Aria Tomey suffers from major stage fright. The thought of being in front of a crowd makes her stomach turn in ways she didn't know was possible. As a gag, Aria’s older sister, Esme, signs her up to sing in their towns’ annual talent competition. Esme is always tormenting Aria every chance she gets, and unfortunately, Aria can’t get out of this one. Can Aria overcome her worst fear and prove to her sister that she is worthy? Or will she buckle under the pressure and remain hidden under her sister’s shadow?
Categories: Original Fiction Characters:
1. Chapter 1 by Babyg
Sixteen year old, Aria Tomay, waited nervously backstage at Glendale’s annual Talent Competition. Her being there felt like a joke to her. Her older sister, Esme, signed her up as a gag because she knew how bad Aria’s stage fright could get. In eighth grade, Esme had to go up on stage during Aria’s speech for class secretary because she was backstage with her head in a trash bin. Aria felt like she didn't have any respect. There was no competition between her and Esme. Esme always got what she wanted, and Aria didn't stand a chance against her. Esme got all the attention from the guys no less, wore the revealing “look at me” clothes and her hair and makeup was always perfect. Aria on the other hand, basically slept in her jeans and t-shirts. She hardly wore any makeup, and she considered herself a tomboy.
“Naturally,” Esme would say every morning at breakfast when Aria came down to the join the family at the table. “Why don’t you put some lip gloss on and then maybe you’ll look a little polished.”
“How about you lend me yours?” Aria would ask. Esme would snort, stand up, and take a bite out of her apple.
“Not a chance, Plain Jane,”
It was always the same thing every day. Aria never thought she could measure up to her sister. Even though she wore a beautiful satin very Valentino gown for the night’s talent competition, she surely did not want to be there.
Aria jerked from her position and shot straight up when the announcer called out the next performer.
“…Jonah Wallace up next!” Aria took a deep breath and sunk back into her seat. Esme came bounding in, her curly hair swaying behind her. She stood in front of Aria with a small grim smile. Aria stole a quick glance at Esme.
“What do you want?”
Esme frowned and rolled her eyes up, as she quickly crossed her arms and leaned on her right foot.
“I forgot…” she cupped her chin and tapped her foot annoyingly on the floor. “Oh yeah, break a leg little sister,” Esme stopped as she began to leave the backstage area. She turned back to Aria.
“Or two,” Esme turns on her heal and leaves backstage in a fit of giggles. Aria sighs and drops her head in the palm of her hand.
The announcer calls out Aria’s name to be up in five. Aria felt the panic start to set in. Her mouth started to water and her stomach twisted with knots. Some contestants came and gone in front of her. Others may have noticed her fear and discomfort, because they would cast glances her way, but no one came to comfort her or keep her company. Aria was not in the least surprised. Aria knew this place was not for her and she resented Esme even more for humiliating her.
Aria stood up from the bench and in a dizzy blur headed toward the exit, on the East side of the auditorium, just as Marilyn Tomey entered the backstage area. Marilyn stopped Aria just before she was about to make the getaway.
“Aria, baby, where are you going,” Marilyn turned her around and frowned. Aria sniffled, placing her hand over her eyes so she could avoid looking at her. Marilyn took her hand away from Aria’s face. When Marilyn saw that she was crying, she marched her over to a chair in the corner, next to the costumes for the town’s annual Christmas play.
“What happened?” She asked her, smoothing out her long hair.
“I don’t want to talk about it, mom,” Aria told her, burying her face in her hands. Marilyn looked at her watch, sparkling in the light from the diamond band.
“You’re up next,”
“I’m not going out there. I can’t,”
Marilyn sighed, making circler motions with her hand on Aria’s back. “Honey, Esme told me how—“Aria cut her off by jerking away from her and standing up, wiping her wet face and turning toward her.
“What, mom? What lies did Esme tell you?”
Marilyn placed her hand on her chest and gave Aria a surprising look, “Lies?”
“Yes, lies. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't know. Esme is always trying to look like she’s the innocent one. She’s always giving you the sweet voice, with the sweet smile, sucking up to you like a little bitch—“
“Hey, now that is enough, Aria.” Marilyn gritted through her teeth. She stood up and gave a smile to the people that stopped to see what was happening. Marilyn took Aria by the arm and led her through the exit door. Aria pulled her arm away as the door slammed behind them.
“I never wanted to do this. Esme signed me up for this show because she wanted to humiliate me. She knows how I feel about crowds. She’s nice to me when you’re around, but mom, she abuses the hell out of me and takes joy in doing it…behind your back.” Aria spilled out. Marilyn opened her mouth to speak, but decided against it. She sighed and stood there, awkwardly in front of her daughter, not knowing what to say.
“I—I don’t know what to say, Aria. I know you would not make up lies about your sister like that, and apparently, you are very upset.” Aria huffed and turned away from her.
“…and I’m sorry,” Marilyn continued, “I should have realized. It is my job to pay attention to both of you girls and I have failed at that. You never gave me any indication that she might be hurting you,”
“Mom, it didn't bother me before,” Aria said, “But it is today. Seeing me hurting gives her power mom. If I overcome all the obstacles…then she will look like the weak one, as if she wasn't as powerful as she thought, and then it will be worse for me. She will probably do something ten times worse—“
Marilyn reaches forward and grabs both of Aria’s arms, pulling her closer. “Giving up, Aria is probably what Esme wants….”
Back inside, Romey Daniels, steps out into the stage, shielding the bright spotlight with his hand as he reaches for the microphone in order to introduce the next contestant. In the audience, Esme Tomey, held her hands together, a smile spread from one side to the other, and the mischief in her eyes grew bigger with each passing moment.
“Everyone, give a big round of applause for Mr. Jonah Wallace!” The crowd cheered, some whistled, and a few shrugged, not caring about Jonah’s performance. “Now, ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for our next contestant, sixteen – year – old miss Aria Tomey!”
The crowd cheered in anticipation to see what Aria Tomey brought to the table. A few seconds pass and Aria is still not out on the stage. Romey shifted nervously. He turns toward the crowd and forces a smile.
“Miss Aria Tomey!” Romey announced once again. Some people from the crowd started clapping again and others began to notice that Aria was a no show and one of those people just happened to be Esme. She looked around with a smug smile and took pleasure in the confusion from the audience.
“Well, I guess we’ll move on to the last contestant…”
Esme stretched back in her seat, happy that she gained another victory. She knew Aria would chicken out and cry all the way home. Esme loves having power over her.
“So, what happened to Aria, I thought you signed her up.” Dylan King, Esme’s classmate and crush said to her. Esme laughed aloud, throwing her hair over her shoulder.
“The wimp probably chickened out just like I knew she would,”
Dylan frowned. “Then, why did you sign her up?”
“Because it is funny! I love seeing the look on her face when she chokes.”
“Esme…that’s a terrible thing to do, she’s your little sister.”
Esme stares at Dylan for a brief moment before shrugging, “Yeah? What’s your point?”
She pulls a video camera out of her bag and turns it on. Dylan narrows his eyes at the camera, then back up at Esme.
“What is that?”
Esme cheeses and lifts the camera, “Blackmail. I am planning to show this video to the whole school at the pep rally on Friday. I can’t wait to see her face during that.”
“Are you out of your mind?” Dylan rips the camera out of Esme’s hands. “She is your sister, what the hell is wrong with you? You are such a bitch,”
“I can’t believe you said that to me,” Esme pouted, clutching her chest.
“Oh, lay off it, Esme,” Esme looked behind her and shot a look at Millie Buchanan, Aria’s close friend. “You are just jealous, because you’re afraid that Aria might overpower you.”
Esme snorted and rolled her eyes. “Oh, yeah right, like that will ever happen.”
“That’s why you signed her up in the first place, because you know she’s a great singer. However, since Aria has such terrible stage fright, she wouldn't be able to get up on stage, and perform to the best of her ability and win everybody over. You just could not handle that, Esme.” Millie sneered at Esme’s glaring eye, “All Aria needs to do is prove you wrong, and being her best friend and all, I really wish she would. Then, who would be laughing then?”
Esme continued to glare and make snarky comments toward Millie, while Dylan was backstage searching frantically for Aria. He asked everyone backstage if anyone had seen her. No one could give him a ‘yes’ answer. He searched every corner of the room, knocked on dressing rooms and the bathrooms, having only minutes to spare until the last contestant finished performing. Dylan needed Aria to perform. He thought it was time for Aria to matter.
Outside, the sun is now setting and Aria and Marilyn are sitting on a bench outside the door. Aria bent over, her eyes on the ground, while Marilyn has her arm around Aria’s shoulders, while whispering words in her ear. They look up as the side door swings open and a cute, tall, and slightly built young man steps out.
“Dylan,” He pulls Aria up from the bench and bends down her level.
“You missed your cue,” He says. Aria grimaced and shook her head, stepping closer to him.
“I know. I’m sorry, Dylan. I just cannot do it. I am too scared,”
“The last contestant is performing right now as we speak. You still have time to redeem yourself.”
“Aria, if you don’t, then Esme wins. Is that what you want? To keep letting her torment you until you can’t breathe?” Dylan takes her hands as tears begin to swell up in her eyes.
“Of course not,”
“Aria, this is your one chance. Your one shot to prove to her that you are not weak. Esme does this to you because she can. You cannot let her have that kind of power over you.” Dylan leans down and cups her face, “Her worst fear is you overpowering her. Now, you go out there and show her and everyone out there what you are made of.”
“But I am not good in front of crowds. I just—“
“Forget the crowd, Aria. Just pretend—pretend that the crowd does not exist. Just close your eyes and picture you and the stage…no one around…no one watching. It is just you and the music.”
Aria closed her eyes, releasing the tears that threatened to spill over. Dylan traced her jawline with his thumb and gently lifted her head back up.
“Millie said you are a great singer,” Dylan said.
“She’s the very best. I've never heard such a beautiful voice before,” Marilyn beamed from beside them.
Dylan smiled and took one more step closer to Aria, until the tip of his nose brushed up against hers.
“I want you to show me,” Aria smiled through her tears and looked into his eyes. “So?”
Aria took a deep breath. “Okay. I’ll do it,”
It was a race against time. Dylan dragged Aria back into the auditorium just as Romey began to announce the third place winner. Romey put the microphone down and made his way backstage.
“Is it too late for Aria to have her chance?” Dylan asked him. Romey looked at Aria, his eyebrows raised and a little smile on his face.
“Of course not,” Romey steps toward Aria. “Are you ready, Miss Tomey?”
Aria nods, “Yes, sir.”
“Alright, I will announce you.” Romey quickly heads back out onto the stage.
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention. I am pleased to announce that Miss Aria Tomey will indeed be singing for you all tonight. So, let’s give her a round of applause!” The crowd applauded as Aria walked slowly out onto the stage area. The spotlight was blinding and she reached out in front of her to find the microphone. The audience died down their applause and silence fell throughout the room. The only thing Aria could hear was her heart pounding in her chest and the screeching of the microphone. Aria looked down at the crowd and immediately felt dizzy. She squeezed her eyes shut and rested her head against the tip of the microphone. It is just you and the music. Aria heard Dylan’s voice in her head. She looked up and stared ahead, not daring to look back down. She looked out and she began to see empty seats, no lights blaring down on her and no fears or worries. Aria licked her lips and closed her eyes once again.
Then, she began to sing. Aria was not singing any particular song, which was her plan. She just sang hymn after hymn, melody after melody. She poured all of her emotion she felt that day out into the air. Aria felt like she was floating high above the sky, with white fluffy clouds swirling around, and butterflies flapping along beside her. Her voice went low and then high, pulling out every note that was never achieved before.
As Aria sang, Esme slipped out of her seat and headed toward the double doors of the auditorium where Marilyn stood waiting for her. Once Aria wrapped up her melody, the crowd was on their feet, cheering and whistling. While Esme stared at her little sister who got all the praise, Marilyn shouted angry words into her ear. Esme’s face fell and then softened, with a real smile crawling out from deep inside its hideout.
For the first time in her whole life, a feeling came over Esme that she never felt before; she was happy Aria overpowered her.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.