The M Factor: It's Now or Never

Love and war do not mix well together.

The M Factor competition is all-out war, as talented people from all over the continent compete for the chance of a lifetime. I still don't know how I am even here, among the talented.

Love isn't something that you could merely push away. It isn't a feeling you could just ignore. Which is why I struggle between the balance of love and war.

Which will win in the end?

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19. On My Own

    "Matt, I can't do this," I cried, running a stressed hand through my hair. If I had five more seconds of standing here in worry, I would go mad. I couldn't process the thought of Jace saying that he liked me back. The thought of him immediately falling for me when I sang the song. 

 

   "Don't worry, Addison, it'll be fine. All you have to do is sing the song. I'll be in the back, making sure that all goes well, and that Jace sees is the performance." Matt reassured. 

 

    "I know the plan- I just can't do it." 

 

     Matt and I side-stepped our conversation to make room for Olivia, who squirmed through us. I turned my attention back to Matt, seeing his confident face. "I know you can, Addison."

 

   "He'll say that he doesn't like me- I know it." I panicked. 

 

   "Addison, it is obvious he likes you. Everybody sees it besides you. Olivia even sees it, which is why she thinks of you as a threat. And so what if for whatever reason he says he doesn't like you?  You can move on and forget about him. You don't know when you are going to get out of this competition, or when the last time you see Jace will be." 

 

    "That is the thing, Matt. I can't forget about him." I squeaked. "I love him."

 

    "We're on in three minutes, people, three minutes," a crew person announced to all who stood in the backstage corridor. 

 

    "Addison!" Kat's voice calls. I turn to see Kat, running down the corridor in a rush, with a worried look on her face. 

 

   "What is it?" I wondered, pondering on what could cause so much disruption. 

 

   "He knows."

 

   "What? Who knows?" I gasped. 

 

   "Jace! He knows you like him!" Kat announced. "Olivia told him. She said she overheard you too talking." 

 

   "What! Oh no! Now I'm going to look desperate singing a song to him, and now I certainly can't do this. I can't go out there and- Matt!" I called out after the running silhouette which belonged to Matt. "Where could he possibly be going? Oh great, this is all a disaster." 

 

    "Stay calm. Addison." 

 

    "Stay calm? Stay calm? I can't possibly stay calm when the boy I love just found out I loved him! Not to mention that I am completely certain that he doesn't like me back!" 

 

   "Addison Carter to the stage, please." 

 

   "Listen, you don't have time to worry. In a matter of moments they will be getting back from commercial and you can't change it. You can't do anything about it now, but go and face it." 

 

    "I'm going to be known as the creepy girl who fell in love with the boy who was entirely out of her league. It's happened before, Kat, and I've tried so hard not to let it happen again!" 

 

   "Addison Carter to the stage!" 

 

   "I can't do this. I'm telling them I'm not doing it," I declared. 

 

    "Are you mad? Look, you are going to let this destroy you and everything you've worked for? Not on my watch, you're not! Don't let any of that matter to you now!" Kat exclaimed. "Forget Jace, forget Olivia, forget everything! Just focus on what brought us all here- the music! It is what this is all about anyway! Not some stupid relationships. I would have never guessed that a crush would ruin you, but you are proving me wrong. You need to get on that stage and perform your bum off!" 

 

   "You're right." 

 

   "Of course I'm right. Nothing matters to you, right?" 

 

   "Nope, nothing." I gulped. "Jace doesn't matter to me." 

 

   Just as I lied to myself using these words, I saw Jace approach from the corridor, like a sly fox hunting his prey. He gave me a disgusted look. Of course, he was repulsed at the thought of us. And I guess I had to be too. Our eyes met, and I could just barely see him through my eyes, which were blurry with tears. 

 

    "Addison Carter!" 

 

   "I can do this," I said to Kat without breaking eye contact. He shook his head, just as I blinked out a tear. I was dragged away by a crew member, who was cursing to himself about how I was going to make him lose his job. 

 

   "Welcome back to the most heated contest in the continent. Please welcome, from Team Tulisa, Addison Carter!" 

 

    The walls in front of me slowed open, as the crowd cheered. I ruffled my ballet-slipper-pink evening gown, as I stared out into the crowd, not giving the crowd what they were expecting. A soft melodic piano began to play as I stepped down from the stairs.

 

    "On my own, pretending he's beside me. All alone, I walk with him until morning. Without him, I feel his arms around me. And when I lose my way I close my eyes and he has found me," I squeezed my eyes shut, attempting to block out all emotions while I sang. 

 

   "In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight. And all I see is him and me forever and forever. And I know, it's only in my mind, and that I'm talking to myself and not to him. And although,I know that he is blind, still I say, 'there's a way for us'. I love him but when the night is over, he is gone: a river's just a river. Without him, the world around me changes. The trees are bare and everywhere, the streets are full of strangers." 

 

   I reached out into the crowd, looking up at the balcony. I felt pressured, with the camera, zoomed into my face, yet I felt like I was alone, on a bare stage in front of an empty theater. I thought about Jace, and how much I wanted to be with him, as repulsed as he may be. 

 

   "I love him, but everyday I'm learning, all my life, I've only been pretending. Without me, his world will go on turning. A world that's full of happiness, that I have never KNOWN!" I practically screamed, the whole auditorium going completely silent as I belted out my anger towards the situation. 

 

   I dropped the note. Silence lied down upon the entire theater, as I stared off into space, angry and sad. Oh, how badly I wanted him to love me. 

 

   "I love him," I breathed, half-singing half talking. "I love him, I love him. But only on my own."

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