“Distance makes love stronger.” -Marisabel Bazan
“Starving for Change”
Fiction. Based on a True Vision of Change
By M.J. Rose
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional
The iridescent rain paints reflections of new life on the glowing black pavement by the city lights. New York is silent as coffee slips past her November chapped lips. 50 degrees and homeless in a city that was made to build her dreams is slowly beginning to collapse her star craved energy. A self-taught artist pulls a crinkled $20.00 out of her stone-washed jeans. The last of her savings and the first realization of the long journey ahead for survival. Lighting whips through the crisp air, bouncing thunder across the cement buildings. The window shakes chills down her spine as goosebumps arise on the back of her neck. The window is her protection from the storm that cleans the dust down drains below the streets. She focuses on the last night of her performance when everything turned her world upside down. 23 never felt so bleak. She risked it all only to find herself in the middle of the biggest transformation of her life. Will she ever make it out alive? Miles away from the place she calls home, she takes another sip of burnt coffee. Creatures of habit can’t let go of the things that unconsciously motivate their actions. She reaches for the final pack of Newports that fuels her oral fixation. Coffee and cigarettes in times of crisis bring comfort to her mind. Addiction isn’t addiction if the addict sees no signs of weakness. You would think a singer would be more cautious about ruining their voice with harsh chemicals and smoke, but this is how she was raised to live.
A midnight cigarette, and the perfect stranger. A businessman who had big dreams for launching a starving artist’s wildest dreams. The problem is that not everyone is always as they seem. First impressions are deceiving, and this is the tick of human connection. We see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. She had no idea his suit was borrowed. His Italian brown shoes were stolen, and that charming grin was a cover from the real intentions that brought the two together.
When they met, it was like fate had brought them to each other. She was a cocktail waitress at a popular piano bar located in the heart of downtown Manhattan. He was a “producer” looking for his next superstar. Their paths collided in the alleyway around 11:37 pm on Thursday night. She stepped out back for a quick cigarette break. She was furious about the amount of money she had been making the last few weeks. Struggling to pay rent in her 340 sq.ft. apartment. Her skinny fingers flicked the lighter as her eyes lit up orange from the flame. Murky clouds from the breath she ignited the cigarette with zipped tar and tobacco into her lungs. It tasted so good. Her mind began to settle as she exhaled her exhaustion through tight lips. Smoke passing by her cheap, red lipstick. Her stomach howled at her. It had been 3 days since she had made enough money to buy groceries that would last her for at least a week. The only time she ate was in between shifts. An apple in the morning, some french fries and a side salad to get through lunch, and a can of soup or beans to surpass by dinner.
If she was feeling okay enough for coffee the next morning, Pete’s Golden Brew was only a block from where she stayed. The young guy who worked the counter became somewhat of a friend and would only charge her $1.00 for a 16oz. cup of her favorite selection that day. He knew she struggled. Not only with addiction, but with finding her inner beauty. She was 5’5” and half Japanese and Ethiopian. Her smile was one that would light up a room, but she hid behind a tough girl facade. She had high cheekbones that gave the shape of her face an elegant frame, a small sleek nose, and golden-brown eyes. Her luscious wavy, dark brown hair hung just past her shoulders. Hints of gold shined in her hair under certain lights. She had legs a mile long and a skinny waist with hourglass hips. Her arms drifted by her sides, flashing glossy, purple nail polish. Purple was her favorite color.
The last time she was in New York, she was a little girl. She was born and raised in the Bronx with a brother who was 12 years older than her. Her mother passed away one summer day due to bleeding complications post-delivery, so her father decided to name his new baby girl after his dead wife, Abyssinia. Born July 19th, 1977 at 3:33 am. At an early age, she started going by Aby. She felt like it fit her style after kids on the playground teased her about her name. She was 10 years old when her father sent her away to live with her Aunt Josephine all the way in Savannah, Georgia. Josephine was her deceased mom’s younger sister and the only relative in the United States that was responsible enough to take care of Aby. When Josephine took custody, she was a single, 35-year-old woman, owned a popular bakery, and had no idea how to raise a child. Let alone a 10-year-old. Aby’s brother, Xavier, was in prison for getting caught with boosting cars to transport drugs around the city. Aby’s father, Hachiro, had just became affiliated in the black market with allies of his son.
After 13 long years of trying to adjust to life in the south, Aby bought her first bus ticket and ran away to the city she was born. Leaving Aunt Josephine with nothing but a note that read:
Thank you for being an amazing role model in my life. You’ve taught me everything I need to know and helped me find the good things in life. You taught me about mom and made me realize that I am a lot like her. I need to follow my heart and do what I think is best for me. I am going to spend my 23rd birthday at the place I grew up. I will phone you when I am safe.
It was July 9th, 2000. With a travel bag and instrument in hand, Aby set off to do what her mother always dreamed of doing, becoming a famous singer.