Critical

By @bowielegacy
Critical

Brayla hasn't had an easy existence and the only thing that's got her through it was the music of her hero, David Bowie. But when you find yourself suddenly alone, what do you do? Shout aimlessly into the darkness? Or find someone you never thought would be beside you?

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Brayla walked quietly down the cobblestone path with her head down. Her waist-length sheet of brown hair shielded her fern-green eyes from the sharp, winter breeze as she listened to the muffled “sorry” of busy people rushing past her. Brayla didn’t reply. A tugging feeling in her stomach pulled her towards her destination and her footsteps quickened.

She turned down her street and speed-walked through the reaching fingers of the weeping willows that lined the sidewalk. Normally, Brayla would have stopped to breath in their musky scent, but the foreboding sense of worry made her brush through them roughly.

Brayla counted the house numbers quietly in her head; 48, 50, 52… When she finally arrived at number sixty, Brayla bolted down the driveway and through the door into a small bungalow.

The room was lit only by the sunlight filtering through the taped up windows to keep out the cold and a futon lay on the floor. A blanket was strewn on the moth-eaten sofa, which had been acting in the role of her mom’s bed for the past two months.

As Brayla attempted to hang her coat on a broken lamp, light footsteps told her that her mother was watching her. Brayla sighed and turned around.

Brayla’s mother was pale and thin, like her daughter, with the same leafy-green eyes. Her dark hair was pulled into a bun and the had the strong, experienced look of someone who could look after themselves.

“Hello, Brayla,” she said, “You’re home early. W-weren’t you supposed to d-do band after school t-today?” Brayla’s heart twanged as she heard the stutter in her mom’s voice. She acted strong, but the truth was neither of them had been the same since…

“Yeah,” Brayla replied, setting down her pocketbook, “I just -” She hesitated thinking of the lingering sense of unease she’d had on the way home. “I just felt a little sick.” That isn’t exactly a lie, Brayla reassured herself as her mother studied her expression.

“I understand,” her mother said, “I-it’s been hard.” Brayla nodded silently, looking at her shoes. Two months ago, they had been robbed of the little things of value they owned. This made things even worse, especially for a family without very much money in the first place. Brayla remembered nights where she would lie awake, listening to her parents arguing with the bank, fighting to keep their little bungalow.

And now, they didn’t even have Dad to help them get back on their feet. Brayla tried to blink tears as she thought about the night her father had gone to the hospital in the ambulance and never returned. Since he had died, Brayla’s mother had become stricter and sadder.

“D-do you want some medicine?”

“No, I think I just need to lie down,” Brayla said quietly and went down the hall into her little bedroom.

She swivelled around in her chair, feeling the air blow her long hair from her face. Brayla then rifled through her drawer until she finally found her mp3 and earbuds. She popped them in and scrolled through her playlists until she got to an encrypted one. Brayla punched in the code, looked around carefully and let the music she was forbidden from hearing soak into her mind.

The army-like beat of “Space Oddity”, the bouncy piano of “Oh! You pretty things” and the comforting melody of “Starman” all felt like close friends to Brayla, like a warm hug when things were going wrong. She lay back as the music enveloped her in happiness. 

David Bowie was Brayla’s hero. Her saviour. He was like her second dad. His voice made her feel welcoming and his funny interviews made her laugh when she thought she never would again. Whatever was going on in Brayla’s life, David Bowie had a song that would make everything seem insignificant. When she listened to him, well, it made her feel like she wasn’t alone after all.

However, for some reason, Brayla’s mother despised David Bowie with all her heart. Whenever one of his songs came on the radio, she would slam it off angrily and rant about how he was a terrible person. It hurt Brayla to hear her mother insult him, but she learned quickly to keep her mouth shut and nod her head.

Brayla sighed, snapping back into reality, and tried to let the chords unknot her stomach but the fear stayed stubbornly in her mind, like a pigeon you shoo away but insistently comes back for your sandwich. Brayla took a deep breath and grabbed her pencil holder. She flipped it over, ignoring the pencils that rolled across the table, and clicked open the secret compartment underneath. A key fell into her hand and she knelt to fit it into her bottom drawer.

A scrapbook lay at the bottom of the drawer. Thin and covered with dust, it looked like none of your business, like important contracts or love letters. Brayla smirked as she picked it up and made a mental note to sprinkle more collected dust on top of the book afterwards.

She flipped it open. Images of burst from the page of David Bowie in a variety of different poses and costumes. There were silly ones, serious ones, new ones and old ones. Brayla had snipped every single one out of magazines and newspapers and stuck them there in secret. Her favourite ones were the ones where you could see his eyes. They were calm and gentle, like the ocean, but there was always some emotion Brayla couldn’t pin down swirling below their surface.

Her pictures were precious to her because they reminded Brayla of one vital thing;

David Bowie was still out there, living on the same planet and breathing the same air as she was.

But even this thought couldn’t soothe the increasing sense of dread in Brayla’s stomach. She ran quickly through the things she could be worrying about. Were there Air Cadets? No, only on Saturdays. Homework? She finished it on Tuesday. Then what could possibly be wrong?

After deciding the best thing she could do is sleep, Brayla locked up her stuff and collapsed into bed. She hadn’t realized how tired she was. Just before she drifted off, a happy squeal jolted her awake.

“Brayla!” her mother shrieked, “GREAT news!” Brayla’s head hurt and her throat was tight.

Her stutter is gone, Brayla thought, a bucket of fear falling shockingly on her head. She only stopped stuttering when something really monumental had happened.

She knew she should be excited, but sirens were going off in every inch of her nervous body. “W-what’s up, mom?” she asked. Now she was stuttering.

“Remember that TERRIBLE man, David Bowie?”

Brayla’s stomach dropped as she nodded.

“You won’t believe what I just heard on the radio -“

The world was spinning. No.

“This morning -“

No. The word echoed through her mind, like a broken record. Nothing was making sense. Her mother was smiling, but why did it look like she’d been crying?

“Something fantastic happened -“

“This morning -“

No. The word echoed through her mind, like a broken record. Nothing was making sense. Her mother was smiling, but why did it look like she’d been crying?

“Something fantastic happened -“

No. No. No.

Brayla sensed the words before she heard them.

“He died.”

And everything inside her shattered as the spinning Earth faded to black.

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  1. bowielegacy

    Awwwww!!! Thanks so much! You are the greatest. So was DB. I’m glad you liked the story!! It’s one in a series of four, so be sure to check out the other ones!!! I’m so happy you enjoyed it and I hope it made you feel less alone in your love of Bowie. Feel free to reach out whenever you want – I’m always available!!

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  2. OnTheVergeOfInsanity

    Nooooo!!!
    i miss bowie so much. he was and still is amazing

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    1. bowielegacy

      Awwwww!!! Thanks so much! You are the greatest. So was DB. I’m glad you liked the story!! It’s one in a series of four, so be sure to check out the other ones!!! I’m so happy you enjoyed it and I hope it made you feel less alone in your love of Bowie. Feel free to reach out whenever you want – I’m always available!!

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