Chapter 1 - Val
“Mr. King, do you feel confident in being independent?” the man asks me.
He’s wearing a grey suit. They all do. It’s like their signature color.
Everything around me is grey. The people. The office. The city. The house that’s supposed to be mine. The world.
“I do,” I tell him and wait for his questions.
We’ve done this so many times before that he feels like a friend rather than a government official, but he’s not. We’ve done this over and over, and while I didn’t feel ready in all my previous reviews, this time I am. I’ve spent hours on the internet, researching, practicing, meditating. Doing everything in my power to be myself again.
“Would you like to tell me why?” he asks.
I glance at Fred and a fleeting smile of encouragement appears on his lips. I take a deep breath and look back at the court investigator.
“I haven’t had an episode in the last year. I’ve adjusted almost perfectly to the new prescription, and I feel like myself again. I’ve been on my medication consistently, and my creativity is in full swing. It’s been a long time, but it feels like I’ve found myself.
“I’ve also been taking an online course in finances, and I’m learning how to manage my allowances better. I believe my uncle can confirm that I’ve been a responsible adult for a long time, and I haven’t put myself or others in any danger.
“In addition to that, may I also add that, despite my increased workload, I haven’t had any episodes.” I try not to sigh when I finish, but I’m definitely proud of myself.
I’ve spoken nothing but the truth. I’ve worked my ass off to gain my independence back, and I’ll be damned if I let myself down.
The investigator, Mr. Jones, turns to my uncle and asks him to confirm what I’ve just stated.
“Val has made tremendous progress, a big part thanks to the new psychiatrist who’s been looking after him. I’ve been praying for this day for a very long time, Mr. Jones, but I think we’re finally ready to end his conservatorship,” Fred says, and it makes me giddy hearing the words come out of his mouth.
He’s always been strict with me. Always careful. Better to err on the side of caution than ruin my life again is what he’s always told me, and for a very long time I agreed with him.
To hear the man I trust, the person who looked after me when everyone abandoned me, announce that I’m ready to be my own man brings tears to my eyes.
“That’s great to hear. I will, of course, need to see paperwork and evidence to back your claims, and I will be speaking to his doctor to make sure we’re on the right track. Now, may I please speak with you alone, Mr. Graves?” Mr. Jones says, and I stare at him. “Mr. King, if you wait outside, I will speak with you straight after.”
I nod and get up. As soon as I close the door, I press my ear against it and try to listen to their conversation when someone dry coughs behind me.
Slowly, I turn around and find Mr. Jones’s secretary looking at me over the top of her cat-eye framed glasses with pursed lips.
I choke a laugh and take a few steps back to sit on the couch outside the office. To stop myself from staring at the door, I take my phone out and scroll through the comments of my last video on my SoCo profile. SoCo stands for Social Community and is a social media platform with over two billion users.
It’s where all my fans hang out, and it’s where I keep them updated about my music and my life. Even if the latter tends to be a heated topic more often than not.
Most comments on my video are positive and praise the teaser of the song we’ve posted. My new pop ballad hits the digital shelves next week, followed by the release of a holiday album with some pretty hot collaborations.
Tickets to the launch concert, King’s Holiday Ball, were limited to a few dozen for my fans—the rest reserved for people in the industry and celebrities—and they sold out within seconds of going live, and none of my fans have even heard a word or tune of my new songs. But those people, my Courtlings as they’ve named themselves, would literally follow me on a freefall from a cliff. I know they’ll love whatever I put out there even when I don’t always like my content.
Sounds just like Party Life. That’s what happens when a 30yo man won’t get the memo that he’s no child popstar anymore. I used to be a fan but Val King needs to fire all his staff and hire new people because this is the kind of recycled garbage we hate. But oh wait. I forgot! He can’t fire anyone.
You’d think after nearly fifteen years of these kinds of comments I’d be used to it, but it still has me seething, making my fingers itchy to type a reply. <