Chapter 16

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I watched the talented woman in awe as she took the stage and seemed so comfortable. The crowd was at her feet and I heard multiple marriage proposals being yelled behind me. The older one knew exactly how to work her devoted fans by shaking her hips, flipping her hair or pursing her lips. One girl kept screaming she'd faint if Lauren looked at her and I couldn't help but grin when I heard that. Having been a fan girl myself, I knew exactly what she meant; even today I felt a little bit like that when I watched Lauren sing.

My anxiety concerning her songs had been for nothing, though. Since the concert was organized like a festival, there were multiple acts performing and Lauren was just one of them. Therefore she only sang three songs and picked her most popular ones so everyone could sing along. They were more upbeat but Normani and I were having a lot fun. I even danced and just enjoyed myself. When the singer was ending her gig, the fans were going insane. They wanted more.

Out of nowhere they started chanting mine and Normani's names. I looked at my former band mate and then Lauren. Oh no, I thought when I felt my friend taking my hand and dragging me on stage. That's when all hell broke loose. Now they were chanting for us to sing but Normani grabbed the microphone from Lauren and explained that she was not able to because she had just removed her tonsils and her entire throat was still swollen. I had no excuse! So when everyone kept screaming for me to sing, I was frozen on stage and saw Lauren coming up to us, trying to save me.

I hadn't performed in front of this many people in years. Seeing the banner for this event behind the crowd, I realized how special this was. They were all here to support a cause that was so meaningful to my own life. Suddenly, I felt connected to them. Before Lauren could take over the microphone, I snatched it out of Normani's hand.

"Hey", I said shyly and addressed the audience for the first time.

They responded very loudly and I cleared my throat before continuing. At this point I just acted on instinct.

"Thank you so much for supporting the charity. It is such a great cause and very personal to me", my low voice said and the crowd became quiet to hear me speak. "I haven't been vocal or public with it but a few months ago, my mother passed from breast cancer. So, I know how hard it is sometimes to keep going. As the person affected by the illness, or a family member, or a friend, coworker or whatever...I had a very rough time but I want all of you to know something: allow yourselves to feel whatever it is that you feel. No matter how painful it may seem in the moment, it'll get better in time. You have to own it so you can deal with it and let it go afterwards."

The entire hall was silent now and just listened while I talked. Looking around, I saw a guitar and made my way to it without thinking too much about it because otherwise I never would have done it. Only a few people screamed while the rest was still watching me like they were afraid of scaring me off by being too loud.

The song I chose was very dark and probably the heaviest one I had ever written, shortly after my mother had passed. It was different from every other song because there were no great embellishments in my singing. My voice was rather soft and did not make the usual playful runs. Not to mention the lyrics were quite honestly just depressing. But I felt I wanted to be honest with the audience and let them in a little bit. So I placed the microphone on the stand and tuned the guitar in my hand before starting to sing.

"Driving away from the wreck of the day

And the light's always red in the rear-view

Desperately close to a coffin of hope

I'd cheat destiny just to be near you

If this is giving up, then I'm giving up

If this is giving up, then I'm giving up, giving up

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