Charlie Owens

The story of three talented artists who stumble upon fame and find much more than they bargained for. Is there anyone can they trust? Is this life worth the price they'll have to pay?
*Work in progress - I have revamped the story, and until I get cherrywrite to revamp her section, page two does not match the other pages. Sorry for any confusion*

I would take a deep breath, you know, to calm my nerves, but I literally can't breathe. Structured undergarments - that's what my stylist, Anya, calls it. I call it torture. I'm fairly certain it is harmful to your internal organs to shrink-wrap your body this tight. I would only wish this on my worst enemy, and only if she did something really bad.

A cool draft tickles the back of my neck as I sit in the rear seat of the limousine. Unsightly goosebumps appear on my arms, my over-exposed chest, and my legs. I stick my frozen hands - which are also slick with nervous sweat - under my thighs to warm them, but it doesn't really help. At least the cold and the torture harness distract me from how nervous I am.

The limo driver glances up at me in his rearview mirror, concerned. "You okay, Charlie?" he asks. I force a smile and nod at him. I don't even question that he knows my name. It used to be that even after I introduced myself, people would still forget my name. Not anymore. Nobody even pronounces it wrong. 

I've done a few red carpets before. A few as in three. You would think it would be easy to get used to - it's just smiling and posing, right? Well it's a little more complicated than that. And knowing what I know puts even more pressure on me than you might realize.

The limo comes to a gentle stop that sends my squashed stomach into some kind of fluttering twirling dance. My pulse starts to race even faster, if that is possible. I tug at my dress, praying it won't fall off, but it's screwed on pretty tight. The door opens, unveiling a world of glitter, sparkles, bright lights, shouting, smiling, twirling - my mission is to float gracefully down that crimson river without making a fool of myself. 

I flip on a patronizing smile, revealing just the right amount of carefully bleached teeth, while managing not to get lip-liner, lipstick, or lip gloss on them. I slide one jewel-encrusted foot out, then the other. No matter how graceful you are, you just can't look good while climbing out of a low car. I should look into getting a Hummer limo or something. 

Now I'm out of the car. I feel like taking a bow for accomplishing such a feat, but I haven't even begun. My eyes adjust to the constant strobe light effect from the flashing camera bulbs. I smooth my dress, making sure it hasn't fallen to pieces like it does in my nightmares, then check my smile once more. There are stars ahead of me, floating down the red carpet, smiling gracefully, posing, more smiling. They don't take any notice of me.

But the reporters do. 

Suddenly a hundred people are shouting my name. They are all asking me questions, and I try not to look stupid, but I can't hear a single one. I'm feeling a bit dizzy - not good when you're in heels. I consider running back to my limo, which has slowly begun to drive away. I could still catch it (I've been practicing running in heels) if I wanted to. I force the thought from my mind and turn up my smile a notch. As if on cue, Tracie Simpson, host of some entertainment TV program, rushes up to me, a wicked smile on her shiny lips. It's like she knows I'm about to have a major brain malfunction any minute now. 

"Charlie!" She exclaims, rushing over to me and shoving her microphone in my face. 

Big smile. Speak. "Hi Tracie!" I manage to blurt, looking at her rather than the camera. 

"Charlie Owens," she repeats, nearly winking at the camera, "you look fabulous!" She eyes my dress and almost knocks my nose in with the microphone.

"Thanks," I say, graciously, "you look great, too!" 

She laughs and poses, strutting her fitted blue gown. "Thank you, my dear, but enough about me, what about you? Everyone is dying to know how you like being a star!" Her enthusiasm leaves a vomit-like taste in my mouth.

"Is that what I am?" I play dumb, always a safer bet. "I thought I was just invited to make everyone else look better."

"Isn't she cute?!" Tracie squeals into the mic. "Tell me, how did all this happen, I mean, one minute you were a normal citizen and now you're being interviewed on the red carpet. What happened in between? Did we miss a few steps or-"

I laugh, all the while trying to come up with an appropriate answer. I've studied it a million times, but just like always, I read the first test question and my brain short-circuits. I blame it on the corset. My brain shuffles through memories - real and fictional, they swirl together. Like a CD that is skipping over and over, I'm stuck on the real story of how I ended up here. My name was not always Charlie Owens, and I never wanted to be a famous actress. I was a normal girl, worrying about homework and annoying parents and my first kiss...

The End

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