Chapter 19: Happy endings are real
~ He recognized the beautiful girl who had danced with him. He cried out, “She is my true bride.” ~
Cindy ate lunch that Saturday at Fanny’s house. Fanny was insistent on having her over so she could help on her outfit and makeup before the festival.
Fanny also wanted to be the first to hear the song, seeing as Cindy didn’t let her hear it all week, she was dying to give it a listen and give some feedback. Fanny also loved it when Cindy played guitar because she was tragically musically challenged.
“Now,” Cindy asked Fanny, “are you sure you won’t make fun of me for the song?”
Fanny put her hand to her heart on mock shock, “I would never.”
She smiled at Fanny’s attempt to lighten her attitude. Ever since Cindy arrived, she’d been a little jittery.
Cindy nodded and put her paper plate in the trash, Fanny following suit. She went to sit on the couch, taking her guitar out of its case and tuning it before Fanny sat down to listen.
Cindy didn’t need sheet music, seeing as she had already memorized the entire song the night she wrote it. A song like that – one sprouted from true emotion – it was hard to forget very easily.
“Once upon a time, we were picture perfect . . .” Cindy sang, strumming on her guitar.
It didn’t take long for Cindy to lose herself in the song. She soon found herself going through the chords and lyrics without even thinking about it. By the time she was done, Fanny was grinning hugely and basically bouncing from excitement.
“That was perfect, it would sound perfect with . . .” Fanny trailed off, looking a bit guilty, “umm . . . more instruments. Yeah, definitely what I was thinking.”
Cindy ignored her weird comment and put the guitar down. “So, was it good?”
Fanny grinned again, “It was amazing! And um . . . please excuse me for a moment, I need to make a call.” She quickly rushed from the room before Cindy could ask who she needed to call or why.
Cindy shrugged to herself. Fanny was probably just making an excuse to go to the bathroom. She didn’t like to tell people when she went to the toilet, she was weird like that.
She decided to get more practice in while Fanny was away. The festival was this afternoon, she didn’t want to mess any of her song up.
Cindy also hated that she was the last performer of the night until Peyton. That meant that she had a chance of bumping into him before and after her show. Not good.
Fanny came back by the time she was done practicing, leaving just enough time for her to pack up her guitar before Fanny dragged her into her room to try on one of her dresses that she was absolutely certain would fit and look great on Cindy.
Cindy wasn’t as certain. Fanny might be optimistic, but she was at least two dress sizes smaller than Cindy.
The dress was white with colorful flowers sprinkled throughout in an intricate design. Fanny had even let Cindy wear her favorite beige wedges for the occasion.
The dress fit, surprisingly, and Fanny immediately went to makeup. Cindy felt like Fanny was overdoing it a bit, but maybe it would help to have a bit more confidence around the guy who broke her heart.
“Done!” Fanny exclaimed. “You look so perfect that Peyton will be drooling!”
Cindy laughed halfheartedly, “Yeah, it would serve the lying jerk right.” Fanny smiled uncertainly, which was strange since she had been the one who encouraged Cindy to call him names in the first place.
She shrugged and looked in the mirror. Cindy had to say, she did looked pretty amazing.
Maybe making Peyton jealous would throw him off of his game. She wanted him to know just how much he lost when he embarrassed her. She wanted him to regret ever trying to hurt her.
She wanted him to feel her pain.
The crowd may not know who her song was about, but she sure as hell did, and so did Peyton.
Cindy lifted her head high and kept her calm exterior all the way to the festival. Well, she was calm and collected before she arrived to see Peyton Charming and his father, surrounded by reporters.
“. . . and I think that this will be an excellent way for the record label to find some new talent. We need more talented and enthusiastic artists like my son, Peyton.” Kinsley Charming slapped his arm down tight on Peyton’s shoulder.
Peyton forced a smile, but she could tell something else was on his mind. She knew how much he hated his father controlling his career, and even if this festival was a publicity stunt for Evelyn, and even if he never told her the truth, she still knew he wished a winner could be chosen truthfully.
And she also knew that she had to avoid him as much as possible. She didn’t need him running over to try and explain his side of the story again, especially with the press right there.
“Come on Fanny, let’s go.” Cindy said, tugging her best friend away from view of Peyton and the press. It was too painful to see him now.
Peyton was tired of waiting. Waiting for his father to stop controlling his career. Waiting for Evelyn to stop leeching onto him. Waiting for Cindy to realize what she saw was out of context.
Waiting was getting him nowhere. This was why he came up with the plan. It would take down all three birds with one stone, hopefully.
His father would be down with the judges the entire show, leaving Peyton unsupervised and in control. A bad decision on his father’s end if he did say so himself.
“Peyton,” Duncan said, running up to him from behind the makeshift stage, “I’ve convinced about half of the judges to vote honestly on the winner. I told them that you would give their daughters some autographed merchandise as a bribery. I still think at least two of them, not including your father, are still voting on Evelyn because her parents are paying them lots and lots of money.”
Peyton nodded. It made sense that some of the judges would rather be paid than do the right thing. He just hoped the ones who chose honestly would be able to outvote the others who didn’t.
“Also, Fanny and Cindy arrived not too long ago.”
Peyton perked up at that news. Cindy was here. If he just found her now, he could explain, and . . . no. That would ruin the plan. If he tried to make a move now, she’d surely drop out of the festival all together.
“Good, that means Fanny held up her end of the deal. She hasn’t told Cindy, hopefully. We’ve got one hour until show time, so let’s make this count.”
Exactly one hour later, the performer before Cindy was singing. And she just happened to be Evelyn.
Evelyn could sing, but just not as well as Cindy. The crowd still went wild though, no doubt cheering because she was dating Peyton and therefore she had to be some sort of star, right?
Peyton could even see Cindy getting ready to take the stage. She hadn’t spotted him, not yet. They were on opposite sides of the stage, both hidden from the crowd. Fanny was helping her out, putting on last minute makeup and fusing over her hair.
Evelyn finished and did a couple bows, the crowd going wild. Peyton couldn’t wait to see what they would do when Cindy sang.
Evelyn tackled him with a hug when she came off stage, “I was on fire, wasn’t I, honey?”
Peyton forced his mouth into a smile and grunted through his teeth, “Yes, they loved you.”
“I feel sorry for Cinders, having to follow that amazing performance. I mean – when I become famous, she’ll just be another striving singer in LA seeking fame.” She said this in a seductive sort of way, leaning into him and using her eyes to dig into his soul.
And then the name Cindy Woods was announced to the crowd and she walked onstage.
Cindy was nervous - who wouldn’t be? A crowd full of thousands of people and having the knowledge that you were about to shock them with a revelation that would surely be amazing.
She sat on a stool that was preset on the stage and introduced herself. She saw a couple students from Dewar high in the crowd and got a tiny bit more nervous. How would they react to the news?
“I’ll be singing a song some of you’ve heard me sing before. Maybe this will jumpstart some of your memories.”
Oh god. She was really going to do this, wasn’t she? This was no longer an idea or plan, it was real.
“Just because we’re young, they think we’re dumb. But we aren’t done, we’re the revolution . . .”
A couple faces in the crowd recognized the song immediately as the one she sang at the dance and started to put two and two together. As soon as one person got the message, they’d pass it on to the person next to them. Soon everyone would figure it out.
At the end she got a standing ovation, but she wasn’t done yet. She still had one more song, this one was more for herself than anyone else, but she had to let it out.
To say the crowd was confused at her singing another song was an understatement, but either they didn’t want her to stop or they were okay with the second song because they cheered along.
She got to the chorus reprise when a voice joined hers, and the crowd went wild.
Peyton Charming himself was singing her chorus. It was just like at the dance. Man, he must’ve had a photographic memory or something.
Cindy stopped singing at the end of the chorus and started to walk off stage when she heard him sing:
“I remember the day you lost your shoe,
Running away from your destiny
You’d rather sit alone in silence
Than be with a Prince on his knees . . .”
She stopped in her tracks and turned to face him. He was singing about her, about the dance. If the crowd hadn’t got that she was his real Mystery Girl, they would surely get it now. Why was he letting them know?
So, she sang back.
“You might’ve been a Prince, but you couldn’t save me
You tripped over your own two feet, don’t you see?
You fell for the Evil Queen’s disguise
Now I’m stuck in my high tower with all of your lies”
For lyrics made up on the spot, Cindy was extremely proud. Now, she just had to get off the stage before Peyton-
“Hey Cinderella, don’t you wanna dance?
Why can’t you give your prince a chance?”
Cindy turned on her heels and gave him a vicious look. She was done with his games. “What are you doing, Peyton?” The crowd oohed at her snide tone and attitude.
“Don’t you want to let the world know who you really are?”
Cindy was hesitant. Was he being genuine?
“Peyton!” And here came little miss Evil Queen herself, “What are you doing?”
And then the big screen behind them burst to life with a video clip, something very familiar to Cindy, and something she thought had been fake.
It was the video caught by Brian of Peyton and Evelyn behind the bleachers.
The crowd turned on Evelyn by the end of it. The whole world knew what she was willing to do and they were not happy.
Evelyn tried to storm off stage, most likely wanting to run all the way back home, but Peyton caught her arm before she could. “Let go of me!” She screeched.
“I don’t think this belongs to you,” he forcefully took the charm bracelet off of her wrist. She pulled her arm away and ran off stage, not before a huge cheer went up for Peyton though.
There was no way she’d be able to show her face without being ridiculed for a long while. And Cindy was okay with that.
“So, what do you say, Cindy? You want to start again?” He said, holding out the bracelet as a sort of peace offering. Since he said it into the microphone, the whole crowd heard. They were cheering, cheering for her.
Cindy registered what was going on in moments. The kiss wasn’t his fault. She knew how much of a manipulating bitch Evelyn could be, Cindy wouldn’t put it past her to stage something like that. The note probably wasn’t from him either. She should’ve known, they only ever texted.
And when he said he loved her . . . Peyton must’ve meant it too.
“Definitely.” She put her hand out for him and Peyton crossed the stage in seconds, pulling her close to him in a hug. The teens in the crowd were still going wild for them, causing Cindy to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation.
“What is it?” Peyton whispered into her ear, away from the mic.
“I can’t believe what we went through for this moment.”
Peyton hugged her tighter, “But it was worth it, wasn’t it?”
And Cindy couldn’t have put it any better. She finally had the guy of her dreams and she kind of defeated Evelyn’s reign of terror. It only took until senior year.
And being there in Peyton’s arms, she knew somehow that everything was going to be alright.