Limelight LoveBy: Cordelia Blanc
A Small Town Rock Star Romance
The man was painfully familiar but Lily Parker just couldn’t place him. All day, Lily stared at him whenever he wasn’t looking, tortured by that lingering familiarity. An old friend maybe? Someone she went to school with? His name was printed on every single moving box: Fred Stein. Fred Who? Lily didn’t know any Fred Anything. But still, the man’s face teased Lily to no end.
It wasn’t until the movers unloaded the final box from the final truck, and Lily checked the final item off of the Parker Family Movers’ checklist, that the man’s name lit up in her mind—
Aaron Brown. Rock legend. Every teen girl and gay teen boy’s fantasy. He was number six on People’s Choice’s Sexiest Celebrities of 1999. That same year, his face was on the cover of Time Magazine, and the headline read: “America’s Heartthrob, Aaron Brown.” Every woman in the civilized world wanted to kiss his beautiful, clean-shaved face. But now, it wasn’t 1999. It was 2016.
And the Aaron Brown that stood before Lily Parker—or Fred Stein, according to his many moving boxes—was no clean-shaven heartthrob. That Time Magazine issue was now over a decade old. The Aaron Brown that stood before Lily Parker had dark bags under his eyes, an unkempt beard that reached up past his cheekbones, and the kind of scowl you only see on the angry old men who mumble profanities about younger generations under their breath.
But there was no mistaking it. Every girl who grew up in the 90s knew those eyes. And every non-deaf human in the Western Hemisphere knew that voice—his singing voice, anyway. The voice he used with Lily Parker and rest of the employees of Parker Family Movers was less distinguishable, masked in mumbling and low grumbling.
None of the movers—not one of the six men who worked for Lily’s father, the owner of Parker Family Movers—seemed to recognize Aaron. Who could blame them? His name hadn’t been mentioned in over ten years, since he dropped off the face of the earth and stopped putting out new music. Occasionally, the local radio station played one of Aaron’s songs. Usually only on Throwback Thursdays, and usually only his most popular song, a catchy tune called Gunpowder Girls.
Growing up, Lily was able to sing along to every word of Gunpowder Girls—as well as every other song on Aaron’s five album discography. As she stared at Aaron, who was now scowling at one of the movers smoking a cigarette on his back deck, those very lyrics came rushing back to her.
Before she could leave for the day, Lily needed Aaron to sign a couple of forms. Throughout the day, she’d spoken with him well over a dozen times, but now that she knew that he wasn’t really Fred Stein, she was overwhelmed with anxiety—the same way she felt the last time she saw him face-to-face, fifteen years before, after a concert in Chicago. Lily’s mom drove three hours to take a thirteen year-old Lily to that concert, and waited two hours after the show for Lily to get an autograph. Teenaged Lily was a stuttering mess when her turn finally came. “G—Great show,” she managed to say. The young, fresh-faced Aaron—hardly even an adult himself—smiled. “Thank you so much. What’s your name?”
As Aaron looked into the young Lily’s eyes, she froze. Her heart melted, her brain turned to mush. Her mother had to answer for her.
“Lily Parker,” her mother said. “L-I-L-Y-P-A-R-K-E-R.”
The interaction was brief but it replayed in Lily’s memory one thousand times throughout her teenaged years.
And now, fifteen years later, she needed another signature from Aaron. Except this time, she needed it spelt out ‘Fred Stein.’
Lily approached Aaron. “Excuse me, Mr Stein” she said, grabbing Aaron’s attention. Aaron turned and looked into Lily’s eyes.
“What?” he said. Unlike in their first encounter, fifteen years earlier, Aaron did not smile.
Lily was silent for a moment as her mind drew a long blank. “All the boxes are inside. I just need your autograph to sign off for the day.”
Aaron’s eyes narrowed. “My what?” he asked.
“I mean—your signature. I need your signature. Your John Hancock, Mr Stein.”