Insomnia

He’s a visiting musician, she’s lived in the city her whole life. He has millions of adoring fans, she has none. He can’t sleep at night and neither can she. In the city that never sleeps, neither do they.

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1. // part i

All Rights Reserved © Do NOT try and copy this idea or steal the story.

{ This is just a short-story which is the result of my procrastination more than anything. It is told from two perspectives, although they are not consecutive. Also, please bear in mind that I am not American so I apologize for any mistakes. Vote, comment and enjoy. }

♥ ♥ ♥
jasmine // p a r t  i

The air-conditioning in my car isn't working.

I first realize this as I am barrelling down a narrow back lane lined with sweeping oak trees which provide little shade. The warmth of the June afternoon is seeping into my skin, beaming down on my hair and weaving its way through my open window. When I'd ventured out only an hour earlier, the day had been wavering at a modest temperature and I'd set out in jeans. Something I now deeply regret.

The palms of my hands are glistening with sweat by the time I swerve the car into the deserted residential car park which lies at the rear of the towering block of flats, a familiar location I visit every day of my life.

I kill the engine and kick open the door. The small aqua blue Prius is ancient – old enough to be considered an antique - and deteriorating drastically. It has a squashed stature and countless malfunctions. The fact that the air-conditioning isn’t working does not alarm me. It’s old news.

I fling open the trunk and picked up hefty cardboard box which holds a new delivery of guitar strings. Cradling the box in my arms, I lock the car.
The back door to the building has been jammed for years, so instead I scuttle down the side alley, squeezing through the enclosed dark walls.

The small shop, unoriginally named Muso’s Garage, is bathing in the spotlight of the sun's glare, enhancing the flaking paint on the door, the golden 'o' from 'Muso’s' hanging by a lone nail and the faded poster in the front window advertising the ‘wide variety of quality instruments and unlimited knowledge of music inside'.

I breeze into the store, shoving the door open with my shoulder. The shop is inevitably deserted besides an elderly man greying hair flicking through some music sheets absently, and my best friend perched behind the till.

I inhale the familiar musty scent of the shop, gazing round at the newly-refurbished interior, complete with white-washed walls, gleaming guitar stands and retro plush seating at the far end. Despite its aged exterior, Muso’s Garage is modern on the inside.

“Special delivery of guitar strings for Mrs Barnes,” I announce in a clipped tone, plonking the cardboard box on the counter. Stella, my best friend, glances up warily from where she is engrossed in a glossy copy of Top of the Pops magazine.

The sound of heels clacks against the thick carpet – a horrendous shade of maroon which somehow still looks trendy – and my mother saunters into the room, her short bob a wild, untamed mass of frizz and her lips painted in a vibrant shade of red.

“Jasmine! You got the strings for me,” Mum beams, poking her head into the box.

“Yep. I drove all the way to Wyatt’s to collect them,” I inform her, mentioning our supplier. Mum smiles at me appreciatively and scoops up the box, taking it to the back room which is forbidden for customers.

 I sigh and sink into one of the retro swivelling chair, the plush red material almost swallowing me up. I fan my face with my hand to no avail. “I don’t know about you, but I’m boiling. I forgot how hot New York gets in the summer!”

Stella glances at me, flicking her ombre locks vaguely. “You’ve lived here all your life, Jasmine. How could you have forgotten?”

I shrug. “Last winter was our coldest in ten years.”

Stella grunts in response and returns to her magazine, her head bowed over the desk. I tilt my head back, letting the soft waves of cool air from the air-conditioning blow over my face. It is a welcome breeze compared to the stuffiness of the car.

“Look at this!”

The barking demand is succeeded by two things: the first, the first glossy magazine that falls onto my lap with a resounding slap; the second, my best friend’s beaming expression, quivering at the seams with the effort of holding back the full extent of her glee.

I should know what is coming. I don’t even really need to let my eyes trail downward, skimming over the features of the bold cover image, to know what Stella is so excited about. But I find myself doing it anyway.

Calum Styles!” she squeals.

That much is evident, of course, the moment my eyes fall upon the unruly, styled locks and rough-diamond features of the boy in the photo, charm oozing from the very pixels of his printed smile. I don’t have to look twice to know exactly who he is; anybody who’d set one foot inside Stella’s bedroom in the past year would be able to discern that this was the same boy who appeared on all thirteen of her posters, not to mention her impressive assortment of Calum-related merchandise. Wristbands, hoodies, beanies: you name it, Stella owns it.

In fact, my best friend is a super fan to the extent that I am certain I can now recognize any given son from his debut album within the first few beats of the intro, reel off personal details like his favourite colour and dog’s name like some sort of mantra, all while humming the acoustic accompaniment to his most popular song, Lose Control.

She is in deep. And consequently, so am I.

“What is it this time?” Though I try to keep the bored tone from seeping into my voice, its essence trickles in anyway. I can’t help it. Since the foundations of my best friend’s obession had been laid, my brain has developed a tendecy to switch off at the first mention of the C-word.

Nevertheless, my lack of enthusiasm isn’t about to deter Stella. “Read it!” she insists, pushing the magaize closer to me. Her sun-kissed blonde locks, scraped back into a messy ponytail, bob fervently with the movement of her head. “Read what it says!”

I can think of a number of situations in which I’d be considerably more tolerant towards my best friend’s incessant obession; it just so happens that here, right now, is not one of them. Stationed in a vintage, egg-shaped chair, baking in the sheer humidity of the confinement, I can’t find it in myself to muster up a display of false enthusiasm.

The weatherman has predicted highs of eighty-six and the faint breeze from the air-con is not enough to cool a melting ice cube, let alone a roasting sixteen year old.

Still, never one to enjoy disappointing my best friend, I force myself to look back at the magazine, picking it up and letting my eyes run across the headline beneath Calum’s sugary expression.

“Calum Styles is going to be doing a show in Manhattan, with special guests also performing, including Shawn Mendes, Jake Miller and more,” I read aloud. I glance up at Stella, feigning a weak smile. “That’s great, Stells.”

“No, no,” she persists, jabbing a finger at a smaller wad of text further down the page. “Read it. Look where they’re going to be performing!”

Running a hand through my chestnut locks, dragging smooth stray strands away from my sweaty forehead, I comply. My mind fumbles messily through the text, lingering on words of importance swimming between exaggerated tween slang, before I draw to the end of the paragraph in time to wince at Stella’s ear-splitting squeal.

“Isn’t it so cool?!” she screeches. “They’re performing in Southfair! That’s like, fifteen minutes away. Calum is fifteen minutes away from Muso’s!”

“Wow,” I reply, delicately pushing the magazine to one side and pushing myself to my feet. I stride over to the counter and reach behind, rummaging in bottomless drawers until I find a water bottle. The liquid inside is warm, but better than nothing.

“That’s...exciting, huh?” I tell her between sips.

“But Jasmine! Do you even understand what this means?”

I purse my lips and glance at my friend. She is staring at me intently, big green eyes lined with a little too much eyeliner. I answer her distractedly. “What?”

“It means,” she explains impatiently, hoping up on the front desk. Clumsy as ever, she manages to jog the pencil pot and the pens scatter across the desk. She sighs and hastily collects them up, looking down as she speaks. “That if I manage to save enough money between now and the end of the month, we get tickets to a Calum Styles concert!”

I don’t want to crush her hopes. Really, I don’t. But sometimes, especially in situations like these, there is a distinct lack of alternatives.

“Look, Stells,” I begin gently, picking up the remaining fallen pencil and handing it to her. “I know how important this is to you, but my mum gave you your wages at the end of last month. And you spent the majority of them on a new Calum t-shirt to be delivered all the way from Australia.”

Her drooping expression sends a pang of guilt niggling at my chest and she frowns at her feet, mumbling, “It was a nice top. And shipping was relatively expensive, you know.”

My next half-hearted suggestion consitutes my attempt at salvaging what is left of her good mood. “But I’ll tell you what...I’ll talk my mum into giving you your wages for this month early, or something. No promises, but I’ll try.”

A squeal escapes from the wide grin that materialises across her expression instantly. “Thank you! Oh my God, Jazz, that would just confirm that you are the world’s best best friend!”

I roll my eyes, playfully responding, “Were you seriously doubting that, Stella?”

She shakes her head, still grinning, before returning to her magazine. I blow air from my cheeks, dragging a hand across my forehead and making a mental note to dig around in the store cupboard sometime later in search of a fan.

“Girls, could one of you do me a favour?”

I look up at my mum, the freckles splayed across her cheeks more noticeable than ever against her pale skin. She hands me a small purple soprano ukulele.

“This needs to be delivered to Mrs Parker. Twenty-five Wysndale Street – you know the place?”

I cradle the small instrument in my arms and nod stiffly. “Sure.”

Heading through the door, I let myself breathe a sigh of relief to escape the unpleasantly stagnant air of Muso’s. Cars speed past on the roads, a deafening screech of rubber against tarmac and people pass, striding forward purposefully in their summer uniforms, creased from months spent stuffed at the back of their wardrobes.

I scuttle down the shaded side alley and pause before reentering the car’s stuffy atmosphere, setting the ukuele down on the passenger’s seat. I ease the car up a gear, watching as the familiar view tumble past my window. The post-box at the end of Ashworth Street with the homeless man camping beside it, who mutters swear words at you when you walk past. The pink house with the thatched roof in the middle of Mayrose Avenue, which looks more like it belongs in Toytown than Manhattan. The construction site beside Target; they’ve been building a new American Apparel store for two years now, and it’s still nowhere near finished. I have lived in New York City for my entire life and I know it well; a little too well for my liking. It’s all part of the continous cycle of my life I have endured for the past sixteen years, neither enjoying or disliking it.

But as I speed past a giant billboard with the polished faces of Calum Styles broadcasted across, a nauseous pang washes through my stomach. I have a feeling that something is about to change.

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