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The West Coast is the Only Home I Want

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It was a crashing feeling. Like everything was shattering apart at a hundred miles, and I didn't want to stop it. She was the lightening in a storm. The rocks in a river. The empty of a memory. I couldn't stop loving her. Breathing in the attention she gave me, no matter how small. I fell apart and pretended her smile was holding me together. My beautiful, loving, lifeline was injecting me with poison in the slowest way possible.

I loved the temporary feeling of forever. And when it was gone, so was she.

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“Listen, Rob, it doesn’t matter how you-OH SHIT,” Chanel tripped forward and smacked onto the pavement. Her hands, dainty and soft, scrapped open and began bleeding as bits of sidewalk lodged itself in her skin. “Fuck. Oww.” She began collecting herself, pulling her phone (thankfully unbroken) towards her, and picking up the lipsticks and headphones which also hit the ground. The blonde could hear Rob calling, blatantly concerned, through the phone. Threats of sending Big out to get her graced her ears, and she put the phone up to her ear. “Yes, hello. No. I don’t. I just fell. Yeah, it really hurts. Rob! Don’t make fun of me!” She stood up. “Yes, I can walk and talk at the same time, shut up. I’ll be there in thirty.” She hung up on him rather quickly, trying to get the least amount of blood possible on her phone case. “Dammit.”

“Do you need a Band-Aid?” A masculine voice questioned. Chanel looked up to see a light blonde, green-eyed guy standing a few feet away from her.

“Um no. Thanks though.” She looked at her bloody hands, slightly embarrassed.

“Okay. But you’re going to want to add some peroxide to that later. Sidewalks are dirty.” When she didn’t respond fully, he gave a small start. “Sorry, I’m Jackson. Uhh you need a ride anywhere?”

“No thank you,” Chanel gave a fake smile to the random man, “Have a good day.” She bid farewell and left quickly. She didn’t need to be in some creepy ass man’s car.

Chanel’s black heels clicked along the sidewalk, and thirty or so minutes later the sound turned to clacking as she entered the Factory’s front doors. Her palms were caked in dried blood, coagulated flakes pulling at her skin. “Ew,” She mumbled, putting her purse behind her desk and going onto the Factory floor. She saw Drama immediately, just walking into his office. “Hey,” Chanel called, walking towards him faster as the brunette looked up at her in acknowledgement. “You got any Band-Aids?”

“Yeah? Why what-Jesus, Chanel! What did you do?” Drama’s concern translated into him reaching forward and tenderly grabbing her hands, inspecting the damage. “It’s gross.”

“I know. I fell down on the sidewalk.”

“Go wash your hands, I’ll set up a triage.” Drama winked, walking off to get out a first aid kit. Chanel sighed as she played with her hands.

The bathroom wasn’t that far away, so it took an insignificant time to get there, the problem only arose when she had to wash the thick paste of dried blood off her hands. The shredded skin protested, stinging in a most unappreciated way. As Chanel procrastinated putting her hands under the faucet, Drama went looking for her. The blonde may take forever to get ready, but she was usually on time for him.

“Chanel?” Drama knocked on the bathroom door, hesitantly might describe his actions best.

“Drama, it hurts!” She whined, walking over and opening the door with the back of her hand. He reached over Chanel’s head and kept the door propped as she pouted at him.

“Let me see,” He grabbed her hands again and sighed at her slightly wet, bloody hands. She hadn’t got any gravel out and he was not excited about doing it. “Okay, c’mere.” Drama led her to the sink, standing beside her and working the red flakes off. Chanel would flinch, swear, or whine every now and then, but Drama would shush her and continue on. Her skin was raised and had small black and grey pieces under the skin, obviously pieces of stubborn sidewalk.

“How are you going to get those out?” Chanel asked nervously.

Drama hesitated. “Tweezers.” She gave him a pleading look, and he just shrugged in sympathy. It was a few minutes later that he pressed paper towels into her hands, soaping up the excess water.

They went back to Drama’s office after that, casually talking about clumsiness and high heels. Chanel’s hands stung less than before, and she was starting to get them moving comfortably.

“Chanel!” Rob called out whilst jogging over. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I just fell.” She responded, smiling weakly at her friend. Rob gave a half smile.

“We’re going to go patch her up right now.” Drama chimed in.

“When you’re done, both of you come up to my office. Bring Big Cat.” Rob turned after he gave his orders, walking away to go do whatever it is Rob does in his office.

Chanel and Drama continued over to the office, entering and sitting with the girl on one side of the corner and the boy on the other. She put her hands up and Drama began taking pieces of the kit out. When he pulled the first piece of sidewalk out, she flinched and bit her lip.


“It’s fine.”

They went on like this for awhile, until all of the pieces were removed and she had bandages keeping the fresh wounds covered. Drama wrapped them in such a way that it was easy to move her hands, something she greatly appreciated. He cleaned up the kit as she tested the flexibility of the bandages, and when the whole unit was put away, Chanel went and hugged Drama. He circled his arms around her, resting his chin on her head as he leaned down.

“Thank you, Drama.” She said into his chest.

“Anytime, Chanel.” He rumbled back quietly. When they pulled apart they gave each other smiles. “Let’s go get my brother and see what Rob wants.”

It turned out that the meeting was the first step of changing Chanel’s life permanently. The very thing which set her on a course for happiness and something so much more fulfilling. It would be the single most pivotal moment in her life. And possibly the most destructive.

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Click, click, click.

“Who was that?” Elysia questioned, coming out of the juice store with Kevin, holding a pink and purple smoothie. Jackson looked back at her, turned around and placed a hand on her back. The curly blonde hair swung back and forth as the woman walked down the light sidewalk.

“I…..I think it was Chanel,” Jackson was so confused.

They were scheduled to be at The Fantasy Factory in an hour to shoot. Elysia was going to record in their studio, giving both her and The Factory crew shared advertising. Ely was excited to see the people she’d spent years killing time watching before going on stage.

“Really? That’s cool. You wanted orange, right?” Kevin, the bleach blonde roadie, handed the drink over whilst slurping on blue freezing goodness.

“Yeah, thanks kid.” Kevin grimaced at Jackson’s reply.

“19.” He mumbled.

Ely looked on at them, slowly drinking the frothy berry drink. They continued to go back and forth for a few minutes, the subject changing with every new retort.
“Hey, guys?” She spoke up, her slightly numb tongue making the words lisp. They both stopped and looked over. “Shouldn't we start getting it together? We still need to get back to the bus before we head out.”
Always the voice of reason, the boys listened.

There the trio went, headed out to the venue which graciously allowed them to park there. They’d do a free show for them, letting the local bands open. It didn't take too long, but by the time they got back they had twenty minutes to get to the Factory on time. Jackson hopped into the front, Kevin shooting Ely a grin before following to continue their earlier argument.

Ely sat down on the window seat, feeling the bus lurch beneath her. Knees curling to her chest, Ely watched the buildings and road speed by. She was an 18 year old girl with too high a metabolism, dull brown hair, and charisma lacking blue eyes. But goddamn, she could sing. When she finally let go of all the loneliness and fear, she let those notes reverberate over the audience in such a way which made thousands cry. She didn't have a tragic back story, nor a tragic current story. She was just sad. Empty. And no one seemed to notice. But that made everything so much more interesting.

A larger building struck Ely out of her inner turmoil. Bright blue letters told her that they had arrived and, after looking at the wall clock, they were directly on time. The garage door opened just as the bus parked across three parking spaces, encroaching upon a forth. Five people walked out to greet them. Jackson went down the stairs first to hold the door, Ely following as always, and Kevin took up the back.

A wide grin lit up Rob’s face. “Welcome to The Fantasy Factory, Amarise!”

At the mention of Ely’s stage name, or rather a name she had used since Five For Fighting gave her the idea to name her music like a group, she gave a toothy smile.

“Hello! I’m Jackson, her manager. That’s Kevin, our roadie.” The man gave a nod of head, smiling at the group. “And this is Ely, the woman herself.” He slung an arm around her shoulders, giving a squeeze.

“I’m Rob. These guys are Big, Drama Beats, Big Cat, and the lovely Chanel West Coast!” He was entirely excited for this.

They’d all been fans of Amarise since the music exploded onto the scene. When he’d met Ely at the MTV Music Awards, he used the thirty seconds of contact wisely. A similar route to their seats turned into Rob asking her to come record at his studio. To his delight, she had agreed.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you all,” Ely told them politely. Her eyes drifted to a certain blonde bombshell. The other girl wasn't paying complete attention though.

“Aren't you Band-Aid Guy?” She asked, pointing at Jackson in an almost accusatory way. Jackson was struck for a moment, gaping confused at her. He blinked a few times before regaining his composure, not used to such random outbursts.

“Yes. Yes, I am. How’s the…um…everything?” Jackson tried.

“Sore.” Was her only response. Rob looked at her questioning.

“S’pose you would be.” He was obviously feeling slightly awkward. A few moments passed.

“Alright,” Rob’s voice was slightly higher, in that ‘oh-dear-Jesus-this-is-a-weird-conversation’ way. “Why don’t we go in? Get you started up with Drama in the booth?” He directed his question to Ely.

“That sounds wonderful.” She walked out from under Jackson’s arm, following alongside the Fantasy group to indoors. Chanel was slightly behind her right side, so Ely looked over and gave a reassuring smile. “He’s used to taking care of people. Your independence threw him for a loop,” and winked. Chanel let a smile spread across her face.

That was the first thing Ely ever said to Chanel. The first words Chanel would spend hours over thinking. Wondering if that meant Ely wasn't independent, and if so, why not? And did Ely like her independence? Was it a bad thing? Was Ely clingy? And what was with “…threw him for a loop,” anyway? And why did Ely wink?!

Chanel watched as Drama put a hand on Ely’s lower back, guiding her up the steps and stairs, leading her to the booth. She bit her gloss slathered lip softly, turning away. She ignored the knowing look from Big Ca- Scott, as she walked pass his cage.

Ely was beautiful. Chanel liked beautiful.

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“I’m just going to have you listen to this first, see how you like it, and we’ll go from there.” Drama informed the calculating girl. She appeared to be taking everything in, eyes roaming the small room and the strange set up it displayed. The booth entrance was even shaped as a cave for heaven’s sake!

“Sounds good.” Was Ely’s response. Drama nodded, moving over to the screen and pressing a few buttons. The sound drifted out of the speakers, wrapping around them both in such ways as to capture their attention indefinably. Ely sat down slowly, staring at the audio-file as she allowed herself to intertwine with the music completely. It was as if the very stands of her DNA twirled into the vibrations drifting through the air. It was harmonic, beautiful. She could not possibly get enough.

Drama glanced over to her repeatedly. Some part of him registered that she was just some normal 18 year old, and that he really should not be this captured by her. Yet, he found himself forgoing glances and full out staring at her. The colours which created her image were dull, almost as if one were looking through an old window pane in the pale sunrise. Everything too light and hard to see. Even with these observations, Drama found she was almost ethereal in her beauty. Then her icy eyes flashed to his, and his body jerked in surprise. A small smile pulled at the edge of her lips.

“Sorry.” Drama found his body yet again responding without his full permission. Ignoring his initial reaction would have most likely resulted in a bashful look at best, he figured. Though, apparently his body could not keep it together.

Ely’s next expel of air seemed deeper than the others. Her shoulders went down more than they had been, her spine seemed to curve inward. Despite this, her voice remained the default polite happiness she had been displaying. “It’s okay.”

Drama shifted in his seat, his back stiffening as he tried to relax. Ely remained unmoved.

“Did-did you like it?” Drama cleared his throat.

This time a smile did not tentatively peek onto her face. It did not attempt to feign composure and confidence. Nor did it pry open to reveal her slightly uneven teeth. No, this smile warmed the room and calmed his nerves. This smile danced straight onto her face and stayed there, performing the most beautiful and classic of ballets. This was a genuine smile. Whether it was for his abilities or the prospect of music itself, Drama was unsure. In any case, he wanted it to stay there eternally as he sat and watched. Even if he felt as though he had balcony seats in a room of thousands.

“I loved it.” She spoke, rolling her seat to fully face him. “Would you like to begin fitting in the lyrics?”

Drama studied her for a moment. She wore a military green sweater, much larger than her, over a worn black tank top. Pilled black leggings drowned around her knobby knees, and pooled into a pair of battered converse. Even her hair seemed to have had better days. It tangled down into a low slung elastic, loose pieces flying around her face. What should have screamed uncaring and unkempt ended up reverberating relaxed and apocalyptic chic. He found it endearing.

“Yeah. Cave’s there.” He pointed. Her body rose up and ducked into the cave. As she disappeared into the faux cavern, he turned to the screen and placed his head in his hands. Eyes peering down at the keyboard, he only had a moment of silence before he heard a quiet knock. Looking up, the bright and scantily dressed Chanel looked in at him.

“Hey.” She tried, looking around the room for their guest.

“You need anything?” While this inquiry may have sounded rude in response to a greeting, neither seemed to mind.

“Yes, what’s she like?” Never one for leading up, Chanel found herself blurting the question out. The two turned their attention to the control board when the sound of vocals slowly drifted into the room. The two then glanced at each other. None of the words were intelligible, but they were lovely in the least. A symphony played in a matter of four notes, chasing one another in a fully sound game of hide and seek.

“Whenever you’re ready.” Ely’s voice came in through the speakers, drifting in through the notes and then fading back into them.

“You want to know what she’s like? Come sit down.” Drama told the blonde, who responded by following his instructions. He pressed the speaker button next to him, “Alright, in five.” Then clicked start.

As the receptionist and producer sat side-by-side and listened to the voice of their dreams, they both had a singular thought. A thought which although a twin to the others, carried a very different meaning. For as one gained a love, another gained a ward. The problem was figuring out which was which, and when the dividing line began.

The thought?

“I’m fucked.”