Diamond Girls

(With thanks to Jamie Cross for inspiration)

Chelsea Paragovian, known to the rest of the world as Chelly Price, looked out the window at the brilliant lights of New York City. The twinkle of the skyline would be incredibly mesmerizing for a first-time girl in the big city. For someone who was there, it was a fading light that reflected the fading spark in her spirit.

Chelly Price was the main attraction for the new millennial musical movement, up there with the Demi Lovatos, Victoria Justices, and others of their ilk. Her first album, made when she was just 17 and a newbie in New York City, had gone platinum within 6 months. She was a hot commodity, and the various backing bands loved having her up front to bring the numbers in. After the concerts, she would swing through the party circuit. Sleep through the day, party all the night, press the flesh at music signings and celebrity appearances on TV shows.  Her second album didn’t do as well, but did hit gold within 9 months.

As she looked at herself in the mirror, as the sun came up on that September morning, she finally caught the realization of everything she had been doing. The lines on her face, the premature worry-lines, the stress and the wear of the road was finally getting to her. She had success, she had the money, but she had nothing else.

She had one person left who could bring her back to earth.

She held onto the cell-phone, the flat phone that kept only the most important numbers. She clicked through the hundreds of contacts until she found the one that she was looking for, listed under the letter Z. It had the name “Zero Hour” on it, and she knew that when she called the number, things would never be the same. She clicked the entry, and waited.

One ring. Two rings. Three rings.  *Click*

“Hello?”

“It’s me.”

“Chelsea? Sweetie? Is that you?”

“Yeah, Daddy. It’s me. I’m sorry for calling you so early. I know that it’s probably the middle of the night over there…”

She heard a big yawn from the other side of the phone, and started to yawn as well.

“No, no, sweetie. It’s alright. I haven’t heard from you, it’s been so long. So, how is New York treating you?”

“It’s…it’s…it’s alright, I guess.”

“Is there something wrong, sweetie?”

Chelsea hesitated. She knew that if she said the wrong thing, it could doom her future. She believed that if she said something, that it could come to fruition in ways that were never meant to be.

“I looked in the mirror.”

“What did you see?”

“I saw lines. I saw myself as tired.”

“How long have you been doing this stuff that you’ve been doing?”

“2 years. I am due to go into the studios here in the next month to record the third record.”

“What do you think? Do you think you have enough for another one?”

“They keep supplying me with songs, but they’re not really that good. I really want to expand my horizons.”

“Do you remember what I told you when you first left on that midnight plane to New York?”

“You told me that diamond girls aren’t made to grow old.”

“Do you feel old?”

“I look old. I feel tired. But, I know that there’s a spark still in my heart. I just don’t think it’s here.”

She chuckled, thinking that it was silly she was having this discussion with her dad, who was a simple wood-mill worker, not a big entertainment man.

“Maybe what they’re asking of you is not what you want. Have you thought much about what you want to do?”

Chelsea paused. Have I really thought about it? she asked herself, in her mind.

“I am not sure. I am thinking about leaving the parties and the other stuff behind. Maybe refocusing my music, in a way?”

“Honey, whatever you plan to do, I’m behind you 100 percent. Did you hear about Bernie Griffin?”

“Big Bernie? The guy who slung the slats?”

“Yeah. He got drafted by the Dodgers. He’s heading to Florida, I think. He’s gonna be in the minors now.”

“How did he get into baseball?”

“When you saw him last, he was on the high school team. He was at a company baseball gathering, and some guy saw him. Put his name in with a scout, who saw him work, and signed him almost on the spot.”

“Wow. Who would have thought?”

“People thought the same thing about you, Chelsea. They didn’t realize that you were being picked up for a recording contract. A 3 record deal was a big thing for the people around here.”

Chelsea thought about that for a moment, seeing herself like Bernie, and chuckling to herself.

“What I’m trying to say to you, Chelsea, is that you need to do what you think is right. Diamond girls aren’t made to grow old, and you’re my diamond girl. If you think that going a different direction will be a good thing, then trust in what your heart is saying.”

“Daddy, I just need time away from this city. I want to come home for a while.”

“Your bed is ready when you need it. We love you and support you, and if you want to come back at any time, just give us a heads up so we can pick you up at the airport.”

Chelsea started crying right there, on the phone. She knew what she was going to do, and it may have to mean paying the price of her soul with her career.

Message In A Bottle – Friday Fictioneers

It’s been a busy week at the Musical Fiction Factory, or at least in the office…so here’s this week’s Fictioneers story. I have some time off next week, so there’s a good likelihood that a few stories will be in the offing on my vacation days.

 

copyright Marie Gail Stafford

Message In A Bottle

We sat at the table of the faux Chinese restaurant, like we do every Sunday.  I picked up the bottle of hot sauce to douse my fried rice, when I saw it.

“Marie, there’s a note in this hot sauce.”

“What? Well, open it up and get it out!”

Sighing heavily, I did  what she told me. I pulled out the long note, and read it out loud.

“My name is Stewart Copeland. This is my SOS. I’m stuck in the Sriracha factory. I hope that someone gets my message in a bottle.”

I only wonder how long that message has been in that bottle…

Black Betty (Ram A Lam) – Friday Fictioneers

Don’t forget to visit my latest non-fictioneers fiction piece, called “Trying To Stop Failure “. It could use some love. Anyhow, on with the show…

copyright Adam Ickes

Black Betty (Ram A Lam)

“I remember when I picked that one up. I was out one night with a beauty named Betty. We were about to head back to my place, when this ram came out of nowhere. It wasn’t even a moment after I saw it that I blacked out.”

“What happened next?”

“Well, after I woke up, the ram was dead. My truck was also totaled, and Betty was walking around with a major league concussion. I called up my friend Earl and got him to pick me and the ram up. Betty walked home.”

“What did you do after that?”

“Well, I mounted the ram at the taxidermist and got the head home. I then went to see Betty, and her face was bruised. And that’s everyone now calls her Black Betty.”

Trying to Stop Failure (aka “Mourning Dove”)

Trying to Stop Failure
(aka “Mourning Dove”)
By Miles Rost

Part 4 of Mayumi’s story

Months had passed by since the last time Mayumi Shiomi had left her job at Shine FM and went to a competitor. She waited a month, and in that time had great development in her personal life. With one exception…

The men that she had in her life sucked.

She had gone for a good two to three months without even dealing with such an issue, and she was getting better at staying away from situations, but the last guy she met just took her by surprise and she fell, very hard, in love. And got hurt in the interim.

She just broke up with another guy who wanted to use her and abuse her. After the night of their last date, she cried herself to sleep asking for things to finally just stop. That she didn’t want a relationship anymore, and that she needed some “me-time”.

She woke up the next morning, and looked at herself in the mirror. The short sandy brown hair that she used to have had grown a little longer in the months preceding. It was now down to her shoulders, but constantly tied up in a ponytail. She looked a slight bit older than her age, but she didn’t think much of it.

“Ah feel like crap right now,” she muttered to her reflection, “I have no clue what to do, how to deal with all these problems with men. Why…why do I attract that type of man?”

She changed out of her pajamas and put herself under the hot water of a long shower. She thought about where things went wrong, and where in her past was the catalyst for the change she had to deal with constantly. She turned on the waterproof radio that hung in the shower, and tuned it to her new station, Power FM 87. She knew that her show would be on in about 3 hours, and that before that was a great smooth jazz show by her newest friend, Mitzi.

“…and later this week, Larry Carlton will be in Melbourne, playing a 5 date set at Bennets Lane. Here’s a great one from him, going back a few years. This is Mourning Dove, on the Smooth Move show, here on Power FM!”

The start of the music shot into Mayumi’s heart like a needle into a vein. The soft keyboard and the beginning strains of the artist’s guitar nailed the feelings she felt at that time. She was mourning. Mourning her own problems with men, with falling a step behind again, and feeling lower than normal. She just stood under the steady and hard stream of water, as she started drifting into memories.

As the saxophone and guitars harmonized and carried her away, she looked back to the age of 10. She remembered seeing her own father, a man who she barely ever saw in later years. She saw the memory she had of him, smacking her mom around. She remembered him grabbing her mom’s arm and muscling her towards the bedroom. She remembered hearing the sounds, and running to her hiding place in the far part of the basement.

“Is this what ah’m running from?” she asked her 10 year old self, in her mind, “Is this why ah get the men I do?”

Her 10 year old memory looked back at her, saying nothing but showing her a glimpse of what may have happened to give her the perpetual bad luck with men.

She let the music carry her to another part of her mind, the water relaxing her to the point where she could do much more with her soul, mind, and body.

“Lord, ah think we know why things are the way they are,” she said, in a prayerful tone, “Ah’m dealing with the ghosts of the past, and it’s time that we work together on this. Ah wanna be free, and ah know you love me enough to want me to be free. Ah can’t do this alone, and ah have to give it up to you everyday.”

The song’s warm yet sad tones bled across her mind, the prayers she was sending infused with the music’s energy. She had never prayed as hard as she did at that moment, with hot water hitting her tired and stressed out shoulders.

“Father, help me address this problem. The image of my father, ah need to move on from it. Father, help me as ah do what I need to do.”

She kept praying, the water pouring over her hair like a waterfall. She didn’t know what effect her prayer would be, but she realized that she would eventually need to let everything go in a way.

As the song ended and a new smooth jazz song came on, she started her ritual of cleaning, getting ready for work. She felt lighter, but she didn’t know what would happen next.

 

Lady In White Pt. 2 (aka Close Enough)

The Lady In White (Part 2)
(aka Close Enough)
by Miles Rost

She invaded my mind again. The sight of the  Lady in White upon my mind has been a relief, and a worry yet still. It’s been months  since the last time she visited me.

In my mind, we were on a boardwalk, a cement waterfront “street” if you will, in Melbourne. I was walking toward her, and she walked toward me. As we drew closer, it was like a camera got closer to us both. After a few close-ups, our hands finally met. She immediately moved over to my shoulder and laid her head down. She felt so warm and looked so lovely, even if I couldn’t see her face.

For a time, we just stood there, my lady in white trying to get in as close to me as possible, and myself wanting to hold her tighter than ever. She leaned up towards me, her skin slightly glowing in the muted sunlight, and gave me a kiss. A gentle, but long kiss. I remember the sensation, like two lightning bolts jolting through my body and a warmth on my lips that permeated all throughout the upper part of my being. It felt like we were floating on air, traveling through the air like a hot air balloon. As we released, we looked back out at the bay…and found ourselves on the steps of the Opera House in Sydney.

I looked down at her and saw the incredible amount of love that permeated from her. It was a beautiful sight of sparkles, flowing pure light from her entire being. It flowed from every pore, every fiber of hair, and washed over me. It wasn’t lust, the red wave of passion that many men and women envision when they think of their chosen other. It was a love that was pure, that forgives everything and heals. The type of love that God has for all of us. She had that, and it poured like transparent sparkly white ribbons over my being. She looked into my face, my eyes, and she gave me a smile that said “I don’t care what you’ve been through, you’re with me. Let it go.”

She turned around and held onto my shoulders as I put my head down on hers, able to relax and feel so much love flow between us. We just looked out at Sydney Harbour, seeing the calmness of the bay. The sun was fully open, and the white dress she wore glowed like snow on a mountain. It was nearly blinding for most people, but for me, it added a glow that was almost angelic. The wind was light, and it flapped the cloth of her dress like a flag. It felt like this was where I needed to be, where I wanted to be forever, and to never go away again.

A gust of wind picked us up and, unlike before in Melbourne, it whisked us off quickly. Like a kite, we flew through the air in a quick way. It felt still, however, as we traveled to wherever this wind was taking us. As quickly as it happened, we landed on a flat Australian beach somewhere, an overcast sky making things a little colder.

She looked back up at me, and put her soft, gentle hands to my face. The soft skin lightly brushed the growing scrub of hair on my chin, and the warmth of them felt like a glowing incandescent light bulb. I felt a tear start to fall from my eye, and I suddenly collapsed to me knees. She fell with me, as I felt the warm tears flow from my eyes onto her shoulder. All the tears of pain, anguish, hurt, released from my eyes, from my being onto her skin. I knew she was strong enough, but this was remarkable that she was able to take all of this pain and anguish, and simply wick it away like oil into a towel. I felt the blackness, the greys of my emotional heart, slowly being pulled from my self.

She pushed me back slightly, and looked into my eyes. Her eyes, of which color I could not remember, communicated unconditional love. Believe in Christ’s love in me, my beloved, they seemed to say, as she comforted me. All that went through my mind at that moment was who this woman was, and how God could make her to be so strong and so forgiving. So loving, that she would be willing to take that pain and shame I had and totally remove it, and still gaze into my eyes and say things without words.

She moved to me again, and pressed her soft lips onto mine. As I realized I was slowly starting to wake, I remember feeling that softness of her lips still pressed upon mine.

I don’t know who she is. I can’t see her face, I only know that she’s the lady in white. What I do know, though, is that she is a woman of unimaginable grace and beauty, of true godliness and forgiveness. I pray that I can meet her. Soon.

 

Scotland – Friday Fictioneers

Don’t forget to read my latest longer form written piece “Out Of The Blue“. It could use some love, and so could I. Anyhow, here’s the latest fictioneers piece:

copyright Claire Fuller

Scotland

I looked up at the statue of a long lost ancestor. My 30th great uncle Seamus MacCourt, a major landowner in the North of Scotland.

I don’t know why I kept looking at him for so long. I never knew the Scottish side of my family, never really cared to either.

That is, until this month. When my great aunt Amelia MacCourt passed on. And I was given the land of my ancestors. Not sure why, I didn’t really know her.

Looking up at this ancestor of mine, though, maybe it’s his spirit inside me. To do great things with this new land I now own.

I guess I better get started.

Out Of The Blue

Out Of The Blue
by Miles Rost

I wanted to see history, and I got more than I bargained for.

One of the biggest problems with schools in this day in age is that you can’t actually see history happen. That’s what happens when you’re being educated on a space station somewhere between Jupiter and Uranus. You can see some things happen, but they’re so miniscule that if you blink, you miss it.

It’s 2115, and I’m sitting in another boring history class. We talk about the 21st century and the 20th century, with theories about how and why everything went wrong. We hear about how our grandparents from Russia, the then United States of America, China, a united Korea, and India, all got together to start colonizing other planets. That was 2020. And in almost 95 years, we’ve been able to expand all the way out here. However, Earth went all wrong. It went sideways, and descended into madness just after people started moving to the Moon.

They never tell you when in history, the precise moment when everything went wrong for the world. They never tell you about the moment when something pinged, and the start of the fall occurred.

That’s why I decided to do something about it. Brilliant little me decided to create the first watch to warp the space-time continuum, to go back and observe periods of time. I don’t know what people are taught, but time isn’t as ball-shaped or timey wimey as people think.

It was October 9th, 2115 when I made the first jump. I programmed it into an important period of time in the 21st century. However, to quote an ancestral singer named Phil Collins, “something happened on the way to Heaven.” It took me farther than I cared to go, and it took me to a scene that I never wanted to see or go to.

I materialized at Park Pier 40, in New York City. It was a beautiful sight, a clear day that I can very much remember. I looked at my watch to see where I ended up.

8:45AM, Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.

I looked up at the sky, to the south, and I heard the great engines of what my teachers called an airplane. Before my eyes, within a minute, I saw the plane slam into a building.

I remember seeing this in news-snippets that they’d show us in class, but I really didn’t understand the impact until I could see it for myself. What I saw shocked me to the core, as seeing it in person is much more sense-based. I stood there for an hour, watching the second plane fly into the other tower, and both of them collapsing.

I suspected, however, that there was more to the story than a terrorist attack. That the reason for Earth’s complete breakdown of civilization was not held in the three buildings and 4 planes that were used to kill thousands of people and start a major factional divide between spheres of influence.

I was about to program my way back home, when I noticed a weird light on my watch. I looked, and before I could press anything, the whole entire landscape that I saw warped around me and twisted into a sort of vertigous mess of colors. I blacked out, as my mind just couldn’t process all the stuff going through it. I woke up sitting in a park, in a very green city, looking at people milling around. It wasn’t New York, I could tell you that much.

I walked around for a few minutes, to get my bearings and see if I could find a newspaper or something with a date on it. As luck would have it, I found what they called a newspaper kiosk at the corner of the park. I walked up and looked at the main newspaper. I apparently landed in Seattle, Washington, on November 25th, 1991. The paper, something once referred to as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, had for a sideline “Seattle’s Nirvana breaks top 10.”

I mused to myself that a musical band or event would like not be what ends up breaking the Earth 40 years in the future. Still, I looked at the people. Unlike 2001, the people in 1991 were a little jumpy but not really like the 2001 folks. They seemed to have a lot more hope in their eyes, though it seemed like there was a little fade. So, I spent the next 4 hours watching people and enjoying real Earth foods. Coffee was something I liked, but to actually have it brewed right there was a feat of awesomeness that I don’t think I could ever believe.

After the four hours were up, I was walking around when I heard a beep from my watch. I looked down and it was glowing red again. Uh-oh, I guess that coffee was going to come up after all. Again, a major vertigous spin occurred and I felt like a cat inside a washing machine. Until I landed, face first, onto a concrete sidewalk.

I looked up and I noticed that everything was clean. Really clean. The cars were very weird looking, they actually had a boxy definition and were very distinctive. I looked around, and recognized a landmark from where I was standing. I recognized the bright white of the Coit Tower in the distance, realizing that I was in San Francisco.

I looked around the area, and saw a newspaper that was rolled up in front of a storefront. It looked to be around 9AM or so, on a bright day, and so I decided to take a peek. The date landed me on April 17, 1946.

Wait. 1946?!?!

Nothing happened at ALL on this date. I scrambled around the area, looking for some indication that something big was going to happen. I passed a bookstore along the way down the street, but something inside told me to stop. It told me to stop and go back. I went back to take a look at the bookstore I had passed, as my gut was saying “You wanna know? Here ya go.” I looked all throughout the entire window display that was up and I saw a book, seemingly innocent and just sitting there. A small card underneath said “The latest for the home, to take care of the family.”

After I saw the title of the book, everything suddenly clicked. The start of the decline of Earth’s civilization didn’t start with a terrorist attack, or a musical interlude. It started with 4 words and 1 name:

It was called “Baby and Child Care”. The author was Dr. Benjamin Spock.

I looked at my watch, after it made a slightly different sound. This time, it glowed green. I knew that my adventure would come to an end, and the answers that I found were going to be unbelievable. However, I happen to think that I will finally be able to get an A on my history paper, and make some people question everything they know.

I just pray that I don’t get stuck somewhere on the way back.