At the final strum of the guitar, the crowd went silent. The rising star at the front of the stage held his breath, fingers crossed, hoping they liked his song. His voice was hoarse, his hair sticky with sweat, his head throbbing painfully.
The crowd – an assortment of teenagers no older than he was – burst into deafening applause. The chants of “Encore! Encore! Encore!”, surrounded him, and for a moment, he forgot about the pain in his head that was killing him softly.
“Thank you, thank you!” He checked his watch. They had a little bit more time – just enough for one last song. “How about one final song? Y’all should know this one-” he paused for a moment and took a tired breath, “-hope you guys enjoy it.”
He didn’t need to speak anymore – it hurt too much anyway. He picked up the guitar and began to play. As he played the strings of his guitar, he felt the pain return.
Building up towards the finale, he forced a smile despite the pain. “Sing along with me!”, he called out.
“If this is to be the end,” “Then come along-”
The pain stopped him from finishing. His fingers moved across the guitar frantically as he fought back tears.
“-and hold my hand,” his fans chanted, recalling the song. “And if this day is to be our last,” the crowd’s voice echoed through the theatre. The star had found his voice anew as crowd and star came together. “Then let’s live fast. Just me and you.”
This time, he was speechless, his legs tired, on the verge of collapse. He fumbled in his pocket for the daylilies he’d picked earlier that day, and threw them in the crowd. Due to expire, just like me.
“I- I love all of you,” he tried to say, but it came out as a whisper, his voice choked up. He wanted months to perform, but only had days.
Looking down on the smiling crowd, he hoped they couldn’t see him cry.