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Illustration by @_ximena.arias
Sid walks into his green room. It’s 8pm. Sid's concert starts at 9pm.
There’s a girl sitting on his sofa, with her legs up on the side table. Her eyes are closed, and she has earphones in her ears, so she hasn’t seen him yet.
Sid doesn’t recognize her.
She still can’t hear him.
Sid: Hey, kid.
No response. He looks around for something, finds a hardcover book, and bangs it on the table. That gets her attention. She stays seated.
Sid: Who are you? How did you get in here?
Girl: Your assistant… whatshername... let me in.
Sid: No, she didn’t.
Girl: Were you there?
Sid: I… no.
Girl: Then how do you know?
Sid: Because she couldn’t have.
Girl: You’re saying your assistant is incapable of letting people into your green room?
Sid: I… she is incapable of keeping people out...
Girl: Ah. So that settles that then.
Sid: …which is why I fired her this morning.
Girl: Oh. Well, she probably deserved it.
Sid: Forget the how. Let’s go back to the ‘who’. Who are you?
Girl: I’m… a fan. You’re supposed to meet me in the meet and greet after the concert. They told me to wait here.
Sid: Hmm. Right. So you’re the kid with leukemia.
Girl: Ah. Yeah. Sure.
Sid: You’re the 8 year old boy with leukemia? Didn’t know that a growth spurt and a gender change were some of the side effects of cancer.
Girl: Well, actually… what I meant to say was… I’m with the kid with leukemia. I’m his… older sister.
Sid: Ah. Okay. So where is he?
Girl: He’s waiting in the car.
Sid: Funny. Because I just said bye to him… and his sister… 5 minutes ago.
Girl: Huh. Really thought I had that one in the bag.
Sid: You know what… screw the who too. I don’t care. Get out… before I call security.
Girl: Hey! The Who deserve your respect!
Sid points to the door.
Girl: Wait. Don’t call security. I… I’m from your hometown. I… I am… her daughter.
Sid, who was still pointing at the door, lowers his hand.
Sid: Oh. You’re… her… daughter… okay. I… (snaps back) if this is about the lawsuit, I’m not supposed to talk to you… or anyone about it.
Girl: This isn’t about that.
Sid: Then what do you want?
Girl: I… okay… it is a little about that.
Sid: What’s your name?
Sid: (surprised) What?
Story: My name is Story.
Sid: Story? Your name is... Story?
Story: Yeah. You got a problem with that?
Sid: I… no. Look… Story… I can’t help you. I can’t help your mom. And my show starts in an hour so you should go.
Story: I don’t need your help. But she does. Why are you doing this?
Sid: I can’t do this right now, okay? Just leave.
Story: Why don’t you just pay her? It’s 200 grand. You make that... what… in a week?
Sid: Sometimes... just in a day, kid. Bye now.
Story: First, showoff. Second, asshole. Third, what’s your problem?
Sid: I… how old are you?
Story: I… I’m not your daughter. No need to do the math.
Sid: (surprised) I know that. How old are you? 14? 15?
Sid: Yeah, so a 14 year old can’t understand what’s going on here.
Story: That’s bullshit. You’re just a coward. And a cheap one at that.
Sid: You’re not leaving, are you?
Story: Not until I hear a decent reason for why you’re not paying her.
Sid: Do you understand what your mother is suing me for? How… stupid!.. and… and… ridiculous it is! She’s crazy. She’s desperate. And she’s dumb. Which is why she’s losing. Which is why it’s been over 2 years since she filed the lawsuit and nothing has changed. It’ll be over soon. And she’ll lose. I…
Sid looks at Story, who is sitting on the couch, looking down, almost appearing to be upset and crying.
Sid: I… I’m sorry. Look, kid, this doesn’t concern you. So just… forget it.
Story looks up at him. She’s not crying. She’s actually a bit angry.
Story: Doesn’t concern me? She’s my mother. And she’s… sick. She was okay before this. She was… even seeing a psychiatrist… she was getting better. And then her new boyfriend put this bullshit lawsuit idea in her head. She was always talking about how your song was about her. She used to be proud of it. But then she got resentful. And then he said ‘why don’t you sue him? You could make some good money with that. He’ll have to settle. Given your history.’ So she listened to his dumb ass. And now she’s spent all her savings on this lawsuit. She can’t afford her therapist anymore. Or much else. Because of that asshole, sure. But also… because of you. None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for you.
Sid looks at Story, who isn’t looking at him. He goes and sits down on the make up chair, which is not facing her, but has a mirror in which they can see each other.
Sid: Do you know what went down between your mother and me?
Story: She would never talk to me about you. Eventually I just stopped asking. But my grandma didn’t shy away from talking about you.
Sid: (laughs) Her mom? She never liked me. I bet those were not fun conversations.
Story: Her stories put the tabloids to shame.
Sid: You read the tabloids too? From what… like 15 years ago?
Story: I read… some. (pauses) I read enough.
Sid is quiet. He closes his eyes, and pushes his head back on the chair.
Sid: I need to rest before the show. If you’re not leaving, just keep quiet.
About a minute later.
Story: When did you two... start dating?
Sid: (without moving) No comment.
Story: Hmm. Okay.
Story starts to chew gum, and then slowly, very very slowly, starts blowing out bubbles. At the same time, she puts on her earphones, and starts listening to some music - from one of Sid’s rival bands.
After about two minutes of the above behavior, Sid has had enough. He gets up, and takes out her earphones. Story is calm, and smiles.
Sid: If I answer your stupid questions, will you leave?
Story: Sure, let’s go with that.
Sid sits down next to her on the sofa.
Sid: You know you can’t record this. This state requires two-party consent.
Story: Jeez. I’m not recording it. Paranoid much?
Sid: Rich much.
Story: I don’t want your money.
Sid: Then I guess you’re not your mother’s daughter.
Sid: (sighs) What do you want to know.
Story: When did you and my mom get together?
Sid is quiet. For a few seconds. Then he gets up, and starts to walk around the room.
Sid: I don't remember a time when we weren't. We knew each other since grade school. I remember this one time, I was over at her house for dinner, and her mom had a new boyfriend. Some guy. Didn't last long. He was nice though. He gave me my first beer. Anyway, the first time I met him was at this dinner. And when your mom introduced me to him, he asked "so is he your boyfriend?' and your mom said, yeah. Without even looking at me. I didn't think about it twice. We were probably, like 12.
Story: Wow. That’s really young.
Sid: Really? You think you’re really old at 15?
Sid: Well I bet you love feeling like you’re different and everyone else is the same.
Story doesn’t say anything, and she doesn’t change her expression either.
Story: You were saying?
Sid: People in our town didn't have much to do. We paired up quickly. And we didn't swing too much. Everyone either married their middle or high school sweetheart, or became a priest or something. Like I said, we just... didn't think twice. It was easier in the beginning. We were so smart. And so honest. We told each other everything. We showed each other exactly who we were. And how we felt about each other. It was… easier. Because we didn’t have any history in the beginning.
Story: Until you did.
Sid: Yeah. That’s when things started changing. I couldn’t tell her exactly what I felt, what I was thinking about, because I knew that if I did, it might hurt her. Or it might change things. Or… I just gave myself too many reasons. Enough to shut up. Enough to keep some stuff in.
Story: Huh. And I’m guessing you hit it big right along the same time.
Sid: Let me give you a little warning, kid. You think you know everything, that you’ve figured out how the world works. How people think. And you think you know better. Well, you don’t. Because the more you live, the lesser you know.
Story: Well if that is what’s going to happen anyway, your warning is pointless, isn’t it?
Sid: I suppose it is.
Story: So then tell me, why did you break up?
Sid: You’re the smartass. Why do you think we broke up?
Story: Because of the music. The band. The fame. The money. What else?
Sid: Hmm. You wanna hear a story?
Story: What… sure. What kind of story?
Sid: Does it matter?
Story gives him a look.
Sid: You don't hear stories anymore. Everything is... confirmable. You don't just hear something and then walk away from it. You don't just sit with it. You wanna know a story I heard as a kid? I remember - when I was about 7 or 8. I heard this story that Michael Jackson was the richest guy in the world. That he owned... things that put together were more valuable that the economies of small countries. That he owned all the Beatles music. That He was a billionaire before I even knew what a millionaire was. I never cared to look that up. Or confirm it. Even as an adult. It was a story. A good one. That's all. Stories don't need to be true to be good. They just need to be good.
Story: Fine. Tell me your story.
Sid: Oh... I forgot what I was going to say. Must've not been important. (pauses) What was your question, again?
Story: It was my question. It became your question. You asked me why I think you broke up.
Sid: Yeah. And you said it was the band. The music.
Story: Wasn’t it? Really?
Sid: I don’t think that’s what you really think.
Story: Why do you care what I really think?
Sid: Why did you come here?
Story: (ignores his question) I don’t think it was the music. I think you used the music as an excuse to leave her. You outgrew her. Whatever that means.
Story: Forget it. It doesn’t matter how you justified it. What matters is what she thinks. She always blamed herself. I know that. She knew that she was going to get left behind. But she would never admit it. She told herself it was the music. And then she started believing it.
Sid: Your mother… she had a kind heart. But she couldn’t let go of the girl from the small town that has a simple life. She wanted - all of this - but she wanted it to be simple. I don’t blame her for being confused.
Story: You made her crazy. Your music. Your obsession. You… was the music that important?
Story: Then what was it?
Sid: (looks at her) I was.
Sid: I was more important. I was more important than the relationship. I was more important than her. That happens you know, most relationships. You don’t know it when it’s not you, but when it’s you, you know it. To me, I was more important. So I chose me. Not her. Not the relationship. Not the music. Just me.
Story: Sounds lonely.
Sid: I don’t get why people think being alone is a bad thing. You’re always alone. No one (points to his head) is sharing this with you. It’s just you up here. Alone. So you need to get used to that. You need to be good at it.
Story: I… can’t disagree with you on that. But what about people you care about? You just leave them?
Sid: I guess I do not care about people. I write about it. Because I don’t know how to do it. I write about it so I can show people that I am capable of thinking about it. But I know that I can’t do it. I just want them to know I know. But they don't always see that. And I still just... can’t seem to… care.
Story: Well, color me surprised.
Story: I really thought grown ups are grown ups because they’ve grown up. But you seem to still be on the job.
Sid: I’m done growing, kid.
Story: I’m sorry, are you an expert on the human mind?
Sid: Neither are you. And I seem to have… what… about 40 thousand human minds waiting for me out there to sing songs they already know? Who’s got more expertise on human behavior now?
Story is quiet.
Sid: You didn’t just come here to ask me about the money, did you?
Story stays quiet.
Sid: Just say it then. Whatever she sent you to say. The sooner you say it, the sooner we finish this.
Story: What? She didn’t send me!
Sid: Really? You really want me to believe that your mother has no clue that you’re here talking to me?
Story: You! You… jerk! How self-absorbed are you?
Sid: It’s an occupational hazard.
Story: You know… you think people can’t see you… because you hide yourself so well behind all of (gestures to the room) this. But I’m not one of those people. I see you for who you are.
Sid: Really? Alright, then. Lay it on me. Why not.
Story: You pretended to care for a long time. You disappointed people along the way, sure. Once they got close enough. And then you figured out that that’s how it happens. So you stopped people from getting close to you. You pretended to care because your livelihood, your existence, depended on it.
Sid: Really? If I’m so good at pretending, then how did you crack the code?
Story: This life. You got everything you could ever want. You pretended… until you got so rich and no longer had to follow the rules the rest of the world had to follow. You didn’t have to be polite for the sake of it anymore. You didn’t have to be nice when you didn’t want to. Maybe you are a good person, maybe you’re even kind. But only when you want to be. Only when you’re comfortable. And fame gave you that comfort. That’s why all this… your music… your shows… it’s all you have left. Your last connection… your last way of connecting and communicating with people. That’s why you don’t stop. And that’s why you won’t admit that the song was about my mom. Because it would spoil your illusion that you’ve spent so long being comfortable in.
Sid: You got so much right... but you still know so little, kid.
There’s a knock on the door.
Sid: (yells) What?
Someone outside the door yells back that there’s so problem with the lights so they’re fixing them. Could take a while.
Story: I guess you’re stuck with me until I know everything.
Story: Did you ever try to reach out to her?
Sid: What? She didn’t tell you?
Story: Tell me what?
Sid: I think this is a conversation your mom should have with you. Actually, I don’t think this is a conversation anyone should have with you. Why don’t you just want to be a teenager? Why dig up all this?
Story: Because it’s already been dug. She’s in the ditch. I want to get her out. Because she’s dragging me in every day.
Sid: Huh. Can’t argue with that.
Story: So. Tell me. You two met? After you broke up?
Sid: Several times.
Sid: And it didn’t help. Nothing helped. It was irreversible, what we had. You can’t be friends once you’ve been more. I can’t.
Story: When was the last time you saw her?
Sid: I… at the hospital.
Story: Hospital? When?
Sid: The day you were born.
Story: (shocked) What?!
Sid: See… like I said… this conversation shouldn’t be happening.
Story: So you’re telling me… that this isn’t the first time we’ve met?
Sid: I already told you. I’m done telling you. I don't want to tell you more. But you're going to keep asking, aren't you?
Story: What happened? She never mentioned that. Neither did my grandmother.
Sid: No one knew. I snuck in through the back entrance. The nurse was a fan. She made sure I was off the visitor chart. I had no intention of running into your grandmother, so I didn’t stay long.
Story: What… what did you two talk about?
Sid: You don’t want to know.
Story: All I want right now, is to know. So skip the tone, get over that you’re talking to a teenager, stop calling me ‘kid’, and tell me.
Sid: I told your mom that I wanted to help. To pay… to help.
Story: Are you kidding me?
Sid: Well, technically, I’m adulting you.
Story: Let me guess... she said no?
Sid: She was… angry.
Story: No. She wasn’t. She was upset. She was hurt. Don’t you know the difference?
Story gets a little emotional towards to the end of that sentence.
Sid: I… I was too young to know the difference. But I guess… saying that to you right now, it’s just another excuse.
Story: The guy that day, maybe he didn’t know the difference. But you, this guy in front of me right now, you should.
Sid doesn’t say anything.
Story: So after that day… you never tried to contact her?
Sid: No. She… she told me not to. She told me to never show her my face again.
Story: And you kept your promise, eh?
Sid: It was less of a promise, and more of a request.
Story: The clouds you live on... they will start disintegrating some day.
Sid: You think they haven't? I've been falling for years, Story.
A few minutes later.
Story: You… ever… think about… talking to her now? I mean… it’s been a while...
Sid: Look, Story, I don’t think that would help.
Story: Help who? Her? Or you?
Sid is quiet for a few seconds. Story keeps staring at him.
Sid: I don’t know if you’re going to understand this, Story. But maybe you can. I don’t know. I don’t seem to know anything about what other people think. I don’t know how to relate to people.
Story: You can try. It’s not that hard.
Sid: Really? How often do you try?
Story is quiet.
Sid: How many times did you think about coming here to talk to me? How many times did you change your mind?
Story: I… I almost came to your show last week.
Sid: Last week? Last week I was…
Story:… 3,000 miles away? Yeah.
Sid: You were there?
Sid: What stopped you?
Story: Don’t know. (pauses) What were you going to say? When you said I wasn’t going to understand it?
Sid: Ah. (pauses) There’s… you know… life… in your twenties especially… it gives you… a lot of choices. And you get good at making them. Sometimes you’re quick. Just takes a second. Some choices though, you can’t seem to make up your mind. So you take time. You weigh in all the possibilities. But there aren’t that many. Most of the time, there are only two. The one you want, and the one that happens. Sometimes they’re very alike. But you know there’s a difference. In the back of your head. You know. So you either do what you should do… or you do what you… what you… just want to do. Just for once. That crazy fucking choice. The one almost everyone ignores exists, because they want to tell themselves that the one they chose was the one they really wanted. The one you know you’ll never make. But you fantasize about it. You think about what would happen if you chose the other way.
Story: Did you?
Sid: See, the problem is… you always do the thing that you know you should do. You rarely make the other choice. It’s like standing at the edge of the rooftop of a building. You know you shouldn’t jump. You never do. But you think about it. You think about the experience of making the jump. You think about what would go through your head, as you were falling.
Story: That’s grim.
Sid: It’s… beautiful too. It’s… both.
Story: When did it happen then? When did you jump?
Sid: 15 years ago.
Story: When you left my mom.
Sid: I… I knew… I knew with all of my being that I should stay with her. She’s the love I want. The love that keeps me here. The love that grounds me, that fills me up.
Sid: But… it wasn’t enough. I wanted to know what it would be like… without it.
Story: How did it feel?
Sid: It felt like… freedom. But not the good kind.
Story: You… all these years… I thought she was the only one…
Sid: The only what?
Story: The only one who was slowly self-destructing.
Sid: (weak laugh, pauses) I… I’m sorry.
Story: You know what you did?
Sid: I know. I know too much. Seems to be a disease almost. Knowing.
Story: Not to her. She did what she did to herself. But you… you know what you did to yourself?
Sid: Enlighten me, Story.
Story: You set off a bomb. A ticking time tomb. But there’s no clock. There’s no way to know when it’ll go off. And the fucked up thing is… you get off on it.
Sid: I don’t know why. Hmm, but there’s a song in there somewhere.
Story: So one bad choice… that’s all it takes? To become like you?
Sid: Why would you ever want to become like me?
Story: Right now I’m more interested in figuring out how not to.
Sid: (laughs) Then let me tell you one more thing, Story. It’s not just one bad choice. It’s the bad choice. Once you make that one, all the ones that come after, are just the same. And you keep going. It’s a high. It’s freeing. You’re not weighed down by anything anymore.
Story: No wonder you’re the bad boy everyone loves.
Sid: I guess I give them glimpses of the life they almost had. (realizes something, smiles) Hey! Look what you made me do! I’m analyzing myself... (pauses) I don’t like it.
Story: What about guilt? Don’t you feel guilty? For doing this to yourself?
Sid starts to laugh.
Story: What’s so funny?
Sid: I’ve felt guilty for so long, that I got used to it. And after I got used to it, I forgot about it. And now, I don’t even think about how to figure it out, how to process it, how to fix it.
Story: You’ve never written any songs about that.
Sid: You’ve heard all my songs, then?
Story: I… no. Maybe. Sure. As far as songwriters go, you’re not the worst.
Sid: Thank you.
Story: So why haven’t you written about it?
Sid: I don’t know… (looks at her) do you?
Sid: Tell me. I want to see this whole weird night through.
Story: I guess you’re just keeping things as they are. That’s what you like doing. That’s why you keep changing band members. That’s why you’ve had the same signature look for the last 10 years. You don’t like change, so you control it. And if you ever wrote about this guilt stuff, it would mean that you're acknowledging it. And acknowledgment would mean that the next step would be action. And you definitely don’t want that. The only time you’ve ever even come close to writing about guilt and regret is…
Sid’s quiet. She is too. A few seconds later...
Story: You did write about it. Once. In her song... you talked about what could have been. You never did that before. Or since. Why did you write that song?
Sid: Doesn’t matter.
Story: It does matter. (pauses) You gave regret and guilt a try. And… it didn’t help. You put the song out, and even though people loved it, it didn’t take long for my mom to start saying that the song was about her, and then she started asking for money. The media went against you, the industry turned their backs on you… and the only people who didn’t give up on you… was your audience.
Sid: You moonlight as a therapist?
Story: There are only a few feelings. Even fewer motivations. Doesn’t take long to figure out what drives a man to do something.
Sid: Ah, you just lost a patient. I don't like being reminded of the possibility that I’m not unique.
Story: Why don’t you have people in your life?
Sid: Well, I’m a very selfish person. And I figured that out too late, way after anyone else did. So I skip the talking and the friending and the family stuff, because if I did all that, they’d all go… well, all he cares about and talks about is himself… I just didn’t want any of that continuing. It’s not… it doesn’t make you feel better. When you’re like me… people don’t make you feel better.
Story: Then isn’t everyone selfish?
Sid: Yeah, they are. But they either don’t know it, or don’t want to admit it. Because then they’d have to feel bad about being selfish. And that’s not fun.
Story: So selfish and alone, that… doesn’t sound… awful.
Sid: You should try a career in naming albums. (pauses) You hungry?
Some time later.
Story: (chewing) Do you sleep well?
Sid: Sometimes. Once I’m asleep, it’s fine. It’s the getting to sleep that I have trouble with.
Sid knows she wants to say something.
Story: Me? I… uh… yeah. Same.
Sid: So what do you do?
Story: To fall asleep?
Sid: Nah. What do you do when you can’t? How do you pass the time?
Story: I… write.
Sid: … a story?
Story: Funny. You’re a funny guy.
Sid: Thank you.
Story: A sad, old, lonely, funny, sad, lonely guy.
Sid: Yeah, yeah, sure. What do you write?
Story: I… write music.
Story: I’m not going to play it for you.
Sid: Wasn’t asking.
Some more time later.
Story: Why didn’t you throw me out? Call security?
Sid: I… I didn’t want you to scream.
Story: You get lots of teenage screamers in here?
Sid rolls his eyes. Story laughs.
Story: Come on, tell me.
Sid: I don’t know. I guess… I owed you… I mean your mom… something. That wasn’t money. But time… my time… it’s… I have enough to spare. (snaps back) And I didn’t want to be rude, you know, to a kid who probably has cancer.
Story: Bullshit. You are rude. And you were rude. Why did you let me stay?
Sid: I… don’t mind the company.
Story: Do you have anyone… in your life... to talk to?
Sid is quiet, as if he didn’t hear the question. He walks over to the side of the room with a piano.
Sid: You play the piano?
Story: I… maybe.
Sid: Let me guess, your mom forced classes on you?
Story: Nope. She doesn’t even know I play. It’ll freak her out. My best friend has a piano at her house for lessons. I play it there.
Sid: Who taught you?
Story: John Legend.
Sid: Fuck off. Your best friend’s piano teacher is John Legend?
Story: No, you idiot. Why would he…? Youtube. I watch him on Youtube. Then I just… replay it.
Sid: Hmm. Show me.
Story: Show you?
Sid: Show me what you can do.
Sid: You’ve been sitting here for... what feels like days now... with all this attitude and anger for someone… you think it’s me but it’s not… trust me, I know when I’m the reason for someone’s misery. You’re misdirected. So yeah. Show me. Prove to me, that this anger has an outlet. And this attitude is earned.
Story: (walks over to the piano) What do you want me to play?
Sid: How about an original?
Story: (laughs) Nope.
Story: John Legend song?
Sid: Too easy. (pauses) Hmm… play… Alicia Keys. 'If I ain’t got you'.
Story: How did you know I know that song?
Sid: I didn’t until just now.
Story walks over to the piano.
Story: Do you remember what it was like? What you were feeling right before you made the choice?
She starts playing.
Sid: I… I remember feeling that there wasn’t enough time to keep living the same way. I wanted to live… more.
Story starts the song.
Story: How do you feel now?
Sid: That there’s too much damn time.
A couple minutes later, as she finishes the song. Story turns to Sid, smiling. She's a little nervous but she hides it.
Story: So, what did you think?
Sid: So you going to some special art school or something?
Story: Why would I?
Sid: To get better.
Sid: Why what.
Story: Why do I have to play. What’s the point.
Sid: Why do you write?
Story: It’s… I have to.
Sid: Exactly. This… all of this… whatever you see me doing, whatever you think I do this for… this isn’t a choice. It’s a need. It’s all I can do. It’s the only way I can sleep.
Story: So? Isn’t there a difference between doing something you need to do for yourself and doing to for others?
Sid: Yes, of course there is. But you… I can’t believe I’m saying this… when you know you have something… when you know you have the ability to say something that hasn’t been said before… and you think that there could be others out there who could relate to that… and maybe… just maybe… it could help them figure out their life just a little bit better… that’s why you do it.
Story: You… the selfish rockstar who doesn’t do anything for anyone else… you are trying to tell me that being an artist is about helping others?
Sid: I… wasn’t always like this. When I started… when I started writing… when I started playing… there was no audience. No one was listening. And writing and singing to no one… it’s liberating. Because if they don’t exist, their expectations don’t exist. Their judgements don’t exist.
Story: Until they start listening. Until they start caring. And that’s when you stop. Because now everything you make has to be passed through a filter.
Sid: I didn’t stop caring because of them. I stopped caring because of me. I’ve had the same experience thousands of times, yes. But they… the audience... for them… for them this experience happens only a few times in their life… maybe just once. When I was your age… I saw Guns n’ Roses live. Now, I’ve met them since that happened. And I couldn’t care less about them or what they think of what they do. But back then… that night… when I saw Axl sing ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’… I’ll never forget that. No matter how much I see. The point is…
Story: Yeah, what’s the point… because you’re so easily distracted, old man…
Sid: My point is… you… can’t give up before you try. You can’t be disillusioned before the illusion even begins. Because none of our experiences will be alike. How I reacted to my life… will never be the same as how you react to yours. You have to see some things through. Even if you can already see how the story ends. Because… sometimes you find a new ending. Something you never expected. Something you never knew could be possible. That’s why you keep doing it. That’s why you start doing it in the first place.
Story: You know… for a second there is almost sounded like you want me to do what you do.
Sid: (surprised) I… (tries to hide it) you’re… (fails) are we done with these questions?
Sid: Let’s get it over with then.
Story: Okay. Fine. Then tell me. What was the song about?
Sid: What song?
Story: The song. Her song.
Sid: This again?
Story: Yes, this again. This... is all there is... for her. This is all I’ve ever heard since I can remember. So yeah, give me an answer that makes sense. Not the bullshit you tell the lawyers. The real truth. What you believe. Give that to me.
Sid: You can’t possibly understand. Because it doesn’t matter. What the song is about doesn’t matter. And I… I don’t want to tell you what the song was about. The song is the song. It’s not me. It’s not the band. It’s not the audience. The song… is the song. You got it?
Story: You… I…
Sid: Find your words.
Story: I… I don’t get it.
Sid: I think you do. Just… let the words through.
Story: So… I… all these things… these… movies, books, songs, stories… hah… they tell us that people are changed by events. That something happens that makes them realize something. But I think that’s all bullshit. Things don’t make us do things. People don’t make us do things. Actions don’t. Events don’t. Accidents don’t. We do. And we use everything that happens to us to justify what we do to others… and to ourselves.
Story: My mom thinks you left her because she wasn’t good enough. But like you said, it wasn’t her at all. It was just you. People change… all on their own.
Sid: Guilty. (pauses) Stories need moments of external conflict. We need them. We need stories. We make up them so we can tell ourselves it’s okay to do what we do. To feel how we feel.
Story: But it’s cheating. It’s a lie.
Sid: Welcome to being an adult. (pauses) So you’ve figured it all out, eh? That sucks for you. I at least had a good two decades before I figured some of that out. So… what are you going to do with this information now?
Story: Does it… is it…
Sid: Take your time. Form the thought, then form the question.
Story: Does it get better? Feeling like this… is it always this heavy?
Sid: Story, if you know the question this well, then you already know the answer too.
Story: (snaps into excitement) I have another question. But this one I don’t have an answer to… yet. Probably because I just thought of it. Also, because I can’t know the answer… yet.
Sid: You know, kid, the amount of questions you’re asking, how well put-together they are, if you turn out to be something fucking undercover journalist… I… (pauses) I guess I’d respect that. What is it?
Story: What does it feel like? When someone who loves your music, your songs, your words… when they come up to you and tell you that they love you?
Sid: (sighs) You… you ever kissed a boy?
Story: (taken aback) None of your business.
Sid: Sorry. Girl?
Story: What’s your point?
Sid: Well, if you have, then you would know that there is a sensation to your first kiss. Not just your first kiss with a person, but your first kiss with any… new person.
Sid: It’s a new feeling. I mean, it’s also the same feeling, but it’s new every time the person is new.
Sid: Now imagine that feeling. How nervous you are. How euphoric the moment right before is. How… intense… it is when you actually do it.
Story: It’s starting to get creepy, old man.
Sid: Now imagine doing that 100 times. That same feeling… a 100 times over. Then imagine the 500th time. 1000th time. 10,000. One hundred thousand.
Story: It’s… not new anymore.
Sid: Yup. After the 1000th person comes up to you with tears in their eyes, trying to tell you how much your music means to them, and can’t speak due to the those tears, but you already know the speech, and you just got to wait for them patiently till they find their words... you stop caring. You’ve seen it all. You’ve seen the breadth of… (gestures to the room) this life. I’ve seen it all.
Story: Is that all there is?
Sid: Story, I wish there was more. I go out there every day thinking there is more. Hoping. Believing. But after 16 years, I’m running low on hope for more.
Story: What if there is?
Sid: I won’t discourage you to have hope, Story. This is a journey you have to make all on your own. And maybe, actually… I hope… you find answers I didn’t.
Story: Does this happen to everyone?
Sid: I don’t know. I’ve met enough people to know that most of them don’t make the dark choice. But I also happen to be part of a world which is full of people who do.
Story: Maybe it’s worth it then? If people like you didn’t make these choices… we wouldn’t have some things. Art. Stories. Your music.
Sid: Maybe. Or maybe it would be even better. Who’s to know, eh.
Story: I am curious about one thing.
Story: Let’s say you could do it all over again. Would you make the same choice?
Story: You’ve already asked yourself this, haven’t you?
Sid keeps smiling.
Story: And you’re torn. A part of you makes the same choice, because you know it’s your reality now, so you don’t want to believe you don’t like it, because then you’d be depressed. (pauses) But… but the other part of you, it makes the other choice. Just as a fantasy. Because you know this is irreversible. This is why… this is why you won’t pay her. Because paying her would bring back the part of you that doesn’t exist anymore.
Sid: You got most of that… right… I guess. But that’s not the only reason why I won’t pay her.
Sid: I won't pay her because the song isn’t about her.
Story: Come on, you practically just admitted that it was all about your relationship with her.
Sid: Sure, but the song… I didn’t write it when I left her. I wrote it… after you were born.
Story is quiet.
Sid: It’s not what you think. I’m not your dad. I knew I wasn’t. Your mom and I were long over by then. I wrote the song because… it was for the part of me who wanted to be your dad. Who wanted to be with your mom.
Story: But it wasn’t enough.
Sid: Nothing is.
Story: Why didn’t you just say that the previous 10 times I asked you that question?
Sid: I didn’t think you were ready. To understand that just because someone does something, doesn’t mean that they understand why they do it. Maybe I wasn’t ready either. Who knows? People do all kinds of things all the time. If we tried to figure out why we do everything, every single thing, we’d be too busy to do anything.
Story: I like you. I mean, I like this you. You’re honest. You’ve never been open about any of this.
Sid: First of all, thank you. And second of all, what would be the point? I am so many things. So are you. And they… these people out there… who come to listen to me sing and chant my name… they see what they want. I get to keep the rest. It’s all I have, really.
Story: You know… after having been here… after talking to you… I guess you’re not that horrible. And this part of you, that they don’t see… you should share it. But yeah, maybe don’t show it all to them. Maybe in parts. Small doses. Don’t want them to overdose and stop those checks from coming in.
Sid: You know, it almost sounds like you’re not hating this. It almost sounds like you’re having fun.
Story: Hey, even if I personally don’t care for your music… these folks outside sure seem to. And your songs… they aren’t half bad. I mean… the ones you actually used to write yourself.
Sid: I... uh... I actually wrote a new song. First one in…
Story: 4 years.
Sid: Yeah. That’s right.
Story: How does it go?
There’s a knock on the door. The stage is set.
Sid: (yells) Give me a minute! (pauses, looks at Story) Tell you what. Stay for the show, and you’ll find out.
Story: You’re going to debut it tonight?
Sid: Well, I wasn’t planning to. But it’s my last show on this tour. They’re going to hate it anyway, might as well let it out now.
Story: Why would they hate it?
Sid: It happens with everything new. People take time to adjust to things they aren't used to. I'm used to it.
Story: What’s it called?
Sid: Will you stay?
Story: Maybe. What’s it called?
Sid: I just told you.
Sid: The song. It’s called ‘Will You Stay?’
Story: Ah. What’s it about?
Sid: Why would you want to know that? Why would anyone want to know information about something before they even experience that thing?
Story: Fine! Don’t be such a snob. I’ll listen when you play.
Sid: Good. And look, about the money. I can’t pay her. It would raise all sorts of questions that she needs to keep out of her life. And so do you.
Story: I get it.
Sid: But there’s… something else I can do. Something I’d like to do.
Sid: Look, you’re… I don’t know if anyone in your life has said this to you before, but you need to hear this: you’re ridiculously talented. You can be so good at this. So I’ll make you a deal. You get into a music school. I’ll recommend some names. You get in… and it’s all on me. We’ll go through a nonprofit front or something. Your mom won’t find out.
Story: I… why?
Sid: (pauses, smiles) Because some stories need to be heard.
There’s another knock on the door.
Sid: I gotta get out there.
Story: You going to play it tonight? Her… I mean… my song.
Sid: Nah. Lawyers said I shouldn’t.
Story: That’s too bad. It’s my favorite song of yours.
Story smiles. She then starts humming and playing the piano. He recognizes the tune. Sid walks over to the piano, and leans next to it as Story plays.
Story: (singing and playing)
Story: (still playing the piano, perfectly) You named me, didn’t you?
Story: (calmly, playing) Mom told me it was her idea to name me ‘Story' but I knew she was lying. She has this tell when she lies...
Sid: She takes her right hand through her hair, and then stares at nothing to her left.
Story: I… yeah.
Sid: (really impressed with her singing) I didn’t know I named you. Not until you showed up today and told me your name.
Story: Well something must have happened.
Sid: I guess… there was something I said… to her… at the hospital...
Story: What did you say?
Sid: This could have been our story.
How I Wrote It
Greetings! I hope you liked the story. I had a lot of fun putting this one together. And if you've ever read one of my stories before, you know that I like experimenting with the writing process. Which is why for the last few stories I've published, I've also created guides on Launchora that delve super-deep into the creation process.
So whether you enjoyed this story or 'just like, thought it was okay', you can read about how it went from an idea to a living breathing published story by reading the guide here: 'Creating Memories That Don't Exist'.
You can also copy paste the following link into your browser:
I called the guide that because that was the challenge I gave myself with this story - creating characters that have a weird history together, people that hav a lot of baggage from their past and need to let go of those memories.
This guide will be free to read for at least a week or so. After that it'll go behind a paywall and will be exclusive to members of Launchora's Storytellers Program. If you're not a member, get a free 30 day trial here.
Let me know what you think of the story or the guide in the comments below :)
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Updated on October 01, 2018
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