Shannon Miller was chased away from rummaging through garbage by an angry restaurant employee, but little did she know that the incident would turn her life upside down in the most surprising way.
They say your life can change in one moment, and you never know when it might happen. Shannon felt like she was always waiting for something to happen. She moved to New York City after graduating high school in Florida. She dreamed big and knew she had the talent to make things happen. Singing was her passion, and she also believed in the cliches.
"If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, right?" she called out to her mother as she waved one hand from the sidewalk. She was leaving with one suitcase in her other hand and remembered her mother, Kiara, shaking her head from the doorway.
Shannon left her home in Florida to chase her dreams in New York. | Source: Pexels
"You can always come back if you need to. This will be your home forever," the older woman yelled at the young dreamer. She had never understood her daughter's crazy aspirations, especially because she was brilliant. She could've gone to college and studied anything, including medicine, law, or engineering. But she wanted to be a singer, and Kiara had to let her go.
"Wait. Do I know you?" he suddenly asked, stopping her for a second. His eyes squinted as if he saw something on her face, but Shannon shook her head.
"Don't worry, Mom. I'll make it big, and I will buy you the biggest house wherever you want," Shannon shouted back and continued walking until her house was out of view. She reached the bus stop and started her long journey north. It took a long time, and she made many stops around the country before reaching her destination: New York.
The Big Apple. The only place in the world where her dreams could finally come true. She was going to become a massive star like Madonna or Britney. Her talent was just as powerful, and she had a huge drive to prove herself, mainly because people back home didn't dream big like her. They settled. They married and lived boring suburban lives. This was not her path.
Shannon needed more from her life. If others made it, she could make it too. It shouldn't be too hard, should it?
The young dreamer didn't understand much about life yet and the realities of show business. When she first arrived in New York, she got lucky, found a place to stay with a roommate, and got a gig as a waitress at a small but popular bar in the area. Several beautiful women performed every night, and she hoped to be one of them soon.
She got a job at a bar and finally landed a chance to sing after someone cancelled. | Source: Pexels
Finally, the owner, Mr. Lukens, told her about a cancelation. She had often begged him to perform, assuring him of her skills as a singer, and he was finally taking her up on the offer.
"There are a few dresses in the dressing in the back. Maybe they'll fit you," Mr. Lukens said, pursing his lips, still unconvinced by the idea. One of his eyebrows pulled down as he stared at her up and down. "Yeah, I think it'll work. At least you're decent-looking."
Shannon rushed to the back and grabbed her makeup to finish a look. She looked like a modern version of Marilyn Monroe when she was done. Her light blonde hair was perfectly coifed on her head, and her dress was white, glittery, and tight-fitting.
Mr. Lukens snapped at her to hurry and ordered her to take her spot behind the curtains. As they opened slowly, she felt at home. The lighting of the bar had a hint of red. It was inviting. Sensual. Smoke from cigarettes filled the air as the patrons turned to her. They gave her attention, the kind she craved more than anything, so Shannon approached the vintage-style microphone and waited.
The sounds of a trumpet filled the ambiance, and Shannon started crooning like Ella Fitzgerald. Soon enough, she moved to the beautiful and longing lyrics of "Dream a Little Dream of Me." She lost herself. It was the first time she sang in front of a crowd in a professional setting.
Everything before that had been amateur contests and talent shows, but this was an actual – albeit small – stage, and she wanted every single person sitting on those chairs to remember her for the rest of the night, at least.
She finished the song and the small crowd gave her a standing ovation. | Source: Pexels
She accomplished it by the end of the song. They gave her a standing ovation and asked for more songs. Mr. Lukens didn't have a choice but to give her a chance, and she chose other jazzy melodies to entice these adoring clients.
From then on, she became part of the official performers of the bar. Mr. Lukens also made several promises, assuring her that scouts came over all the time looking for talent, and he allegedly knew them all. But the reality was different. He didn't have the best intentions. He only wanted her for something else.
Soon, they started dating, and he demanded more of her than anyone ever. Despite her reservations, Shannon moved in with him and performed most nights with barely any payment. At home, she had to act like a dutiful girlfriend because that was the only way he would introduce her to those people. But that never happened.
Shannon still remembered her first performance and how she thought that day would change everything in her life. In a way, it did. Her life derailed, and her world fell apart after three years of being subjected to grueling, exhausting performances and empty promises.
And when a new, young woman with an incredible singing voice appeared at the bar, Mr. Lukens dumped her, throwing her out of his house with almost nothing to her name. She had given him everything, and now, she had nothing to show for it. He never introduced her to scouts. He helped her become a star.
Mr. Lukens destroyed everything, threw her out of his house, and she lost herself in the pain. | Source: Pexels
She was just… someone he used for his own benefit, and after wasting all those years, she became homeless. Her self-esteem was shot, so she didn't want to do anything about it. And singing was almost triggering for her, so she stopped altogether, jumped from homeless shelter to homeless shelter, and tried just to survive. She didn't feel alive anymore, so nothing mattered.
Five years had passed since she left her mother's house in Florida, and things were vastly different from what she had imagined.
Shannon was walking around aimlessly through a random street in New York. Cars drove fast around her, and people with actual lives walked around her, trying to avoid her as best as possible. She was a pariah. Her jacket was second-hand and tattered after two years of constant use. Her other clothes were also in disarray, but the main problem was that she smelled terrible. Although she had access to showers at the shelters, she barely used them. Nothing mattered.
But today, she was hungry and didn't have a penny to her name, so she did what she had grown accustomed to doing when this happened. Giant garbage pails waited in the alleyways near restaurants, which were known for throwing good food away.
She entered one alley in a popular spot and saw no one else around, so she opened the garbage and started rummaging through it. She found some half-eaten desserts, which she pocketed for later, and only took a bite of a donut for the moment. But suddenly, a harsh male voice shouted from the doorway that led into the building.
The angry man yelled at her with a face full of disdain, so she rushed away. | Source: Pexels
A man – probably a restaurant employee – looked at her with disdain and started yelling. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? I'M GOING TO CALL THE POLICE! GET AWAY FROM HERE NOW!" he shouted with as much contempt that his face wrinkled in anger at Shannon.
She had no choice but to rush away, but on her way out of the alley, she bumped into another man. A well-dressed man who was probably going to recoil and yell at her again. But he didn't. He grabbed her arms, looked directly into her eyes, and spoke gently.
"Are you alright?" he questioned. His arms steadying her and finally letting go.
Shannon was breathless from the shock of the angry man and from running away, but she nodded quickly and tried to skirt around the nice-looking man.
"Wait. Do I know you?" he suddenly asked, stopping her for a second. His eyes squinted as if he saw something on her face, but Shannon shook her head.
"I don't think so, sir. I wouldn't know about being around nice people like you," she stated, her lips thinning. She looked behind her, hoping to run away from this man quickly. No one had truly spoken to her in some time, and she didn't have in it for conversation with regular people.
The man stopped her from running away and realizing he had seen her before. | Source: Pexels
But the man's eyes widened as if he did recognize something. He grabbed her arm firmly before she could run off like she wanted and stated, "That voice. I would remember that voice anywhere. It's you. Shannon Miller. You’re the performer from the bar on the East side. I remember you. You loved singing Ella Fitzgerald."
Shannon's own eyes bulged as she couldn't believe someone remembered her. At first, she tried to shake her head, denying it, but the man insisted. She was squirming in his grasp and still craved to run away.
"I'm Brian. Brian Angus. I started coming to that bar every night for months just to see you. I asked to meet you many times, but the owner didn't let me," the man revealed, and Shannon finally stopped and looked up at the man.
"Why?" she asked breathlessly and stopped squirming.
"You are talented, Ms. Miller. I wanted to sign you to my label. I wanted to offer you a shot at the big time, but the owner at the bar said he was your agent, and he made decisions for you," Brian continued, his eyes sympathetic, as he had a suspicion that that statement was not true now. "I stopped coming after a while, but you were still there a few years ago."
Shannon's eyes watered as more heartbreak filled her soul. Mr. Lukens had not only destroyed everything, even her love of singing, but she had had a chance of realizing all her dreams, and he stopped it.
Shannon started crying, realizing that Mr. Lukens had actually taken more from her than she originally thought. | Source: Pexels
Brian watched as tears streaked her face, and his face gentled even more. "Please, let me buy you something to drink. Some coffee, and maybe some food," he offered, and Shannon followed him almost automatically, tears still falling freely from her eyes.
He found a street coffee cart and bought her a hot chocolate to calm her tears at first. They sat down on a public bench and drank. "We can go to a restaurant nearby in a while. But do you want to talk about it? I sense that the bar owner lied to me and may have done something to you. You can tell me anything," he offered, and his kind eyes compelled her to speak.
For a long time, she had not talked to anyone. She remained in the shadows, in her dark place, where it was safe from the terrible people in the world. But with his encouraging words, this man made her want to speak out. Finally.
Therefore, Shannon did. She told him everything from the beginning, leaving Florida as a bright-eyed dreamer, to how she became a disheartened, homeless person who couldn't even sing anymore. Two hours later, she finished her story, and Brian sat back on the bench to think.
"What do you mean you can't sing anymore?" he finally asked after a few minutes of silence.
"I don't sing at all. I think my voice is gone. I can't," Shannon uttered carefully.
"Did you hurt your voice during your time at the bar?"
Brian assured her that she could get her singing career and her life back on track. | Source: Pexels
"No, it's not that. After what happened… it's like it doesn't come out. I have no soul to sing anymore. I'm empty. I can't sing when I have nothing to offer," she continued, trying to explain the feeling.
Technically, her talent should be intact. Her ability to keep a tune going was there, but singing was about much more. Tons of people could sing, but only a few could genuinely convey a song as it should be.
Brian turned his pensive face toward her and grinned slightly. "Your words only tell me that you're the real deal. You're a true singer unlike the millions of people that come to this town looking for fame and fortune. You actually understand what it takes, and you think you have lost it, but I bet we could get it back," he added, his slight smile in place.
Shannon stared directly into his eyes, pleased by the compliment, and a small light ignited in her chest, even if she couldn't tell yet. "Do you really think so?" she finally asked, almost afraid to show any kind of hope.
"I know so. It'll take work because I can see you've lost hope in the world and have been heartbroken. But your talent is there, and your soul is there. You can bring it out and be bright again. But will you trust me?" Brian asked, turning half his body to her.
After a few seconds, Shannon nodded. She had nothing to lose, after all.
Brian found a hotel for Shannon to stay in, paid for everything she needed, and to bring back her voice, he took her to beautiful places around New York. An artist needed to be inspired.
He told her about his family, and soon enough, he got her to call her mother, whom she hadn't talked to since what happened with Mr. Lukens.
Brian discovered Shannon's talent for other genres and they recorded a song only two weeks after they met. | Source: Pexels
The older woman in Florida cried on the phone after hearing the entire story and told Shannon to come back immediately. "I'm going to start over, Mom. I'm not going to let a spineless man squish my flame out anymore," she stated, and Brian knew that things had changed at that moment.
He brought her to his record label, made her take a few singing classes to get her ready, and soon enough, Shannon started recording songs. Jazz might have been her go-to choice at the bar, but Brian discovered she had a talent for pop music with some funk influence.
They recorded a song two weeks after she bumped into him running out of that alley and released it online. To Shannon's complete shock, the song went viral on TikTok two weeks later, as teens and all kinds of people started a dancing trend to it.
"This is unbelievable!" Shannon gushed as she stared at the laptop Brian had loaned her and scrolled through thousands of videos using her song. They were at Brian's office at the record label building, and he had just explained what had happened with the music. One hand went to her chest in delight, and her face showed her surprise. "I can't believe this is happening so quickly."
"I told you. You are talented. You are the real deal. A star lived in you, and unfortunately, a bad person wanted to destroy that potential at all costs." Brian patted her shoulder and looked at her with pride shining in her eyes.
"A month ago, I was rummaging in the garbage for food," Shannon continued. The hand on her chest went to her forehead, and she plopped down on the couch in Brian's office.
Shannon couldn't believe how quickly things changed for her. | Source: Pexels
"You were in a bad place back then. But I'm extremely proud of how quickly you snapped out of that darkness and settled right into work. You are a fighter too, and you're going to need it because fame is… well, a little difficult," he replied, sitting on the chair opposite the couch.
Shannon's eyes pulled away from the phone, and her eyebrows raised. "I'm ready for it. No one is ever going to extinguish my light again. I can promise you that, Brian," she vowed vehemently. "Maybe I should learn how to dance this too."
Brian laughed, and she joined him. "Oh, and I haven’t even told you about the money you're earning for it. Now, don’t be shocked," he said and grabbed a pen from his desk to write down what she was earning for the song now that it was viral. Shannon saw a seven-figure number on the piece of paper and almost fainted in her seat.
But after a few seconds, she rose and jumped into Brian's arms. This wouldn't have happened without him.
Years later, she still loved singing, and Brian became her husband after being by her side for a long time.
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