Alyce McDugal peering at me should have been the highlight of my life.
I spent three hours waiting in the stupid Celebrity Meet and Greet Line. The crowds and bright lights made everything feel fuzzy, like a dream. At first, I tried to plan what I would say to her when my turn came. Then again, I had said it all in the poem, so she already knew how much we had in common.
I had already written the first email I would send to her private address, though. You know, as soon as she gave it to me.
My turn came. I stopped counting down to the moment my life would change.
“Hi! I’m a huge fan, the hugest. I’ve seen every—” Stop, I told myself. Too boring. The guy behind me was already impatient. I could hear the warning in his throat clear: Get to the point. He didn’t know I was different. “I’m the one who wrote you the poem, the long one, about being friends.”
I waited for her eyes to sparkle with excitement. Yes, they were that green in person, but they looked just like they had with the old woman before me. She had that blank, History class expression, the one that means not really listening.
I started to mention the colored pencils but trailed off. She didn’t seem to notice, just grabbed a photo from the pile on her desk. “How do you spell your name?”
Somehow, I was just another fan to her. We would never enter each other’s little worlds, or send secret emails, or go to summer camp. She would never be Alyce, only Alyce McDugal.
“There you go.” She handed me the signed picture, still smelling of wet ink. I tried to say Thank you, but my heart blocked my throat.
Deb Jannerson is a New Orleans-based poet and novelist. Her first book of poetry, Rabbit Rabbit, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016 to accolades from Autostraddle, Ambush, and award-winning slam poet Franny Choi. She has been shortlisted for the William Faulkner — Wisdom Award and received second place in the Pen2Paper Writing Competition. Her fiction, poetry, and social commentary have appeared in four anthologies and more than twenty magazines, including Bitch, E·ratio, and Women’s Review of Books. Jannerson recently won the 2017 So to Speak Nonfiction Contest for “Scarring,” a short memoir about body trauma and the healing power of intimacy.