|The Taylight Zone - Anthology Seven
16 - It Was Nothing - Deanna
It was nothing.
Just a little headache. Taylor shrugged it off. Raising his hand and shaking his head, he apologized.
"Sorry about that, guys. I just kinda zoned out there for a minute."
Zac and Isaac both shot him weird glances, then furtively looked at each other. For the past few weeks, Taylor had been doing this more and more. They would be in the middle of something, and he would just completely tune it out. Just lapse into, as Avie put it, La-la land.
All three just chose to ignore it, as they had done in the past. Hopefully, if they just ignored Tay's little "episodes" maybe they would stop. Or just fade away into nothing. Because that's what they were, right? Nothing...
This is so pathetic, even for you, Taylor thought to himself. He was padding around the hotel bathroom barefoot, looking for some aspirin.
"Don't the headache gods have any mercy?" he whispered to his reflection in the mirror. His hear hung stringy around his face, its lightness only making the bags under his eyes appear darker. Be glad that Sally isn't here, he told himself. Just imagining what would happen if his stylist could see him in this state cause him to crack a smile and laugh softly. But this just reminded him of mission; a sharp pain stabbed its way into his forehead, above his right eye. Massaging his temple, he resumed his search.
"Damnit," he muttered under his breath, tossing a tube of Crest back into the medicine cabinet. "Where the hell do they keep the aspirin?"
Looking up, Taylor eyed the bathtub. That could be just what he needed.
Drawing the water, he undressed and stepped in. Sinking down into the water, he sighed. Taking a deep breath, he submerged himself, and took inventory. The rest of him felt better, but his head still throbbed. I'll bet it was that screechy Kathy Lee. Can't she keep her freaky voice in her own throat once in a while and stop polluting the air? he bitterly thought. I don't know what I'll do if they make me do that damn show again...
So, make sure that they don't.
Taylor sat up abruptly. What was that? He looked around the room; it was empty, save himself. Taylor, you are losing way too much sleep, buddy. Shaking his head, he sank back into the water.
All you have to do is not come up. No air. Ten minutes tops, then you won't have to worry about it anymore.
That was enough. Taylor stepped out of the tub, dried off, and got dressed. Blaming what he was hearing on lack of sleep, stress, and anything else that came to mind, he tiptoed into his room. He crawled under the covers, and waited. When some time went past and he didn't hear the "voice," he began to relax.
Oh, you wimp. Are you really as girly as they say you are?
He tried to ignore it. Block the voice out. Come on, Taylor, just forget it. You're dreaming or something. Just ignore it. Ignore it. Ignore it...
Ha ha. That's pretty funny Taylor. Tell me, how you gonna ignore me? I'm inside you're head.
The voice screeched an ungodly sound inside of Taylor's head.
That's it. I really have gone off the deep end. Shit, shit, shit. This is straight from one of those sci-fi books Ike's always reading. This is not happening.
Taylor stood up and began pacing. The voice kept chattering in his head, telling him what a pansy he was. Belittling him, telling him what a girl he was. He couldn't even take control of his own life.
How about all those times when you're too tired to perform? Huh? What about then? How about when they make you get out there and sing while you're still half-asleep? Well? Or when you're forced to be nice to those bitchy interviewers? Like, ahem, Kathy Lee, maybe. Don't you want to take control?
It was getting tough to ignore the voice now. It kind of had a point
Hell, it's your life! Take some control. Shock the shit out of all of them.
"Taylor!" Diana poked her head into his room and shouted at her son. "Get up! We have to go soon!"
Grumbling, Taylor dragged himself out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom. Spotting the tub full of water from last night, the events of the previous evening flooded his mind. I thought that was a dream...
Then, a little something in the back of his mind.
There's no way you're passing me off as a dream, buddy-boy. You won't get rid of me that easily. I'm here to help you, whether you realize it or not.
"Hey, Mom? Do we have any aspirin?"
The shrieks and excited giggles could be heard all the way down the hall.
"Oy vey," Taylor muttered under his breath. "We have to deal with them?"
Only if you want to.
Zac elbowed him. "What, you taking slang lessons from Fran Drescher?"
Shooting him an icy glare, Taylor retorted, "At least I don't-"
At that moment, Sally bustled up behind them, cutting Taylor off.
"Now boys, don't forget to be nice, nice, nice," she reminded them in her annoying, bubbly voice.
Right, you can say that; you aren't the one heading into the snake pit.
Sally picked at their clothes, made last minute adjustments to their hair, and then pushed them into a small room, filled with over-hyped teenage girls.
The minute they entered the room, the girls went nuts. "OHMYGOD"s and "IT'S THEM"s filled the room. All three boys visibly cringed. Isaac and Zac immediately recovered, and then began greeting the girls, shaking hands, and giving autographs. Taylor had a tougher time dealing with it. His head was throbbing, the hormone driven girls were chirping in his ears, and-
So DON'T deal with them. Duh. Isn't that what I've been telling you?
Taylor shook his head. This damn voice was driving him up a wall. It didn't even occur to him to ask someone about it. It somehow didn't seem as weird anymore. Just like the annoying tick-tock of a clock. It bugs you, but you just take it for granted and accept the aggravation.
He was startled out of his reverie by a touch on his shoulder and a whisper in his ear.
"Is everything okay?"
Taylor raised his eyes, and found himself looking at a girl, about sixteen, maybe seventeen, years old. When he didn't say anything, she repeated herself.
"Is everything okay?"
As pretty as she was, her voice felt like sandpaper on his eardrums.
"Cause if you're not okay, I think I could fix things." This time, Taylor spoke aloud.
"Um, no. I'm all right. It's, ah, it's nothing."
She tucked a loose strand of red hair behind her ear, and then placed that hand back on Taylor's shoulder. Slightly squeezing her hand, she leaned forward and whispered in his ear.
"My name's Victoria."
Look at the little slut go at it.
She was really starting to make Taylor uncomfortable.
"Hi. Ah, pleased to meet you. Yeah, uh, my name's Taylor."
"Well, I know that much, silly. But," her arm reached around Taylor's neck and she started playing with his earlobe, while her free hand lightly rubbed his knee, "I thought maybe we could get to know each other on a more," she lightly brushed her lips across his cheek, "intimate basis."
Don't do it. You won't be in control. You do want to be in control, don't you?
That was enough. Yeah, the girl was gorgeous, but he barely knew her. Taylor hurriedly stood up.
"I uh, gotta go. Yeah, like, right now," he stammered.
Zac and Isaac looked at him like he was crazy. Their eyes seemed to ask, "What are you, nuts?"
Taylor shook his head. I don't know. I just don't know anymore. Maybe I am. Maybe I really am.
Once again in the hotel bathroom, Taylor sat on the edge of the bathtub, elbows on his knees and head in his hands. His parents had just given him the lecture of a lifetime on his behavior.
I can't believe it. That girl was all over me, so I left, and I'm the one who catches hell. This royally sucks. Where do they get off punishing me? And they told me that I just need to get over it. Like it was my fault! Saying that what that girl did was nothing. That it didn't matter, I should just get over it. That's like saying that the way I feel doesn't matter! As if I'm just to be disregarded. I'm nothing. I mean nothing. I can't stand this.
I couldn't agree more.
Yeah, and tell me, oh mysterious voice, what good that does me.
Finally! Superstar decides to listen to me! I've been telling you all along that you DON'T have to deal with all those dick heads out there.
Look up on the counter. See that?
Taylor went over to the sink. He picked up a razor.
So what? Ike forgot to put his razor away. Big deal.
So what?! Big deal?! Dude, right there is your way out.
It finally sank in. Now Taylor understood. He mimed running the blade over each of his wrists.
How long would that take? And wouldn't that hurt?
You're a genius, Forrest. Of course it'll hurt!
Well, isn't there another way?
There is always another way.
The voice was silent for a minute or two.
You've always had a flair for dramatics, right kid?
Taylor felt it, heavy in his pocket. He had finally convinced Sally to let him wear something baggy. The biggest pocket of his cargo pants was just the right size.
Chris had sold Isaac and Zac on the idea of playing at this New Year's Eve party. Taylor didn't particularly like the idea of performing, but thought that the time would be perfect, nonetheless.
Now, after countless exclamations from Zac about partying like it was 1999, Isaac was introducing their final song, with no more than four and a half minutes until midnight.
"...and we dedicate this song to our grandmother. We want her to know that we are thinking of her now, as always."
Isaac turned to look at Zac, and then to Taylor. The opening cords sailed throughout the amphitheater.
Throughout the song, Taylor couldn't help patting himself on the back. This was going to be great.
Hey, don't forget to give me some credit.
Yeah, yeah, you, too.
And then the final notes.
"...with you in your dreams." Taylor's voice caressed every ear in the stadium, moving many to tears. He held out the final syllable, waiting.
Finally finishing, Taylor smiled as the M.C. walked out onto the stage and began the countdown.
Taylor casually placed his hand into his pocket.
He felt the cold metal under his sweaty fingertips.
Gripping his hand around this perfect instrument, he began to draw it out.
It was time.
The audience erupted into cheers.
And then, all was quiet.
All was over.
It was all nothing.
Twenty-three year old Lucy Jennings sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and the morning paper. She scanned the headlines: Civil Activists Award Ceremony tomorrow night, Local Theater Club Holds Fundraiser, Inside Scoop on the Latest at City Hall. Then one, in bold and larger than the rest.
Teen Idol Takes A Gun To His Head At New Year's Concert
Clucking her tongue, she scanned the article. Then, she took her mug to the sink and went upstairs to the bathroom. She sank down, down into the bathtub, allowing the hot water to wash away the world. Soon, she had forgotten everything, letting it all float away. Blowing bubbles, she surfaced.
She didn't remember anything that affected her own life, let alone the troubles of some poor superstar. Why should she?
It was nothing.