27 by Justice Beers

Graveyards are notorious for being consumed by a dark aura, and the graveyard Penelope Martin was walking through was no different. Her mother passed away nearly seven months ago, and every day after school she had gone to her grave to sit by her. Depending on the day, she talked out her problems or she read a book; she just felt like she was closer to her mother this way. It became tradition, yet one day it all shifted when her mother’s grave was not at its usual, moss-covered state.

The grave had been cleaned. The gravestone looked as new as it did the day she was put in the ground, and today there was a telephone by her grave. The telephone was old, something you would consider ancient. You had to dial to get the numbers to register; it was nothing anyone would use nowadays. Penelope’s hand reached down to the phone, and once she put it down, she heard the croaking of someone’s voice, yet it was faint so she put the telephone up to her ear. 

She heard a familiar voice creaking out, “my number will grant you a wish.” It took Penelope a moment to process the message. It repeated on loop over and over as she held the phone to her ear. The words were spoken in her deceased mother’s voice. A few tears leaked from her eyes as she slowly put the phone away from her ear. She could still hear the message repeating and repeating. She felt inclined to listen to her mother’s words one final time. Her hand reached down as she slowly turned the knob, dialing the phone number that used to belong to her mother. She had not forgotten it, even after all this time. 

Her hands violently shook as she made sure each number was dialed correctly. She had never used a phone this old before so it was difficult to navigate. She wanted to listen to her mom, even if it just could have been some troll. She finished dialing that number prior to the phone bellowing out, ”make a wish my dear!”, which caused her eyes to fill up with tears. Her mind scanned all the possibilities of what she could say, what could she wish for? Penelope obviously thought of wishing for her mother back, yet the woman’s been to rest for so long it would cause suspicion. She loved her mother deeply, yet she had been underground for too long. Penelope couldn’t bring her back. It was nearly immoral.

Her mind thought of more selfless wishes, the stereotypical begging for world peace or causing an end to world hunger, but Penelope was a more selfish person than that. It was a waste to use such an opportunity on something so broad and basic. Closing her eyes, she muttered the words, “I wish to be famous for the next ten years.” Why ten years? Penelope knew how long fame could follow you for, she knew it would consume her life. She still wanted the normal life experience, but she wanted to taste being a celebrity, just as every teenage girl does. Ten years seemed like a grand amount of time to be in the spotlight, enough to fulfill her dreams of standing by flashing cameras without causing her to live in agony.

No noise came after she made her wish, the girl shrugged her shoulders, assuming it was some prank as she stood up, ready to leave her mother’s grave for the night. She would come back tomorrow, following routine, and sit by her dead mother in despair. 

The next morning, Penelope awoke to millions of followers across social media. Emails flooded her gmail, begging her to appear in their new movies or star in television shows. The telephone had done what she intended: it made her a celebrity. She could not comprehend it, but she did not care. Penelope was going to enjoy it while it lasted. The attention is what she had been craving for the past seventeen years. Once she joined the spotlight, Penelope gave herself a pseudonym, Persephone. The name Penelope was too innocent for the image she wanted to create.

Over the next decade, Penelope had starred in a grand total of thirteen movies and portrayed a main character in three mainstream television shows. She was a famous actress who had acquired a grand total of four Oscars and various other awards. Her networth was in the millions, and her name was known across households, people of all ages being able to recite lines from Peresephone’s movies. She had gotten what she wanted; she was a darling of the spotlight.

The girl’s life began to downspiral on her twenty-sixth birthday. Persephone could not bear the fame anymore, her life had been consumed by it. Her rights to privacy were snatched as she was treated more as a dog than an icon. Persephone had turned towards alcoholism and drug use, something the girl had never touched. Even when her mother passed, she resisted the use of substances, yet this was now what she depended on. Persephone did not want to be an alcoholic, her mind wanted to change yet her body only pulled her closer and closer to liquor.

The peak of her career quickly plummeted. Despite her reputation of being one of the world’s best actresses’, she could not land a gig for her life. She was seen as a drunk slob by the media. She was forced into rehabilitation three times, everyone around her desperately wanting her to fix her life. She seemed to have it made, yet she was desperately down spiraling and no one could catch her no matter how hard. 

In her home, Persephone was found dead in a pile of her own vomit on her twenty-seventh birthday. She had made that wish for fame ten years ago, and it still came through. Persephone got her ten years of fame, yet now she is now dead, famous for a decade but dead. Her name was posted next to those of Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, she joined the 27 club. Everyone saw her as another poor soul fame had corrupted, yet she was not taken to the higher above by fame. It was that stupid telephone, the telephone she found on her mother’s grave. 

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