If love is as easy as ABC, then the alphabet is goddamn difficult.
The paparazzi is figuring things out. It's all running head-on at me, crashing into us too soon. I can't even write anything any more; when I pick up that guitar, I can't even hear myself playing. The notes are all dead and the chords have gone mute. Cameras flash all the time. People know.
I sigh heavily, bracing myself for the difficult questions that are about to be asked. The security guards beside me thank my taxi driver, because I've forgotten to myself, and that scares me for one splitting moment before I try pulling myself back together. The strings inside me are frayed, but I can tie knots with the little I have left.
The guards guide me into the venue through a back door that seems invisible until they open it. Inside, the air is cold and bitter. I tug my sleeves down around my wrists and try to stop my teeth from chattering.
"Miss Taylor, your dressing room is down this way," one guard announces. He leads me down another cold corridor. I stare at my shoes and follow behind him until he sends me off into my dressing room, my first outfit lying on a chair beside a tiny heater pumping its heart out into the room. Shivering, I thank the man and close the door for just one moment. I am here. Tonight I am playing again.
I sit by the heater and close my eyes. It hurts less that way.
When I open them again, the light is harsh and I'm squinting to see at all. My vision is blurred. When I look up to the light bulb glaring down at me, it forms stars and waves and shapes that change every time I change the angle. My tears make patterns on the ceiling with the light. For you who can't see that beauty, it's hard to describe, but my sorrow creates magic in that lonely little room. Silhouettes and stars on the ceiling for a man that's no longer mine.
At some point, I manage to get up off the floor and dry my eyes. My make-up is all smudged. I dig around in my purse until I find a few wipes, and get the muck off my face. It never works to let anybody else see. After all, thousands more people are going to be waiting here for me tonight.
The show must go on.
"The nominees!" Mom shakes me awake from an uncreated space between consciousness and unconsciousness. I yawn and heave myself up off the couch as the tour bus rumbles underneath me, raising my eyebrows at her.
"What nominees?" I mutter groggily, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. Mum laughs lightly and helps me to stand up properly as she shows me her iPad, the brand-new America's Star Music Awards website splattered across the screen. The awards are on the twentieth of September, three months away, but I suppose they need a long time for the fans to vote.
"Oh. Those nominees. So?"
"Look at the nominees for Best Duet!" squeals Mum, and I raise my eyebrows in confusion as I scan the names.
"P!NK and Nate Ruess- Just Give Me A Reason," I read out. "Emelí Sandè and Labrinth- Beneath You're Beautiful. Rihanna and Mikky Ekko- Stay. Kimbra and Gotye- Somebody I Used To Know, and Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran... Everything Has... Everything Has Changed..." I gawp in shock, absolutely bewildered to discover I'm up for Best Duet with Ed.
"Holy crap!" I scream, and Mum laughs cheerfully as we spring up and down with excitement. I already have plenty of awards, but I've never been nominated for Best Duet. This is absolutely incredible.
"This is fantastic!" I shout, leaping around in overwhelming happiness. "Ed will be so excited!"
And then I realize. My arms fall limply to my sides, and I feel my huge smile droop into a miserably sad face. Mum freezes too, and then she wraps her arms around me, her lips pressed into my hair. I shake with tears as everything seems to crumble around me, and she simply stays there rocking me side to side, knowing this is a mother's job.
"I... I c-can't go w-w-with Ed. And wh-what if we w-w-win? I'll have to d-d-d-do a speech with him. No! I h-h-hate him!"
"You have to be friends again sometime."
"I raised you to be a good person and you need to befriend Ed again. Put the past behind you."
"I hate him," I snap. "I hate him with a passion!"
"Taylor?" This voice is different to Mum's; it's curious, tender and strictly British. I lift my head off Mum's chest- my tears have splashed across her shirt like paint- and turn to Ed, my expression seeping with hate.
"Get out," I growl. I try to be nice with everyone but there's no point with Ed.
"Sorry, Taylor. I just wanted to ask if you'd seen the nominees for Billboard?" His face is unsurprisingly excited even though we both no we have no chance of winning against Kimbra and Gotye's smash hit. That song's ripped up the charts for the past three years.
"I've seen them," I reply icily.
"Are you excited?" He asks, puzzled.
"Of course I am! But I don't want to do a speech with you."
"I know, Taylor, I'm sorry. I wish we could still be friends, even though I hurt you so much."
I only realize Mum has slipped away when Ed clicks the door shut behind him and I discover her warm touch is gone.
"You cheated on me. Go away!" I nearly yell, anger tainting my voice. He sighs heavily.
"It was a mistake. If you'll listen, Taylor..."
"You have to!"
He sighs again and his arms curl around me, edging me backwards until he's got me cornered. I glare at him as everything I see glows red with my fury.
"Listen. Please." His lips are inches from mine, his breathing raspy and warm on my neck. I scowl at him and fold my arms in frustration, knowing he's got me trapped. We're the same height now I'm not wearing heels and I can't duck under his arms because on one side there's a bench and on the other there's a wall.
"You know how dark it was at that party, Taylor, and you'd just gone to the restroom... I saw Nina's blonde hair and immediately expected it to be you. I kissed her, but then a light flashed on and I realized. You have no idea how horribly I am haunted by that mistake. And I want you back every single second of the day. But I don't think you need to take me back, because I don't deserve you. Even if it's all mistakes, I only seem to hurt you, and I'm sorry for that."
I stare at him for a long moment, a moment that seems to last a year, and gaze into his sapphire eyes as I think it over. Our eyes lock as we both breathe heavily, the tension aching in our bones.
I know I believe him.
"Really?" I whisper.
"Yes," he promises, and I place my hands on his chest, shoving him backwards with all my force.
"You didn't even tell me!" I pretend to be mad but a loud giggle bubbles up inside of me and fizzes out. Ed chuckles heartily, collapsing on my bed, and I leap on top, holding myself up off him with my arms. My face is inches from his.
"You should have just explained," I whisper.
"Now I have."
"Are we back together?" I murmur hopefully, feeling his breath tickle my skin.
"Thank God. I missed you so freaking much," I confess, shutting my eyes and swimming in the bliss.
"I felt the exact same way," admits Ed. "I'm so sorry."
"It's okay," I reply gently as he leans upwards, leaving our lips millimetres apart. "You're back now."
I would just like to point out that I hate myself for getting them back together so quickly. Yeah. -Danica xoxo