Fractured Fairy Tale

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Ella’s father shortly acquired a mistress, Nancy, after her mother died to take care of Ella; little did he know that his decision would change Ella’s life forever. Nancy had twin boys, James and Jared. For Ella, growing up along with boys wasn’t easy, especially since James always pulled nasty tricks on her. Consequently, Ella grew up as a tomboy. She rarely cleaned and never cooked. Only one of the twins, Jared, was kind to her. James was the total opposite who lived in wickedness; he took after his mother.

Unfortunately, Ella’s father soon passed away out of depression, and Nancy did everything in her power to make life more difficult for Ella. Eventually, she even claimed that the family was on the verge of bankruptcy, fired all the house workers, and left Ella in charge of everything. However, for every awful thing that Nancy and James bestowed upon Ella, Jared would reverse their evil doings with benevolent acts such as helping Ella with the chores, giving her rides to school, and other miscellaneous things.

On Ella’s 16th birthday, Jared decided to surprise her with the ultimate gift, two tickets for Jesse McCartney, Ella’s favorite artist, concert.
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The stadium was packed. Jesse McCartney’s music blasted in the background. The atmosphere was full of energy and vibrancy. Ella had never been to anything so exciting.

“Jared, look he’s coming! Let’s get a closer look,” exclaimed Ella, over the vivacious noise. Together, they pushed through the crowd, and after what seemed to be a million years, they finally reached the circumference of the stage. Amidst the rush, Ella felt like she dropped something, but the wave of crowd pushed her away, and she decided to not let anything occupy her mind at that moment. There he stood: Jesse McCartney, Ella’s idol.

“Are you okay?” asked Jared, noticing that Ella looked like she was going to faint.

“You have no idea, Jared. This is a dream come true! The only thing left for me is to get his autograph,” Ella managed to articulate.

The concert continued each song with a renewed burst of enthusiasm from the fans. Finally, when the concert almost ended, Jesse McCartney delivered a surprise.

“I hope you guys enjoyed the concert, but before we go, I have one question. We have found a beautiful blue pendant, which must be worn by a beautiful girl. I would return this to its rightful owner if she would come up here and sing a song with me. So are you out there right now?” asked Jesse McCartney. The crowd went wild as every single female screamed to be recognized.

With a gasp, Ella suddenly clutched her heart and realized that her mother’s sacred necklace was missing.

“Not only that, you’ll also have a chance to meet me backstage AND receive a free goody bag which includes a free copy of my new album with my autograph. However, there is a name carved in embroidery, and you must present an ID to prove that it is you.” At this, several hands subsided.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Here’s your chance to make your evening complete,” encouraged Jared. Dumfounded, Ella made her way through the crowd. Since she was already near the stage, Ella was among the first to present her ID. The security office gave her a curt nod and indicated her to move onto the stage while he called for backup to control the masses of girls screeching in desperation.

“Looks like we’ve found the lucky girl!” Jesse McCartney announced. Unbelievably, Jesse greeted her with a hug. Time suddenly froze and the moment seemed to have lasted a lifetime. When he let go, they both caught each other’s eyes, and there was a palpable connection. Jesse himself was suddenly inarticulate for a moment. This girl radiated an aura he’d never felt before. While his eyes beheld her, Ella felt like a princess. Her heart stopped. She had always dreamed about this, but now that it was actually happening, she couldn’t make herself and move.

“You have very beautiful eyes,” Jesse McCartney uttered. He was captivated by the intensity that her green eyes penetrate him. In truth, Ella was trying to imprint his features onto her mind before he disappears, for surely this couldn’t all be real.

“Um...thank you,” Ella replied bashfully. She could feel the nervous sweat ready to break lose.

“What song would you like to perform?” he asked politely, and felt that somehow, this question seemed to be different for this fan girl. It was not a repetitious tradition like at the other concerts. Perhaps she was something else.

It took Ella a moment to collect her thoughts. She was waiting for this dream to be shattered by the sound of her alarm clock any moment. “Because You Live,” she finally breathed.

Jesse McCartney smiled brightly, “Perfect,” he grinned.

The music started playing, and the first notes emerged. Ella took a deep breath and closed her eyes. The atmosphere was serene and soulful. Jesse McCartney’s beautiful voice glided over the first few words effortlessly.
Naturally, Ella slowly began, and joined Jesse McCartney in the duet. Surprisingly, her daily training in the shower was not a waste. The whole audience calmed down and stayed quiet to listen to the beautiful performance. Everyone was astounded, even Ella herself never imagined her amateur voice would be so in sync with Jesse’s professional voice.

Jared watched the whole thing, amazed at how Ella and Jesse McCartney looked so good together. It was as if the two were meant to be.





***********************************



Jared was thirteen when Nancy moved in, and Ella was only ten. Little did she know that he had a crush on her ever since the beginning, with that first fateful glance in which Jared saw Ella’s face broke into a radiant innocuous smile. Over the course of five years, this crush had blossomed into something else that transcended the boundary of friendship. Feeling that it would be better to remain as friends, Jared suppressed his feelings.






***********************************


Ella couldn't believe it. After the concert was over, she and Jared remained for the backstage meet and received more than she could ever imagine.

“I know this is very sudden, but I have some good news for you: the producer loved our performance!" Jesse McCartney exclaimed. “How would like to sign a contract to work with me on my next album and jump start your career as an artist?"

What? Her stomach flipped! This was so unexpected: to be next to Jesse McCartney and sing by his side? How could she say no? But something from Jared's expression kept her back from saying yes.

" Um... this is a huge opportunity, but something this big, I’d have to think about it," Ella replied uncertainly. This would change her life forever. She would never be the same. People would treat her differently, and she wouldn’t be able to lead a normal life- a life with Jared.

“I…I understand,” said Jesse McCartney, sounding quite disappointed. He was taken aback; this was not the answer he anticipated. "Here is my phone number; please let us know when you've reached a decision." He smiled encouragingly, hoping she would change her mind.

“I would love to work with you and get to know you more," Jesse continued sincerely, before casting an uneasy glance at Jared.

“Okay," answered Ella, not sure what else she could say.

Jared started to head for the door, and Ella got up to follow.

“Here is your gift bag,” Jesse McCartney said. He spoke slowly and stared into her eyes for what could be the last time.

“And here is your pendant," he continued, “the fate that brought me to you,” said Jesse McCartney underneath his breath. As he passed onto her hand, he held on for a moment before letting go.















***********************************


Jared shifted uncomfortably, and it hit him that he wished that Ella wanted to be with him, not some fantastical celebrity who she had only met in her dreams. After all, he was right there, always by her side, and suddenly he felt outraged.







***********************************



Jared walked swiftly towards the car.

"Hey, wait for me," said Ella. "Are you mad at me?" she said as she tried to keep pace with Jared’s long legs.

"I don't know what is wrong with you? Shouldn't you be happy for me? I couldn't say yes because you, you know that? Will you please stop acting so gloomy?” Ella had been wondering what was on his mind. Did he think that she’d forget about him?

“What…what is wrong with me? What is the matter with you?" Jared suddenly couldn’t control himself any longer and exploded.

"I've been with you for years, and you haven't noticed? I can't believe a person can be so blind. I guess you were too busy fantasizing over Mr. Superstar. I’m love with you, and now you're going to be with some guy you don't even know.” Jared looked down, quite embarrassed that he had blurted out everything so bluntly. It wasn’t like him, but then again, love could make any sane person crazy.

"Wait, did you say you love me?"

"Yes," replied Jared firmly, as he brushed his fingers through his hair, suddenly abashed that he'd said too much. On the other hand, he knew that if he didn’t say it to Ella right then and there, he may lose her forever.

"I... I don't know what to say," Ella stammered. Her head was spinning fast. So much has happened tonight.

"You don't have to say anything," said Jared, and gently, he leaned over to give her a tentative kiss.


***********************************



Sparks flew over Ella’s head, and suddenly she realized she knew: she had felt the same way. Her feeling was enormous, and abruptly, she felt like her heart couldn't be contained any longer.

"Jared, I'm sorry," Ella apologized as she burrowed her head in his arms and cried.

"I love you, too.” Clutching Jared in her embrace, she knew now why she wasn't able to say yes to Jesse McCartney's offer. Deep down in her heart, she recognized that Jesse McCartney was simply just a fantasy, a handsome diversion, for her to escape her miseries. How clueless had she been that her charming prince was right in front of her the whole time?

“Wait, there is something I have to do right now," Ella said, suddenly awoken from her realization, and reluctantly pulled away from Jared.

"What could be more important than this," Jared asked, half joking.

"This," Ella replied and pulled out the card with Jesse McCartney's contact number, and the two suddenly came down to Earth for a moment.
“Go ahead, make your own decision. I promise I won't mind," said Jared, smiling kindly. “I mean it,” Jared declared.

"Yes, I know," answered Ella, smiling back as she dialed the number.

" Hello?" she called.

“This is Jesse McCartney. Is this Ella? I was just thinking about you," said Jesse McCartney, sounding dreamy.

"So, what do you say?" He asked.

“This is a wonderful opportunity,” Ella started, “but I don't think it's the right path for me. Thank you so much, for… everything. You have no idea what you’ve done for me tonight.” Ella smiled at Jared, who looked quite shocked.

“I’m really sorry…” Ella tried to search for the right word. Just yesterday, who would’ve thought she’d be the one to reject Jesse McCartney.

“I…I am, too,” said Jesse, suddenly at loss.

“But whatever it is you’ll do, I wish you good luck. Thank you, Ella. I will always remember you.” The dial tone set in…

“I think he was disappointed,” said Ella, feeling guilty that she had to turn him down like that.

“Why did you turn him down?” Jared inquired.

“I wanted to be with you,” Ella simply replied, and she knew she would not regret her decision.





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