To close out my "Literary Week" indulgence, I've always wondered how the Britney Spears, and Paris Hilton's of the world would react to the news that life on this planet as we know it was about to come to an end.
The Star - a short story
When the world started to end, you were ashamed of yourself for weeping bitterly in your bedroom for an entire day. You saw the president crying and begging on TV and it sent you into a panic. You lay in bed with the blankets pulled up to your nose, crying, refusing to answer the door when the maid, your manager, your assistant, and finally your parents begged you to come out.
After twenty-four hours, your father took the door off its hinges and dragged you down the stairs into your sunken living room with the white carpet and leather couches. You kicked and screamed until he had to pick you up and carry you over his shoulder. You called him a motherfucker and threatened to take back the Mercedes you'd purchased for him last Christmas.
Your mother sat solemnly on the couch, her hands clenched into fists on top of the newspaper in her lap. She said it was all over.
You glowered and glared; you asked what the hell is happening, and will you still be on the talk show circuit next month?
The television stations are all color bars and static. Your father says that the talk shows are all gone, and not to worry. He tells you that there are far more important things happening right now. How can you not worry? You were supposed to debut your new fragrance next month to coincide with the release of your latest album.
Your mother tells you that the album isn't going to happen, and she clenches her fists even tighter than before. You can't believe what she's saying. How can she say that? There will always be an album, and there will always be television. You tell your parents they're idiots, and that this will all blow over in a few days, as soon as they replace that pussy of a president.
Your mother says that the world is ending. They dropped bombs, she says darkly.
There are diseases and radiation poisoning spreading all over the country, your father says.
Not in L.A., you shout defiantly.
Your mother holds up the newspapers one at a time. WAR is on the cover of each one, along with speculations on the doomed fate of the country, including L.A. You feel sick, you're dizzy. You want to know what you did to deserve this, and how anyone could possibly do such a thing before you had a chance to accomplish the things that mean so much to you.
Two days later, your mother and father are discussing survival, and filling jugs with water from the tap just in case. Your father is worried about the electricity holding out. You sit in the living room wondering why all the servants quit the day before, and if your assistant is ever going to call you back. The only connection to the outside world is the radio, and it's hard to get real information between the crying and praying on almost every channel. On the pop station, the dj says over and over that it's only a matter of time. Your father tells you to switch to the AM band because they have more sense on AM, goddammit.
You hear reports of death and destruction all over the country, and all you can think is that you hope L.A. is okay. Even after reports of people dead in their cars, you imagine Rodeo Drive the same as it ever was, untouched by nasty things like war, sickness and death. How could a place a beautiful as Hollywood ever be destroyed? No one messes with L.A., you say, and your father won't look you in the eye.
When the electricity goes out that night, your eyes fill with frustrated tears, and you light the scented candles you'd been saving for a special occasion. The radio runs on batteries, but they won't last long. Your father tells you to conserve them, and stop leaving the radio on so much. You tell him to shut up, and that you can afford thousands of batteries. The man on the radio says that much of the east coast is destroyed, along with New York and Chicago. He says that the radiation is coming west at an alarming rate, and you wish you had a map so you'd know what that meant. Instead of worrying, you get out that limited edition pink nail polish and give yourself a pedicure. It isn't until you spill the bottle, and nail polish gets all over the carpet that you realize you can't stop crying.
In the morning, your dad tells you that your mother is very sick, and he doesn't feel so well himself. You roll your eyes and tell them to take some Pepto, but on the inside, you can't deal with the possibility of them dying and leaving you alone, so you go back to your room and sit in front of the window. Your yard looks the same. There is no death and destruction on your property, but you wonder what's changed outside of your front gates.
In the afternoon, you bring your gold records and Grammy awards up to your room so you can look at them. Your finger traces your name on the awards over and over, and you can't comprehend how someone who has accomplished so much in such a short time should be allowed to go through something as horrible as this. You're a star, for God's sake, you deserve better than this.
Your father is calling your name in the hall. He sounds sick. His voice breaks repeatedly, and he's gagging between words. You don't want him to throw up on the carpet in the hall, but you keep your mouth shut. If he does, the cleaning woman will take care of it tomorrow. You pull the blankets up to your chin and close your eyes. Your father's voice sounds farther and farther away now as you clutch the Grammy close to your chest and squeeze your eyes shut.
Tomorrow you'll wake up and things will be better. Tomorrow you'll be on the Tonight Show, and be as charming as ever. Tomorrow your agent will apologize for not calling. Tomorrow you'll still be a star.