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Entry 7-28-03 (originally written 7-21-03)
"like words burnt in ice"

velvet ropes might have been iron walls for all the intention of the crowd to violate their sanctity; trespassers were not invited back
a fusillade of camera flashes like the frontal attack it was
the video made each entrance and exit seem like slow motion
and then
a shock of hair as wild as its owner was domesticated, red like candy, good enough to eat
the face gave back each burst of light, human eyes in its midst,
magnified by her aspect. Candid photos of Lavender rarely came out because she was too bright.

All stars were photographed obsessively, but they snapped Lavender like she was Bigfoot or the Yeti, a mythical species no one would believe even if her likeness wasn't blurred and spectral.

Even now she remained disarmingly reserved, pleasant, forthright. Though they never put it on record, the star-chasers started seeing what looked like hunger shadowing round the edges. Drug addiction, hubris, the emptiness of stardom, whatever it was, it was coming, as it always came. You could smell death on the new crop once they peaked; you knew when they'd gone as high as they could when you smelled it.

But for now Lavender's characteristic expression of eager disbelief reigned. She was everyone's friend.

"Coming now, Lavender Muse--"
"--best new artist of the year, Lavender Muse--"
"--her band, The Ill-Conceived Notions, walking away with--"
"--Lavender Muse--"
"--comes as no surprise. She was expected to take home--"
"--still looking shellshocked as she exits--"
"--Lavender Muse--"
"--try to get a few words with her--"

A swatch of electronic wallpaper brays royalpoison purple, jingoism blue beneath the headshot. A punch-up with name, accomplishment, sidebar with hotlinks, sponsor links, network logo, ubiquitous 'LIVE' icon. Streaming network highlights and bulletins beneath. Live star coverage gets more real estate than usual for the feed.

"Congratulations, Lavender... how do you feel?"

She laughs a little, looking pensive. "I feel like everyone's looking at me."

"Were you surprised when they called out your name?"

"Remember that there are four very talented people in the band who do all the work so I can stand there and look good. No, I'm not surprised."

"They say that Best New Artist is the kiss of death... what do you think of that?"

"I don't believe in death," she exclaims.

Laughter. "Do you believe in God?"

"Every time I look in the mirror."

Uncertain laughter. "What's next for Lavender Muse?"

"I'm going home, where I understand there will be a party. I'd invite you, but you don't love me." More laughter. "Love me unconditionally, and bring a bottle, and you're in." She starts moving again, and the camera pans to the next recognizeable face.

A man held a camera like he belonged there. "Lavender, could you just look this way, please?"

Lavender turned to face the camera. It flashed. The glare washed out the photo, again.

"Thank you," said the photographer, stepping away, as Lavender slid into the back of the car.

Vulnavia flung himself in after her, into the upholstered bucket of the limousine's interior, everyone else piling in after. Lavender watched him speculatively as he poured a drink.

"I don't think they got you on camera," she said.

"You're right. They didn't."

Her eyes were drawn to the sparkle of crystal in the running lights. "Should I stand in back next time?"

Vulnavia laughed. "They'll wait for us to go by. You want one?"


Worm sat cross-legged in the middle of the floor.

"I don't really care," said Vulnavia. He passed a glass to Lavender, more than she would have poured for herself. "The fuckers who buy our tunes know the score. I don't care if I don't get on fuckin TV."

"I think I'll talk to Clive and see if he can make it so that nothing gets released unless it has all of us in it."

Vulnavia gestured suddenly. "Don't do that," he said. "That's fuckin stupid. We shouldn't hafta make them pay attention to the band."

Lavender sipped. "It can't hurt," she said.


Lavender nodded, but she thought she might talk to Clive anyway.

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