(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*
“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.