Chapter Eleven: Stagefright
"Well, here we are. Our first gig!" Sylva peered out of the window of
the black limousine, her blue eyes bright with excitement. It was two weeks
on, and in that two weeks Phyllis and Jetta had bent all of their energies
into promoting their new group. Songs had been decided on and photoshoots
had been completed, and, as a result, the club was buzzing with people
eager to hear the sound of this fresh blood.
When Misfit Music promoted a group, it was generally worth hearing.
"We gotta make it good. No room for error." Copper shivered. "There are a lot of people."
"Well, it's our chance to show that Sirena creature who's who." Sylva shrugged, not a bit perturbed. "And, with any luck we'll knock that song of hers off top spot when we release our own track!"
"What's hers called again?" Copper asked.
"I want everything." Sylva grimaced. "Doesn't that just say it all?"
"Yeah." Copper grinned. "Does, rather. Though if I'm honest it's not a bad song. It's catchy, it has good beat, and I can see why so many people like it. She's already a big hit and she's going to be stiff competition, Syl. The girl can sing, for a start."
"So? So can I and so can Nancy, as we'll prove tonight." Sylva shrugged again. "I'm sure you could sing along better than her too, if you wanted to."
"I'm happy enough on kit and backing vocals." Copper laughed. "I'll leave you to fight out who's taking lead vocals. At least with doing three songs tonight you can divide them up."
Sylva glanced across at Nancy, who up to this moment had remained stolidly silent, gazing out of the window at the masses of people pouring into the club.
"What's eating you?" She demanded.
"Nothing! Butt out!" Nancy snapped back. "Can't a girl think anymore without getting the third degree?"
Sylva rolled her eyes, but at that moment the car drew to a stop and the girls were ushered inside the building and into the small boxroom which would be their dressing room for the night.
"I can't wait to get out there." Sylva peered around the edge of the door. "Look at this, you guys! All these people here to see us! Isn't it a blast?"
"Just brilliant." Nancy snapped. "If you got your big head out of the way we might get to see, but then again we'll get to see plenty when we're on stage, won't we? Shift, Sylva. I'm going to get a drink. This room's too poky and I get enough of your company as it is."
She shoved past her bandmate, slipping out of the room and closing the door behind her. Taking a deep breath she leant back against it, closing her eyes momentarily as she tried to get to grips with the swirling emotions in her head. Getting a drink had been nothing more than a cover, for she felt sick with fear at the thought of having to go onstage. Pride was a big deal in Nancy's world, often it was her only defence against ridicule, and so she had been unable to confess to the other girls how nervous she was feeling. Though Sylva had done singing contests and Copper had played in a club before, Nancy had never performed her music to a mass audience, and what made it worse was that she was playing in her hometown. She had recognised a number of faces in the crowd; people she had gone to school with. The popular kids who had taunted and teased her throughout her school career, since the day she had been skipped up a grade aged eleven, and before. As she had registered them, her heart had almost frozen in terror. Defiant, sarcastic and cold she might front as being when dealing directly with the abuse, but it had cut deep into her, and there had been nights she had cried herself to sleep, too proud and too ashamed to tell anyone how wretched she was feeling. Her high school years had been the worse, particularly the last year, since Aaron had no longer been there to help her out, and as she had seen those faces the memories had all come flooding back. Years of taunts, of victimisation and of jeers.
There was no way she could go out on stage.
Slowly she made her way down the narrow, dimly lit corridor, her heart pounding in her chest and her thoughts swirling and panicking through her head. What could she do? There were people everywhere! How could she escape? And what would her mother say when she discovered that she had been right all along and that Nancy really wasn't ready for a contract after all? What then?
Claustrophobia had been one of the traits she had inherited from Jetta, and it was partially this which explained her clammy hands and panicking heart-rate, but in truth it was more than that. Nancy's chief fear in the world was people...and here she was, about to go out and share something that was so dear to her own heart with the very people who had always laughed and pushed her away.
The voice startled her, and she jumped, swinging round. It had been Copper who had spoken and she bristled, taking a step back. Regaining her composure was beyond her grasp.
"Leave me alone!" she exclaimed. "I need some time!"
"Nance, are you having second thoughts about this?" Copper's tone was gentle. "I know it's a big deal and it's natural to be scared..."
"I'm not scared! Nancy protested hotly, though her demeanour gave her away.
"Well, I am." Copper grinned ruefully. "I've never played to a crowd like this before."
"Really?" Nancy hesitated, staring at her companion.
"Really." Copper nodded. "I always get nervous before I go on, but when I'm out there playing the adrenalin kicks in and I'm fine. There's nothing wrong with being afraid, Nancy. Most performers get scared at some time in their career. Don't let Sylva's enthusiasm put you off."
"I can't go out there." Nancy's tones were unsteady.
"Sure you can."
"I can't!" Nancy exclaimed. "There are people out there! People who are gonna watch me and laugh..."
"You don't know that." Copper chided.
"Yes I do." Nancy was bitter. "That's what they did at school, no matter what I said or did. I never played for school recitals because nobody wanted to hear it anyway. Copper, this is different for me than it is for your or Sylva. If it goes wrong, well, you guys have nothing to lose. But this is my hometown! There are people I know in the audience, people I just graduated with! And the songs...they're my songs! What if we go out there and they all boo us? What then?"
"Oh, Nancy." Copper hugged her companion, taking her off guard. "Listen to me. You have an amazing musical talent, both for writing and performing, and your songs are brilliant. The only way those people are gonna boo us is if we don't perform. You can't be a star if you can't play in front of people."
"I want to go home." Nancy murmured, and she did not pull back from Copper's comforting grasp.
"Well, you can't." The redhead said matter-of-factly. "Look, who cares who the people are in the audience? They're just faces, after all. And if people gave you a hard time at school, well, this is the time to prove them all wrong. Isn't it?"
"I...I guess so." Nancy faltered. "I'm not good with people, Copper. I never have been. I don't understand how to deal with them, and they only want to get at me anyway."
"It's never too late to learn."
"What's the use?" Nancy sounded bitter. "I'm weird. Just ask anyone who I went to school with. I'm the freaky brainiac who got skipped up a grade, the kid noone likes. If I go out there they'll all laugh and boo me. You and Sylva are better off without me."
"That's nonsense." Copper told her. "You're the backbone of our act and we couldn't play without you. And Nancy? You're wrong about something else, too. I don't think you're a freak. I think you're just very gifted and people get intimidated by real talent. What;s more, I like you."
"You...really do?" Nancy looked startled. "You and Sylva get on so well that I thought..."
"You silly." Copper laughed. "Come on. Jewel needs you, Nancy Pelligrini, so swallow your fear, and let's show them what we can do. Make your mother and Misfit Music proud, huh? She was a damn fine star in her day...let's show everyone that you're just as much a star as she ever was. And like Syl said, we can put Sirena firmly in her place. Whatever happens, the three of us are in this together."
Nancy was silent for a moment. Then she nodded.
"Okay." She said. "I...I'll try."
"Good." Copper winked. "Have faith! Once you get out there it'll be fine. And if you don't love performing then noone is gonna make you do it again. Just give it a go, huh?"
"I guess you're right." Nancy admitted. "Okay. Then...then let's go out there and give them everything we got, huh?"
"That's the spirit!" Copper laughed. "Let's rock!"
PART ONE: STARSTRUCK
Chapter One: Sylvina
Chapter Two: A Budding Genius
Chapter Three: A Well Kept Secret
Chapter Four: Making Waves
Chapter Five: Copper...and Sirena
Chapter Six: City of Angels
Chapter Seven: At Misfit Music
Chapter Eight: Jewel
Chapter Nine: I Want Everything
Chapter Ten: Sirena Strikes
Chapter Eleven: Stagefright
Chapter Twelve: Team Spirit
JEWELFIC MAIN PAGE:
Copper, Nancy, Sylvie, Anna, Blade, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series.