The Gray Area

This is a bit longer than the stories I usually post. However, if you have the time, please tell me your thoughts. I would very much appreciate it. Many, many thanks, Sascha. (ps. I am happy to read your longer piece as well, just let me know…except if it’s novel length (sorry).

The Gray Area

I’ve been over twenty hours on this highway, watching the pavement slide under the tires, passing through rain that glosses the road over like ice and nighttime in which reality becomes the repetition of a white dotted line against black. My headlights show the tawny sleekness of deer at the edge of the highway, the fat waddle of groundhogs, and, for hours, a plentitude of nothing except images like a succession of stills from a movie many years old.

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Is This Just Fantasy?

Exchange Student IX

Previous installments of Exchange Student can be found here. or choose the one you may have missed: I, II, III, IVV, VI, VII, VIII.

 

I feel like I have forgotten every single line. The more I reach for them the farther they slip away and all of the words are lost. It’s opening night and I am beyond nervous.

Arthur Murphy rushes through the hall exclaiming, “Guy Ritchie’s out there.”

If possible, my face pales even more as I sit in front of the mirror applying makeup with the assistance of Eddie’s sister, Kate, who evidently is a “wicked” make-up artist.

She squeezes my shoulder. “You’re shaking. Is this your first show?”

“My first in England. My first really big one with a big part. I feel sick,” I say softly, wondering if I will be able to speak my lines without my voice trembling. I suddenly feel like a very little girl in a very big world, a very real world.

“Ah, wait. Eddie’s really good with this,” she says.

Moments later, Eddie raps lightly on the dressing room door and then enters. He’s wearing a dark blue suit. His hair is slicked back and he looks like a more mature version of himself. My heart stutters.

“Look at you,” he says, grinning. He touches my hair softly. “Kate says you’re a bundle of nerves. Don’t know why. You’re the best prepared of all of us.”

“And the prettiest,” he says before glancing in the mirror and fake-preening. “Although, I’m looking quite pretty too.”

My smile wavers.

He pulls me into a gentle hug, mindful not to mess up makeup or clothes or hair. He rocks me. “Once you get out on that stage and the lights are on you and Arthur and Anne start speaking you will shine, Posh. It’s in you. I’ve seen it. You’re prepared and you’re lovely and it’s all going to come together.”

He steps back and surveys my face and then takes my hand.

The way he looks at me in that moment, so unguarded and vulnerable, longing in his eyes that seeps into me, I feel as we have been taken from the same woven fabric, carefully stitched so that we could be fitted again.

He’s stilled most of my nerves, except for the ones that keep me alert, reacting when lines are spoken.

During our scene together, the tenor of the play alters ever so subtly as Eddie and I shift in our roles. The audience has a palpable reaction to him as he regards me, his voice, his gestures impetuous as he firmly says the line before he kisses me. And the kiss is different from all of the other practiced ones, a little longer, a little desperate, a little telling.

When he steps back, the unravelling begins as he says that he has a girl. He’s been going steady. And, I react as if I were truly the lame girl with the man she had a schoolgirl crush on, a brave front as a heart breaks like the glass unicorn.

As the audience begins to clap, I think this is what is meant by thunderous applause. It shatters something inside of me, the peace held together by gossamer strands of spider silk.

 

end 3/8/2017

S. Darlington


 

Exchange Student VI

Previous installments of Exchange Student can be found here. or choose the one you may have missed: I, II, III, IV V.

 

This morning Eddie and I sit on stage, making believe there are candles providing a glow around us as we begin the only scene in which Jim, the Gentleman Caller, and Laura Wingfield are alone.

Last night Eddie found me at my corner table and told me to stop following him. I looked beyond him to his entourage who were smirking and shaking their heads at me, except for Arthur whose eyes displayed piteous understanding.

This is why I am an unsheathed nerve, calling on every technique I’ve been taught to focus on being Laura and not the crazy stalker girl. As I begin talking, I let the nerves become part of Laura as she shyly averts her gaze and tries to make Jim understand her.

I’m mesmerized by Eddie, his accomplished American accent, the movement of his body as he portrays Jim, though slight, he seems to physically overwhelm. His smile is vivid, open, so unlike the dark boy in the leather jacket. When he takes Laura in his arms to waltz, he is charm. As he says, “Somebody ought to kiss you, Laura,” my heart hammers. When our lips meet, my fingers clench the collar of his shirt.

“Very nice. I like what you did clutching Eddie’s shirt. Nice touch,” Henry Aldridge says. “Have you two been rehearsing together? That was very polished.”

I feel like I am still Laura as I look everywhere but at Eddie.

“No, sir. We haven’t had the opportunity,” Eddie says. He sounds different when he speaks with the director, not at all the rough boy who hangs out in the pub. I don’t know him. Not even by stalking him online.

When we are alone together, walking toward the exit, Eddie clears his throat. “You’re good.”

“You’re surprised?” My voice sounds breathy.

“Yeah,” he says. “I decided you were superficial.”

Between us it feels as if someone has erected a brittle glass wall. I try to think of words, something to say to explain my behavior, but I don’t understand this girl with her obsession, this stalker girl who covets this boy.

When we step outside, dull sunshine receives us. Eddie shrugs into his leather jacket.

“Look, when you come to the pub tonight, sit with us. Don’t hide in the corner spying,” he says.

I stare up at him. “I don’t know.”

“I do. Right, well, I’m off to work.”

“You work?”

He smirks. “We can’t all have rich mommies and daddies.”

“I don’t,” I whisper.

“You must, Posh.”

“I’m not posh.”

His steel-blue eyes hypnotize me. The smile on his full lips lifts slightly at the corner. He startles me by leaning down and lightly biting my bottom lip. Then he is walking away without glancing back. My fingertips press where his teeth had been, craving more.

 

end 3/5/2017

S. Darlington


 

Exchange Student IV

Previous installments of Exchange Student can be found here.

The pub is quiet and warm when I arrive. I purchase a stout and wend my way toward a table I discovered a couple of days ago. It’s secluded, highly undesirable except for couples who want to snog, but it offers the advantage of seeing without being seen.

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Exchange Student III

Previous installments of Exchange Student can be found here.

I sat in the third row by myself, my elbows propped on the arms of the chair, my back stiff as my grandmother had taught me. The woman with the piercings snapped her gum and slumped in the front row, wearing a black tank top despite the chill, showing an array of tattoos on her upper arms and shoulders. She’d been texting constantly since returning from her “break” immediately after her audition.

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Review of Rock with You

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Rock with You by Rachel Lacey

Publication Date: August 2, 2016

Publisher: Hachette Book Group


You had me at Rock Star! Well, almost.

Carly is working at the bakery that her grandmother started, but which she now owns, when famous rock star, Sam Weiss, walks in and flirts with her. She tries to be cool, except for the Minnie Mouse voice that seems to be coming through her lips. Events and fate take over and Carly finds herself stranded in a fabulous cabin with her favorite rock star.

This was a cute story initially. I liked the direction that the characters were going in and the flirting was fun, but after the first sexual encounter that’s all it became. The characters were lost amidst the act. Granted it’s a short story, but still there should have been a tad more conflict than that of distance and the character development should have continued.

Because, well, ROCK STAR, this could have been longer and more fun.

I haven’t read anything by Rachel Lacey before, but I’ll give her another shot just based on the beginning of this short story. No one needs to tell me it’s much harder to write a good short story than it is a novel. Rock with You is the first offering in her Risking it All series, the first novel of which is due out on August 30th.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From AmazonRock with You


rating: butterflybutterflybutterfly (3 out of 5 butterflies)