Jarea Takes a Holiday

The following nonsense is my attempt to create a short story to accompany my fellow bored co-workers desk doodles. If you enjoy nonsense or you are also bored at work please continue reading. It’s fun to follow along in the drawing while reading to see how many doodles I was able to incorporate into the story!

Desk Doodle

The sun was shining a unique bright orange and it shone through Jarea’s blinds waking her from a deep sleep. She yawned and stretched and put on her giant diamond ring which weighed nearly 2 lbs. It was the only thing she wore aside from her smile. Jarea opened her window and saw that a giant butterfly as big as a dragon was flying above the trees.

“I’ve got to get a better look at this!” Jarea said.

Jarea hopped into her little red doodlebug and decided to take a drive to see what she could see. On the way to see the giant butterfly which dwarfed the biggest pine tree, Jarea passed a broken heart. It was floating in midair and openly crying. Jarea felt compelled to stop.

“What’s going on?”

“Aw nothing. I’m just depressed because I got drawn into the air above this cemetery. Looking at dead people makes me sad.”

“Hmm. I can see that. Would you like to take a ride with me instead?” Jarea offered.

“Sure! That sounds great. I don’t have any feet but I can kinda float above this seat.”

“Just one thing, I’m going to need some gas money.”

“Alright, I’ll just pull this two hundred dollars out of the sky.” Heart handed Jarea two hundred dollars and she promptly stopped at the nearest gas pump.

“I’ll go inside and pay for the gas, why don’t you pump?”

Heart protested this idea. “But I don’t have any hands!”

Jarea walked inside to find that the gas station attendant couldn’t accept her money.

“I don’t have any change for hundred dollar bills. Don’t you have anything smaller?”

“I’ve got this book. Would you like that instead?”

“That’s a great idea! I haven’t read any books today. And since you’re so smart Jarea, I’m going to throw in a complimentary ice cream cone with your gas!”

“Um. Can I get two please? I need one for my friend outside.”

“Why sure you can have two! Ice creams are just falling from the sky anyways. What a thoughtful girl you are.”

Jarea skipped outside and handed the second ice cream to Heart. The two new friends continued on their trip enjoying their frozen treats. Jarea had nearly forgotten why she came outside in the first place when the butterfly flew over her car and went straight for the sun! Soon he was out of sight and Jarea and Heart were sad that they wouldn’t get the chance to see him up close.

“What a missed opportunity,” Jarea said. There are hardly ever butterflies the size of trees!”

Just then a weird rotary phone presented itself in the backseat next to Heart and started to ring loudly. “Should we answer it?” Heart asked.

“Of course we should! Hello?”

“Hey there’s a cool show happening just up the hill past that billboard, you might want to check it out.”

“Okay. What kind of show? And who is this? And also, how is there a rotary phone in my car that isn’t attached to anything.”

“Dude. I don’t know any of that. Just follow the sound of drums.”

Since they had nothing better to do, Jarea and Heart continued driving until they reached a clearing. They parked the doodlebug next to a set of drums that were busy playing themselves. Jarea and Heart sat down to listen to the magic drumset. The two friends swayed in time to the drumbeat and soon a gigantic shadow covered both of them. The butterfly/dragon was attracted to the sound of the magical drums and floated right above their heads. It landed a few feet away from them but took care not to squish Jarea or Heart.

“That’s nice music. I like things that are nice.”

“I like your wings!” Jarea said.

“And I like your smile,” Heart added.

“Thanks! I like that you guys are way small and you’re both naked. That’s funny. Would you like to ride on my back?”

“Of course!” they both said at the same time.

“Alright. Let’s go!”

“This is the best day ever!” Jarea said as they all flew away in the direction of the weirdly orange taffy colored sun.

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The Beginning of the End

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“Doogie” Kayla points at a Golden Retriever playing frisbee with it’s owner in the distance. She is at the stage in life where everything is fascinating and she wants to touch it all. As the dog leaps into the air to catch his prize Kayla sways on her unsure toddler legs and attempts to trot off in it’s direction.

“My turn?” Dorian asks his wife.

“Go for it,” she says. Her smile is warm and full of pride in her little girls accomplishments, even though they are small. Amelia has big plans for the miniature version of herself.

Kayla doesn’t get two steps beyond their picnic blanket before her daddy scoops up his chubby daughter and swings her around in a circle. Delighted giggles fill the air as he carries Kayla upside down back to her mothers waiting arms.

Kayla very much likes going upside down. Her pale blonde hair continues to stand straight up even after Dorian puts her down. She is smiling and flashing a mouth full of gums except for the two front teeth on the bottom that were the only to come in so far.

We he looks at her, Dorian imagines future summer days in Forsyth Park pushing her in the swings. He pictures himself and Amelia cheering in the stands as Kayla plays in her first softball game. He plans to arrive early to get a good view of the stage for her first school play. There are so many things he’s looking forward to in the years to come and reaches out to Amelia and squeezes her hand in silent thanks. She has given him this beautiful give.

Amelia’s contented smile transforms as a coughing fit overtakes her. She has been doing that a lot lately.

“Are you okay?” He asks with real concern. It’s not allergies or a cold and Dorian feels the tiniest ball of dread begin to form in his stomach.

Amelia attempts to say something and waves off his concern. She is unable to form the words because she can’t stop the body racking cough long enough to utter them. The sound is deep and wet with congestion from the bottom of her lungs. She released his hand to retrieve a paper towel and place it over her face to prevent the spreading of germs.  When she brings the towel away from her face there are a few coffee colored drops left behind. She notices him noticing and quickly crumples up the evidence.

“I’m fine!” she says.

 

So Much Blood

“So much blood for such a small cut.”

Seaver stood above her with his knife at the ready. It had been a great disappointment that she didn’t fight back. In fact, it made him want to beat her more. She struggled to stand and had made it to her hands and knees when he delivered a swift kick to her middle.

She grunted as all her air was forced from her chest and her body crumpled. She lay on the floor and didn’t move for a long time.  Only the slow rise and fall of her chest proved she was still alive. He surveyed his handiwork.

“Why do you make me do this, Selena?” He crouched down and grabbed a handful of black hair and yanked her head back so she was forced to look at him. Her eyes opened and rolled back in her head like a terrified animal. So much white.

“Don’t you dare pass out on me!” he growled. “Remember that your only purpose in life is to bear my children and you don’t need the use of all your limbs to do that.”

“I’ll try.” she whispered.

“I’m sorry, what was that, Selena?”

“I can do better.”

“You can do better… what?”

“M-master.”

“Finally.” Seaver entangled his hand from her hair and let her head drop. He wiped the blood on his jeans and cursed at the instant stain. “Look what you made me do!”

He balled his fist intent on knocking a few of her teeth down her throat. She didn’t need all of them.

Selena looked up at him with heavily lidded eyes and raised a hand to try and fend off his blow. Her entire body trembled in anticipation of his pounding and his dick grew rock hard looking into her helpless pleading eyes.

“You like beatin’ on ladies, eh? Is that how you get yer jollies ya bastard!”

Seaver whipped around knife in hand. As expected, Agent Shaunessy was the source of the interruption. He was Selena’s guardian but they both knew he didn’t have the authority to intervene.

“Come on, then,” Seaver taunted him.

The man’s face was red to match his flame colored hair. A prominent vein stood out on his for-head announcing his level of fury. He looked like a vanilla version of the Incredible Hulk.

Seaver knew as a client, he was within his rights to handle Selena any way he liked as long as it didn’t interfere with her ability to get pregnant and Agent Shaunessy knew this as well. Seaver threw the knife overhead and it  whipped past the agents head to imbed itself in the wall behind. Agent Shaunessy didn’t bat an eyelash.

“Alright. You’ve had your go fella, now it’s my turn.”

The man was by far the biggest agent Seaver had ever seen and he moved with astonishing speed. Before he had the opportunity to react, the walking wall of a man rammed his shoulder into Seaver’s gut with his full weight behind it. He wrapped his gorilla arms around Seaver’s waist and he landed flat on his back with 300 plus pounds of muscle on top of him.

His first thought was that it hurt to breathe and that meant he likely had at least one broken rib. His second thought was how hysterical he found this situation. Even as Agent Shaunessy set to work pounding his face into an unrecognizable mass of of purple flesh, Seaver continued to laugh. His laugh became a cough as blood streamed into his mouth from the broken ruin that had once been his nose.

“Think it’s funny do ya?” he said between blows. “You won’t be laughing long.”

Seaver turned his head to spit out a tooth and continue to chuckle in between fits of coughing.

 

 

 

 

A Warning (Part Two)

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“If you come through that door you won’t get one step further!,” Jeremy promised the intruder. He cocked the shotgun for emphasis so that the person could hear just what kind of firepower they were up against. The house was totally silent with the only noise coming from the howling wind and occasional thunder, so Jeremy’s threat was clearly audible and soon answered.

Two more successive slams against the door proved that the intruder was either crazy or thought himself bullet proof. The last blow splintered the wood in the center. I realized in that moment that if the shotgun missed or somehow misfired I might be standing in a dark room alone with a maniac. My sweaty palm gripped the 9mm and I braced myself for the next blow. When it didn’t come Jeremy backed up and whispered to me, “We’re going through the kitchen and out the garage door entrance. You go first and I’ll follow.”

“Do you have your keys?” I hoped. Jeremy was many things but organized was not one of them.

“Not on me. We just have to make it outside and across the street to a neighbor.” He motioned for me to hurry.

The few steps from the darkened living room the lamp lit kitchen seemed to take forever. I kept waiting to hear the sound of wood cracking and a man bursting through. I couldn’t imagine what kind of person would want to get into our home so badly or why. I got to the kitchen door that opens to the garage and my heart sank. I had let the garage door down that night. We were trapped.

“Goddamn it!” Jeremy swore.

The wind suddenly picked up and I could hear tree branches scraping the sides of house outside as if the atmosphere was reacting to Jeremy’s mood. The unmistakable sound of glass shattering exploded in our ears. A grey and white streak of fur darted by my legs and into the pantry. Davey must have been hiding in the sunroom. Jeremy pointed the shotgun into the air in front of the doorway and inched forward. I used my cell phone light to shine into the room so he could see to aim -although I wasn’t sure what he’d be aiming at. The top half of a tree had fallen against one side and landed on the house bursting several glass windows in the process. A terrible stench like rotting leaves and animal remains came from the direction of the tree. As lighting flashed across the sky I could see muddy rain water streaming in through the new holes in our windows and dirt strew across the floor from where the tree had knocked over several house plants.

Jeremy drew closer to the scene, as if some macabre curiosity forced him forward. I shined the light for him so he wouldn’t be surprised by anything. A pitiful mew came from the direction of the pantry and caught my attention. Davey was blind and terrified by all these unusual sounds and smells. I followed his distress cry. The fact that a defenseless animal depended on me, lessened my fear. I stuffed the gun into the back of my jeans pocket and hoped there was no way it could spontaneously fire.

Jeremy backed up quickly and I could hear the shuffling sound of something following him. “They’re climbing up the tree!”

They are? How many people are trying to break into our house?”

“There aren’t any people.” He said it so quietly I almost didn’t hear before I could ask what he meant he shouted at me.

“There’s no time!” He ran down the hall to the front door. The lock had recently broken and it couldn’t be opened from the inside. “Back up and cover your ears.”

He took aim and fire exploded from the end of the gun. I’d heard it fired before, I’d even shot it, but that was at an outdoor shooting range and I’d been wearing protective headgear. This time there was nothing protecting me. I wasn’t able to plug up my ears while holding the cat and Davey carved bloody grooves into my chest in an attempt to scramble away from me. Hot tears ran down my cheeks. My chest was on fire and my ears rang. Jeremy’s voice was muffled like he was screaming into a pillow but I could tell from his expression that he was yelling at the top of his lungs. He put all his weight into delivering a kick to the front door. I still didn’t know who or what was attacking us but I turned my attention toward the danger. An awful sense of dread filled me as the shadows in the house drew together and formed a shape. The door gave way and opened enough for us to see that something blocked it from opening completely.

“It’s a tree!” Jeremy said. “It’s blocking the fucking door.”

Jeremy cursed and gave up on that plan of escape. He turned to see why I’d gone silent and we faced the nightmare together. The mass of black shadows had the vague outline of a man and it might have been my impaired hearing but it sounded like a growl came from it’s center. I could see Jeremy taking aim from the corner of my eye but he didn’t seem to know where to fire. Something like an arm reached out from the swirling mass and long tendrils flexed in my direction. Davey hissed and took a swipe that passed through the arm but caused it to shrink backward.

“You protect this one?” A thin spidery voice asked. I wasn’t sure if it had been spoken aloud or in my head.

“What?”

When the question was repeated I realized it wasn’t being asked of me at all.

Davey bared his fangs and made the fiercest hiss I’d ever heard before turning around in my arms and burying his furry head against my chest.

“Very well,” the voice said. “We will cause no harm.”

Jeremy relaxed the gun beside me. I held my breath as I watched the shadow man withdraw down the hallway and back out of the destroyed window in the sunroom. When it had fully retreated everything went still.

There was no more monstrous wind causing tree limbs to scrape the sides of the house, and no longer any frustrated rumbling from whatever it was that had been trapped in our basement.

Davey leapt from my arms and ran into the sunroom. We both followed and an instant later the lights flickered back on. The giant maple tree in the back yard had completely blown over and crashed into one side of the house shattering several windows . Glass, and mud covered most of the furniture. The light colored carpet in the room was stained with something black and viscous almost like tar.

“What is that?” Jeremy bent down to inspect the semi gelatinous black blob.

“Don’t touch it!” The evidence left behind still gave no indication of what had climbed the tree into our home.

I stared at my cat, who stared back at me as if he could actually see my face. “What happened here?” I asked as if he had the ability to answer. I wondered what he was thinking about. Somehow I knew there was more going on behind those wide green eyes than I’d ever imagined.

I remembered my phone and retrieved it from my back pocket. “My phone’s working now, I’m going to call the police.”

“And tell them what? We were attacked by a shadow?”

“I want to see something.”

I followed him through the house and into the garage. The door was working now and it lifted with a painful slowness. Most of the streetlights had been knocked down by the insane wind but the light in front of our house blinked slowly as it struggled to hold onto it’s tenuous connection to it’s power source.

The houses around us on all sides were gone. The structures themselves had been flattened as if a tornado had touched down on every single one of our neighbors’ homes. In their place trees had grown in an instant, trees that looked as if they’d stood for a hundred years and would stand for a hundred more.

Jeremy wrapped his thick arms around my waist and pulled me close to him. It was hard for my brain to make sense of what I’d seen. “What happened here?” I whispered into his chest.

“I’m not sure, but I think it was a warning.”

Something to Smile About

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“She’s here again,” Shane said as he passed me carrying a plate of steaming pasta. That wasn’t good, the fact that he’d noticed me noticing her.  Then again it was hard not to notice a Golden. Shane had been gay since before Gender Flu and he even stared at her.

I peered into the dining room from the small kitchen window. She sat across from her assigned companion with her back in my direction. The low candle light from the tables cast a golden glow around her. If I believed in the existence of angels I would think she were one. The blonde hair that fell down her back made her more valuable than any other female in the room. I couldn’t see her face but she was looking down at her hands. She wasn’t happy to be at Cha Bella having dinner, or either she wasn’t happy with her companion, it was hard to tell.

The man with her was young for one of those Dating Pool freaks. He frowned at her from across the table and looked as if someone had pissed in his minestrone. If they’d sat at my table I would have pissed in it! This was the third time I’d seen them here, so that must mean she hadn’t conceived yet. Good, there is still time.

Shane sat the pasta down in front of her companion and headed back toward the kitchen.

“Didn’t she order something?” I asked him.

“She had a side salad but no entree. She said she wasn’t that hungry.” Shane moved on to the ticket window to pick up his next order. There were only two of us working the entire restaurant at a time. Times were hard and only a select group of people could afford to eat so the restaurant had more business than two waiters could handle.

That dickhead probably didn’t want to pay for her dinner. I would fix him. “Want to see something funny?” I moved over to the desert counter and opened the mini fridge to pull out a previously frozen precut piece of tiramisu.

The Chef looked up from his work and glared at me. He knew we had a limited supply of deserts on hand. The tiramisu, like many things was rationed. He shook his head and then  stirred a pot of noodles with his left hand and with his right hand he flipped the handful of tiny shrimp he had frying in the pan. Their was no Sous Chef or Assistant Chef and man was simply too busy to worry about what I did. I was thankful for this. I was also thankful for the fact that he was also responsible for the inventory.

“What are you doing with that?” He knew I was up to something and couldn’t help but smile. He needed his job too badly to do anything against regulations, but he fully supported my attempts to thwart the authority.

“Just watch.” I placed the delicate dessert on a saucer and added a swirl of whip cream and a chocolate covered espresso bean right on top. With one hand on the kitchen door called out to Shane over my shoulder, “This is going to be fun!”

 

 

 

 

The One I Love

The screeching brought me back to reality and I put down the murder mystery I was reading. I looked out my window and saw a group of frantic people running past the side of my house and into the woods. The tallest one was also the fastest and although he ran by in a flash, I swear he looked familiar. The sounds that followed were absolutely terrifying. I searched my house for some type of weapon and only came up with a baseball bat. I’d never had the balls or the extra cash to buy a gun.  I was on the phone with 911 when the strange group emerged from the woods without the man they’d pursued there. They ranged in age from children to withered old ladies, about six in number. I ran out my front door with the bat in one hand and my cell phone in the other. The operator yelled my name as I put the phone away from my ear to speak to the group.

“Hey! What the hell is going on out here?” Most of them ignored me and continued their walk down my driveway and onto the street.

An older man with an all grey beard stopped to speak with me. “Only you can save him,” he said.

“What? Save who?”

He looked at me but his eyes weren’t really focused on my face. It was if he remembered something horrible and was completely lost in the experience. His pupils were dilated to an odd degree. He must be on something. My grip on the bat tightened. I hoped he wouldn’t give me a reason to use it.

“He won’t last long. You have to find him in the woods and convince him. He’ll forget to breathe.”

The message was as confusing as it was frightening. “Why can’t you help him?” I asked still having no clue who the “him” was in this case.

He finally focused on me and got very angry. “Because he won’t see me you idiot girl. You’re the one he loves! Go, NOW!” He pointed to the direction of the woods.

The force in his voice propelled me forward and I dropped the bat and phone at the same time. Something told me that neither of them would be of use. I ran on a frightened adrenaline high and was completely out of breath after reaching the tree line. With my hands on my knees I caught my breath then checked behind me to see if anyone were following. There was no one there. Whatever the mob had come to do, it had already been done. I gathered up my courage and moved forward into the woods. I was thankful this craziness was taking place at 3pm when there was still plenty of light. If it had been dark I might not have found the courage to investigate, no matter what the old man said.

After dodging several spider webs and one black snake I finally saw what the man warned me about. Even with the misshapen face, enlarged head and elongated limbs I still recognized him. My sneakers crunched on the on crispy fall leaves as I approached. He opened his eyes and my heart nearly stopped. His face was devoid of recognition. I felt something inside my chest contract. I hadn’t seen Christian in years but I still thought of him every day and dreamed of him at night. The way we’d parted had been so strange and I simply hadn’t been prepared to never see him again.

He opened his mouth and instead of words a low pained chirp escaped lips that were transforming into a beak. His skin was rough and covered in a blanket of pebbly gooseflesh. Hot tears rolled down my face at his obvious pain. Half his deformed body had been absorbed into the trunk of the tree. I reached up to touch his face and he tried to swat my hand away but his arms had mostly been incorporated. He shook his head from side to side. When I stroked his cheek he calmed. “What’s happened to you, Christian? What the hell happened? I could barely get the words out. He squawked back at me and tears formed in his eyes.

“There is at least some of you left in there.” I reached up to him and did the only thing I could think to do. Despite what the strange old man had said I didn’t think I could do anything to help except keep him company. “I’ve missed you so much,” I said. I placed the softest of kisses on his scratchy face and he became frantic from the contact. He did not want me there. Maybe whatever he had was contagious?

I shook my head. “Uh, uh. I’m not going to leave. You’re the one who leaves, remember?” I held his hand in mine and his long fingers curled around my hand. His newly formed talons pierced the back of my hand but I didn’t let go. “I’m so sorry this happened to you, whatever this is. I was mad at you for a very long time, but I never stopped loving you.” I felt that if I could help him remember his humanity and remember what we’d been to each other…

He looked down at me and I put my arms around the trunk of the tree in an attempt to hug what little of him was left. My cheek was flat against his chest when I felt it rise and fall for the last time. “Christian, no!  Don’t give in to it.  You have to breathe. Remember, what it was to be human? Remember when you broke your leg and I came to your hospital room? Our first kiss? That night in my car when we just parked and listened to the radio?”

His eyes closed and I fell to my knees in frustration. I’d skint my palms on the bark of the tree. I cried liked I’d never cried before, big racking sobs shook my entire body. “We were supposed to be together,” I whispered to no one.  

A rustling sound above me caught my attention. He was still alive and struggling against the tree that held him. He talons reached out for me, a sight that would have filled me with terror if it hadn’t been a boy I onced loved asking for help. I held both his hands in mine and pulled him toward me with all my strength. He emerged from the trunk in one piece and the entire weight of his 6ft frame fell on top of me.

Christian crushed me to the ground but I didn’t complain. He positioned his weight on his hands above me and I watched in amazement as enlarged avian head sank inward. His beak once again became lips and the gooseflesh evened out becoming a smooth handsome face once again. His forehead wrinkled and he closed his eyes in pain as his limbs constricted back into their original shape. And just like that, he transformed back into person I’d loved since we were 12 years old.

“Good to see you, too,” he said. Then he kissed me, and then it was my turn to forget to breathe.

Popular Girl

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I’ve seen him sitting in the back of my art class sketching intently and never speaking. His name is Dylan, he’s a senior and plays guitar in a local rock band. Dylan is too cute and probably dates a girl with piercings in odd places and a killer singing voice. I’ve admired him from a distance but never had the nerve to speak to him. As he came around the corner the familiar theme music started up and he swaggered to the beat. I felt a cramp in my stomach as he walked over to me.

The music stopped when he spoke so his dialogue could be heard. “Hey, what’s up?” He was so casual, as if we talked every day, as if it wasn’t a pivotal moment in my uncool freshman existence.

“Uh, h-hello.” I concentrated on being casual and feigned indifference to the fact that this hottie was talking to me.  Luckily I’d painted my eyeliner on in a way that made me look perpetually bored.  I stared up at him through bangs that had grown so long they tickled my eyelashes.

He gave me a half smile. A single perfect wave of blonde hair had come unraveled from the man bun at the top of his head. He offered me a flyer with something written on it.

“I know it’s a school night, but White Rabbit is playing at Starforce tonight and I’d really like to see you there.” He squeezed my shoulder and gave me a wink.

I think I might have died of shock right there but I realized his gesture required a response from me. “Sounds cool. I’ll be there.”

“Great.  I’ll put you on my list so there won’t be a cover.  See you tonight, Ardis.”

He knows my name? OMG the hottest senior in school knows my name!

As I watched him walk away my own spirited theme music started up. It was a cue that my next scene would be a montage of me trying on various outfits in my bedroom.

 

***

I took care to arrive somewhere in the middle of the lineup so that I missed the first band but had plenty of time to see White Rabbit. I didn’t see Dylan anywhere and guessed that he must be backstage getting ready. I was thankful that the music was too loud for talking because I’d come alone and I didn’t see anyone there I recognized. I pretended to be intently interested in the band on stage and my skirt swayed as I moved back and forth to the beat. I decided to try my luck at the bar with my newly minted fake ID when a hand tapped me on the back. I turned around to see Dylan smiling down at me. He looked hot as hell in his tight black pants and almost threadbare t-shirt. He took my hand and I think I peed a little.

Dylan lead me backstage and introduced me to the rest of his band. “Guys, this is Ardis, she’s my special guest for tonight.”

He didn’t bother telling me all of their names so I just gave them a quick wave.

“Do you mind if we have a little privacy?” he asked them.

An Asian kid with a shaved head snickered and earned a punch in the arm from Dylan. “Nothing’s funny, Shinjayu.” The kid rubbed his arm and glared at Dylan. “Don’t be stingy, either.” He stretched out his hand and opened his palm. Shinjayu dropped a ziploc baggie into it and left.

“Finally,” he said.  Dylan grinned at me as he removed the contents of the bag and produced a lighter from his pants. “Want to smoke?”

“Uh sure.” I didn’t want to tell him I’d never smoked so much as a cigarette before and that I really hated the smell. As he handed me the joint I  had a horrifying realization that I would take any drug if it would make him like me. I tried to copy what he’d just done. I took one long inhale and immediately started coughing my brains out. It felt like something tickled the inside of my throat.

Dylan laughed at my reaction. “So I guess you’re not much of a smoker?”

I shook my head because I was unable to form words in between coughs.

He took the cigarette from me and inhaled then brought his face so close to mine that our lips nearly touched. He blew the smoke into my face and I breathed it in. I felt as if I were walking on air. When he finally kissed me he had to hold me to keep me upright. His right hand held the back of my head and his left circled around my waist and lifted my jean jacket.  I felt a tingle from the middle of my back all the way down to my toes. When he finally pulled away from me I was breathless.

“Sorry, I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.”

“Don’t be sorry! I really liked it.”

AND CUT!

The Director walked over to us with a stern look on his face. He put his arm around me and pulled me aside so Dylan couldn’t hear. “Look, it just isn’t working for me. I feel no chemistry between Ardis and Dylan.”

“I can do better, please let me try one more take?” I knew my popularity ratings had slipped in the past few weeks but I had no idea how bad things had become.

“You know there’s nothing I can do, Ardis. It isn’t even up to me, it’s the audience. Just take a look.” He pointed to the meter hanging on the wall that gave a numerical value to the likeability of each character. Dylan’s was at 96.2 percent and mine had dropped to 54 percent. I tried not to look at the meters while we were shooting, now I wish I’d paid more attention. I grabbed onto the director’s jacket with both hands and pleaded with him. “There has to be some mistake! You know I’ve never been below 90.”

“That would have been true a week ago.” He interrupted our conversation to speak with a nearby PA. “Get a cleanup guy out here, would you?”

I looked around for help but there was none. Dylan was already being introduced to the new Ardis. My voice rose in panic. “Please, don’t do this!” I’d always known this was a possibility, but I’d never imagined it would happen to me.

As the Director reached for the 9mm on his utility belt I fell to my knees. Tears stung my eyes and spilled out onto my cheeks.”

“Now if you could have just shown this much passion with that scene it wouldn’t have come to this.”

I had time for one last pleading sob before he fired.