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Evolution of a Pop Star
Alex Simand


Go to a bagel shop. Get the belly lox. Extra schmear. In the beginning, pop stars eat belly lox. It helps them keep baby fat in the cheeks. Baby fat is good because it leaves something to burn off. Use Yiddish words. Sing in the shower. Sing at the butcher’s. Sing ‘til your mother asks you to take the trash out and locks the door. Run away. Run home. Keep running back and forth. Run in place. Don’t trust men in broom closets. Don’t trust men in studios. Don’t trust men. Unless they have money and promises. Then trust them even less. Frequent bus terminals. This will say I am going places. Be a sweetheart. Grow a pigtail. Add a second. Add a third. A fourth. Turn your head into a shrine to Cthulhu. Stick to seafood. Bathe in mercury. Slap puberty on its hairy chin. Grow breasts, collarbones, and boots made of small animals. Develop a taste for salt. Sweat. Tears. Salt licks in the savannah. Watch steers gather to taste your flesh. Slather salad dressing on your skin. Find a large rock and stand on it. Strip to your bones and lay them out on the rock. Save your carrion for the California condors. They’re almost extinct. They can only live off the young flesh of pop stars. Turn thirty. Gather your pieces in a box and tie an instagram filter around it.  Shave your head with a Bic in a rest stop mirror. Switch to pastrami on rye. Your people are in diners now. Move to Florida. Buy property in Cuba. Do anything you want. The stage awaits. No matter what happens, the stage awaits. Planted in the desert, wafting hot and dry among the diamond cholla, the stage awaits. Step onto it. Your audience grows. Impatient.

Alex Simand lives and works in San Francisco, though he was born in Russia and grew up in Toronto. He holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles. Alex writes fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. His work has appeared in North American Review, Matador Review, Hippocampus Magazine, Apogee, Mudseason Review, Five2One Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, and other publications. His short story, Election Cycle, was a winner of the 2017 Best Small Fictions Prize. Alex is the former Editor for Blog, Nonfiction, and the Diana Woods Memorial Prize at Lunch Ticket.