Justin Bieber brushed the tears from his chocolate brown eyes. He would not let them see him cry. He would not give them the satisfaction. He had made a promise to himself, long ago, that he would never let a horse see him weep.
"Do you need a tissue?" asked his bodyguard, a giant tank of a man called Tank, whose heart was as wide and as glossy as the leaves of the mighty maple tree.
"No," sniffled Justin.
The other members of their riding party looked at one another, nervously. "Selfie time," one suggested. The staccato clicks of their phones captured practiced angles, rehearsed scowls. "#Inspiration," Justin typed into his phone. "#Natur. #Blessed." Justin Bieber was sad.
"What's wrong," asked Tank, his voice like warm maple syrup over a freshly-baked Tim Horton donut. "Is it Selena?"
"No," Justin warbled.
Sunglasses were adjusted. An ironic bandana tightened.
The group of riders made their way around Griffith Park, the heat searing into their marrow. It was a dry heat, the kind of heat that winds its way into your throat and lungs, the kind of heat that has a sound. It buzzes in your brain, it wails, high-pitched and longingly, in the dead center of your chest. It was the kind of heat that makes you think about life, and the lack of it. "I'm cold," Justin hissed. "I'm so cold."
Tank listened as the wind whistled through the trees and the wiry underbrush, his ears perked like two Mounties on horseback. "Why don't you put your shirt back on then, chief."
"No, Justin whispered into the stagnant desert air. "I'm cold on the inside."
The group watched silent, as Justin brought his horse to a stop. "Whoa, Taylor," he whispered. "Whoa." He dismounted, stumbled onto the sandy dirt, trying to make it look like a dance move. He moonwalked, but he knew they knew. They knew that none of it was real. Everybody did.
"Another selfie?" someone suggested. A lone bird sang somewhere, its song a strangled cry.
Once again, phones clicked, and the sound was swallowed by the sky, by the heat. By gloom. The heavy, sharp-hot miasma of gloom.
Justin Bieber searched for the right emoji, but he could not find it.
Please note: The events of this fan fiction are fictional. No Justin Biebers were hurt, emotionally or otherwise, in the writing of this piece
Previously: Sad Man Fan Fic: Kanye and Kim Try a Zip Line