a Women Writer's' Showcase
Soul in a Small Dark Room
by Sarah Star

She wanted acceptance.

They ridiculed her at High School, laughed at her pimply skin and awkward ways, so she turned to soul. She sought out the places where the outcasts went. Dark rooms, dark people, but could they sing! She wanted to join in. She knew she could. They welcomed her in.

At night, under the moon, she sneaked away from home and took the dusty track to the bad side of town and sang her heart out. Hitching rides on trucks became a way of life.

Her prim family, upright in so many ways rejected her. She wouldn’t stay under the thumb of their dictates. She rode the knife-edge path of showbiz, a world of sex, drugs and rock and roll. The more she went the more she wanted. She found the place where she belonged.

They travelled, like bands did, gigs here and there. Drunken brawls outside third rate ale-houses. Then that break they had been waiting for.

It was the time of free love and festivals. At the festival to start them all they took the stage. Halfway through they climbed up to sing. She changed into a flirty mini-dress for the cameras, but she was on a high, only half drug-induced.  She sang loud, full throttle and the audience sang with her. There at that moment she knew she was amongst friends. She let them see, she let them touch her soul. She was a sensation.

The establishment wanted her now. They sought her out offering more money than any of her classmates would ever know. She made records. She was the queen of song.

Back at High School ten years later, they wanted a reunion. Everyone was invited. The bullies waited to see if she would accept. They knew she had her weaknesses; she didn’t know that.  She called up her lovers, persuaded them to go. After all, she had her fame now. She had her money. She was the one who had made it. They had to accept her now, didn’t they? She would show them. It would be a gas.

The press followed her back down that dusty road.

“I’m going back to High School!” she told them. They wrote it down. The public lapped it up.

They left her laughing with her drunken friends.

“I’ll tell you all about it,” she said. Of course you will, they thought.

Afterwards, she had to see them like she’d promised.

“Did you fit back in?” they asked.

Well did she?

She couldn’t answer.  She’d never been invited to the prom, never played their childhood games. Nothing had changed. She still craved acceptance.

Her friends took her back to town. She laughed, she drank to forget. It didn’t help. She sang the blues. She got stoned, lay and got laid. It didn’t ease the pain. She needed something stronger.

She took an overdose.

Her soul lay alone in a small dark room.

The end

Sarah Star lives in Sandhurst, England with her family. She started writing short stories 6 months ago but has only just started to send them out into the wider world. The BBC's Get Writing site gave her the encouragement she needed. Contact Sarah.