But the show must go on. I straighten my shoulders and descend into the flashing lights. For the roar of the crowd, I silence the screams within.
* * *
The shrill beep of my alarm jolts me awake. 5:30 AM. Time to start another day in the life of Willow Carter, pop star extraordinaire.
I drag myself out of bed with a groan. My body aches, still exhausted from last night's sold-out show. No rest for the weary.
After a quick shower, I throw on leggings and a hoodie, twisting my damp hair into a bun. A light breakfast—oatmeal and fruit— and then it's time for vocals.
I arrive at the studio by seven. I'm greeted by my producer, Chad. We jump right into warmups and run through a few tracks. My voice is still raspy, but a honey lemon tea helps soothe my throat.
Chad pushes me hard, demanding take after take until I nail the high notes. "C'mon Willow, I know you got more in you!" It's exhausting, but it brings out my best.
By noon, I'm starving. My assistant brings takeout salads to the studio. We review tour logistics over lunch—venues booked, rehearsals scheduled. It never stops.
After lunch is media training. My publicist, Amanda, grills me on interview questions. "Don't reveal too much personal info. Keep it light." I plaster on my media smile and rattle off practiced answers.
Finally, I hit the gym at 4 PM. A tough workout with my trainer to stay tour-ready. Every muscle burns by the end.
At home, I heat up a frozen meal and video chat my little sister. It's a bright spot in my day, though too short.
By 9 PM, I'm spent. But sleep won't come easy. My mind spins with lyrics, melodies, endless to-do lists. The machine never sleeps, and neither can I.
Another day on the hamster wheel of fame. It's a relentless grind, but I live for the thrill of creating music. For those moments lost in the flow of singing, I push through the exhaustion. This is the life I chose. No regrets.
* * *
The streets of LA blur past as I stare out the tinted window of the black SUV. Bright lights, honking horns, the constant hum of the city that never sleeps. But something feels off tonight. The energy changed when I left the studio.
I press my forehead to the glass, eyes darting between buildings, searching for I don't know what. My gut twists. We stop at a red light, and I scan the sidewalks. Look for anything out of place, anyone paying too much attention. My fans are always enthusiastic but mostly harmless. Most days I revel in their adoration, but lately...
"You okay, Miss Carter?" my driver asks, eyes flicking to the rearview mirror.
"Yeah, fine," I mutter.
We pull into the underground garage of my high-rise. I wait, poised, as the driver opens the door. Sunglasses on, head down, move quick—the usual routine.
In the elevator, I feel caged. I jab the button for my floor.Come on, come on.The doors slide open and I power walk to my door, keys clutched like a weapon.
Inside, I engage the three locks and lean against the door, pulse racing.
Get it together, Willow. You're being paranoid.
But I can't escape the creeping dread that something is coming for me.
I pour a glass of wine with shaky hands. I'm technically too young to legally drink, but with fame comes perks. I can get anything I want.
I turn up the stereo to drown out my thoughts. Tomorrow I'll call my manager again and push for more security.
But will it ever be enough?
Fame and fear. Two sides of my tangled life. I gulp the wine, craving the numbness it brings.
But beneath the haze, the shadows still lurk, waiting to consume me.