Only a snack size short story this time, thanks to Sunday Scribblings as well as to Steph over at InMon, who’s been working too hard over Thanksgiving (or so she claims.) This week’s prompts are Investigate thanks to Sunday Scribblings and Stronger than fate, Paint the town, Seconds left, The lies weren’t as bad as the truth, Why is she smiling? via Steph. Oh, and the idea itself came from an old song I heard on the radio (Great Classic Hits) about a woman who gives up her dreams…
I had a room available, she needed a place to stay. “Only short term,” she insisted, “only until I see my name in lights.” She smiled, awkwardly, as though this small confession would make or break her application, would shatter her dreams. Dreams that she had held onto since she was a little girl, with pigtails and braces. She insisted on showing us the photographs as she bounced on the futon hat was to be her bed. “I’ve always known I was going to be a movie star, one day.” This was the sort of thing she would say everyday as she sat on the couch, playing the guest on an imaginary talk show. “Was it fate? No, it’s always felt stronger than fate,” here she would laugh, trying to sound sophisticated through her school-girl giggle, “more like destiny.” She would pull you into her trap, the only hunter who used herself for bait, playing her girl-next-door role with style. Every day she would glare at herself in the mirror, before stepping down into lounge room, her smile spread wide across her face. Give herself another “today is the day” speech, talking over the cartoons playing as we breakfasted, just scenery in the reality drama of her life. Another “this time I nailed it” pep talk as she came through the front door.
But the lies were better than the truth. On her third afternoon, returning rejected once more, she overheard the question. “Why is she smiling?” It seemed innocent enough, as questions go, in its half whispered conspirital tones only half overheard. She came to LA to “paint the town red” and to “live every day as though she only had seconds left!” Her parents had abandoned her, casting her adrift into the turbulent rapids of humanity. She stepped into our world, where debauchery and poverty stalk side by side, the twin monsters feeding off the fantasies of all those small town girls come to make it big. Today was the third day she had declined the casting couch. She had seen it coming, had seen the way he smiled as she stepped in to the audition, obviously nervous, obviously underprepared. She had “stuttered at the lines” and knew almost immediately that she had failed. She turned to walk away, and he reached out, fingers brushing against her elbow. She had tears in her eyes, making his erection grow harder, straining against the grey of his suit pants. She felt him crumple after she swung her fist out behind her and she felt bad, instinctively wanting to help.
She didn’t think she had gotten the part after she walked away. She wouldn’t know, she didn’t turn back to investigate.