First impression all over again
Disclaimer: This story is totally fiction. If there is any similarity to real-life people, stories, or events, please know that it is purely coincidence.
Ever since I read the very first line of her story, I have always been Magnolia’s number one fan. I even set my online nickname as Michelia just because the flower belongs to the magnolia family. Silly, right? Yeah, I have set it since I became a fan at 15. Seven years have passed, and I can’t stop loving her stories. Each and everyone has a different taste… well, periodically. People tend to eventually grow out of their old tastes as they grow older. The writer grows, too. However, there’s always something about Magnolia’s writing that appeals to me. It’s not just the plot. It’s not just the beautiful words and fascinating structure. Maybe it’s because every of her story is a fantasy of mine. Maybe it’s the vibe that her story gives. Maybe it’s the vibe of Magnolia. I know just one thing for sure that I can’t stop loving her.
Today is her fan meeting and book signing for her latest artwork. I, the luckiest girl alive, has won the one and only VIP ticket to it. This VIP ticket is not just a front seat in the meeting or the first position in the signing line. It grants backstage access with which I can meet Magnolia in-person, alone, for an hour before the actual event happens. I honestly feel like floating on cloud nine.
I arrive at 8 sharp, squealing inside with all the excitement. Greeting me is a beautiful woman in a grey ash suit.
“Good morning, miss. I’m Jade, Magnolia’s editor. I see that you have the VIP invitation there. You must be the precious fan we’re expecting.”
“Good morning to you, too, and nice to meet you, Jade.”
“Nice to meet you. How would you like to be addressed? Michelia or your real name?”
I clear my throat, trying to refrain myself from squealing: “Michelia, please.”
“Sure, it is a lovely nickname”, Jade gives me an understanding smile before continuing, “Unfortunately, Magnolia has some... commuting problems so she hasn’t arrived yet. Would you mind waiting for a bit? We’ll make up for the stalling time after the event if you are willing to stay.”
“Really? I don’t mind waiting since it’s an unexpected problem after all. You guys are so nice arranging the makeup, other event organizers won’t do that. As a number one fan, being here is my honor, how can I say no to any chance of spending time with my idol. Besides, I am not required elsewhere today so it won’t be a problem for me.” Shut up, Michelia! You’re rambling.
However, at the moment of hearing my answer, Jade seems less tense in a blink while still keeping a business-like appearance. “Thank you for your understanding. The pleasure is all us for having such a great fan like you. Now, please follow me, Michelia I’ll give you a mini-tour!”
Jade turns and leads me inside. She leads me around the place, which is not much. The event is nothing grand. It’s small and intimate, just the way us fans like. Finally, she leads me to a room with a dressing table, a small rack of clothes, and a set of table and chairs in the middle.
“Here is our final destination of the mini-tour, Magnolia’s dressing room. Please take a seat, I’ll return with your drink shortly. Would you like coffee, tea, or a glass of water?”
Dressing room? That’s a bit... odd. Would an author need a dressing room at a fan meeting and book signing event? Ah, we’re supposed to have some private meeting, so it’s reasonable that they prepare a dressing room, I guess. Well, I don’t have much experience in these events anyway. “I’m not picky. If you are ordering something, you can get me whatever you’re having. If not, a glass of water would do.”
“I’ll be back with your drink in a minute, then.” Jade gives me a polite smile, then leaves the room.
While she is away, I take the chance to take in the room, which seems to be an elevated meeting room. I’m sitting at the round table in the middle of the room, facing the door. The set of table and chairs has the same style as the shelves and furniture in other rooms. On my left is a light color dressing table. Not far from it is a simple rack of clothes.
True to her words, Jade takes only a few minutes to returns with the drink. “I’m having a latte, so I got you the same thing. Hope you don’t mind.”
“That’s amazingly sweet of you. Thank you.”
Jade gives me a small smile and nods before leaving. Now that I have this room all to myself, it’s time to make the whole fandom jealous, hah. I snap a few pictures with the gorgeous dressing table. It has light bulbs that make every angle of mine become perfect. As soon as the picture is online, the reactions are exactly what I expected.
“Gosh! Did you rescue the whole galaxy in your last life!?!”
“Did you hear that? It was the sound of my heart… breaking into pieces, you lucky @$$. TT_____TT”
“You… you lucky *beep*, stop showing off. TT^TT”
“Yeah, stop shoving it into our face, or we’ll kill to be in your place.”
“Dear, you need to stop right there. My neighbor showed up because he thought I was in trouble with all the screaming.”
“Girllllllll, you are at Magnolia’s dressing room, right? Can you sneak me one of her handkerchiefs? I’ll be at your mercy for life.
Your forever truthful servant”
Ooh, the last one is dramatic and hilarious. Wait! It’s 8:40 already, I have been waiting for 40 minutes. When will Magnolia show up? At this time, she should have been presented to prepare for the event already. What is going on?
I leave the room to find Jade, hoping a walk around will give me some clues. I find her outside the hall where the event will take place in less than twenty minutes. She is on the phone, and, obviously, some writer is driving her crazy.
“You agreed to this in the first place, you cannot back out last minute.”
I give her a small smile to announce my presence. She gives me a quick nod in return.
“You know that you are not the only one I have to manage, there are several other authors that need my attention, too. And my job is to help you with your writing, publishing, and advertising, NOT cleaning up your messes. Hey, don’t you dare hang up on me!” Obviously, the other person did, which makes Jade let out a frustrated growl, “URGHHH!”
She, then, takes a deep breath and turns to me: “Hey Michelia, how can I help you?”
“Jade, I need to use the bathroom. Can you show me where it is?”
“Oh, go down the corridor and take a left turn, then take a right at the third turn, you’ll be right there.”
“Thank you. I’m not sure I’ll get it right there because I’m terrible with direction, but I’ll figure it out. Thanks again, Jade.”
With the perfect excuse, I start roaming the corridors. Unfortunately, the way is short and there is nothing I could catch up on. Defeated, I enter a stall in the WC. Suddenly, I hear a voice from the next stall.
“Stupid Jade! Stupid publisher! Stupid VIP access! Experience my ass! This is not fair at all.”
This voice… could it be? Magnolia has done some livestream before and I recognize that voice. It is really her?
Oh em geeeeeeee! She must be thinking of other fans dying to meet her in person like me and wishing she could do more for them. My idol!!! She is so sweet! I. Am. Officially. The. Luckiest. Girl. Alive!!!!!
I take a few deep breathes to calm myself and wait for her to leave first. How weird it is if I step out and lose control of my fan-girl mode in such a place like this. It would be better to meet officially in the dressing room. Now I need to fix my makeup. I have to look perfect before meeting her.
When feeling that everything is just right, I sprint back to the dressing room, trying my best to keep my squealing inside. I’m about to knock on the door when the voice inside stops my hand mid-air.
“Jade! I was drunk, I didn’t know what I agreed to and I didn’t even remember it until you call me this morning. This is not fair at all.”
“Drunk? We talked about this in the office during working hours, Magnolia, not some random night at the pub, and you are telling me you were drunk?”
“You know where my inspiration comes from, Jade!”
“Look! Your fan is here…”
Jade is cut off by a shout: “I DON’T CARE!”
A chill starts from my feet and quickly spread through my body, freeze me into an ice statue. I rather not know the one behind the door is Magnolia.
“I don’t fucking care who she is and how long she has been waiting. Send her home! I don’t want to meet her.”
I can’t take it anymore. I bang on the door and open it immediately without waiting for any response. Not only are the two in the room taken by surprise, but I am also. I am standing face to face with a woman in a tank top, a pair of leggings, sneakers, and a jacket tied at her hip. She looks like she just crawled out of bed and nothing like the Magnolia I know.
Seriously, can you take this woman as the Magnolia I see every day on social media? The one who can be either sweet, sexy, and badass in different photos whether it is a selfie, a captured at an event, or a sneaked photo? The one who gives a sweet, playful, and fierce vibe in every writing and every interaction with fans?
We are staring at each other when Jade clears her throat and breaks the silence. “Michelia, the event is about to start soon and we still need some time to prepare. Would you mind waiting for us at the event hall? We’ll make it up to you after the event if you’re still willing.”
I break eye contact with the-so-called Magnolia and nod at Jade: “Of course! I’ll talk to you later, Jade.”
Jade gives me a weak smile in return, then call someone passing by outside, “King, could you help me and take this fan to the event hall, please?”
I turn to see the man stop. He is also an author whose writing I also enjoy. It seems like he’s the guest today.
“Of course, babe! Please come with me, Miss!”