Senior 3rd Prize Winning Story
“You Can Only Be Successful as Yourself” by Belma Sevim, Milli Eğitim Vakfı Koleji, Turkey, is the Third Prize winning story in the senior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
You Can Only Be Successful as Yourself
Walking past people on the street is a mundane, simple task for most people. But for Ellie, it involves cameras, bodyguards and lots of screaming! If you are wondering why, it's because Ellie is currently one of the most popular singers in the world.
Now, she can’t say that the fame is what she wanted, but she also can’t go against it. Ever since she was about 5, she had shown interest in music. She used to dance around in her grandmother’s house, wearing ridiculous costumes and making everyone watch her. Most of her family stopped showing interest after some time, but even then, her grandmother still cheered her on.
Although she does miss the old days, instead of reminiscing, at the age of 16 she decided to try to become a singer. After many auditions and sending demos, she eventually got her first hit song! She truly was ecstatic after hearing she had topped the charts, but a part of her wished she had stayed true to her grandmothers' words, “You could have all the success in the world, but none of it matters if you didn’t achieve it as yourself”. Ellie may have been too young then, and not quite wise enough now, but she was starting to understand what she had meant more and more every day.
Especially today. As people, presumably fans, were screaming her name, she felt it was slowly starting to lose value. She had never missed a chance to show gratitude to those who support her, because without them, she wouldn’t have gotten to where she is today. But still, all the fans, glam and recognition didn’t feel like Ellie. She thought of herself as someone reserved, but with the way everyone portrayed her to be, it seemed as though she was some sort of diva. She tried her best not to let it get to her, but sometimes it did. She did worry that she would have to live a double life forever.
It did feel like it took hours to get to the end of the street and into the building, even though it was a mere couple of minutes. As soon as she stepped through the doors, all the loudness became distant and she felt a weight being lifted off her shoulders. She stomped her feet at the door mat, looking almost like she was dancing. Strangely enough, it was the most “Ellie” thing she had done that day. She smiled shyly at her bodyguard, signaling him that it’s his queue to leave. He seemed to have gotten the message.
She didn’t really know why they had called her to the management building. Were they going to tell her about a new album release, a collaboration, some type of scandal? She wasn’t too worried either way. She climbed up the stairs and knocked on her managers door. She greeted him politely like usual – receiving no reaction in return, like usual. All he did was take out some book, put it on the table and said “It was sent for you”. She knew she wouldn’t be getting much more out of him, so she nodded and left the room.
She went back downstairs, into the staff room, and inspected the book. Opening it carefully, the first thing she was greeted with was a photo of her and her grandmother from her 6th birthday. They had been singing karaoke. Ellie smiled down at the paper in her hands. Her eyes trailed downwards to a long piece of text.
The first line read “Dear El,” and the last “Love, Gran”. Skimming through the words, trying her best to wrap her head around the meaning of the letter, she found herself getting teary eyed. She read it once more, this time with her excitement cooled down a bit, and let the words sink it. She couldn’t believe what was in front of her eyes, her grandmother somehow knew that she would become a singer. She also knew her exact feelings somehow. Reading it was really what Ellie needed at that moment.
She rushed to the door, messily zipping up her boots, and ran out hearing the people inside freaking out. She called the nearest taxi and gave him an address from the book she had received. Ellie completely understood the words she had been told when she was younger now. It wasn’t about the fame. As much as it had helped her put out music, did it really matter if the lyrics weren’t her own?
After the one-hour drive, she payed and tipped the driver then got off. There it was, the little café her grandmother had opened just before she had passed away. In the letter, her grandmother told her that she understands if Ellie wants to continue her life of fame, but that if she ever wants a break that she could always come here.
A couple months pass, and Ellie fixed up the place, and started holding live performances every night. Everyone on the outside world had wondered where Ellie had disappeared to, but all the café visitors didn’t seem to recognize her without her regular attire. She had never been happier, as now, she could do what she loved – but now as just herself. Ellie.