George couldn't sleep. After waking for the third time in what his clock declared to have been a half hour, he determined to get up. Chelsea hadn't come to bed yet, and George rose from his bed to search for his wife.
She sat up at the kitchen table, a movie script open before her. Chelsea rested her chin on her hands, and dark circles tugged her face down. George pitied his wife, who was clearly tired, and entered the kitchen. He opened the refrigerator, pulled out a single-serving bottle of orange juice, and sat at the table across from Chelsea. "You about ready to come to bed?"
"About," Chelsea replied. "I just want to finish reading this script before bed."
George glanced at the script, and saw that six or seven typed pages remained. Knowing Chelsea's tendencies to meticulously study a screenplay before she'd even decided whether to accept a part or not, he knew the final bits could take a while.
"That can wait for morning," George assured her. "You could really use your sleep."
"No, I really want to finish this now," Chelsea insisted. Despite her words, however, she pushed aside the script and observed, "I don't think I'm going to accept the part."
George nodded knowingly. The more famous Chelsea had become, the pickier she'd been in choosing which parts to take and which to turn down. "The script not very good?" he asked.
"No," Chelsea answered in a tone that indicated she disagreed. "It's deep; it's meaningful; it's realistic."
"That sounds exactly like the sort of movies you like to star in," observed George in confusion.
Chelsea shook her head and explained, "I think I should take a break from the movie business all together."
"Are you sure?" George asked. "You love acting."
"Maybe I'll look for a part on children's television or something," Chelsea mused. "You know, something obscure. Maybe I could try daytime TV- no offense."
George was too concerned about Chelsea's sudden proclamation to worry about what she thought of his job. "What's brought this on?" he asked.
Chelsea shrugged, then said, "I've just been thinking. My father was right, you know. Fame corrupts everyone, no matter how hard they try to avoid it."
George considered his words and weighed his answer carefully before saying, "I don't think you've been corrupted, Chelsea."
"No, not recently," replied Chelsea, who missed the real meaning of George's protests. "You've heard about how crazy I acted before we started dating, though. And now, I feel myself being tempted to lose control again. There's so much pressure to stay in the press and to continue to generate publicity, and you find yourself making allowances for behaving in ways you shouldn't. You tell yourself it's just for your job, and you do something that normally you'd regret."
Cautiously, George asked, "Have you done something lately that you think you should regret."
"No, but I'm afraid I will," Chelsea sighed. "Maybe 'corrupt' isn't the best word. Fame lowers your inhibitions- kind of like alcohol, except long term. It doesn't make you bad, it brings out the bad qualities that were always there anyway."
George considered Chelsea's words. He could hardly believe that she was being drawn to some sort of evil side of Hollywood, but then he thought of her previous struggles with weight and decided that she was weak when she had to fight pressure to conform. Bryant had often lectured George on the corrupting forces of Hollywood, and George had never really made up his mind as to whether or not he agreed with the rock star.
He knew that Chelsea knew herself better than anyone, though. "If you think that's what's right for you, I won't try to talk you out of this," he assured her. "I just want you to think about this so you know it's really what you want."
"It is," Chelsea answered.
George sipped his orange juice and considered. He hoped Chelsea wouldn't think he had been "corrupted." He didn't know what he'd do if she tried to make him give up acting. George honestly loved his job, but he loved his wife more. He wondered if he could convince her to let him keep his part.
"You don't think I should give up Living Lives, do you?" George asked.
"No," Chelsea answered without thinking. "I don't mean to demean soap operas, but I don't think you have to fight the same way movie stars do."
Had anyone else spoken those words, George might have been offended. HE knew what Chelsea meant, though, and he nodded as he twirled his empty bottle between his hands. After a moment, he rose to his feet, and called, "Come to bed when you're done reading, all right?"
"All right," Chelsea answered. She watched George depart, then once more turned her attention to the script. After a few minutes, she gave up. She'd made her decision, and nothing she could read would convince her to take the part. She'd given up acting, and felt that she'd done the right thing.
Chelsea flipped off the kitchen light, then ascended the stairs to meet her husband.