She puts on her headphones and pulls her hood up over her head, and starts walking. Nobody notices her – she’s not a loner, and she’s not popular. She simply exists, but unlike the other girls in her school who are terrified of never being noticed, she doesn’t even notice not being noticed, she just likes being who she is, for her. There’s a cute guy looking at her, but she doesn’t notice him because she’s lost in the music.
But soon, people start noticing her. They start believing that she can succeed, and she starts to take notice, and she doesn’t trust it one bit. She still doesn’t rely on anything except herself, she still does it all for her. She’s afraid, deep down. She’s afraid because this is all new to her and she’s not accustomed to having someone in her corner.
But that’s the way that things go, and that’s the way that the world works. It’s not too long before her guard gets dropped, and the people who want her to succeed starts to grow. Before long, she puts on her gloves and walks out to applause. Where before, there only lay empty chairs and broken memories, now stand a force a hundred million strong, waiting to see her win. Wanting to see her win.
She becomes something special, something adored. She is the girl that they all want to be, the woman that they all need to be. But here is where the ironies begin. She begins to lose all her inhibitions, all her fears, in the spotlight of adoration. She begins to forget what it is to be human, and she begins to think that she can become something more than what she has always been.
The irony is, that she has never realized how lonely she has always been until her footsteps are accompanied by the sound of thunderous applause and pats on her back. She has never realized how quiet her life has been without the chaos of cheers. She has never understood how much it means to win until she was told by all these people how much it meant to them.
You made me who I am, from the words you said.
She walks in fame now. She fears nothing. She loves everything.
And then we come to the next irony.
They look at her, and they can no longer recognize themselves. They loved her at first, because she could have been them, and they could have been her. She was a general creature of fame, a role model that anybody and everybody could one day be. They wanted her to leave behind her fears because her fears were not the same as their own. They wanted her to leave behind everything that made her who she was, so that they could be more like her, and now, they look at her and she has become a shadow of herself.
She is no longer a human, she is a legend. A creature. A monster. She is not a person anymore, with fears, beliefs and pain. She is something that they can never be.
And they hate her.
Nobody understands exactly how it happens. Some say it’s when there’s too many people your corner, some will shift just to be different from the crowd. Some say that it’s because they realize they can never be her, and thus they want her to fail. Some say that it’s merely because they’ve had enough of her, enough of who she is and what she stands for.
But soon, fame will turn to infamy. Brilliance turns to darkness. Whereas once, they loved who she was, now they are afraid and full of hate. They do not want her anymore, she reminds them of nothing except what they will never be able to become, and what they do not want to become.
The irony is, that she has become someone that she has never wanted to become, for them, and they do not want any of her. They want to see her fail now. The jeering crowds, they call for her blood. She can smell it in the air. Where once lighters waved, and tears fell, now hold torches and sneers. Where once hands waved, fingers point. Where once autographs were given, they brush past her and she stands, alone, far more alone than she has ever been before.
But they have changed her, permanently. She no longer fears anything. Now the loneliness returns, but it returns with a basis in vengeance, with a Ph.D in hatred. It comes back as a response, as an ego saver. So what if they don’t like her? Forget them, they mean nothing. They’re just stupid people, right?
She is who she is now because of them, but she hates them and they hate her, and all you see now are the sparks that fly from the bottom of her shoes as she tries to outrun the past where they used to raise her up on high, where they used to say her name with a smile and not a frown. She does not need them anymore than they need her, she says to herself. And she comes to a reckoning, where she believes that they are all just haters. That she is on top, and she is hated because she is on the top, and that there is nothing that anyone can do to stop her from being on the top. She doesn’t even realize, not then, perhaps not ever, that she is already on her way down, that she will never be at the top again. That there was no top to begin with.
That it was all an illusion in her own mind.
And so, she does not win. She begins to taste the bitter taste of defeat in her mouth, and she begins to realize that no matter what, she will never be the person that she wants to be, that person that everyone seemed to love so damn much. And she will die, with that knowledge, that there was a day that she used to do it just for her, when nobody knew her name and she had not the slightest interest in fame. When the money meant nothing and her self esteem was all she had. When the fears used to eat her alive, every single day, and she used to hate it. And maybe, maybe if she’s lucky, she’ll come back a ghost, to haunt the places where she had once lived in fame, and then in infamy.
Maybe, maybe, maybe, if she’s lucky, she’ll come back a ghost, walking silently among the grass alongside the asphalt where she once trotted casually in the afternoon sun, her hands trailing alongside, brushing the tips of the weeds. She will pause and look at the world, look at all she left behind. She will stand and cry over the bonds that she broke and the ties that she severed.
And then, she will realize that there is nobody around. And she will walk from the land of the dead, back to reality. Her shoes, her headphones and her life will be waiting there for her, as long as she goes back to the place where it all began. It will begin again, this time, in a different place, in a different time, in a different world. In the light of the burning aftermath, she may yet find her way to peace again. Sometimes, she will look back on what her life gave her. And she will realize that it is pointless to run into the inferno. She will realize that there is nothing to take but light and warmth, and to move on, onwards.
They look, but they do not see. They hear her, but they do not remember. As the beat pounds on, as the world moves fast and time moves slow, as their eyes glaze over, they do not even recognize her as she trots along, quietly living for her and only herself. She finds them where she left them – back before she became the person that she never wanted to be. She has seen her future in her past, and she will not let her past become her future anymore. She picks up the sweater and pulls it over her head, and then loops the headphones underneath. She doesn’t know where she’s going. Maybe back to being famous. Back to being infamous. It doesn’t matter. All that matters, is that this time, she remembers who she was, who she always wanted to be.
She puts on her headphones, and pulls her hood up over her head, pushing her hair to the side. And she starts walking.