Breaking Away

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

15-Year-Old Jessica sneaks out of her bedroom at night to break away from her normal life and finally make it big as a singer. After all, Britney was her age when she became famous. But when she
meets her best friend’s older brother in a bar to sing with his college band, will it turn out the way she hopes?

Submitted: October 03, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 03, 2017



Breaking Away

Jessica opened her bedroom window with precision. The cool night air flooded the room and whisked by her legs, rippling her blue skirt. She checked herself in the mirror one last time and then quietly climbed out onto the roof. She hated sneaking out of the house, but her parents would never understand. Jessica crept down to where the roof met the shed. From there, she could hop onto the old picnic table and then to the ground. She’d done it before. Freedom.

Jessica crept along the wall to the corner of the house. She whisked her long autumn hair back to peer around the corner. It made her look older than she was. She liked that.

“Damn,” she uttered as she saw the living room light on. That meant her mom was still up, reading another hopeless romantic novel. Jessica paused and glanced over at her bike, which she had purposely leaned against the garage earlier in the day. She was sure she could get to it without her mom hearing. Besides, she thought, something like this wasn’t going to stand in her way, not tonight.

Jessica always thought of herself different than other 15 year olds. Oh, other girls would go on and on about petty things like make-up and clothes. That stuff seemed so shallow to Jessica. Only when the subject turned to music did Jessica’s ears perk up. Jessica loved music. She loved it so much that by the time she was 12, she knew she was going to be a singer. The other girls didn’t understand.

Jessica made it to her bike and quietly walked it to the end of the driveway before she got on. “Who cares about them anyway,” she thought as she started riding towards downtown. Except for her best friend Kristen, she didn’t hang out with them much anymore. Jessica couldn’t wait to get past these high school years and into college. There, she could finally hang out with people more mature like her. 

Jessica swerved down an alley to avoid the cop car patrolling by.  As she pedaled towards downtown, the pleasant suburban streets soon gave way to darker, more sinister city blocks. The buildings were old and husky; some of them painted many times over while others not at all. As she continued to pedal, her nervousness changed to fear. “I’ll be fine once I get to the place” she said out loud. To take her mind off the looming shadows, Jessica focused her thoughts on Robert.

Ah, gorgeous Robert. Now that put a smile on her face. He was 21, tall with long, black rock-and-roll hair and most definitely in college. He was Kristen’s older brother. And although Jessica had known him since they were kids, she never talked to him much. The only time she ever saw him was at Kristen’s house as he was coming or going. He would say ‘hi’ and flash his killer smile and Jessica would be dumbstruck, barely uttering a word as he disappeared. The only thing Kristen ever said about him was how much of a dick he was, but that was just sibling rivalry. 

“Kristen would kill me if she knew I was seeing him tonight” Jessica thought as she turned the corner onto 3rd avenue. After years of near misses, Jessica finally had a chance to talk to Robert two nights ago. Kristen had fallen asleep on the couch while they were watching videos. When Jessica got up to go to the bathroom, she noticed Robert’s bedroom door open and peeked in. Robert was sitting on the bed practicing his guitar. He was wearing blue jeans and a plain white T-shirt with no shoes. He was muscular and his long curly hair swayed as he ran through some riffs. Jessica stood silently and soaked up his image. When he looked up and saw her, a big smile came over his face. “Hey you, come on in,” he said.

It was heaven. They talked for over an hour. Robert told her how he was majoring in acting at the local community college and planned to move to Hollywood after graduation to break into “the biz” as he called it. He also played guitar in a rock band at a club downtown on weekends. Jessica told him about all the high school bullshit and how she so wanted to bust out.

“You should come and catch our gig this weekend.” Robert suggested. “I’ll even let you sing a song.” He added.

“Really?” Jessica replied, her eyes widened. “I’ll be there!” she exclaimed and hugged Robert to thank him. 

His hair smelled sweet and his arms were strong as they wrapped around her back. It was then she realized she was touching him for the first time. She closed her eyes and hugged him longer then what seemed appropriate, but she didn’t care. She just didn’t want to let go. In fact, her brain was toying with the idea of kissing him, but just then Kristen called from the other room. Jessica quickly pulled away and thanked him as she darted out of the room.

A taxi honked as it raced by, narrowly missing Jessica’s rear wheel. Jessica checked the street signs as she pedaled on, only a couple of more blocks. She wondered what the club was like. She pictured a posh, high-class place with record executives just waiting to discover her. Hey, it could happen. Anyway, at least she’d be singing in a real club with a real band, which was a lot better than the current band she was in. She hardly even called it a band. It was really just kids making noise and calling it music. David was the only other decent musician. He had heard her sing in the choir and asked her to join. For now, they played in David’s garage, but he talked a lot about playing around town once they were good enough. Yeah, like that’ll happen. Sure, it was fun, but Jessica needed more. After all, she was already the same age Britney was when she got her big break. Jessica just couldn’t waste any more time.

Jessica found the club and locked up her bike in the alley around back. She stood there for a moment to catch her breath and shake out the wrinkles in her skirt. The place was different than Robert described. Instead of the “hottest club in town”, it looked more like a run-down bar. And the people on the street didn’t look anything like record executives, especially the guy puking on the sidewalk. “Don’t back down now,” she told herself. “I’ll be fine once I get inside”.

Robert said he’d leave the side door open so she could get in without being carded. Jessica found the door and entered. Inside didn’t look much better. The club was old with worn-out walls, water stained ceilings, and faded blue paint. Whatever luxury it had when it was new had long since vanished. Never the less, Jessica was surprised to see how crowded it was. The place was packed with people, most of whom she wouldn’t want to meet in broad daylight much less at night in a bar. Right away, she realized that she was overdressed. As she wandered through the tables, she could feel people eyeing her up and down in her blue skirt. “I’ll be fine once I find Robert” she reassured herself.

The band was already playing on stage. It was a glamour rock band with big hair, flashy costumes, and a hard rock sound. Jessica walked over to an empty table near the wall and sat down. They were actually quite good, playing with a far more polished style than David’s band ever could. She found Robert on stage, but he looked different. He was dressed as a 80s heavy-metal rocker with long hair, way too much makeup, and what couldn’t be a real bulge in his pants. Robert looked over and smiled when he noticed her. It wasn’t reassuring.

Jessica started quietly running through the song she was going to sing. She had only heard it on the radio a couple of times, but it was the only song she could sing that the band knew how to play. As she started to hum the words, she immediately realized how stiff her throat was. She had told Robert what an awesome singer she was. Now, if she got up there and sounded like crap, he would laugh her off the stage.

“Excuse me!” Jessica heard from behind her.

She turned to see a woman in her 40s with wrinkled leather skin and stained teeth holding a tray with drinks. “The two men at the bar bought you these.” She said. On the tray was a shot of something dark and a tall beer. She smiled faintly as the woman set the drinks on the table and walked away.

Jessica looked over at the bar where the woman was pointing. Two men who appeared older than her father smiled and raised their glasses. Jessica immediately regretted making eye contact and turned her eyes back to the stage. She wondered if this was the type of place where Britney got discovered. And was she ever afraid of singing in front of a bunch of people she didn’t even like? At least there was Robert, although his strange makeup and wild antics masked all his attractive qualities.

Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the two men at the bar get up and start walking over. Crap! What the hell did they want? What would she say? She kept her eyes focused on the stage as she could feel them getting closer. Just then, the band finished up their song and announced that they were going to take a break. Thank God, Jessica thought as she quickly jumped up and approached the stage.

“Hey baby, you made it!” Robert said and he stepped off the stage.

Jessica smiled. He may have looked strange, but he still had those amazing eyes. “I told you I wouldn’t miss it!” she replied. 

“Hey everyone, this is Jess,” Robert announced to the rest of the band. “She’s that young chick that’s going to sing tonight.”

Everyone politely said hi, except for the only girl in the band who walked up to Jessica and eyed her up and down. She was older, late twenties maybe, and muscular, like one of those athletic types. “You sing huh?” she said. “You any good?”

Jessica glanced at Robert, who had walked over to a table next to the stage to pour himself a beer, and then back to her. She was shorter than Jessica, but had that rebel look about her. Jessica straightened up and replied defiantly, “Yes, I am.” 

“Good,” she said. “The last one Robert invited out sucked like shit! She couldn’t even finish a song!”

“Oh, just chill Mandy!” Robert responded as he approached with two beers in his hands. “Don’t listen to her,” he said to Jessica. “Mandy’s a great player, but bitter as hell!” Mandy glared at Robert and then walked away. 

“Don’t worry your pretty little head, Jess. You’ll do fine!” Robert said as he gave her one of the beers. “Here, This’ll mellow you out.” He took a swig from his own and set it down.

Jessica took the beer and sipped it. It was lukewarm and bitter, but she drank it anyway and set it down next to his. “I’ve been practicing all day.” She said as Robert lit up a cigarette. “It’s going to be great!”

“No doubt!” He answered as he grabbed his beer and took another gulp. “So, have you ever been on stage before?”

Jessica took another swallow just to keep up. “Just with choir at school, never in a club like this.”

“It’s quite a rush, man. You’re gonna love it!” He said, exhaling his cigarette. “People hang on your every word like their lives depend on it. Women watch you like you’re a god. Shit. It’s almost better than sex!” Robert said as he flashed his killer smile again.

“Robert!” a voice interrupted. A large man wearing a black T-shirt that barely covered several enormous tattoos approached Robert. He was about 7 feet tall and paunchy. “Is she old enough to be here?” he said as he pointed to Jessica.

“She’s fine Mike, don’t sweat it!” Robert answered in a salesman’s tone.

The large man looked directly at Jessica, “Yeah…I’m going to need to see your ID.” Jessica froze and stared at him, but Robert quickly stepped in between them.

“C’mon Mike,” Robert replied.

“No, Robert,” Mike said. “You know the rules.”

“Look,” Robert answered. “Would I do this if she was under age?” Robert turned around, quickly grabbed Jessica’s by the waist and pulled her close as he suddenly kissed her hard. Jessica was stunned but submitted. It was a heavy, draining kiss. In any other place, it would have been pure heaven, but here, it felt awkward. Jessica closed her eyes and tried to enjoy it as best she could. After all, this was the moment she had dreamed of since she first met him. Robert slowly moved his hands down her back and onto her butt as he pressed his body tighter against hers. All Jessica could think of was what was Mike thinking? What was the band thinking? What was the whole club thinking? 

“Robert!” Mandy yelled, “You can stop now. He left.” Robert finally pulled away and looked around. “Whew, that was close.” He said as he glanced at Jessica.

Jessica stood motionless for a moment as Robert threw his cigarette bud on the floor and turned to grab his beer. All day long, she thought about whether she would get the chance to kiss him. So, was that it? Did that count? She honestly couldn’t say.

“Okay man, it’s time for you to be discovered!” Robert announced as he turned towards her, “Woh, hang on though. We have to do something with this,” he said as he eyed her up and down. “You look too… high school!” Robert added and stepped over to a table to grab a knife. “Mandy, go get your makeup kit. We need to rock out this chick!” Robert continued as he stepped back over to Jessica. “I hope you’re not too fond of this skirt,” he said. Before Jessica could say anything, he took the knife and stabbed a slice into it. He then stuck his fingers in the slit and ripped it all the way around until the majority of the skirt fell onto the floor, leaving only a short miniskirt that barely covered her underwear.

“Whoops!” Robert smiled. “A little too short in back! Oh well, you gotta give ‘em what they want, right?” he added as he winked at Jessica. “Don’t worry Jess, you’ll look awesome when we’re done.” Jessica watched as Robert kicked the remains if her blue skirt under the stage.

Mandy walked up with her makeup bag. “I need you to do something with this” Robert said and he pointed to Jessica’s long straight hair. “And highlight her eyes some more. This is show-biz after all, not a school dance”. Robert lit up another cigarette and walked away to grab another beer.

“Show-biz? In this dump? Yeah, right,” Mandy replied. “He’s such a dick.” She uttered under her breath while she took a pick and hairspray and started fluffing her hair. Jessica attempted to say something but Mandy gave her a big “Shhh!” which promptly announced that she was not the chitchat type. Jessica took the hint and stood silent while Mandy applied eye shadow and other war paint onto her face. After a few minutes, Mandy stepped back to look. “There! You may not sound like a rock star, but at least you’ll look like one” she said as she packed up her stuff and walked away.

Jessica took one last gulp of her beer and walked over by the stage where Robert was standing. Robert turned around and looked her up and down. “Wow! You look hot, baby! You’ll definitely give ‘em a show!” Jessica smiled lightly but didn’t say anything. Robert motioned everyone else to go on stage. “Wait here and come up on stage after I introduce you.”

As the band went up to get ready to play, Jessica walked over to a heavily scarred mirror by the rear of the stage and looked into it. She eyed herself up and down, or rather, eyed that person in the mirror with the big hair, short skirt and strange make-up up and down. She felt different, outside herself, but still remained committed. “I can do this,” she said to herself. “If this is what it takes, I can do it!” On stage, she could hear Robert announcing to the audience that a top recording artist had come all the way from L.A. to sing her new hit song. “Oh yeah,” he added. “And she sings as well as she kisses!” Robert turned and motioned for her to come on stage.

Jessica slowly walked up the stairs, past Mandy and towards the small gray microphone at the front of the stage. There was no applause, only a few whistles over the constant rumble of bar noise. The lights on stage were yellow, red and orange with a single white spotlight shining on top of her. They were bright, but not enough to blind out the sea of strange faces staring at her. She scanned them looking for that one that would be her big break though she knew the chances were slim.

Still, she remained committed. Jessica tugged down what was left of her skirt and turned to Robert, who was staring at her ass. He looked up and grinned and then motioned to the others to start the song. It was a slow ballad with long, drawn-out vowels. As Jessica stared at the microphone, she could feel the alcohol kick in, making her senses swim. She took a slow, deep breath and sang the first note - a pitch in the low range of her voice, the range she didn’t like. But still, there she was, finally singing onstage, staring out at the paintless walls while the bar went about its noisy business.

It wasn’t a particularly good song either. It was really supposed to be sung by a man with a voice lower than Jessica’s. In fact, there was only one good spot towards the end that got into the upper range where Jessica could really show off her voice.

As Jessica reached the first chorus, she could hear the audience getting restless. Had they lost interest in her already? She closed her eyes to concentrate, but that only made her head swim more as the restlessness grew. As she sung an even lower note, she heard a whistle and then what sounded like a laugh. Jessica opened her eyes and glanced down at the audience. As she scanned their foreign faces, she saw someone laughing. Why was he laughing? Did the beer do something to her voice? Was her singing off?

Jessica listened to her voice through the speakers. Sure, it was a little stiff but it sounded all right. Then again, with all the beer she drank and the increasing bar chatter, it was getting hard to tell. Jessica sang on through the second verse as the laughter grew. She kept watching as more and more faces were smirking as if she was an amusement rather than an artist. Then, halfway through the verse, someone yelled, “Oh, just take it off, Baby!” which sparked a burst of laughter. Jessica swiped the frizzy hair from her face and tugged down again on her skirt, but that only fueled their mockery more. “Show it all, honey!” someone else yelled.  “Can I have a kiss too?” came another voice. Jessica clutched the microphone as if trying to hide behind it feeling helpless as more people joined in.

“Shut up and give us some skin!” another voice yelled causing a shriek of laughter through the crowd. By now, the taunting and the yells were so much, Jessica could hardly tell what they were saying any more. They obviously had no interest in hearing her wonderful voice. Still, she tried to ignore them and stiffened her back to sing harder, but it didn’t help. Her voice was no longer audible over the deafening mob.

Jessica turned to Robert to save her, but he was oblivious to the abuse. He was too busy charming some new blond girl in a tight red skirt standing next to the stage. Was she another singer that he had invited out tonight? Jessica stared at him as if calling out his name, but his attention never came. She then glanced at Mandy, knowing full well that she would have that ‘see-I-knew-you-would-suck’ look on her face. Instead, Mandy’s eyes were on Robert, as if wondering what kind of promises he was making now to the new girl. 

Jessica reluctantly turned back to the merciless crowd. She could no longer hear herself sing over the yelling and taunting, but kept on anyway as the sea of faces laughed at her hair, her skirt, her makeup, her soul. Even the two men at the bar were now chanting for her to strip. Jessica’s tones slipped as tears started streaming down her face. She didn’t even like these damn people, why should she even care what they think? She thought to herself as she cried.

Finally the high part came, but by then Jessica had stopped singing. All she could do was stand there behind the small, gray microphone as the laughter and yelling carried on throughout the bar. The song ended, the band stopped, and Jessica just stood there on display under the white spotlight and cried. The crowd celebrated and cheered as it claimed victory. They had won. And she could do nothing but sob helplessly and wonder when it would all end.

As Jessica stood there crying, she suddenly heard something different in the crowd. Something new. It sounded like… like… clapping. No, it couldn’t be. Jessica lifted up her head to listen. Yes, it was most definitely a clapping sound. It was strong and solid and cut through the rest of the noise like a knife. She looked out through her tears into the crowd to see where it was coming from. The crowd also simmered down and turned their heads in curiosity to see who it was. The figure walked forward through the mob as it continued to clap purposely. Jessica squinted her eyes from the bright lights to see who it was. 

“David!” she yelled as he stepped into view and stood there clapping. She had no idea how he knew she was there and for the moment, she just didn’t care. She leaped off the hollow stage, ran up and practically jumped as she hugged him. He was shorter than she was, but his arms were strong and safe as he caught her. Jessica said nothing, but just wrapped her arms around him and cried while the people stood and stared at the spectacle. David said nothing either.. He just stood there and held her tight as if they were the only two people in the place. Soon, the band started playing another tune and the people quickly turned their attention back to the stage. After all, the blond girl with the red shirt was now under the white spotlight getting ready to sing. And she seemed much more willing to give it up than the frizzy haired chick.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, Jessica loosened her grip and leaned back to look at David. “But, how… how did you know?” she asked.

“Are you kidding?” he replied. “You only asked me for directions on how to get here this afternoon. Give me credit for having half a brain!”

“Oh, yeah,” She replied as she looked down and realized that she was still holding onto his hands. She suddenly felt embarrassed for holding him for so long, especially since it was the first time she ever really hugged him. But now, for some reason, she just couldn’t let go.

“So, you wanna get out of here?” David asked.

“Yes please!” Jessica replied as she motioned toward the door.

David hesitated. “Do you have to say goodbye to anyone first?”

Jessica paused with her back to the stage and thought about Robert with his long hair and fake bulge as she listened to the blond girl’s voice barely audible through the crowd. Kristen was right. He was a dick. “No, not at all.” She replied. 

David wrapped his arm around her shoulders and slowly led Jessica towards the door.

“So, about this, uh, new look?” he asked as he brushed the frizzy hair from her face. “Is this the new you?”

Jessica laughed for the first time. “Absolutely not!” she replied as she looked at David. Perhaps it was just the dim lighting, but she never really realized how gorgeous his smile was before.

 “Just promise me one thing, David?” she said

“Sure” he answered as they continued toward the door.

“Promise me our band will never play that song!” she added.

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