Star Power: Part Seven
Over the weekend, Lena’s diminished goatee fortunately grew back into the thick, blue beard that she had always known. On Monday morning, instead of waking up with her face in a bowl of melted ice cream or pressed up against a portable mirror on the hallway floor, she rose from a comfortable bed she hadn’t slept in for weeks.
“It’s good to have you back,” she said to her beard, feeling a sense of warmth as she felt the fur softly with her paws. She hopped off of her bed and briefly glanced at herself in the mirror. “Wow. I look normal today. Not great, not bad, just me.”
It was true. Ever since Bethany had called her hideous after the disastrous performance at the Eyrie’s Wing, Lena had become considerably less concerned with her physical appearance. Compliments never really sank underneath Lena’s skin, but certain insults could drive the point home to her in the most peculiar way. She was still more self-centered than the average pet, but at the same time her awkward experiences at the reception parties kept her from craving beauty and glamor in the same way she had before.
In the middle of breakfast, she noticed the sheet music Samson had instructed her to learn on Saturday morning. “Star Power,” she murmured, reading aloud the title of the song. After briefly skimming through the words to the music, she felt like choking herself with her cereal spoon.
They were the stupidest, shallowest, most banal lyrics she had ever read.
Written and Composed by Brad Rider
-Property of Samson Studios-
Look at me in my sparkly new dress
Look at the size of this monstrous jewel
There’s no need to be shy, tell me you’re impressed
I always look great, it’s my number one rule
You don’t need vision that’s too close to perfection
See that shooting star coming in your direction
I’m brighter than the brightest meteor shower
It’s no wonder that I have so much star power!
Look at me wearing these shiny white pearls
They’re enough to keep you blind for an hour or two
Can’t you see I’m the best star in the world?
And here on the top, I have an excellent view
The comet’s coming fast so you should get a clue
Watch me fly across the sky and make my debut
Now I’m reaching high above the tallest tower
And I really owe it all to my star power!
Aren’t these earrings out of sight?
Thank you all for coming tonight!
[Repeat Chorus 1]
[Repeat Chorus 2]
Lena blinked, then stared at the lyrics once more, feeling a sudden urge to create a time machine and warn Brad Rider’s parents to stay away from each other just so that their child would never write this horrible song. Snapping back into the real world, she picked up a pencil and tapped the sheet music with it, practicing the notes softly to herself.
“The chorus is actually pretty catchy,” Lena said to herself grudgingly, not wanting to like the song, but unable to keep herself from chanting ‘You don’t need vision that’s too close to perfection’ repeatedly. “Maybe if I just changed the words a little bit...”
With a mischievous smile, she began making marks all over the paper.
Bethany fidgeted uncomfortably in her seat, wondering if there would ever be a right time to tell Rodney about returning to the Eyrie’s Wing on Friday. After the performance, the Lenny had declared that he was through with trying to sympathize with Lena and couldn’t care less if she wanted to make a fool of herself singing about fruit bats.
“You know what I hate?” he asked, taking a sip of his morning coffee.
“Oh,” Bethany said, realizing how much Rodney was still thinking about Lena, but also how annoyed he was. After all, he had given Lena many opportunities to quit working under Samson Studios and rehire him, but it seemed that she had just shrugged them off. “But say, Rodney... do you remember what you told me last week?”
Rodney shrugged, trying a little too hard to look indifferent by taking an interest in his sunglasses.
“You said that neither one of us functions well without Lena in our lives. And judging by how miserable you are right now, I think what you said is true.” She gave him a knowing look, almost as if she was reading his mind, finding it amusing that the two of them had switched opinions over the course of one week.
“Yeah, well, she fired me, so I doubt I function all that well with her in my life either,” Rodney snorted.
Bethany smiled. “Can’t live with her, can’t live without her.”
“Can’t live with all the clichés coming out of your mouth,” Rodney muttered under his breath.
Sighing, Bethany decided that there would probably be no better time in the near future to explain Lena’s request. “All right, I think it’s about time for me to tell you something. I talked with Lena after her performance on Saturday night–”
“Are you serious?” Rodney said incredulously, spilling his coffee all over his lap. “You’re in cahoots with the enemy!”
“Something like that. Anyway,” Bethany continued, “I think I convinced her to end her contract with Samson, but under one condition.” She bit her lip. “We need to go to one more of her shows.”
“She’s asking us for favors? Completely unbelievable.” Rodney’s facial expression, however, contradicted all of his supposed anger. It was clear that he was thoroughly excited that he had another reason to cross paths with Lena without showing how desperate he was to see her again.
“I agree, but she told me that it’d be worth it.” The Xweetok shrugged, having accepted Lena’s quirky ways long ago. “Don’t act like you don’t want to, either. You’ve been thinking about her ever since Saturday night, otherwise you wouldn’t be trying so hard to be mad at her.”
There was a long pause during which Rodney tried to come up with a comeback, but he eventually sank deeper into his armchair, obviously defeated. “Can’t live without her,” he said finally.
“Strange, isn’t it?” Bethany chirped, pleased with herself.
“Friday night, then?”
“Friday it is.”
“Hey, look on the bright side,” Bethany said, crossing the room to pat her brother on the back. “We’re nowhere near as pathetic as Lena.”
They both laughed, neither of them comforted in the slightest; being not as pathetic as Lena was like being not as stressed as the Soup Faerie on a busy day or not as pointless as Lutari Island.
When Wednesday morning came rolling around, Lena found herself sitting in front of Samson’s desk once more. Through the large window behind the desk, storm clouds rumbled every now and then, giving the fire Nimmo a bit of a menacing aura. Lena, on the contrary, seemed as content and carefree as ever.
“Well, it’s nice to see that you don’t have ice cubes stuck in your fur this time. I’m hoping that you memorized the lyrics to the song I handed you?” Samson said, raising both eyebrows.
Lena gave him a sly grin. “Star Power? Yeah, I know it by heart.”
“That’s good to know, because Friday night’s going to be jam packed with big names. As of right now, I already know that King Skarl and Captain Threelegs are traveling all the way over here just to see you perform. It’s a huge honor, so you need to look perfect. Your custom made dress from the Lost Desert came in this morning; we’re keeping it frozen until the night of your performance...”
“Don’t worry, I’ll give them a show they’ll never forget,” Lena said with an exaggerated wink. She wasn’t even taking Samson seriously, in fact, she thought that everything coming out of his mouth was ridiculous.
“That’s what I like to hear,” Samson said, completely overlooking the fact that Lena was barely paying attention to him. “Now, get on over to the Eyrie’s Wing for your rehearsal. Oh, and I almost forgot, here’s your first paycheck.” From his desk, he pulled out a small envelope, sealed with a golden Samson Studios stamp.
Lena grabbed the envelope and stuffed it into her beard, smiling at Samson.
“Why would you–? You look silly with your paycheck hanging out of your fur like that, Lena, so you better take it out before you get to the Eyrie’s Wing,” Samson said, frowning.
“You know what, Samson? I think you look silly with that oversized rock on your finger,” Lena chortled.
“It’s unwise to speak to your boss that way,” Samson said sternly, his usual nice-guy facade momentarily vanishing.
Lena shrugged. “It’s not like you can fire me, not with King Skarl and whoever that other guy is coming to see me on Friday.” Her eyes widened a little in awe of what she was saying; she had never realized how much power she was capable of having over others. “So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go cash this check. Seventy-five thousand neopoints, wow!”
As Lena skipped out of the office, Samson slouched in his seat, speechless and unable to comprehend what had caused the Yurble’s sudden mood change. The girl that had been so easy to manipulate before had suddenly just shoved it all right back in his face, and there wasn’t much he could do about it until Friday’s performance was over.
Outside, raindrops pounded Lena until her beard dripped all the way down across her stomach like a wet mop. She shoved the paycheck in deeper to try and prevent it from getting too wet, and then pranced away from Samson Studios, wondering if she’d ever see the building again after Friday night.
To be continued...