you guys are too sweet.
Riley tosses and turns the whole night, alternating between guilt and anger. Should I go back? No, I won’t. Yes, I will. This continues on and on. She’s surprised when she feels sunlight hit her eyes, not remembering when she fell asleep or for how long.
She rolls out of bed and walks into the living room. Her eyes widen at the site: her mother, father, and brother are sitting quietly on the couch. Her mother jumps up, as if they were all waiting for her. “Honey, rise and shine!” she says loudly. “Angie was sorry she couldn’t be here!”
Mr. Thomas hugs Riley and says gruffly, “It’s good to see you again, munchkin.”
Riley blushes at the pet name; she hasn’t heard it in awhile. “Hey dad.”
“Hey butthead,” Charlie calls and tosses his baseball cap at her.
“Right back at you, Charles.”
“Don’t call me that! It’s Charlie.”
Mrs. Thomas says, “We took the day off of work today. We thought maybe we could spend some time together. Perhaps a picnic in the park? Or some shopping?”
“Yeah, that sounds cool,” Riley replies.
“I’ll make some breakfast!” Mrs. Thomas smiles widely and nearly bounces into the kitchen. Mr. Thomas, already smelling bacon, follows her.
Riley plops beside Charlie on the couch. “Do mum and dad still sing in the shower?”
“Hah, no. But they want to buy a turtle.”
“Why the hell do they want a turtle?”
“Like I know.” Charlie flicks through the channels and immediately stops. “Holy shit, Riley, look! It’s you!”
“Huh?” She turns to the television where a deejay is talking.
“Yeah, this great new band the Format,” the deejay is saying. “And we’ve got their video for their first single, ‘Take It or Leave It.’ It’s awesome, so check it out here, and only here, first!”
“Mom, Dad, come here!” Charlie shouts. “Riley is on TV!”
They rush into the room.
Riley watches in shock. She realizes she’s never seen their video before, much less on television. It’s so surreal, she thinks. I’ve made it. I’ve really made it.
Her mother squeezes her tightly. “Honey, we’re so proud of you!”
Riley’s mouth falls open. “You are?” They said it, and not because I encouraged it or begged them to, they are proud of me. They genuinely are!
“Yes! This is a reason to celebrate! Today, we’ll do whatever you want, anything you choose. What do you want to do today? It’s your choice.”
Riley stands. “I…” She glances at the television where her music video had just aired. “I know exactly what I want to do. How would you guys like to see me perform tonight in front of ten thousand people?”
* * * * * *
Riley walks swiftly through the airport terminal with her parents and brother following her. She keeps checking her watch. “Oh shit, it starts in ten minutes! And we’re not close to the venue! Hurry, let’s go!”
Mrs. Thomas tries to keep pace. “Well you know honey, you didn’t warn us of this. Getting a plane to Florida at the last minute isn’t the easiest thing in the world!”
Riley ignores her. “Taxi! Taxi! Fuck, come on!”
They pile into one and Riley orders the driver to step on it. The cab races through the streets and skids to a halt almost half an hour later in front of the venue.
“That was cool!” Charlie exclaims.
“I think I’m going to puke,” Mrs. Thomas says. “I’m glad we don’t have taxis back home!”
A security guard stops them at the venue’s back entrance. “No admittance,” he growls.
“I have to be on stage! I’m Riley Thomas!” Riley protests.
“Like I’m falling for that one! Besides, if you were her, you’d know that the Format canceled the rest of their tour dates.”