Title: Think Of Me
Summary: When it came down to it, life was not at all linear.He’d spent most of his life believing the process was simple – you’re born, you live, you die. However, As it turned out, life was circular and eternally recurring. There were moments in life that transport back, bringing your life once more to a full circle. Jesse sees Rachel again and realizes that dreams sometimes don't come true..
For those who are interested, this is the version of the song I wrote to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjM1Lrsb7
Flowers fade, the fruits of summer fade
They have their seasons, so do we
But please promise me that sometimes
You will think of me
When it came down to it, life was not at all linear.
He’d spent most of his life believing the process was simple – you’re born, you live, you die. And once you die? End of line. Gone. Simple.
However, the older he got, the more he learnt and his simplistic beliefs were shaken. As it turned out, life was circular and eternally recurring. There were moments in life that transport back, bringing your life once more to a full circle.
And that’s what led to him sitting in that theatre.
He shifted in his seat uncomfortably, trying to ignore the way his stomach was twisting. The theatre around him buzzed, filled with the electricity of anticipation that he used to crave, desire and feed off.
But that was a long time ago.
He wondered where she was: probably somewhere backstage, getting the final touches put on her makeup, microphones being adjusted, all those crazed pre-show rituals that he used to be familiar with.
He hadn’t been in a real theatre in a long time, not since that last performance at UCLA. Back when he thought he’d actually have a shot. Back before the real world.Beside him a middle-aged man in a suit was sitting with his wife. He was holding the playbill in one meaty hand, the other waving around emphatically.
‘This girl, the girl who plays Christine, I tell you, you’ll love her,’ he started knowledgeably, ‘I saw her in Chicago last year, she was phenomenal. I haven’t heard a voice like that in… years. Just you wait until she comes out, unreal voice. I tell you, she’s going to become someone, mark my words.’
He settled back against his seat, the other man’s words no longer finding interest, as they swung back into investment properties and “summering” in the Hamptons.
He shook his head wearily, allowing the exhaustion from another days hard work seep into his bones. In all his years back in Ohio he’d never believed he’d get all the way to New York to work in a restaurant. And still, nowadays he didn’t think he’d know how to do anything else. But when he was young, he used to dream – a lot. He used to dream about this life, about stages and Broadway and the lights of New York City and the life of the performer.
But that was a long time ago.
The man beside him was now talking louder, waving the playbill around importantly and Jesse leant over to tap him on the shoulder.
‘Hey, can I have a look at that?’ he asked.
The guy shrugged, ‘Sure, whatever.’
Once Jesse had the playbill safely in his hands, the man turned back to his conversation while Jesse flipped through the pages.
He wondered what she looked like now, whether time had affected her the way he knew it had affected him. He flicked idly past advertisements for champagne and Swarovski crystal jewellery and recounts of the creation process from Andrew Lloyd Webber before finally came to the cast section. First, the Phantom – a stern, mature looking actor boasting endless credentials and a list of impressive roles he had played. And then he turned the page.
There she was.
Her black and white picture smiled up at him, and he saw a completely different person to the one he used to know. Her hair was longer – much longer, and tumbled over her shoulder in loose waves, disappearing out of view in the close up picture. Her eyes were softer, lacking the crazy drive and intensity he always used to see – the one he used to feel too. Though he knew why it was gone from her – her dream had come true. In the photo she was smiling, a soft curve to her lips, a gentle turn of the head. That happy expression was a far cry from the one he’d last seen.
The last time he’d seen her, she was sixteen. The day of Regionals in his senior year, back when he still believed in dreams and fairytales and love.
But that was a long time ago.
He scanned the paragraph beneath her name hurriedly, taking in the accolades he knew she’d be proud of. “First in her class at Julliard”, “Bright career ahead…”, “Starring roles in Chicago, RENT and Cats”.
The lights dimmed and the buzz in the audience peaked. Hurriedly, Jesse handed off the playbill to its owner and settled down in his seat in anticipation.
The curtain rose, and he was hooked.
The plot moved smoothly and the cast danced around one another like people that simply belonged together. He knew the first song was rapidly approaching and he couldn’t help the nerves coiling in the pit of his stomach.
When she first swanned out onto stage he nearly jumped out of his seat. Over the years her presence had only been intensified and she commanded the whole theatre with her voice. She was still so tiny, barely come up to the shoulders of many of the male dancers around her and still she had the attention – and respect of everyone watching her.
‘Christine Daaé could sing it.’
Jesse’s hands fisted around his armrests as that line was uttered. He knew what followed.
She stepped forward and began to sing, and suddenly he was eighteen again.
Think of me, think of me fondly when we’ve said goodbye…
She sang, her voice soaring above the crowd and he saw her at sixteen. He saw her face the day of Regionals as he pulled his hand out of hers and stepped away. He saw that brief, bewildered expression and heard her soft, ‘Jesse? What’s happening?’
He felt the way her eyes burnt into his back as he walked away from her to his former team. He felt his own betrayal.
Remember me, once in a while, please promise me you’ll try…
Current time Rachel smiled blissfully as the music swelled and she stepped forward earnestly. Even years of being away from music and he could tell how good she was – her voice had changed, matured a lot since she was sixteen and it made his spine tingle to listen to her.
In the back of his mind he saw her again, from the audience this time, as his team performed flawlessly on the stage, while her team hurriedly tried to replan their songs without their lead male. He saw her sweeping onto the stage alone and launching into her ballad of choice.
She sang the same song she did today – and her eyes met his out in the crowd as she sang.
Rachel in present time was flawless – she performed to her crowd, feeding off their awe as her voice swooped and fell, dizzying them into a breathless spell.
In his mind, her eyes were filling with tears as she sang to him about love lost and love remembered. In his mind she was letting him go.
We never said our love was evergreen or as unchanging as the sea…
But if you can still remember, stop and think of me…
He had truly come a full circle – and their roles had been reversed. He was two people – the boy he used to be and the man he was today and they were finally meeting in the middle. Rachel was singing the same song – this time not to him, but to the hundreds of people who adored her. She was a far cry from the girl he’d never meant to love and bore no resemblance to the girl from the long nights of laughter, kisses and song. She was someone knew – someone created by things that had happened to her, just as he had been created by the same events.
Think of all the things we’ve shared and seen…
Where he was meeting in the middle, his dreams were finally settling into a reality. He wasn’t where he dreamed he’d be, and nor would he ever be. His life was as it was – by any account a failure, but he knew it truly wasn’t. For some people dreams simply didn’t come true – that was a truth he’d come to terms with a long time ago. But for her, they had. He wondered how things could have been different if it weren’t for Regionals. If it hadn’t been for Glee clubs, for the town of Lima or for the divide between Carmel High and McKinley High. He wondered if there would be anything different. For a brief moment he saw a flash of a different future – one with him on stage beside her. One of smiles and laughter and music.
And then that flash was gone and he was brought sharply back to reality. Rachel’s voice rose as it peaked to the high note, leaving the crowd breathless and she finished the song, her arms out wide, drawing out the final note.
The crowd erupted in applause and Rachel smiled graciously, never once breaking from character. She was flawless now.
Don’t think about the way, things might have been…
The show continued in the same way – Rachel had weaved magic on the crowd and they were all spellbound, awestruck and compelled to draw in every moment of what unfolded on stage. Every time she sung he held his breath, amazed at the way her voice still made him feel like a teenager. When the show finished the crowd gave Rachel a standing ovation when she bowed. She beamed widely, revelling humbly in it all and then settled in amongst the rest of the cast as the curtain dropped.
After the show he hung around and waited with the small crowd outside the backdoor. He wasn’t sure what he expected, but it didn’t feel right to leave just yet.
The backdoor opened and a few of the dancers slipped out, followed by some of the minor leads. The actor of the Phantom stepped out shrugging on his jacket and he was met with a smattering of applause. Finally Rachel appeared with a tall, handsome blonde man who had played Raoul. His arm was draped around her slender shoulder, his ring finger glinting with gold. Instinctively Jesse’s eyes dropped to Rachel’s hand where a matching twin set sparkled. And he smiled.
The small crowd clapped for Rachel who smiled and waved benevolently, a light blush creeping up her cheeks.
'Thankyou everyone,’ she said softly, in the same lilting voice he remembered.
Her eyes swept the crowd briefly and he tried to hide but it was too late. Her eyes locked with his and her face crossed with a curious expression.
She lifted her hand in a wave, this time a more familiar one. Her face relaxed into a gentle smile and her body relaxed.
‘Jesse,’ she murmured.
He nodded at her, ‘Rachel,’
She turned to take a step toward him, but the rest of the cast ahead called her name.
‘Come on, we’re not waiting for you!’
Rachel hesitated and she took a step back.
‘It was uh… it was nice seeing you Jesse. Maybe we’ll catch up sometime.’
He nodded silently, even though he knew they never would.
‘That was an amazing show tonight Rachel,’
She smiled again and cocked her head, ‘Thanks. Bye Jesse.’
She turned on her heel and disappeared down the alleyway. He heard the mingling of her friends voice and he watched her leave, watching the girl he’d honestly loved whether she believed it or not. The girl who used to dream the same as him.
It was interesting how life was circular, how standing in that alleyway he’d been brought to the same point he was at eighteen. The regrets were gone because for Rachel, everything had worked out in the end, and he was left with sad wistfulness like the end of the relationship. He’d been brought a full circle and now life, the one had that turned out nothing like his dreams, had to start moving forward again.
Recall those days, look back on all those times
Think of the things we’ll never do
There will never be a day
When I don't think of you...
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