Amazing Kids! Magazine

Superstar

By Tabitha Holiday, 12th grade

Tonight was the big night; Tessa Sue Sparks, the famous tween popstar and Hollywood socialite was paying her hometown a visit for a special concert. The civic center parking lot was crammed with cars and news trucks, and a thick line of effervescent middle-school fans snaked outside of the doors, waiting for the grand opening in a few hours. Everyone was there, waiting for the big night… except me.

Instead, my mom drove around the civic center to a deserted parking lot. She dropped me off under an overhang. “Have fun, Amanda!” she called with a wave. I smiled and waved goodbye as I bounced up to the concierge, who was resting his elbows on a smart wooden podium and reading a newspaper. I sauntered up to him, with my purse slung over my shoulder and my hands in my jean pockets. He looked up.

“Hi, can I help you?”

I cleared my throat and nodded. “Uh, yes. I’d like to get in. I’m VIP.”

He eyed my worn tennis shoes and baggy sweatshirt warily. “Name?” he asked, hesitantly.

“Mandy Ross.”

He scanned the list in front of him on the podium for only a second, before looking up and shaking his head dismissively. He obviously was not taking me seriously.

“I’m sorry. We don’t have you on this list.”

I frowned, and then said, “Oh! Right. It might be under Amanda Ross. Mandy is, my, uh, nickname.”

Once again, a quick glance at the list provided another head shaking. “I’m sorry, miss. You’re not on this list. Why don’t you wait up front with the other fans?” he said kindly, gesturing to the other side of the civic center.

“But, how…why…what? I know I’m on there. I’ve got to be! I know Tessa.”

The concierge clearly thought I was joking. “Listen, kiddo, Tessa’s famous. A lot of people know her,” he said with a half-hearted grin. “Tell you what: if you go back and wait in line now, you’ll still get good seats.”

I shook my head. “Please, just let me through. I promise; I really do know her.”

The concierge was ignoring me, now. He turned back to reading his newspaper, while I stood, a little desperate. I sighed. I had never missed one of Tessa’s shows, and I wouldn’t miss this one, tonight. We had been best friends for several years, now, and even though it was awesome to have a best friend as a superstar, my low-key personality didn’t always fit into her superstar life, like during these moments. I whipped out my cell phone and dialed a number, walking a few feet away.

“Hello?” I said into the phone. “It’s me, Mandy. I’m waiting out here. Yes, I know. I know. Sure. Ok. Thanks. Bye.” I snapped the phone shut and the concierge cast a strange glance in my direction before returning to his newspaper.

Only seconds later, a back door opened and a lady in a black suit and perfect hair marched up to me and tapped her clipboard. “Hey, are you Mandy?”

I nodded, casting a glance at the concierge, who was watching us. “Yes,” I said, hesitantly.

“Yeah, great. Come with me.”

And without so much as a second glance, the lady marched back into the building. I smiled at the concierge for only a second, and shrugged, then ran in after the lady, who barely held the door open for me before she led me up several dark staircases until I found myself in a bright room that was somewhat of a mess, with mirrors, hairdryers, makeup, mangled costumes, glitter, and fast food wrappers lying everywhere.

Without a word, the lady led me into the room. Then she briskly turned around and walked off down the hallway, her leather high heels clicking against the floor as she left.

I looked straight ahead. There was Tessa, sitting at a marble countertop with se-veral ladies crowded around her, putting the finishing touches on her as she sat in a chair. A particularly diligent lady was crooning over Tessa’s golden locks of hair with a curling iron, fixing each strand with a master touch and watchful eye. Tessa looked stunning, as always.

Tessa squirmed a little in the seat. “Anna?” she said politely. “Um, I think we’re done with the curling iron, remember? You’ve only done my hair 12 times since this afternoon, right? Really, it’s o.k.,” Tessa said with a pained smile and an enthusiastic nod towards her hairdresser.

“Dahling,” the hairdresser drawled, drawing back the curling iron. “It is never enough until it is perfect. Patience is key! We must reach perfection!”

Tessa sighed and pulled away. “Anna, I think it’s…I mean, wow! It looks great! Why don’t you turn the curling iron off and take a break. I’m on in 20, and really,” she said, backing up. “I don’t need any more time spent on my hair.”

Suddenly, Tessa spotted me. Her weary pout turned into a dazzling grin. She stood up straight and flung her arms in the air.

“Mandy!” she squealed in delight, running up to me and throwing her arms around me in a warm embrace.

I smiled and returned the hug. “Hey, Tessa!”

“What are you doing here?!” she asked, gleefully. “I’m so happy to see you! Nobody ever comes to see me in the makeup room.”

“Well, actually, I wasn’t coming here. The lady just dropped me off here. I wasn’t on the list.”

Tessa pouted for a split second. “What? I’m sorry! How did that happen? Oh, it’s probably our new assistant. Did I tell you about her? No? Well, it’s a long story; it would probably bore you to death. Come have a seat!” she said, flashing me another dazzling grin.

I smiled and shook my head. “No, actually, I was going to get to the auditorium. I didn’t want to…” I started to head for the door, but Tessa grabbed my arm.

“Nonsense!” she cried, dramatically swooping a fluffy ballgown off of a red stool and plopping me down with an “Oaf!” “Stay for a bit. I get bored talking to nobody! Oh, and thanks for stopping by my house on Saturday to practice the dance moves! That was sooo much fun. You’re a great dancer! And I almost forgot; I saved VIP seating for you this time!” she sang triumphantly.

I groaned. “Tessa! Thanks, but you know I hate sitting up front! Why can’t I sit where I usually do?”

Tessa returned to the mirror, where the last minute make-up touches were being applied. “Oh, you mean, at the back in the middle of nowhere? Where you sit every single time? No way, missy. You are sitting in the front ROW. So I can see you!”

She laughed as I groaned again, but this time I had a smile. “Tessa, you’re such a goofball.”

“Of course,” she replied, shooting me a dramatic glare. “That’s why we’re such good friends.”

I rolled my eyes, and we were both laughing. “Well, ok. Time for me to run. And I will see you on the front row, now won’t I?” Tessa said.

“Yeah,” I sighed, but smiled. “I guess, if I really have to be. But I hope nobody notices!”

Tessa shot me a dazzling smile and her blue eyes twinkled. “Be there!” she said with a wink, before flying out of the dressing room and leaving me behind.

When the lights went on and the concert started, the roar of the fans was deafening and I had a pretty good view of the stage, sitting in the front row. Since everything was dark except for the stage, nobody could see me, but I could certainly tell I had been seated with VIPs that were serious people.

After the first song, there was a lull where Tessa greeted the people. I never expected what came next. After Tessa had listed off all the people she was thankful for, like she usually did, she made a grand sweep with her arm to the front row, and the spotlight followed her gesture. She flashed another one of her dazzling grins.

“But of course, I am most thankful to my friends and family sitting there in the front rows, for supporting me. You guys rock!”

The spotlight was right on top of me; there was nowhere to hide. Of course, the crowd went wild again, but inside me, my stomach was churning. I suddenly felt every eye in the building on me. Maybe I was over-exaggerating, but why did Tessa have to say that?!

When intermission rolled around, though, I found out that I wasn’t over-exaggerating. As the house lights went on and Tessa was backstage, preparing for the second half of the concert, I was flooded from every side with friends from my school, and even some people I didn’t know!

“Mandy!” shouted one girl. I knew she went to my school, but I didn’t even know her name. “I didn’t know you were friends with Tessa Sue Sparks! That’s, like, totally amazing! I bet you could get her latest CD autographed for me, right? Or get her to come to my birthday party? You’re invited to my birthday party, by the way. It’s this Saturday! So, can you come? Can Tessa be there?”

Overwhelmed, I just pushed past her and mumbled, “Uh, I don’t know.” As soon as I got past her, several other kids had come up to me, pressing with questions, including Rhonda, lead cheerleader and socialite of our entire middle school. She never had talked to me, before, but now it seemed like a matter of life and death.

“Marrryyy!” She crowed, pushing past the others and practically falling on top of me. “Hey, girlfriend! How’s it been?”

I cleared my throat and stood stock still. “Um, my name is Mandy,” I squeaked.

“Ok, whatever. Well, we’ve got to meet up sometime!” she said with a dismissive wave. “I mean, you being so…popular and all, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind hanging out with my friends and I next week? Some guys and us are hitting the beach; what do you think?”

I gulped. “Nah, I mean, thanks, but I mean, well, I have to think about it.”

I sprinted past her to make a quick exit, but found myself with my back against a door that read “No Admittance” when Adam cornered me. Adam was certainly never interested in me, before, but now he had to speak with me.

“Hey! What was your name again?” he said as he ran up to me. “You know, you look great, today. I always admired, uh, your personality. Yeah, and so, I think you’re one of the best kids in our school. Always, um, being so great and all. So yeah, how about us exchanging phone numbers…”

I shook my head. My mouth had gone dry, and my head was spinning. That was the last thing I heard as I turned around, punched in a code into the door, then slipped behind it into the dark hallway and it shut behind me. I was breathing hard. I had to get out of here. I clutched my purse and ran away, as fast as I could, to the nearest exit, but it was locked. I turned and ran up a flight of stairs, and down several other empty hallways, before I turned back into the familiar dressing room hallway. The Exit door was at the end of the hallway. Freedom!

Suddenly, I heard Tessa, singing a song, at the end of the hallway. She was coming my way! I jumped into a crowded closet and closed the door a bit, waiting for her to pass, but as I did, I knocked a costume down from the top shelf, and the clatter caught Tessa’s attention.

“Hello?” I heard her say from the end of the hallway. “Who’s there?”

Her footsteps were coming closer. There was only one last option. I slung the costume over my clothes and pulled the glittery mask over my eyes. It was a dance team costume, and it would at least disguise me for a little.

Suddenly, the door opened a crack, and Tessa was staring at me, the mask and the costume in the dark.

She looked at me. “Sarah? Or are you Liz? Well, never mind. Aren’t you supposed to be getting ready with the rest of the team backstage?”

I stood stock-still and shook my head yes. My heart was pounding hard.

“Then…why are you hiding in a closet?” she said, squinting.

“No reason,” I said, shrugging and backing up further.

Tessa’s whole face changed, and that’s when I realized that when I had spoken, I had made a fatal error. She recognized my voice.

“Mandy?” Tessa said, glaring in awe. I slowly lifted the mask. Busted.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, confused. Then she looked down and saw my purse on one shoulder and the VIP ticket in another. “Are you…leaving?” she asked softly.

I stepped out of the closet with my eyes down. “Yes. I mean, no.” I shook my head and looked up to see Tessa, with a mournful expression. “I mean, I have to go.”

I turned and took a few steps away, but Tessa was hot on my heels. “Wait! Where are you going?” I didn’t turn back, but she kept following me. “Wait…” she suddenly said. “Is this about people knowing you’re my friend? About what I said at the beginning of the concert? You don’t want people to know…that you know me?” Tessa truly sounded broken-hearted, so I heaved a sigh and came to dead halt in the middle of the hallway, spinning on my heel to face Tessa.

“Ok, look,” I said. Tessa’s unblinking green eyes were wide with anticipation. “You live, like, a superstar life, ok?” I said, frustrated. “I do…not live a superstar life.” Tessa flinched. “A-and that’s ok,” I rushed on, “But I think it just makes this different, I mean, difficult, well…I don’t know.” I hung my head, defeated.

“It’s just, sometimes it’s hard to figure how this all works out. I mean, I’m not embarrassed to be your friend,” I said. “I like being your friend. But we sort of live two different lives, and…and,” I gulped. “People won’t treat me the same if they know I’m friends with you. I don’t want to be a superstar, Tessa. I’ll probably never be one. So it’s hard to explain to you, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”

“Yeah,” Tessa said. “I see what you’re saying.” She hung her head and there was an uncomfortable silence. “But if you’re not embarrassed, why are you afraid of being seen with me?”

“Tessa, I didn’t mean that,” I said with a sigh. “I just meant that I don’t want people thinking that I’m a superstar, because I’m not.”

Tessa looked up, suddenly. “Ok, so who has the best dance moves in the entire state? And who was there for me when I had to study for my Math test on Friday and I got an A+?”

“Well…” I mumbled, but Tessa continued, with a bright smile crossing her face.

“And who was there for me before the show to cheer me up? Who took care of my puppy when I had to tour Russia last year? Hmm? Who? Who’s never missed a single show when I’m in town and is my best friend?”

By now I was grinning. “Me, I guess,” I said sheepishly.

“Well!” Tessa declared. “Then you are a superstar. To me you’re a superstar. A superstar friend!”

I blushed and bit my lip. “Thanks,” I said.

“Hey,” Tessa suddenly said. “That costume looks great on you. Why don’t you come with me, Miss Superstar, and show them what you’re made of?”

I nodded and grinned. “Ok.”

And we marched off, arm in arm, back to the stage.