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2. x-factor

The buzz of excitement filtered around me and I could feel the warm bodies pressed against my rapidly heating skin. The absolute thrill of being in this position right now had overcome me and I transformed into a blubbering excited teenage girl. Twisting my head around, I tried to find my slightly taller best friend, Harry Styles.

Simultaneously, like twins, he had turned around to meet my eyes. I smiled at him and took his hand, to ensure that we wouldn’t be lost in the sea of hopeful X-Factor applicants.

Since the very first season of the X-Factor back in 2004 when we were simply 10 years old, we had promised to audition together. In true childhood style, we made a spit promise out of it, laughing about it joyously. We would, of course, audition as individuals as we were as different as we could possibly be, but we would audition together nonetheless.

And now, six years later, the time had finally come.

Despite the many hours of waiting, my patience had not worn out. With the help of Harry and both of our loving and supportive families, we were able to make it through the many hours. Now, we were finally entering the building and finishing off the last of the minute details before auditioning.

Harry was to perform before me and I was to go directly after. Five minutes before our respective auditions, we were seated in the slightly hard plastic chairs, holding each others’ hands. Our families had gone to the waiting zone.

It wasn’t the first time we had auditioned as we’d had to perform for the producers of the show. That either meant we were really good, really bad or just downright bizarre. However, the thought of performing in front of the judges both petrified me and excited me.

“So this is it, huh?” Harry rhetorically asked, his voice shaking slightly and betraying him to the nerves that I knew he must’ve felt. A career as a singer was the basis of both of our dreams. I rubbed his hands with my thumbs and smiled at him reassuringly. I had no doubt in my mind that he would continue through to the next round and wow both the judges and live audience.

His piercing blue eyes probed mine and he wordlessly managed to calm my bubbling nerves. He always had the ability to comfort me, even without words. We were good for each other; we helped each other through everything. Exactly as best friends are supposed to.

All too soon, his voice was called out and I instantly felt the chill as his warm hands left mine. Jumping up, we hugged quickly and wished each other luck and with that he left. I sat down again and waited, my stomach in knots, both for me and Harry.

Harry had the slight advantage. Exceptionally good looking with a curly mop of mousse brown hair and beautifully haunting blue eyes, he was easily able to woo the ladies. I must admit that I had been attracted to him once before, but now he was simply my best friend, no sexual attraction existed.

His voice was like rough velvet. Kind of oxymoronic in a way, however it exemplified manliness without being too harsh on the ears. I loved listening to him to sing. On the nights that we spent together, just hanging out and talking, he would never hesitate to break out in song. When he witnessed me fluttering my eyes closed, he would gently sing me to sleep. Singing was definitely an amazing talent of his.

By the time he walked onto the stage, I had been moved to the side to await my chance to audition. I had a perfect view of Harry and I watched him intensely, unknowingly smiling my heart out.

Even at the mention of his name, the crowd went wild and I knew that his good looks were going to be one of his secret weapons.

“So tell me a bit about you,” Simon asked, leaning back in his chair. I peeked out into the crowd and was slightly surprised to see the number of audience members. My stomach fluttered again, but I refocused my attention back onto Harry.

“Erm, I work in a Bakery…” he said. He continued to speak about himself and what he was going to study at College. My mind was flooded with memories of our times back in Holmes Chapel and I smiled. I heard Harry state that he was going to sing “Isn’t she lovely” by Stevie Wonder and I paid attention once again.

His velvety smooth voice started singing and I was instantly transported to another world. This song was our song. We had discovered it together back 4 years ago whilst browsing the internet and instantly, we had fallen in love. It was the song that he always sang to me when I was feeling down or having boy troubles. Such a meaningful song, I should’ve known that he would sing it today. He glanced at me very quickly whilst singing and smiled. That simple act had given me confidence for my audition.

I had considered the possibility that one of us would get through and the other would not. Honestly, it was a very heartbreaking thought. We always thought that we would go through this journey together, supporting each other as much as we could. I don’t know what we would do if we both didn’t get through. But, I pushed the negative thoughts out of my mind. Now was not the time to contemplate them.

He finished singing and the judges began their commentary. In general they were very good however when Louis Walsh began to state that Harry was too young, I joined in with the booing coming from the crowd. The stage organizers had to shush me, but I had made my point. Harry smiled into the microphone and I was confident he had heard me. I crossed my fingers as the verdict was about to be made.

Whilst Louis said no, Cheryl and Simon said yes, which was enough to get him through. I cheered for him and watched him walk off stage. He turned around and winked at me and I knew that it was now my turn. With the prompt from the stage organizer who had made me quieten down before, I walked onto the stage.

I was instantly confronted with lights. Lights from everywhere and once my eyes became accustomed to their shine, I noticed the audience. There were thousands of people there. Thousands. The nerves returned. I glanced to the side and Harry once more reassured me with his thumbs up. I had to ace this, I had to concentrate.

Taking one step at a time, I smiled. The crowd cheered. I relaxed slightly.

“So, Scarlett is it?” Cheryl asked. I nodded. My voice had appeared to freeze. I swallowed a few times.

“Tell us a little about who you are,” Louis kindly said, smiling. His voice relaxed me.

“Well, erm, I’m from Cheshire. I just finished my GSCEs and I am in love with boy bands.” My voice sounded much more confident than I actually was.

“Oh really? Who’s your favourite boy band?” Simon asked.

“The Backstreet Boys, definitely. I grew up with them in the 90s and so they’re a big influence for me,” I mentioned. The judges smiled.

“So what are you singing today?” Louis questioned.

I swapped the microphone from my left hand to my right and quickly responded, “I’ll stand by you by Carrie Underwood.” With the judges prompt, I began singing.

Performing had always been my forte. Once I began belting my heart out to a song that I absolutely loved, my nerves vanished. This is what I was born to do; this is what I wanted to do with my life. I could feel the passion and love flowing through my body and escaping through my mouth. Once I’d sung the segment I wanted to sing, I stopped and returned to the big X in the middle of the stage.

My heart was racing. It was now or nothing. I tried to evaluate the judges’ faces, but they gave away nothing. I could hear my heart beating in my ears.

“Well,” Simon started, swivelling in his chair and not looking at me. I bit my lip. “That was, undoubtedly, the most beautifully haunted performance I have heard all day. Amazing.”

I beamed.

“Thank you so much, that means a lot.” Cheryl and Louis’ comments echoed his and once again, Louis mentioned that I was too young. I heard Harry booing from the sidelines and I struggled to restrain my smile. In response to Louis, I did the only thing I could do and I nodded.

“From me, it’s definitely a yes. I want to see more of you Scarlett,” Simon said. 1 down, 2 to go.

“A yes from me too,” Cheryl said. I squealed in delight and jumped up and down on the spot, thanking the judges profusely. Louis’ vote didn’t even matter now but he said that my voice was better than my age anyway and I should go through. A sense of euphoria caroused through my body and I thanked them once more before running off stage and landing in Harry’s arms. We beamed at each other and jumped up and down, before reuniting with our families and hugging them.

Overall, it had been a rather successful day. In between the kerfuffle of flailing hands as everyone tried to congratulate us at the same time, I felt Harry’s warm familiar hand take mine and squeeze it. The undeniable words of comfort and support were conveyed in that simple action and I smiled as I continued to hug and accept congratulations from my family and friends.

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