It was like she was drowning, drowning in thick smoke, her eyes stinging, lungs burning. The young girl opened her eyes just for a moment- furious orange flames were licking at everything, swallowing the world up whole and everywhere was hot, burningly hot. She couldn't breathe, vision was sliding in and out of focus, and faint screams and sirens wove through her mind like passing dreams. But it wasn't a dream, and the searing pain in her leg was no false reality. This was real. This was happening.
It could've been hours or it could've been seconds that she lay there, engulfed by destruction, the girl was so dazed- but the screams were getting louder and she started to realise that they were nearby; she recognised the voices. Her parents. If she could've got up, she would've but the girl was ensnared in her bed, the room around her being mauled by flames. She was trapped, confused, in pain and she needed to help her parents. But when she tried she just couldn't. Nothing would work.
Suddenly the girl felt strong arms around her, pulling her up away from the flames, then somehow she was plunged into a cold dark world and she was surrounded by air.
"It's okay, I got you," said a gruff voice in her ear.
She tried hard to breathe properly but her lungs were still burning and they weren't co-operating. Someone was carrying her but all she could think of was the pain and the screams.
"You have to-" she coughed violently. "My parents- they're inside- save them."
The man didn't react, he just set her down on some soft surface is a brightly lit van.
The girl looked around; the black of the dark night was permeated by a fiery orange glow and urgent blue and white lights. It was all a blur to the girl, she couldn't fill her lungs with nearly enough air as she wanted to, her leg was stinging as if she'd been shot but most of all where were her parents? She needed them with her. She needed them safe.
"Everyone move back the place is gonna blow!" someone yelled.
The girl saw the light from the house moving away from her and then- the ground shook and rumbled. The house that she knew so well imploded before her eyes, becoming a mess of red and orange flames.
She screamed and jumped up but hands were pulling her back and she was yelling as loud as her body would allow.
"I need to save them! I need to!" she begged, fighting the arms restraining but not getting anywhere at all. "Let me go!"
The girl fought as hard as she could in her dazed state, but strong hands put her back in the ambulance.
"Shh, it's okay. They're gone."
Beca hurled herself out of bed suddenly.
It was the dream again, always the same one since she was sixteen years old; the night Beca's parents died.
It took a moment for her eyes to adjust, to realise that she was safe and that it was just a dream before Beca could get up off the floor and wipe away the cold sweat from her forehead. She took deep breaths to calm down, and then sighed. It was eight am already, she'd only been asleep for less than four hours. Great, she thought. Today would be very hard.
Beca stood up and opened her bedroom curtains, revealing the bright Los Angeles light outside. She just stood at the window for a moment, letting the West coast sun shine onto her face, before leaving her messy bedroom to begin the day.
Beca Mitchell loved LA. She loved the sun, she loved the broad range of people, she loved occasionally bumping into celebrities in wal-mart and most of all she loved the promise of better times. She moved here two years ago with her high school best friend and trainee lawyer, Aubrey Posen, and they rented a small apartment with a bus driver called Fat Amy. The three of them had become close friends and Beca felt more secure with them than she had ever had back home living with her aunt and uncle.
By night Beca was a bartender at Luke & Adam's Karaoke bar, but by day she was a badass music producer, mixing tracks and producing the odd album for whatever obscure shitty band her record label (Doozie records) signed. She actually loved both jobs (not that she would ever let on that she loved karaoke) but what she wanted most was to become a bigtime producer for a bigtime record label. She knew that that would not happen any time soon, but regardless, Beca was twenty two now, and the happiest she'd been in six years.
"Morning skinny B," Fat Amy said, as Beca wandered into the kitchen to get her usual breakfast of black coffee.
"Hey Amy," Beca yawned.
"You want a bagel? I was gonna have this one but Aubrey just told me that bagels are Jewish...I don't really want my tongue in a Jewish hole."
Beca rolled her eyes at another usual insensitive Fat Amy comment.
"No, I'm good thanks. And you really need to deal with your anti-Semitism issues."
Fat Amy shrugged taking a large bite out of a doughnut. She was wearing her bus driver uniform and carrying a large bag for lunch. The great thing about Amy was she always provided food for the apartment, which saved Beca lots of money. Aubrey on the other hand, bought all her own food, all of it organic and low calorie. The great thing about Aubrey was that she tidied the apartment obsessively, so it was always clean. Beca just ate whatever was in the fridge and never had to clean a thing- it was a pretty sweet deal.
"Morning Beca," Aubrey panted, emerging from her bedroom in sweaty running clothes, totally out of breath.
"I just did fifteen miles on the treadmill in an hour," she said, grabbing a towel.
"Wow, that's impressive," Beca said, pouring out the black coffee.
"Yeah, I'm gonna go to work guys," Fat Amy said. "Just looking at Aubrey makes me feel exhausted."
"See ya later Amy."
"Bye skinny bitches."
Beca sat down on the couch and turned on the TV.
"So, how are you sleeping lately?" Aubrey asked, sitting down next to her.
"Uh, okay I guess," Beca replied, drinking her black coffee.
"Are you still getting the dream?"
"Yeah. But since I get home at like four I guess it doesn't really affect me for too long."
"Maybe you should go see a doctor, Bec," Aubrey said in a concerned voice.
"Nah, doctors creep me out, you know that."
"Well, you should definitely ask Luke for shorter hours."
"But I need the money," Beca said.
Aubrey sighed. Her best friend did not make it easy for her to help.
"I just don't want you to be having nightmares and being exhausted all the time," Aubrey said, but Beca was still avoiding eye contact.
"Yeah," Beca said simply. "I'm okay Bree, really, don't worry so much."
"Becs, look you have PTSD it's a serious thing and if you need help then that's okay! I will support you and there are people who know how to make things better, okay, you don't have to do this alone!" Aubrey said exasperatedly.
Beca just rolled her eyes. She'd had this speech about once a month for the past two years. After the fire Beca was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and she had a few months off school in hospital treating her burns and then a year or so in intensive cognitive behaviour therapy. It worked for a while, but when she moved to LA and stopped getting therapy the dreams and symptoms started coming back. But Beca was determined not to let it control her life. She could deal with it alone and she would deal with it alone, as much as Aubrey protested this.
"Aubrey, if I need help, I will let you know, I promise," Beca said to her friend.
Aubrey just looked at her incredulously, but then gave in and said:
"I'm going for a shower, see you after work."
Beca didn't get dressed until one pm; she spent the morning making a mix of Don't Trust Me and Poker Face, before taking a long shower and putting on her favourite red checkered shirt over a Nirvana vest top. The thing about being a music producer was that she didn't get a lot of work. She sent off samples of her work to big record companies every week but no luck so. Currently she was working for Doozie Records, a small company that signed punk bands and paid her little to none. That's why she to work at the karaoke bar; LA living was not cheap.
Just as Beca was drying her hair her shitty Nokia brick phone rang- it was Luke, the manager at the bar.
"Hey what's up?" Beca answered, floppping back on her bed.
"Hey Beca," said Luke in his posh London accent.
Luke and his brother Adam had moved from Chelsea in London to LA, to manage the karaoke bar that their super rich parents owned. Adam was barely around- he was a pilot now- but Luke was always about, ordering Beca around. There were two other employees- Jesse and Benji. Jesse was bartender/Luke's DIY and cleaning man. He was nice enough but Beca hated the way he was protective over her, and she hated it more than anything when he flirted with her. Benji was in charge of karaoke; he was a total nerd but a lovely guy and a great singer. Sometimes if Beca was really drunk, she would go up and sing. Secretly, she was a talented singer and she loved performing...but that was a secret.
"So, if you're not busy can you open up the bar?" Luke asked, causing Beca to mentally sigh. "We've got a delivery and I really need someone there."
"Great. I'll see you tonight."
Beca sighed, grabbed her motorcycle helmet and headed downstairs to her old red moped. The apartment was on the second floor in a block of three apartments. They were all pretty small three bedroom apartments but LA was very expensive to live in, so Beca couldn't be choosy.
She put on the helmet and headed off to the bar.
Beca liked riding the moped. It was better for the environment than a car (she couldn't afford a decent car anyway), obviously it was super cool and the fact that it's so dangerous to ride a motorcycle made her feel badass. Let's face it; Beca Mitchell was badass.
"Hey Beca, can you close the bar again tonight?" Luke asked Beca, as she stood behind the bar slicing lemons.
It was six o clock now and a few people were in, having a drink after work or whatever. It was a Tuesday so Beca knew she wouldn't have a difficult night.
"Sure," she said, starting to make margaritas for a group of young doctors. They were regulars and really awful singers, but she liked chatting to them while she worked.
Beca liked working behind the bar- she liked watching people have fun. She liked flirting with customers when she got drunk, and she occasionally liked to be taken home by a pretty girl or good looking guy. Being a bartender really suited her because she just had so much fun.
Luke and Adam's Karaoke Bar was a nice place, it was fairly big- there were lots of tables and a dance area in front of the stage. There were lots of modern paintings on the walls and vintage photographs and momentos. Beca thought the décor was pretty cool anyway.
"Hey Beca, will you be singing tonight?" Jesse asked, turning up late and unshaven, jumping over the bar as if he was James frickin Bond.
"No," Beca said bluntly. She did not want him to flirt with her one bit.
"That's a shame. I like it when you get drunk."
She just sighed and ignored him- luckily Luke sent him off to fix the doors in the men's toilets, which meant he would be gone all evening, since he was so bad at DIY.
"You really don't like that guy," a guy called Donald grinned at Beca. He was an intern doctor, and he was pretty nice. Beca had been speaking to him for a while now and she figured they were friends.
"No I really don't," Beca agreed with a smile.
"You should just tell him to back off," he said, sipping the expertly made margarita.
"Yeah, I know. I would if we didn't have to work together."
"He seems like kind of an ass," he said and Beca smiled.
"He's a total ass."
The evening continued like any other for Beca; she made drinks, she collected empty glasses from tables, and when it got to about nine o clock she listened to people wail out karaoke songs. It was routine, and soon she found herself deep in thought about a new mix.
"Hey, can I have a double gin and tonic please?"
Beca looked up from chopping lemons and saw a red haired girl stood at the bar.
Beca saw a lot of people come through the bar...but this girl had her completely taken aback. Her strikingly blue eyes, her long wavy red hair, her pink lips and the way her innocent light pink dress hugged her perfect body then revealed long tanned legs...She was something else, and Beca was suddenly feeing nervous.
"Um, sure," Beca smiled awkwardly at the girl, then busied herself making the drink.
"I don't normally drink spirits," the girl said, playing with her hair absent-mindedly. Beca noticed that she had a really soft voice- the kind of voice you'd want whispering in your ear late at night..."But I'm going on stage in ten minutes."
"That's cool," Beca replied, trying not to act like a social retard in front of this gorgeous woman. "What are you singing?"
"You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift," she said and Beca thought Taylor frickin Swift? This girl was too sweet. And too cheesy.
"Here you go," Beca passed her the drink slowly, deliberately making her hand touch the girl's.
Their eyes met for a moment and the redhead smiled while Beca's heart pounded, before drinking the double g&t in one.
"Okay, wish me luck," she said getting up from the bar.
"Good luck," Beca smiled at her.
Beca watched the girl as she walked off, admiring her body even more.
She saw her going back to her table of friends- they all looked about twenty four or twenty five, and were dressed smartly...Beca definitely recognised one guy, but hadn't seen the others before. They looked like professionals...the redhead probably would never go for someone like Beca. She was probably straight too. Beca was overthinking it anyway, she'd only just met the girl for crying out loud! Oh dear...
"Hi everyone," the girl said stood at the mic. "This is my first time at karaoke, so go easy on me."
Beca thought she was just so cute.
Beca watched as the redhead sang...she was actually really talented, her voice was soft and sweet and well Beca was completely mesmerised.
The rest of the night Beca just gazed over at the redhead's table, watching her laugh with her friends. She was just too perfect and when she left the bar Beca was disappointed that she didn't speak to her more.
That night Beca fell asleep thinking of the redhead, and for once she didn't have a single flashback.
It had been a good night.
Author's note: okay everyone please tell me what you think of this first chapter, thankyou so much :) review please? even if you hate it