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IV. Emergence

I stood on top of a platform with a microphone stand three feet away from me. Three stage lights pointed at my direction making everything in front of me pitch black. This is how it feels to be on the spotlight. I don't know why Lucian brought me here when we only have a few hours before the meeting with the press. My label, The Grid, released the album ahead of time to combat a growing online leak. My scheduled live performances on radio and television are still a go with their original dates. It's the press junket for the release I have to do early as Lucian stated.

"What does this album mean for you?" His voice boomed in the dark.
"It's uh--"

All of a sudden, a splash of water came over me and a repetitive sound of laughter echoed in the dark. I shrieked but his voice silenced me at once.

"You have to be quick. Snappy. Reporters will be throwing questions at you in succession. Give them quick answers. The media loves one liners. It makes their job easier to find a headline."

I wiped my face and found one side of my dress drenched in water. Was that necessary? The wet fabric stuck on my skin making the cold temperature much more obvious to me.

"How is this any different from your previous record?"
"With Emergence, I worked with music genius Div Aika to create a new sound for my second record. And uh--"

Another splash came from the right. I flinched in shock as I felt the cold water running down my spine. My hands started shaking as the cold became more evident to my skin. I heard the same laughter roaring in the dark. It was starting to get on my nerves.

"Short and concise. Do not add anymore than necessary. The lesser words you spit out lower the chances of making any mistake. The media is going to twist your words and make you out into a villain for their story. Keep it simple so they have less to work with."

I had my arms crossed to give myself a little warmth but to no avail. There is no point to what he's doing, I thought. This is probably not how interviews go and I'm pretty sure no one is out there to throw glasses of water at me for every question. My lips shuddered as I tried to keep my composure.

"Are you dating a pornstar?"

The question caught me off guard but before I could speak, another splash came over. The laughter grew louder and it made me feel smaller.

"Don't give them that look. You have to be quic- Hey! Don't you leave that spot! That's rude. You don't want these people to write bad things about you. Glory, listen to me. Just listen to me. I'm not always gonna be there. You gotta hold your own. When you speak to them, think about how you would talk to me. You don't want to disappoint me, right? Then don't."

I was about to step down but I couldn't. Before I could open my mouth to answer the question, tears burst down and my body was shaking. All the lights went on and the function hall was empty. There were no one on the red seats and it was just me on the stage. Lucian came up from behind me and wrapped me in a thick towel.

"It's gonna be alright."

Something inside me wanted to be angry. Another was scared. All in all, I felt powerless in the spotlight but when I saw that there was no one before me, it gave me peace.

"It's all in your head, Glory." It felt warm in his arms this time. "It's just you telling yourself that you cannot do it. But I believe in you. I've always believed in you. You are in there somewhere and we're all waiting for you."

In that moment, I felt something in myself change. Like something breaking free from the chains in my head. His voice crawled deep within the depths of my head like a hand reaching out down a cliff. I reached for his hand even if it was too far. Somehow my hand made it to his and his grip tightened as he pulled me up. It was like being underwater for so long and finally reaching the surface to take one deep breath to life. And I felt an overwhelming sense of assurance come out from inside me that my lips moved.

"I'm here now."

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