How I Got What I Wanted

Tania Jones is just another girl with a dream. One of the millions of girls auditioning for the M Factor. She would put everything on the line to win, to be famous, to never have to do anything but sing, and when she's turned down in the judges houses she does...
This is for the M Factor Competition. Please comment, like, whatever. All constructive criticism is welcome. :)

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1. Sold my Soul

Once upon a time I thought I had two sides of me-like Batman or Superman: the boring, or at least bored, checkout girl, who quit college to work instead of her mum, and the mysterious, hot, talented young artist on her way to fame. The latter doesn't exist. I know that much.

Beep Beep!! My alarm went off. I groaned and rolled out of bed. I shoved my uniform on and went to make my mum breakfast. I wasn't in the mood for a shower, or food. I quickly fried some eggs and poured the last of the orange juice into a glass. I carried the food to my mum's room, and gave her a quick kiss. She was still asleep. I wished I could give her something better than this. A decent lifestyle, and a comfortable place to rest, and get better hopefully. I leave quickly, conscious of the time, and as I pass through the hall to put my shoes on, I catch a glance of my myself in the mirror, and pause. I looked rough. Nothing like the determined, bright-eyed girl I was a few weeks ago; with my new dress on, and hairspray and pins in my hair, ready to sing my heart out. I spare a minute to slide a hair brush through my unwashed hair, and go.

After a few hours at work, I find myself lost in the constant beat of my job. Pick it up, scan it, put it away. My mind goes numb, and I find it easier to not think about the past week. My first holiday abroad. To Dubai. The hours I spent practising, making sure I picked the perfect song. When I wasn't practising, I was trying to look ok in front of the camera's. Mum splashed her cash to make sure I had a decent wardrobe, so that, as she said, "nobody can say you don't belong". And I did feel like I belonged there, in that sun-splashed villa, spending time with people who shared my passion. Especially Sasha. She had a diva aura all around her, but deep inside, she was just as shy and nervous as me. We met before the judges houses, at boot camp. We had to sing in a group. I was lucky enough to be in her group. She was a natural leader and she worked us hard! In Dubai we always found time to talk about how excited we were, and we would sing together till late at night while chilling in the pool. She got through, naturally. When I didn't, she was almost as gutted as I was. She brought me a tub of ice-cream, and ate it with me while I cried; tiny, embarrassed tears at first, sobbing and blowing my nose a few minutes later.

"Tania! Snap out of it!" It was Georgia, one of my co-worker friends. She was clicking her fingers at me, leaning over the till. "Hellooo?? Is anyone there? Come, on, I'm starving."

I absent mindedly looked at my watch and realised it was our lunch break.I sighed. Going to lunch meant going to The Swan, the pub down the street. I occasionally sang there on OpenMic nights. I also knew Frank was gonna be there. My "manager", as he liked to call himself. He got me a few gigs at weddings and clubs. I haven't seen him since Dubai, and I ignored his calls. Unfortunately for me, Georgia had one massive crush on him. Which quite often lead to near enough stalking. I don't know what she found so amazing about him, he wasn't much to look at., and he certainly wasn't one of those nice-on-the-inside-guys.

"I'm not hungry" I said.

"Come ON! I'm not going to go in there looking like a loner. Please.I'll buy you lunch..." Georgia whined. I gave the proposal a thought. When WAS the last time I had a proper meal? Probably back in Dubai. And Georgia was offering to pay...

"Alright.I'll go. But if Frank isn't there we're not waiting up for him afterwards."

Unfortunately for me, Frank was there. I ignored him, while he ignored Georgia, who was desparetly trying to make conversation with him. I tried to enjoy my chips and burger. In any other situation this would be possible. This one however was just too awkward.

"Tania... honey.. I think I can guess what happened..." Frank said, taking hold of my hand. I never particularly liked him. He always took more of the cash I made than he was supposed to. He wasn't one of those guys you wanted to trust. But he got me gigs, and a bit of money.  

" Please Frank.. shut up" I said, trying to sound nicely. He let go of my hand, but didn't leave us alone.

"No Tania." He sounded almost angry. " We need to talk about this. To move you forward. Tell me... what happened? Were you sick in front of Tulisa? Did you faint? Please tell me you didn't ..."

Nice of Frank to believe in me, to trust me not to mess up. Furious, I looked up into his eyes.

"No Frank. I didn't. I sang the best I have ever sang.I just wasn't good enough. She said I wouldn't cope. That compared to the other contestants I wouldn't make it. So, would you please... Leave. Me. Alone?"

Frank was silent. Georgia giggled nervously in the background.

"I need the bathroom" She said, standing up and walking off. I barely heard her go. Frank shot a glance at the closing bathroom door, and  started whispering quickly to me.

"I figured that might happen. No offence, Tania, baby. But don't you worry. Your good, old, Frank has you sorted out.You'll be back in that show in a couple of weeks. Trust me. They'll decide to spring a surprise on the audience and have an extra contestant. There'll be one live show dedicated to this.  Each judge will pick one contestant to bring back. Then the audience will vote their favourite. You know how it works. And Tania, honey, Tulisa will brink back you. And the audience will vote for you. "

A shiver went down my spine. Something was very wrong with this. At the same time, I felt more alive than I have all week at just the thought of performing again.

"How do you know?" I asked cautiously.

"I know people." He smiled with his crooked mouth.

"How do you know she'll pick me I mean, and... and that I'll be voted in?"

"I'm willing to pull quite a few strings for you" he said, taking hold of my hand once more and stroking it slowly. I thought I was going to be sick. It took me all the strength I had not to pull away. "But Tania, you understand, I can't do that for free..."

"What do you want?" I asked, more stressed and anxious than I intended to be.

"As always. 50-50. You get half, I get half."

"I won't get anything unless I win, or at least reach the final." I said quie. tly.

"Don't you worry about that sweet cheeks.I got your back."

"So...we're going to cheat?"

"Cheat is such an ugly word. Tania, you deserve this, and you know it. Think of all the wonderful things you can get you mother" I flinched. I didn't want to talk about my mum- to him especially.

"Ok... so what if.. what if Tulisa picks me anyway? What if I can make it without your help?"

Frank laughed at my response. "What about that Natalie? Huh? She sang Tulisa's song on her audition-got four yes-es too. And, rumour has it, she's actually loosely related to her. Her cousin's cousin's aunt's niece or something... would she honestly just pick you over Natalie? But I... I know Tulisa very well...In fact, I know all about her. I could persuade her." 

My mind wondered back to Dubai. I saw Natalie, giggling away with Tulisa, talking intently. I remembered Sasha's dirty looks at the pair. "Practicaly cheating" She'd murmur. In the end though, Natalie didn't get through to the finals. I think she messed up her song or something, since she never came out of her room after. I couldn't do this. Cheat. And this wasn't just any old cheating, at scrabble, or at a hockey game. This was cheating, in front of millions of people, cheating, in fact, to the whole nation. But... My mum.. I couldn't spend the rest of my life working at a checkout. It would kill me. They were cutting down on my shifts too, me and mum were barely able to afford to pay the bills. If it carried on she'll go back to work, and just get worse and worse. There must be other ways though.

"Honey, you have until tomorrow, noon." He whispered.  I looked up and saw Georgia finally coming out of the bathroom.

I chewed the thought over, and over, through the rest of the day. What would Sasha think?  And mum, would she want that dirty money I got, even if I did win? What if they found out? I would die of shame.

"Mum..." I asked when I got home, after making her some dinner, and washing up the plates." Do you think I can become a star?"  I asked quietly.

"Sweetheart, in my eyes, you're already a star. You have so much talent, yet you still look after your old mother. I'm so proud of you, you know that?" She took hold of me and cuddled me on her lap. "But Tania, sweetie, don't let me get in front of your dreams. You need to think about your future, your dreams, you need to get there in any way possible. Maybe Tulisa didn't think you had it in you. You ought to show her she's wrong. Please, don't waste your dreams on me." I was crying. I buried my face in my mum's soft, worn out cardigan. "Okay" I mumbled.

Beep! Beep! Another fun day in boredom-topia. I roll out of my bed as usual, but more tiered than normal. I couldn't sleep last night. Frank's and my mum's words kept ringing in my mind. I took a quick shower to try and wash them off. It didn't work, but at least I smelt and looked better. I brushed my wet hair, and dried it off with a towel.

I was almost late for work. Nobody seemed to mind. I set off, as always, picking things up, scanning them, then putting them away. In my better days, I would hum, or think of a song in my mind to keep me occupied. Today, my problems were enough to keep me busy. I glanced at my watch. Noon wasn't far away. Outside, a group of girls walked past. They were laughing, they were pretty, dressed in the priciest outfits, make-up on their face. I envied them so much. I wasn't going to deny it. A couple of them went into the shop.  I ignored them and set back to work. Pick it up, scan it, put it away.  A few minutes later, and they were checking out. Among their purchases were your typical: bread, butter, sweets, alcohol, (which I grimly said that they needed to show ID for) apples, beef stock, and a Tulisa CD. Her face seemed to be smirking at me, sly, and proud. I almost smashed it down on the counter.

"Watch it!" one of the girls complained. As soon as they left I got my phone out, enraged.

Fuck it, I'm in 

I sent the text. Only once Frank replied saying: "that's my girl" did I truly realise what I did. I ran off and sat there, locked in the loo, unable to cry, or laugh, just dread the days ahead.

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