke my hand. The hand that wasn't wet with tears.
"Aw, come on Chantel. I never meant to make you cry. Here." He thrust a Kleenex into my hand and I blew away. But I couldn't stop. It seemed as if all the anxiety and pressure I had felt for the past three months came pouring out.
Then, Tommy did the nicest thing. He took me in his arms and let me cry on his shoulder. And as I kept on crying my eyes out, he patted my back and said," It's ok, Chantel. It's ok. Everything is going to be alright."
After a while, I quieted down and released myself and wiped my wet eyes.
"I'm sorry, Tommy. I really am. Hope you understand."
"I do. I know you've been stressed out lately. And that's why—" He trailed off.
"Why what?" I asked. This was going to be bad.
"Maybe, this record deal isn't right for you." WHOA. THIS was out of the blue.
"Wha—What?" I asked.
"Yea. You're working overtime, Chantel. And for what? I don't know. Even you don't know. You might be a big flop. You still might not make it. Maybe you should just give it up." I stood up.
"No. I've made it this far. I'm not giving up, Tommy. I'm not. I don't care what everyone says. I want this. I've been waiting for this all my life. I will not give up." Tommy looked pretty shocked. A deathly silence then issued. Then, he too, stood up.
"Fine, Chantel. I know you've been waiting your whole life for this. I'm not going to stop you. Just remember: this record deal, don't let it run your life. You've got me, too, alright?" Saying so, he gave me hug and walked away.
Sighing, I sat back down on the bench. It was almost until sundown. I better call Dylan to pick me up. Sighing, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my cell phone. As I flipped open the cover, I saw the background for the first time. It was a picture taken of Alexz, Tommy and me at Great America on the last day of school. Everyone was smiling, naturally, as if nothing was wrong. In fact, nothing was wrong. I had had my very first meeting with 19 the very next day.
Tears welled up in my eyes all over again. I missed her. Alexz was with me since preschool and we have never been apart for longer than a week in which I was forced to go to this dance camp in the fifth grade. Now, I realized I hadn't seen her since we went to Great America together. And Tommy. Even if I still see him, he's gone to. Nothing was the same.
Maybe Tommy was right. What was going to come out of all this anyway? Maybe nothing but major failure. Maybe disappointment. Was all this pain really worth it? Maybe I should just quit now. While I still can.
But then, all the times I had dreamed flashed before my eyes. All the effort and practice I had gone through to get this far came back. That day when I had missed the Fremont Talent Show auditions, Dylan told me for comfort that I was going to look back at all this and laugh.
I'm not laughing. But one day, I will make SURE that when I laugh, it will be the truest laugh to escape from my mouth.
A/N: Just a note, that song called ANYWHERE, was indeed, written by me and is really a song with a real tune and all. It's not just a freaky poem I wrote. Hey, I just want to get acknowledged for it, that's all. And thanks to all the 9 people who reviewed. I just hope they continue to…*hint hint*