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Short Story based on Sandi Thom Lyrics
Adored by Millions
Adored By Millions
She stepped out of the limousine onto the red carpet, cameras flashed, crowds cheered and reporters asked for a quick interview. After steadying herself on the high heels, she smiled for the cameras, waved to the crowd whilst making sure the dress that she would only wear once wasn’t showing off anything it shouldn’t do, then went to the reporter that her agent ushered her towards.
‘What’s it like being back in London for another premiere?’ The female reported asked.
‘It’s always a pleasure to come to London, and these fans are so awesome.’
‘This is the biggest crowd I’ve seen at a Premiere, many of them got here hours ago, the vast majority of them to see you.’
‘It certainly is flattering to have so many people come out to see me.’
‘What can fans expect from this film?’
‘I really think anyone who has read the book will love it, they’ve done such a good job staying true to the story.’
‘You’ve recently been voted as the most popular actress amongst fans and the most powerful actress in Hollywood, how does that feel?’
‘It’s impossible to comprehend that stuff, in my head I’m still just a lost little girl from Montana. I’m really sorry but that guy is waving his hand pretty frantically now, so I guess I’m going to have to go.’
She moved away from the reporter and made her way down the red carpet, stopping three times to pose for pictures.
After the premiere she headed back to her room at the Ritz hotel with her agent, driven in an expensive car but not the Limo that had dropped her off. She sat on the end of the luxurious hotel bed, took off her shoes and rubbed her feet. The agent took out his phone as he paced up and down the room.
‘Okay so tomorrow,’ he held his phone in one hand using his thumb to operate the touch screen. Whilst he talked his other hand whirled around up in the air like a conductor of an orchestra. ‘At 10am you need to be in the large conference room downstairs to meet the magazine journalists. Twenty-five of them each have ten minutes with you. At three thirty you need to be across town for a live press conference. Then three TV shows have a ten minute interview with you. After that at 5pm you meet some members of the public who have won a competition or paid some money to spend some time with you. Then it’s back to the hotel to change and go out again for that live TV show, the chat show I was telling you about, the guy thinks he’s controversial and funny, in reality he’s neither so nothing to worry about at all.’
‘Have you scheduled in when I eat?’
‘You don’t have to worry about that, it’s all already been ordered and will arrive to you at convenient times.’
‘Wow, I was actually kidding. How about visits to the restroom? Have they been scheduled for me?’
‘Whatever venue you are at you are always within a ninety second walk of a restroom.’
‘Can you really not tell that I’m kidding?’ She said and looked at him, narrowing her eyes and shaking her head a little.
‘Too busy for jokes,’ he said without the merest hint of irony.
‘Anytime you’re too busy for jokes, then that really is too busy. How much did they pay?’
‘The members of the public who have paid merely to be in my presence for a few minutes.’
‘A couple of thousand bucks or so.’
‘And that doesn’t scare you?’
‘Not in the slightest, why wouldn’t they pay big money to see you?’
‘Because I’m just another human like them.’
‘You actually sound like you believe that.’
‘I’m certainly no better than them, sometimes I really don’t feel human though, there’s so many things I can’t do that any human should be able to.’
‘Go shopping on my own, to the cinema or on holiday.’
‘You’re really not missing out on much. So I’ll knock on you door at 9.30 so we are in plenty of time.’
‘Yeah whatever, thanks for listening,’ she replied then slowly curled up into the foetal position.
‘Listening to what?’
‘Exactly,’ she said then theatrically waved a hand. ‘Humour is so much more fun when someone else gets it.’
At this point his phone rang. ‘I’m going to take this, see you at 9.30,’ he said as he made his way out of the room.
After a few minutes on the bed she got herself up and walked over to a desk in the corner, on it was a printed out version of her itinerary for the next day, looking at it shaking her head at the impersonal nature of it all and the thought of why her agent had just read it out from the sheet rather than insisting on reading it off is phone. She walked into the bathroom and stood looking into the mirror. Inspecting her blemish free skin that didn’t need any photo shopping and her perfectly straight and immaculate hair, the dress she was wearing fitted so well it looked as if it was an extension of her body. After a minute or so she started fidgeting with her hair and the shoulder straps on her dress. Gentle fidgeting soon turned into quickly pulling off the dress and throwing it out of the bathroom, then a pair of scissors near the mirror was picked up and she chopped away at her legendary blonde hair, until it was cut as unevenly around just above shoulder length. She then walked into the bedroom and looked through the wardrobes and drawers until she found a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt and put them on, followed by a baseball cap and a pair of light enhancing sunglasses. She then grabbed her purse and headed out of the hotel room. Heart racing as she got into the lift in the hotel, heading down to the foyer, then out the main doors and into the wild of the public arena, with every step she was fearing being tapped on the shoulder by her agent or some other member of her entourage and escorted back to her room. Once she got a couple of hundred yards or so away from the hotel she couldn’t stop herself breaking into a big smile and even a school girl like giggle broke out.
For half an hour or so she just walked around, not having a clue where she was heading and not caring, avoiding eye contact with anyone either looking down at the ground or up at the buildings. At times she could barely contain herself from breaking into a skip.
‘Take me to the nearest superstore that’s open,’ she said after jumping into the back of a taxi.
‘You mean like an ASDA or a Tesco love?’
‘Yeah I think so, as long as they are open and sell clothes and stuff.’
‘Yeah that sounds right darling.’
The trip took a little over fifteen minutes.
‘You want me to wait around until you’re done love?’ The driver asked after she had paid him.
‘No it’s okay, I could be some time.’
‘Fair enough love,’ he said then set off driving.
Once inside she grabbed a shopping basket and set about making her way around the supermarket. The first aisle she went down she took a while to choose what to put in her basket, after picking up a few bottles one at a time and putting them back after looking at them, she put one with a bright red colour in her basket. From the next isle she visited she threw a big pencil in with the bottle. Before getting to the clothes section she was distracted by some accessories and with barely any thought time she grabbed some rubber bracelet bands and a pair of black sunglasses. Once in the clothes section she grabbed a few black sleeveless t-shirts and some short denim skirts and headed for the changing rooms.
A few moments later she came out of the changing rooms with a little smile, the smile grew a lot wider as she tried on some boots that almost went up to her knee and matched the colour of the sleeveless t-shirts in her basket.
At the checkout she made a concerted effort to not make eye contact with the lady at the till, paid for her goods then left and ordered her second taxi ride of the night. This ride took her to the nearest travel lodge hotel. Whilst booking a room for the night she again made sure the peak of her cap as well as her light enhancing sunglasses covered her eyes from the lady on reception.
Once in her room for the night she went straight to the on suite bathroom and took that bright red bottle out, and went to work on making her hair that colour. By the time she’d completed changing her look it finally dawned on her just how late it was, around 4am, and how exhausted she was feeling. She curled up on the bed and was asleep within a few minutes.
At 9.30am she was woken up by the sound of her phone vibrating, she rolled over to look at it and her blurry eyes could just about make out that it was her agent ringing, she didn’t answer the phone and rolled back over. As soon as it stopped vibrating, it started again. She noticed the sunlight lighting up the room, even through the curtains, despite not having much sleep she felt the urge to make the most of this day so she headed to the shower. As she ran her hands shower her hair as the water poured down on her, she got a little bit of a fright as she had momentarily forgotten all about her activity with the scissors from the previous evening and was disturbed to find that her hair was so short.
The bright red hair completed the look she wanted from the outfit that she bought the previous night, the complete opposition of her legendary image. When she got back to the bedroom, she checked her phone, finding that she’d had seventeen missed calls and twelve text messages, all from her agent, she switched it off and headed out, the sunglasses she’d bought last night were put on and the cap went on backwards this time. A short taxi ride took her to a train station, she went to the ticket office.
‘Where you headed?’ The man behind the counter asked.
‘Anywhere but here,’ she replied.
‘Need to be a bit more particular than that,’ he wasn’t impressed by the free spirit nature of her response.
‘What’s the next train that’s leaving that is going a long way from here?’
He looked at the screen to his left. ‘There’s one leaving for Glasgow in ten minutes.’
‘Glasgow it is then.’
She got onto the train a couple of minutes or so before it left the station, found a seat by the window and settled in to watch the world go by. For the first hour and a half or so of the journey it was quiet, no one sat next to her, allowing her to be alone with her thoughts as she stared out of the window. At the first stop though someone got on and sat next to her, he was so large that he almost needed two seats to himself, so she had to squeeze up against the window. It didn’t take her too long to notice that his odour was far from pleasant.
‘Going to be another hot day by the looks of it,’ he said within seconds of sitting down.
‘I guess so,’ she said as she squirmed in her chair and pressed up against the window.
‘Where you headed?’
‘You’re American,’ he announced with a satisfied grin as if he was answering a quiz question to win a prize.
‘Yes I am.’
‘Erm, Nebraska, in a small town you won’t have heard of.’
‘That is a killer outfit by the way, and you totally pull it off.’
She didn’t offer a reply, instead just squirmed some more and turned more to face the window.
‘So I’m guessing you have a boyfriend over here or back home?’
Before she could think of a reply, the man who was sitting behind them had jumped up and walked round to face them, he was a lot closer to her age, didn’t have a repulsive smell and compared to the man sitting next to her his figure looked like that of an Olympic swimmer.
‘Hey how you doing?’ This guy was incredibly enthusiastic with his greeting and aimed it at her. ‘I just got a text from Amy saying you were on this train.’
‘Oh cool yeah, I didn’t know what train you were getting, I’m doing fine thanks, really looking forward to catching up with Amy and you guys,’ she switched to performance mode.
‘Totally my fault, I really should’ve given you my new number by now. Me and the others are a couple of carriages down, come and join us, we have the food and drinks out, and we’ve just started playing cards.
‘Not going to say no to that!’ She produced that smile that has been on many front covers, then stood up.
‘Think you might need to move chief,’ the younger man said to the man sat next to her.
‘Oh erm, yeah, of course,’ he said and slowly stood up allowing her to get past.
She followed her new companion towards the back of the train.
‘I’m guessing being sat next to a creepy older guy, with his own unique smell and having you crush him up against a window, wasn’t something you were enjoying?’ He checked as he sat down on a window seat.
‘Not at all, thank you so much for that,’ she said and offered just a glimpse this time of that legendary smile.
‘No problem at all, I love a bit of impromptu role play in public.’
‘Yeah I guess acting can be fun,’ she said as she looked at him and narrowed her eyes a little behind the sunglasses.
‘Looking like that, if you want to avoid getting hit on, I’d sit there if I were you,’ he said and then motioned towards the seat opposite him.
She did lower herself into that seat. ‘Did you just hit on me whilst making a comment about being hit on?’
‘That sounds way too clever and subtle for me, although maybe I did, but don’t worry I know when someone is out of my league.’
‘Did you just hit on me again?!’ She said than then laughed a little.
‘In my defence it’s difficult not to,’ he said.
‘Oh my God stop hitting on me,’ she laughed some more.
‘Big resounding…………Anyway! Where actually are you heading?’
‘I actually am just heading nowhere special, haven’t you ever just gone on a journey for the sake of it?’
‘I’ve never got round to that, maybe I should one day.’
‘I can highly recommend it, it definitely has a freeing effect on the soul.’
‘You do it often then?’
‘No, first time, but definitely not the last.’
‘If you really want to go nowhere special, you should get off with me in my home town and I’ll show you around, it’s definitely nowhere special.’
‘Oh okay, and what town would that be?’
‘Warrington, don’t worry, you don’t have to pretend you’ve heard of it.’
‘I haven’t, what’s it like?’
‘It’s a classic, northern town, relatively modern but easy to poke fun at, definitely not too touristy, not many Americans visit.’
‘Do like the sound of seeing an authentic English town.’
‘As long as you don’t get your hopes up too high.’
‘I’ll try not to, so how far away is it?’
‘Only about five minutes or so.’
‘Is there a good place to get something to eat? I’m starved.’
‘Oh dear, you one of these young girls who always skip breakfast?’
‘How come you just turned into my Dad? But yeah I did skip breakfast.’
‘Sometimes I can’t help acting, and yeah there are plenty of places to eat, I think I’ve got the perfect place in mind, vintage Warrington, cheap and cheerful.’
‘I’m buying and money isn’t an object.’
‘Wow, gorgeous and rich.’
‘To be fair you went almost two full minutes there without hitting on me,’ she produced another little laugh.
‘Yeah, I’m getting better, and I still think I’ll take you to the cheap option, to make it more authentic.’
‘Oh okay, sounds good to me.’
‘This is us,’ he said as the train slowly pulled into a station and he stood up. She stood up and followed him off the train.
‘I am going to insist we do go against one American stereotype,’ he said as soon as they were both off the train. ‘That being we are going to walk into town from here, it’s only ten minutes at the most.’
‘These boots are made for walking, show me the way.’
‘This day is beginning to get a musical feel to it,’ he said after a little chuckle.
‘No I don’t sing, don’t mind a bit of acting, but really don’t sing,’ she replied with a friendly shake of the head as they set off walking.
‘Welcome to Warrington then,’ he said and spread his arms wide as if to show off the surrounding area. ‘Not the greatest of first impressions – a smoky soap factory, it does get better I promise. I’ll take us down Sankey Street so that we go past the town hall.’
She was so charmed by the quaint golden gates at the end of the drive of the town hall that she took a selfie in front of them.
‘That going straight on facebook?’ He asked.
‘No, there’re a few people I need to not know where I am.’
‘So what food are we having?’
‘I will respect that subject change, and check whether you like pizza?’
‘Cool, so you’re not on any crazy diets or some sort of health food freak?’
‘Definitely not today.’
‘Awesome, pizza it is then, and we’re only five minutes or so away.’
He took her down Bridge Street and to Chilli Grill.
‘Either I’ve got the exchange rate completely wrong or that place is crazily cheap,’ she said as they came out with a ten inch pizza, some fries and a drink each.
‘It’s not your maths letting you down, but you’re still going to love the food I reckon.’
‘So where are we going to eat it?’
‘You’ll see,’ he said and then motioned for her to follow him back up bridge street.
‘Oh my God it’s the Mad Hatters Tea Party!!’ She said as they got to the statue of the scene from the famous book, that is in the middle of Warrington town centre. ‘Selfie time again!’ She added then took a few pictures of herself in various positions around the table.
‘We just had to eat here,’ he said.
‘That was overly greasy and utterly unhealthy,’ she said after finishing off her fries, having already eaten the pizza. ‘Just what I needed.’
‘Good, I knew you’d like it. What do you fancy doing next?’
‘Does this place have a movie theatre?’
‘It does, but it’s a little out of town, bit of a bus ride.’
‘Taxi ride,’ she replied. ‘Money not an issue remember. Yeah I really feel like going to the movies.’
‘Massive film fan myself, so I am more than up for that, the new Holly Sands film is out, that looks pretty good.’
She nodded and allowed herself a little smile. ‘Yeah I’d love to watch that.’
The taxi dropped them off right outside the cinema at the Westbrook Centre.
‘I don’t care how much money you have, I’m buying the tickets,’ he said. ‘You can buy the drinks and the popcorn.’
‘If you insist.’
‘Don’t think too highly of me, you’ve haven’t seen the price of the drinks and the popcorn yet!’
She laughed and then said. ‘I’m sure I’ll be able to cover it.’
They got to their seats with the vat of pepsi each and bucket of popcorn to share, before the trailers started.
‘Brits traditionally don’t go for much audience participation at the cinema,’ he said. ‘You’re not going to embarrass me are you?’
‘No, no,’ she laughed. ‘I promise I won’t be that American, a film might make me laugh or make me cry, but other than that I won’t be interacting.’
‘Good, I’d hate to have to disown you,’ he said with a smile. ‘Oh I love the trailers.’
‘Ah me too, hardly ever get to see them lately.’
‘Enjoy these ones then.’
‘I will,’ she replied then moved down in her seat a little until she was completely comfortable.
As the credits rolled she wiped both her eyes one at a time with the same hand.
‘Oh wow, it did make me cry,’ she said.
‘I’m only not crying because I’m an emotionless freak, you want to grab a coffee just outside, that’s that sort of film that needs to be discussed.’
‘I’ve got no other plans,’ she said as she wiped away a few more tears, then put her sunglasses back on.
They went to the coffee shop with the confines of the cinema, she went to get the drinks whilst he picked out a place to sit. He found a table that had a small sofa on one side and a couple of chairs on the other, then sat on the sofa. When she came over with the drinks she looked at him with a smile.
‘I don’t care if it is socially awkward or inappropriate but I am joining you on that sofa, I can’t let you have that comfort all to yourself,’ she said then put the drinks down on the table and let herself drop, somewhat dramatically, onto the sofa that was just about big enough for both of them.
‘I’m totally fine with people looking at me and thinking “how on earth are you with her?”’ he said with a nod and a little smile.
‘You had gone over two hours without hitting on me, I was beginning to think you’d gone off me.’
‘No it was just the film being so good that it distracted me.’
‘You really liked it then?’
‘Loved it, love I when a film makes me think, and it was really entertaining too.’
‘I thought I was beautifully made and put together,’ she said. ‘I always can’t help thinking about what it must be like to be that famous though.’
‘You mean the actors?’
‘Yeah, especially the mega famous ones, where everything they do is news and probably all day every day is planned out for them.’
‘The multi-million dollar pay cheques probably soften the blow a little bit.’
‘Yeah I guess people shouldn’t feel too sorry for them. I just think it must be such a strange lifestyle, so unusual that it would be almost not human.’
‘In what way?’
‘Just the little things that you take for granted, the day to day stuff, but also the big stuff like falling in love,’ she said as she twisted a little to directly face him more.
‘Wow, that is the big stuff, so you think it would be harder for them?’ He mirrored her movements, leaving them directly facing each other.
‘Yeah I would say so, they might be in a lot of people’s presence, but how many people do they truly get to meet, and even when they do get to meet someone are they able to be themselves and how would they know if the person really loves the real them or just the idea of being with a movie star.’
‘Maybe the odds are a little stacked against them, but I’m a big believer if soul mates and it does only take one person to make it all worthwhile, you just have to meet that one, and when you meet them you just know,’ he stared at her sunglasses and could just about make out that she was staring into his eyes.
She leaned in towards him and ever so slightly opened her mouth
‘Oh wow,’ he said and leaned back slightly, stopping her in her tracks. ‘Holly Sands leaning in to kiss me, you’re on my list too.’
‘What?!’ she said quietly but incredulously.
‘You know, the list that couples have, but I really don’t think my girlfriend would actually be comfortable with it in reality.’
‘I know what a list is, you know who I am?’
‘Of course I know who you are, I’ve just been watching a film with you in it, I may be a little slow but I’m not that stupid.’
She let out a little laugh then put a hand to her mouth briefly. ‘When did you know?’
‘The crazy thing was I think I only recognised you because I heard you before I saw you, that sounds a little freaky, but I remember thinking that girl sounds just like Holly Sands, I just have to see what she looks like, then when I saw you I wasn’t sure at first, until we got you away from that guy and you sat opposite me.’
‘And people say I’m a good actor!’
‘I’m sorry for misleading you, but I just couldn’t miss out on the chance to spend a day with Holly Sands, and I got the distinct impression that you didn’t want to be spending the day with the Holly Sands.’
‘What gave to that idea?’ She said with a smile.
‘Let me think, probably the sunglasses, the outfit that is in such stark contrast to your classic look and the hair, by the way been wanting to say all day that I love the hair!’
‘Really? You like it?’
‘Yeah, suits you perfectly, at least as well as your usual angelic blonde look.’
‘I like the look, could definitely get used to it. So you’ve got a girlfriend?’
‘Yeah, been together just over three years now, I really do think she’s my soul mate.’
‘That’s awesome, I’d love to have that feeling.’
‘If you want someone to fall in love with the real Holly Sands, you have to be the real Holly Sands, just like today, you’ve been so easy to fall in love with it’s untrue. I know I can’t begin to imagine what your life is like, but I think if you stop and think then a lot of the things you feel like you have to do are just things people expect you to do and you don’t really need to do at all. Plus all those things you feel you can’t do, I suspect there’re probably plenty of them that you can do if you really want to.’
‘That’s simplified more than you can know, but you’re so right,’ she said then got her phone out and called her agent.
‘Holly where the hell are you?!’ He screamed down the phone.
‘I’m sorry Chad I must have missed your first question, I assume it was something along the lines of “Oh my God Holly are you okay? I’ve been worried sick about you”.’
‘What they hell are you talking about? Where the hell have you been? Have you any idea how many things I’ve had to cancel today and how many questions I’ve had to field from the press. I’ve had to tell everyone that you’re sick and can’t leave your hotel room.’
Holly held the phone away from her ear as Chad shouted, and she could help but giggle along with her new friend.
‘I’ve been having a lovely day in a traditional English town called Warrington, thanks so much for asking. I’ll be back in London by tonight, oh and Chad, you’re fired,’ she hung up the phone and had a satisfied grin on her face.
‘That’s a great start to following my advice,’ he said as he nodded approvingly at the firing.
‘Can we keep in touch? I think I’d like to have a big dose of reality check to call on every now and again.’
‘Can’t begin to imagine saying no to that!’
A month later another Holly Sands film was premiering in London, hours before it was due to start the red carpet was out and the fans were starting to gather. Much to the surprise of on group of fans they were joined by a young female wearing jeans and a short sleeved white t-shirt. She came down the red carpet and walked straight up to them, only when she got up close did they recognise the mega star that they adored. She chatted to them about the book the film was based on for quite a while, then found out where they were all from and what they did for a living or what university they were at. She also posed for several selfies and then took one of her own with many of them in the background and showed them herself posting it on twitter. Just after tweeting that picture she got a call from her agent.
‘Hey I’m already here,’ Holly said.
‘Yeah I’ve just seen your tweet. I’m guessing you’re not getting changed.’
‘No, why you think I look bad?’
‘You look great as always, I’ll be there in ten minutes.’
As the official time for the premiere got closer Holly had more and more members of the press after an interview. Holly walked over to one of the female reporters.
‘Hey it’s Linda McGregor isn’t it?’ Holly checked.
‘Yeah,’ Linda’s eyes widened and took half a step back away from Holly.
‘I saw your interview with Fiona last week, I thought you asked some great questions and conducted the interview perfectly, would you like one with me now?’
‘Of course, and thanks,’ Linda beamed a smile and got her cameraman in position.
The interview lasted ten minutes or so, the last question from Linda was; ‘What do you put this new relaxed attitude down to?’
‘Rather than thinking about what I have to do, I’ve started to focus on what I would like to do.’