4 beers in. The poison continued to weave its way through my veins, dulling the edges of the pain that had become my shadow. I stood in the makeshift vocal booth, my sanctuary, shielded from the judgmental gazes of the world outside. The dim glow of a single lightbulb illuminated my isolation, casting shadows that seemed to dance with my fears and insecurities. The music had always been my escape, but now, it was beginning to feel like a prison. As I inhaled deeply, preparing to channel my inner Chris Cornell, I heard it – the unmistakable sound of footsteps outside the studio door. My heart started to race, and a wave of anxiety washed over me. I could almost feel their eyes on me, even though I knew they couldn’t see me through the walls of my refuge. Their footsteps were like the pounding of my own heartbeat, echoing through my skull, reminding me of my failings, my desperation, my insignificance. I tried to focus, to lose myself in the melody, but the footsteps seemed to grow louder, more persistent, taunting me. My throat tightened, the notes trapped inside, a choking reminder of the life I was trying to escape. The urge to drink, to drown the anxiety that threatened to consume me, became stronger, more alluring than the desire to sing. But I needed to try, to give it one more shot before succumbing to the numbing embrace of alcohol. With every ounce of strength I could muster, I belted out the opening lines of Audioslave’s “I Am The Highway.” The notes felt forced, strained, like a feeble imitation of the passion and pain that Chris Cornell had so effortlessly conveyed. My voice trembled, my hands shook, and I could no longer ignore the footsteps outside. The crushing weight of my own inadequacy bore down on me, suffocating me with the realization that I was a fraud, a pretender, a shadow of the greatness I so desperately craved.

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