“Oasis Springs! Give it up for DJ Eillah!”
Another day, another festival. In the desert this time around.
It wasn’t the first time Hallie had played Oasis Springs. But it was the first time she didn’t really want to be in the DJ booth. In fact, she didn’t want to be in this town at all.
Not that the crowd wasn’t great. Not that she got tired of her own music.
Of all the days possible, why did Carly have to go into labour today? Hallie learned Vito was taking her to the hospital just before going on stage. Vito, of all people, was the one who was there, and here she was, stuck at a gig she didn’t feel like doing.
It was funny how things changed. DJing used to be Hallie’s escape. Getting lost in the music and forgetting all about the legacy and her duties.
But now that she was no longer under the pressure of being heir, she longed to escape from the clubbing and be with her family instead.
And then it hit her. Why was she even here?
She’d spent such a long time running away from living her life that she’d lost track of what it was that she wanted to do in the first place. Always on the move, from club to club, being everywhere but never making a true connection.
Perhaps running one last final time wouldn’t be such an awful idea, she thought.
And so she stopped mid-tracked, and walked off the stage, to the utter shock of all of the party goers.
“DJ Eillah? Come back!”
“She’s so hot!”
The sounds of their voices became muffled in the distance. Hallie wished she could snap her fingers and magically be in Newcrest, with family.
But she knew she wouldn’t be able to get back home till the next day. So she just kept on walking, to get as far away as possible.
Maybe it hadn’t been the legacy she wanted to be liberated from after all.
Maybe she was just trying to run away from herself.
Who was she, really? Someone people never understood. Did she understand herself?
The burden of the legacy was placed upon her without her doing. The fake persona she had to become for every gig to put on a show was her doing. Now they were both gone. So what was left?
Maybe she just wasn’t worth anything. No wonder she couldn’t love anyone the way they wanted to be loved. She was a shell of a person. With something missing inside her.
A tear rolled down her cheek, and suddenly she was sobbing uncontrollably. Why couldn’t she be a full person like everybody else? Why did she have to be this sad, pathetic empty vase?
And then they came to her.
She didn’t realise she wasn’t alone at first. But then she got a strange feeling that you get when somebody enters the room but your back is turned towards them so you only know they’re there because you can sense their presence.
She felt their gaze on her.
She looked up.
“Mom? Dad?” She asked uncertainly.
“Don’t look so worried, sweetheart.” Candy smiled at her. “We just came to check on you.”
“It’s like you don’t want your folks to drop by, tsk tsk,” Paolo joked.
Hallie stared at them as they made themselves comfortable on the bench beside her. Well… did ghosts ever get comfortable?
Scratch that. Did ghosts even exist? Of course, she’d heard the old Bloomer tales about Ruby, and Yenn’s sighting of Ethan, but…
“Are you real?” She asked them.
“Real is a funny concept when you’re dead,” Candy told her. “What we consider real might be very different to what feels real for you.”
“Real or not, does it matter?” Paolo asked. “The important thing is we’re here.”
That was true, Hallie thought. She’d been missing her parents for so long. And now that they were here, all she’d come up with was stupid questions. So what if she was hallucinating? So what if it was all a dream? If it was, she didn’t want to wake up.
“We’re here because you needed us.” Candy said simply. “What’s going on with you, honey?”
“Everything’s wrong. I… I’m wrong. There’s something really wrong with me. You would be ashamed.” Hallie was on the verge of tears again.
“Ashamed? Of our perfect daughter? Never.” Paolo shook his head.
“But you don’t understand. I’m different.” Hallie sighed.
“Everybody’s different, Hallie,” Candy told her. “There’s no two people in the world that think the same things, and dream the same dreams. And… feel the same love. We all perceive the world a little differently.”
“So… you know?” Hallie asked.
“We know everything,” Paolo smiled. “Everything you’ve told us when you’ve visited our graves in Windenburg. Everything you’ve wanted to say to us but didn’t or couldn’t.”
“We’re always with you.” Candy explained. “And always will be.”
“You are?” A spark lit up in Hallie’s eyes.
“Where else would we be?” Paolo shrugged.
“We don’t exactly have a lot of places to go,” Candy chuckled.
“So you know I’ve turned down the legacy. Disappointed Pauline. Ran away from my fans at the gig. And from everyone that just wanted me to love them in the way everyone wants to be loved. Because I can’t… because I can’t love.”
“But of course you can love.” Paolo said. “We have seen that too.”
“You’ve seen me… love?” Hallie was dubious.
“We’ve seen you love your best friend. Love Pauline. And Leo. And all of their children. And their unborn children.” Candy looked at her daughter. “You have so much love in you. Don’t let anybody tell you what that love is supposed to look like.”
Hallie pondered that for a moment.
“What do I do with my life? What do I do next?” She asked them finally.
“You can do everything. Anything. Whatever you want.” Candy told her.
“Just remember to always be you.” Paolo added.
“But I’m not even sure what that is anymore. Without DJing, and the legacy…”
“Let me tell you a secret,” Candy leaned over towards Hallie, patting her shoulder. “Everyone leaves behind a legacy. Heir or not. And if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that you’ll do great things.”
“So what do you want to do now?” Paolo asked.
The three of them gathered around the bonfire.
“Well, that’s part of your wish done,” Paolo said. “Fire check.”
“I don’t remember it being green when I was little,” Hallie laughed.
“We ghosts have a way…”
“Well, now for the dancing part.” Candy announced, swaying from side to side. “Good job my joints can’t hurt from this anymore…”
“Like that was ever an issue. Your dance moves were on point to the end,” Paolo complimented his wife.
Hallie giggled. It was just like she said she’d wanted. In that moment, she was just a little girl with her silly parents who loved to dance around the bonfire and be way too affectionate to one another.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” Candy asked. “Join in!”
“Don’t let the old folks embarrass themselves on their own!” Paolo agreed.
And so Hallie started dancing…
“Wow, she’s really showing us up, isn’t she?”
The ghosts were getting excited.
Hallie could only focus on the fire. The energy of the moment. There was no music playing, but she had music in her.
The same way her parents said they’d always live on inside her as well.
She thought that becoming a DJ would bring her closer to them, since it was something they’d both done in the past. But maybe that wasn’t the case.
Maybe she didn’t have to be like them to remember them.
Maybe she didn’t need to be a professional musician to love music.
Maybe she didn’t have to be a lover to feel love.
Candy and Paolo were cheering wildly at this point.
Hallie could barely hear them though. But she felt them. They were there for her. As they always would be.
The ghosts hugged happily.
“I think our work here is done.” Paolo told his wife.
“We’ve done well.” Candy smiled.
“Couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Likewise, my love.”
They gave their daughter one last proud look.
And then everything disappeared in flash of intense green light.
Hallie looked around, confused. The ghosts had disappeared, and the fire was almost out as well.
But she wouldn’t go back to feeling sorry for herself.
She may have been lonely for most of her life, but she now knew she never truly had to be alone.
Author’s note: The festival lot was created by Moja0273 and can be downloaded here.