That was it.
I was officially done with education, having finally completed my A Levels.
It felt surreal as I walked out of the school grounds, aware that this would be the last time I would do so as a student.
I would miss the place, I mean I had spent seven years of my life here after all, the last two years hadn’t been the best but they were behind me now.
A Levels were stressful, they required a lot of work and the best of it was, I wasn’t even sure why I did them.
I mean, I knew they would never be detrimental to my future but I wasn’t so sure I needed them for said future given that I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.
All of my peers had signed up for University courses whose names baffled and alarmed me. I might have spent the majority of my eighteen years in education but I was the furthest thing from sure about what to do next with it.
I smiled sadly at the grey building before I left. It was odd, despite all the people I had met at my time in St Annes I was leaving as I arrived; alone.
It was iconic considering everything that it happened in the last year. I liked the solitude, the symbolism.
It give me time to accept that I was waving goodbye to a huge part of my life and officially stepping into the unknown.
The bus journey home wasn’t long and as I arrived home my Mum met me at the door with a smile and a hug.
We didn’t exchange words about the fact that this was the last time she would see me in a uniform, instead she focused on asking me how my exam went.
I was pleased with how it had gone but I didn’t want to talk about it.
It felt wrong. I understood the reasons behind testing but it just seemed that it was against the very nature of music.
The next afternoon my Mum came into my room to find me still in bed, my head tucked under the covers.
‘Arianna…’ she began.
I groaned at being woke, dreading to have to face the world I no longer had a place in.
‘What I’m trying to say is that your Uncle Gene has just landed, he will be here in the hour’ she provided and even from my place beneath the blanket I could hear the smile in her voice.
‘Aww, great’ I managed ‘I’ll get myself sorted’ I promised. At these words I heard her leave and sighed in relief.
I wasn't usually a late sleeper but at the present I felt useless, I had finished school at a different time to all my peers and I didn't have a full time job so I was at a loss as to what to do with myself.
Lying in bed wasn't going to solved the problem though so half an hour later I was freshly showered and feeling much better. I was excited to see Uncle Gene, he was the epitome of a cool uncle but he wasn’t around much.
He worked as a vocal coach for some of the best in the business so he spent his home time in London and lots of the year travelling the world, it was a crazy life but he loved what he did. He was my Mum’s only brother and she was always so excited when he came to visit, even if it was last minute. In true Irish style I could hear her rattling about downstairs cooking in anticipation of his arrival.
It wasn’t long before the knocker went and I ran down the stairs to my Mum hugging Uncle Gene like he was all that mattered. I approached slowly, smiling at their joy. As soon as they had pulled apart Uncle Gene pulled me in.
‘Arianna, it’s been too long’ he said hugging me tightly.
We made for the kitchen were Mum produced her hastily prepared meal and we sank into easy conversation. Gene was always so inquisitive about our lives despite the fact that they were remarkably ordinary compared to his. Finally over tea and biscuits in front of the TV we got to pry into his life.
‘What are you up to at the minute Gene?’ Mum asked.
‘Well I’ve just finished touring with Robbie Williams and I’ve finished my contract with his management’ he provided.
‘Why, I thought you really liked working with him?’ my Mum questioned. I knew that they spoke on the phone regularly so she knew all the ins and outs of his work life.
‘I did, he’s a great guy, really nice to work with but I got offered an opportunity that I can’t really say no to’ he hinted.
‘Oh Gene, what is it?’ Mum breathed as I hung on his every word.
‘I got contacted to be the head vocal coach by the management of One Direction’ he revealed beaming from ear to ear as I gaped at him.
‘One Direction, like the One Direction?’ I clarified dumbfounded. I personally hadn’t really listened to much of their music but One Direction were the biggest boy band in the world.
‘Yes’ he replied smiling. ‘I can’t quite believe it. I mean I haven’t really done much work with bands before, especially one as young as this but that was the reason they contacted me. The boys voices have been maturing and they’ve been struggling, they want someone with more experience with the older voice’ he finished.
I could tell from his face that he was absolutely thrilled with the news; I couldn’t believe he kept this from us throughout dinner. Mum got up and hugged him, congratulating him on this and I followed suit as he swatted us away.
‘It’s going to be hard work. It’s really late notice; I start tomorrow with the boys in London working on their album and then we leave in a month to tour that album and record their third one while on the road’.
‘You’ll do great Gene, don’t worry, sure they’re only five kids really’ my Mum reassured him as I snorted.
‘What?’ she asked as they both turned to me.
‘Eh well have either of you seen a One Direction interview?’ I asked.
I might not be their number one fan but even I knew that One Direction were officially nuts.
‘No, why?’ Gene asked, eyes popping.
‘Nothing, nothing’ I hastened ‘They’re just eh energetic’ I provided lamely.
‘Show me an interview’ Gene asked.
‘Aww now Gene I’m sure they’re fine, there is no need for that’ Mum intervened glaring at me.
‘No, come on, I need to see what they’re like and I need to learn something about them, I’m meeting them tomorrow’ he replied looking quite panicky.
‘Ok’ I said taking a deep breath and going to grab my IPad. Gene was right after all, he would need to know what he was dealing with before he went in.
I opened the first interview that I found on YouTube and we gathered round.
It was going well, the boys seemed chilled out, lounging across a sofa with the interviewer in the middle and they were answering her questions, albeit whilst having their own conversations in the background. Then it all went wrong as Liam pushed Niall off the sofa and into the backdrop whilst the other guys dissolved into gales of laughter. I paused the video and glanced up at Gene.
He had his hand clamped over his mouth but he removed it and let out a puff of laughter too.
‘Ok now I see why they told me to bring an assistant with me, these guys seem fun but also a handful’ he concluded.
‘Oh Gene, that’s wonderful you get some help, have you someone lined up?’ Mum asked.
‘Well no, like I said it’s all been very last minute but that’s also the reason I’m back in Ireland’ he began as we looked at him.
‘I was wondering, seeing as she has finished her exams and she doesn’t have anything else planned for the next year, whether my brilliant niece would be up for helping me out?’ he asked as I gaped at him.
‘Me’ I croaked in disbelief.
‘You, Arianna. I know it is all very late but it would be a wonderful opportunity for you and I could do with someone young around these guys to help me out’ he stated as I continued to gape at him stupidly.
‘But, but’ I stuttered ‘I’m not qualified and I don’t have any experience’.
‘Arianna you have an incredible voice and you’re amazing at organising. They are the two main qualities I need in an assistant and as for the experience, well I’m offering you it’ he said.
‘Mum?’ I asked turning to her. This was all too much for me to process, I needed her view on it.
‘Oh Arianna, it’s such an amazing opportunity, it might help you figure out what it is you want to do with your life and you could do with getting away from here’ she gushed, tears in her eyes.
‘But I don’t want to leave you on your own’ I choked. My Dad left before I was born so it was only ever Mum and I and we were very close.
‘Oh, be quiet’ Mum chastised waving her hand ‘You can’t stay with me forever Arianna, I will be just fine’ she said smiling.
‘Is that a yes then?’ Gene questioned and I grinned suddenly.
‘Yes, I suppose it is’.
‘Brilliant Arianna, I’m so thrilled!’ he gushed hugging me tightly.
I couldn’t quite believe this was happening.
I was going to be spending the next 12 months with One Direction, the biggest boy band in the world. There were girls all over the planet who would literally kill to be in my position.
As if reading my thoughts Gene intervened;
‘I’ll explain everything in more detail when I get the chance Arianna but the number one rule in this job is confidentiality. You can’t tell your friends who you are working with. Given the fame of One Direction that could be catastrophic’ he said, suddenly quite stern.
‘That won’t be a problem’ I assured him quietly.
‘Do you think you could be ready to leave for the morning Arianna? I’m booked on the 6.30am flight to London and I think it would be good if you came with me to meet the boys for the first time’ he said.
‘Yes, yes that’s no problem!’ I gushed thinking of all the things I had to do and get ready before then.
‘Well at least I get both of you for tonight’ Mum stated and I smiled gratefully at her for being so supportive of this.
‘Ok, I’ll go get ready and stuff now and then tonight we can go through everything about the boys before we go to meet them’ I said leaping off my feet and going for the door.
‘Sounds good kid’ Gene said.
I took the stairs back to my room two at a time and then stopped in my room in front of my mirror and took a deep breath. This was totally unbelievable but I needed to get myself together, I had to get myself ready and I had virtually no time to do so.
First stop: myself.
Due to my end of school night out I wasn’t actually in that bad of shape. I’d had all my important bits waxed and still retained a light covering of fake tan over my pale skin. My finger nails and toe nails were painted; albeit different colours and thanks to my early morning shower my hair was freshly washed.
Second stop: packing.
This was going to be a nightmare; I was extremely attached to a lot of my clothes.
I had done it; somehow, I had managed to pack a suitcase which didn’t exceed the weight limit. It was an achievement I was proud off.
Pleased with myself I bounced down the stairs to my Mum and Uncle Gene. They were waiting for me at the kitchen table dressed and ready for our meal. It felt surreal that I wouldn’t know when I would next see my Mum but I tried not to focus on this as we left the house for the restaurant.
It was nice that Mum didn’t have to cook; it made a change and helped ease my guilt at leaving her alone. She never referred to this however, only looking on the positives. The food was beautiful and the atmosphere relaxed as we sat around the table, discussing what was to come. We didn’t stay late but left for the comfort of home where we took to researching each of the One Direction boys around cups of tea. By the time I got to bed I was exhausted, pumped full of adrenaline and had a head full of One Direction facts.
When my Mum woke me at 4am I felt like I had been asleep for five minutes. Thinking of the day ahead though soon woke me and I jumped out of bed and into the shower, tying my hair up so it wouldn’t get wet.
Half an hour later I made my way into the kitchen to find my Mum. She was bustling about, checking that I had everything and I could tell by her constant chatter that she was dreading saying goodbye as much as I was.
I stopped her by the counter and took her by the hands.
‘Mum, you don’t need to worry, I’ll be fine and I’ll call all the time, I promise’ I said trying to reassure her.
‘Oh Arianna, I just can’t believe this is it. I always knew this day would come but I never thought how hard it really would be to say goodbye’ she replied avoiding my eyes. Guilt surged through me.
‘Mum, I don’t have to go…’ I began but she interrupted me.
‘No, don’t be silly, this is a fantastic opportunity for you! I would never stop you from going Arianna, I want you to experience the best of the world, God knows you’ve been through enough. I just will miss you while you’re gone’ she explained. I could feel the lump in the back of my throat. I nodded, not trusting myself to speak.
‘Here’ she started moving away from me and opening a drawer on the counter.
‘For you’ she said ‘But I don’t want you to open them just yet, wait until you are settled in London’ she explained smiling and handing me two parcels wrapped in brown paper.
‘Thank-you Mum’ I whispered looking up at her.
‘Thank-you Arianna’ she replied with a sad smile.
‘Why?’ I asked, confused.
‘For making the last 18 years of my life the most incredible. You were my great adventure, scary as hell to begin with but the most rewarding of all. Now it’s your turn to go and have your adventure’ she said and I lost all control as a tear rolled down my cheek.
‘I love you’ I sobbed, hugging her tightly.
‘I love you too’ she said, clutching me tightly.
It was only a minute or so later when we heard Uncle Gene coming down the stairs that we broke apart, laughing at our tears and wiping them away hastily.
‘Arianna’ Uncle Gene said as he came into the kitchen.
‘I have a gift for you too’ he said spotting the packages in my hand.
‘Here’ he said handing me a large present bag.
Intrigued I set it on the table and untied it, from within I pulled the most gorgeous brown, leather rucksack. On the lip of it there was a gold plaque with my initials engraved unto it.
‘Oh Gene’ I gushed ‘It’s beautiful’.
‘You’re going to be spending a lot of time travelling over the next year, I thought it was important you had something to carry round all your most important things in’ he explained smiling.
I hugged him in thanks again and took the paper out of the inside of it. I transferred all of my hand luggage into it, adding my Mum’s presents last.
After a last tearful hug with my Mum I was in the taxi bubbling with excitement and nerves for what was to come.
We landed in London at 7.15am to a buzzing airport. My late night was catching up with me as I stood at the belt waiting for my luggage to arrive, stifling a yawn.
Finally it appeared and Uncle Gene pulled it off, I took it from him and traipsed toward the exit door. When we exited through the glass door there were rows of people holding up signs with people’s names on them. It was eerily like an American movie but Gene seemed to find this common place so I tried to look unimpressed as we scanned the crowd for his name.
Finally we found a middle aged man in a black suit holding it up and went over and introduced ourselves. He leant in and whispered to Gene something I couldn’t hear. Gene nodded looking serious and I tried not to look lost as I followed the two of them. As we walked I noticed that we were passing all the main exit doors, just as my curiosity was peaking Gene dropped back a little to speak with me.
‘Simon Cowell has come to meet us and then take us directly to the boy’s house. I didn’t know he was coming’ he said quietly and I felt my heartbeat ratchet up. Somehow meeting Simon Cowell terrified me way more than meeting the One Direction boys, I mean he was harsh.
Panicked I looked down at my clothes. I had been under the impression we would be going to Gene’s house first before meeting anyone important and I would have had the chance to change. I currently wore my most comfortable clothes, an oversized violet t-shirt with a blue, orange and yellow logo, black over the knee socks, black vans and a black hoodie with my mint green Dr Dre headphone slung around my neck. This did not look professional at all. There was nothing I could do about it though so as we exited through a small fire door off a corridor I forced myself take a deep breath.
The man in the suit took my suitcase from me, opened the back door to a large black car with blacked out window and we got in.
I was positively shaking with nerves as I sat opposite Simon.
‘Mr Cowell, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you’ Gene said shaking his hand.
‘Same to you Mr Metza’ he replied curtly.
‘May I introduce my assistant Arianna, she is also my niece’ Gene provided and I too leant forward and shook his hand.
‘It’s nice to meet you’ I said lamely.
‘We weren’t expecting for you to meet us’ said Gene and Simon nodded curtly.
‘Yes well One Direction are my most important act, they are the biggest boy band on the planet. They are also very young and I admit I have a soft spot for them. Their security and their privacy is of the highest importance’ he concluded seriously and I found myself nodding along, entranced.
‘I understand Mr Cowell, everything I do is in the highest confidence. I do what I do because I love my job not for the association with fame. I can speak for Arianna too when I say we will be very discreet’ Gene provided and the gravity of all of this really began to hit me.
Simon nodded again and took a moment before he spoke again.
‘That is not the reason I have met you here today. There has been a lot of disruption in the One Direction team recently. The boys are about to start a huge World tour and there has been a lot of pressure, unfortunately some of the people couldn’t cope. Their last vocal coach just wasn’t working, he couldn’t adapt to the boys changes in their voices and there was no way he could cope with the pressures of preparing them for tour and recording a new album with them. That is why I requested you specifically, you have a great reputation, I need someone who can cope with the madness of One Direction and help the boys progress’ Simon said.
‘I can’t thank you enough for the request. Working with a band as big as One Direction is a dream come true for someone in my profession. I’m looking forward to listening to the boys and seeing where we can go’ Gene enthused and I could tell that he meant every word he said. He was clearly keen to get his teeth into it all.
‘That’s not the only disappointment. I hired a Personal Assistant for the boys, they are so ridiculously busy and they’re teenagers so they can barely organise to get themselves out of bed never mind where to go and for what time’ he said sighing.
‘I got the news last night however that she had taken a nervous breakdown over the pressure. Apparently the boys were ‘uncontrollable’. That’s my biggest problem. A Personal Assistant is going to be critical for this tour and I have very little time left to find a new one’ he said pinching the bridge of his nose as I continued to stare at him.
There was a brief moment of silence before Gene spoke again.
‘Well Mr Cowell I know this is quite unusual but seeing as your desperate I’m prepared to give up my own assistant to help you out’ Gene offered with a smile as I nearly broke my neck spinning to look at him.
‘Arianna?’ Simon questioned looking at me.
‘Yes’ said Gene ‘Arianna is fantastic at organising, I’d miss her but I’m sure she could try and divide her time. Besides it sounds like the boys need her more than I do’ he continued as I gaped at him.
This was all happening way too fast. Only two days ago I was still a school student. Then I rapidly became an assistant vocal coach to the biggest band in the world and now I was being offered as a Personal Assistant to the same band. I thought I was going to have heart failure. Still if Gene was recommending me I couldn’t be a complete blubbering idiot so I tried a weak smile as Simon looked at me.
‘Are you good at organising Arianna?’ Simon asked and a real smile actually took over me.
‘I’m about one step away from being clinically defined as OCD’ I supplied truthfully.
‘Do you have any experience as a Personal Assistant?’ he asked.
‘No’ I replied.
‘What age are you?’
‘18’ I said.
He shook his head.
‘You need experience at doing this before you try doing it for the biggest in the business and you’re the same age as the boys, they would never listen to you’ he concluded and somewhere inside I felt the surge of injustice. He couldn’t count me out purely due to my age.
‘Mr Cowell did the boys last Personal Assistant have a lot of experience?’ I ventured.
‘Yes, she was highly practiced as a Personal Assistant’ he replied with his brow furrowed, looking slightly irked at my questioning him.
‘How old was she?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know; 30 something’ he said waving his hand dismissively.
‘I don’t mean to be rude Mr Cowell but the formula of experience and age didn’t seem to work last time. Maybe the boys would listen to me because I am the same age as them’ I offered feeling brave and stupid in equal measure.
There was a resounding silence in the car and Simon was looking hard at me with no expression on his face.
I held my breath, waiting to be thrown out of the car and sent back on the plane.
‘That seems like a fair enough conclusion’ Simon finally said and I nearly stopped breathing.
‘I’ll give you a chance; one week to see how things go’ he said.
‘Thanks’ I replied trying to get my voice to a normal octave.
What on earth had I just gotten myself into?
At that moment Simon’s phone rang and he answered it, the conversation was short and testy and he barked out orders.
‘The old PA who quit last night?’ he said to us and we nodded to indicate we were following.
‘She’s given the address of the boy’s house out, we need to move them now, fans have already started to arrive’.
‘Do you have another house for them?’ I asked, forgetting myself in the shock.
‘We had another one lined up as a possibility, they’re checking now if it’s still free, the carshave been ordered and the boys told to pack’ he said curtly as his phone rang again.
‘Good, we’ll be there in 15 minutes’ he said down the phone.
‘It’s still available’ he said ‘There’s a cottage a mile down the road from it you can stay in Arianna’ he said.
‘A mile away?’ I exclaimed.
‘How on earth am I meant to get them out of bed and in the right place at the right time and look after and organise every microscopic detail of their lives if I’m a mile away? They could wreak havoc in the time it would take to for me to get from my house to theirs!’ I exclaimed in shock.
Did this man not know the first thing about teenagers?
Simon looked at me curiously as though I was a strange creature.
‘There’s a spare room in the new house’ he finally supplied and I nodded embarrassed at my outburst.
‘Gene, there won’t be time for you to rehearse with the boys today, I’ll introduce them to you and organise a car to take you to your house. We need to get them moved before any more fans arrive or the press. We can’t risk them being followed’ he concluded.
There was a silence in the car for a few minutes before we heard the screams of dozens of girls. I peered out the tinted windows to see fifty plus girls surrounding the car and trying to push their way through the gates which had been opened to let us in.
I had just gotten my first taste of One Direction madness.
As the car came up the drive and drew to a stop I braced myself to meet the boys at the source of all the mania.
Ahh well there it is! My first ever One Direction Fanfic. Let me know what you think guys :-)
Arianna's First Outfit: http://www.polyvore.com/arianna_airport/set?id=109427300
The interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1lPt5JEYrs