J.M. Blackman’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Heart & Soul/Rock & Roll Pt. 2
Wallflowers, despite their propensity for blending in, often attempt to peel themselves away from the wall.
She was such a flower.
So, the morning of her step-brother’s birthday, she left a surprise. One that couldn’t be ignored. She chewed at her the skin on the side of her thumb like she always did when waiting for a response, a reaction, perhaps one more disappointment. More than likely a disappointment.
And it was. He smiled when he had to, when their parents came out to see and laughed and cheered, amazed at the canopy of balloons, where sitting beneath was the guitar he’d been talking about for months.
But when they had gone back inside, chattering excited, the smile evaporated: floating into the air, lighter than vapor and just as see through.
She was used to its disappearing act. She followed it up by releasing the balloons. There wasn’t need of an encore.
The next day at work she decided that, having been a bookseller for two years now, having not played a gig in longer, she was officially not a rock star. Fueled By Ramen was not going to come knocking. She could deal with it. She had dealt with it her whole life.
She was right smack dab in the middle of deciding that 24 wasn’t too young to start a midlife crisis when a man came in and walked past her so quickly, she barely heard his grunted response to her “welcome.” But he backtracked as if he were a drawstring toy.
He told her that he knew her. She assured him that he didn’t. But he swore he did--yeah, she was rock goddess. He’d know her anywhere. She’d been worshipped in Atlanta’s Masquerade, held court at Criminal Records. Yeah, she was a supernova.
What could she say?
She glowed. Her shadows shrunk in the luminesce. She helped him find the book he came for. He asked her to sign the inside cover even though she wasn’t the author. He wanted the back cover signed, too. And the front.
When he left, she held her last performance, her last service: standing atop the book ladder. She bowed to the lamp posts outside.
They’d been the perfect audience.
J.M. Blackman is a Language Arts teacher, author rep'd by Gina Panettieri and a feminist. She endeavors to review nearly everything she reads and is a happy wife. She's a SFF enthusiast, loves dark humor, and has an unhealthy need to protect the image of Batman.