Joanna and the carpet

Sometimes I feel stupid for not liking all the same things that everyone else likes. For not understanding what others see clearly. Why does everything need to be perfect? Why does everything have to be pleasant? Because nothing is, really.

Anyway. I’m very different. But I figure that’s why I made it so big. My tour sold out in a day and a half, which was amazing, but why do others think it’s cool that I’m strange? Is it because I’m famous? The first time I realized I was different was in second grade. From that moment on, I tried so hard to be normal, to fit in. I couldn’t. It was impossible for me.

In fifth, I became myself, my own weird self. I got through fifth and sixth with only one friend, who died because of her anorexia. The first half of seventh grade was torture. I was bullied constantly, I had no friends, I didn’t eat in front of others, I was afraid of what people thought. I was the shy girl in the back of the class who never talked.

When I finally had enough of my sick life, I decided to take action. I sent in a demo to a recording company. They flew me to New York, had me record an album, and are now sending me on a tour.

I don’t know how these things work. I’ve never been in the center of everything. I mean, I’m only fifteen for crying out loud! I know what it feels like to be a minority. I don’t think I will ever be able to recover from that. It damages you mentally, permanently.

The lights go on. My minute of thinking is over. I hear the crowd chant my name. They don’t even know who I really am. Will they ever?

“VELVET! VELVET! VELVET!”

Do they know that’s not even my real name? I’m betting they don’t.

The huge doors open. I come on stage. Center. Dead center. So many eyes. So many beautiful smiles.

The drummer starts playing, then the base. That’s how it starts. Now it’s my time to shine, my time to show the world what I’ve got.

Breathe, Joanna. Breathe.

I look around nervously before starting to sing. I’m afraid I’ll get booed off stage.

When I start singing, the crowd silences. Will I get booed off? I worry for a second, but then they start screaming as the song gets more energetic, some even sing along. My first song, Immunity. Everyone here seems to know it. I feel weirdly pleased with myself.

I see a little girl in the front row. Why is she watching me? How old is she? Five? Why is she here? She seems really excited. She should be at home, enjoying life without any troubles or worries. She should be watching the Lion King and eating ice cream.

What are all these people doing here? I’m betting some of them are way more talented them me. They should be the singers. They should have the fame. I walk up to the end of the stage, shocking my background dancers. Luckily for me, they continue dancing as if this was planned. I sign to the little girl to come up on stage, and her older sister (ten, at the most) follows suit.

They come by the time the song is over. Am I supposed to talk now? I can’t talk. That’s my thing. I sing. I never talk. But I have to.

“Hi, sweetie, what’s your name?” I ask the little girl.

She glances around, grinning nervously. She’s very small. Her bangs almost cover her perfect little face. “My - my name is Ariana,” she says and covers her face in her hands.

“And you?” I ask her sister.

“Samantha.”

“You girls have really pretty names,” I tell them. They both spoke into the mic, but could barely be heard, so I repeat their names. Because I brought them up here to be honored. They came here tonight, as fans, I think, although I don’t know why they want to see ME, simple Joanna, perform. “Ariana and Samantha, I was wondering if you wanted to do me a favor?”

Samantha nods enthusiastically, and Ariana’s face lightens up. She’s holding a teddy bear in one hand, I notice. I tell them what I want them to do. Most of the crowd cheers happily, while others look at Ariana and Samantha in jealousy. They were asked by a celebrity (although I wouldn’t call myself that), to do something that would impact their entire lives.

I like making people happy. That’s a big thing that makes me different. I never get mad. I am ALWAYS polite. I can’t stand up for myself. That’s the on thing I like about me. No matter what others say, seeing people’s faces light up because of something I did for them, that’s honestly the best thing in the world.

“I was never like everybody else. I wasn’t cool, I wasn’t popular, and I was constantly bullied,” I tell them. I see Samantha’s eyes glimmer. Why? “And now I want a bunch of cool people like you to come with me to the red carpet, and meet your favorite singers. Would you do that for me?”

Samantha smiles widely while Ariana hugs me tight. I’m not tall, so she’s up to my waist, almost. Samantha is a head shorter than me.

“Wow, this is sort of embarrassing for me. You’re almost taller than me!” I say to Samantha. Why did I just say that? It sounds stupid. But the crowd laughs. I guess my strangeness is what made me famous in the first place. Everybody knew me in school, too. And there were over a thousand people in my school. But they all knew me as ‘the weird girl’.

I instruct Samantha and Ariana to get their parents to call my agent later. But not before three, because then I would have Betsy to deal with. Betsy is my “road-buddy”, body guard, and teacher. She entertains me when I’m bored, protects me when I’m in trouble, and makes sure I never fall behind on my schoolwork. I don’t actually go to a real school, since apparently all my classmates would go crazy, so I have to do it all with her, four hours a day. It’s tiring.

As I start singing the next song, Ariana and Samantha get back to their seats. Most of the people are standing, but Samantha and Ariana seem to have their Grandparents with them, so they’re all sitting and singing along. I’m glad Ariana and Samantha get to go with me to the red carpet. I’ll tell them to bring their family, too. Since I don’t actually have a family, I would be honored to hang out with their family for the day.

That’s another reason school was so hard. In third grade, my parents died in a car crash. My sister committed suicide and my grandfather (the only grandparent who was alive when I was born) died the same year. I have no living relatives. I lived with my friend until she, too, died from her anorexia. Then I had nowhere to go. So I lived with a foster-family. I never liked them. Now that I have some money, I live alone.





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