Tamara sighed, but didn't look up from the book in her hands. It had a bent spine, worn edges, and a coffee-like stain on the side of its pages, but this didn't matter. Tamara brushed a strand of light red hair out of her face and refocused on the book.
"Ta-ma-ra, what are you doing?" Tamara's sister Virginia asked curiously from outside of Tamara's doorframe. Tamara looked up quickly, shooting daggers from her eyes, before burying herself once more in her book.
Virginia, being everything that Tamara was not, skipped into Tamara's room. She immediately frowned at her surroundings.
"Maybe if there were fewer books, you'd be able to walk," Virginia scowled. Her scowl grew when she saw what book Tamara was reading. "Oh my GOD, Tammy, do you EVER put down that stupid book?"
"I like it," Tammy responded curtly, again electing to ignore her brunette sister. Virginia didn't like being ignored, but she dealt with it.
"Well, of COURSE you like it. It's all we hear about. The War We Lose, by Marguile Griffin, the science-fiction story of a powerful military man with powers unimaginable and his spirit guide on an enemy planet, evading capture…" Virginia rolled her eyes. "I could tell you the entire story and I've never even read the book."
Tammy continued to disregard Virginia. This method usually worked, and, before long, Virginia left Tammy's cloistered world, taking her air of superiority with her. Tammy finally relaxed, placing the book down on her bed and stretching out her lanky legs. With a smile, she recalled the part of the book she'd just read: her favorite character, Lieutenant Emma Sidewinder trying to speak to a military officer who'd been ravaged from within by an alien poison, driving him to insanity. Why she was smiling, she had no idea; it was a dismally depressing part of the book. Maybe it was because the minor character of Lt. Emma Sidewinder was her favorite.
Lt. Sidewinder looked quite like Tammy Sedgwick, actually. They shared not only the same color hair, but the same colored eyes (blue-green), the same body structure (lithe, sinewy, and short), the same facial structure (light, sloping nose and oily complexion), and a similar sense of duty and righteousness. Maybe that was why Tammy connected with her so much.
Tammy had read The War We Lose millions of times, seeing as it was her favorite book of all time. Today, she was reading it purely out of boredom. The Millers were supposed to be coming for dinner, and she had already finished primping and making herself look nice for the upscale couple and their good-humored daughter.
Tammy frowned. That would be her mom. Tammy knew better than to keep her waiting, what with her quick wit and even quicker temper. Tammy jumped off of her blue bed, slid on her indoor sandals, and quickly skipped down the stairs, her classy sleeveless top and camouflaged capris rustling with the movements.
Tammy skidded to a halt in front of her mom. Tammy's mom was busy adjusting the straps on Virginia's undershirt, which kept sliding down her shoulders. Unlike Tammy, Virginia was wearing a canary yellow dress with lots of sequins and metallic-edged accents. Virginia glanced at Tammy's outfit and grimaced at its simplicity. Tammy did the same, abhorring the gaudy overuse of shiny material on the otherwise cute dress. Tammy's mom, wearing a white blouse and white pants, turned to Tammy with a sigh.
"Tammy, fix your hair," her mom chastised.
Tammy glanced in a mirror hanging over her fireplace in the den. A cowlick had popped up behind her ear. Tammy groaned and stomped into the bathroom.
She stared into the smaller bathroom mirror, the wall vibrating as the TV in the other room blasted music. Tammy opened a cabinet by the door, took out her green brush, and attempted to plaster the cowlick down. It wouldn't budge.
The doorbell rang. Swearing loudly, Tammy's mom yelled at Tammy's dad in the garage to get away from his car and get into the house. A loud thud echoed from outside, and Tammy could hear Virginia screech in pain before moving something across the wood floor. The doorbell rang again.
Tammy quickly sprayed some hairspray on the cowlick and flattened it down. The quick fix seemed to work, and Tammy dashed out of the bathroom to find Virginia trying to put a giant candelabrum by the flat-panel TV to no avail. Tammy took the candelabrum out of Virginia's manicured hands and put it behind the couch before dashing into the living room.
As always, the Millers looked terrific. Jason Miller pulled his sunglasses away from his eyes and put them in the breast pocket of his polo, giving Tammy's mom a big, warm hug.
"Thank you so much, Jennifer," Jason graciously said before turning to Virginia. Dani Miller, Jason's wife, also gave Jennifer a warm hug. Tammy walked out of the woodwork to greet everyone, and heard Dani telling Jennifer about 'the matter of which we spoke previously' in an undertone. Tammy playfully rolled her eyes. Dani called everything 'what we talked about before' or 'the thing we spoke of previously'.
Before Tammy could greet Jason, a smaller figure clamped its arms around her chest. Tammy didn't have to look; she was sure it was Cecilia Miller, Jason and Dani's daughter. Cecilia and Virginia were best friends, but Cecilia trusted Tammy greatly.
"Hi, Ceci," Tammy smiled, rubbing her head.
Ceci let go of Tammy before jumping up in the air. "Guess who lives in town?!"
"…I dunno," Tammy murmured, confused.
ecstatic, to Ceci. "Oh my GOD. No WAY!"
Dani shook her head angrily before turning to Jennifer. "Those stupid twins on that stupid show."
"The creepy incest twins?" Tammy clarified.
Jennifer and Dani burst out laughing. Jason had since gone to greet Tammy's dad Brad, but Tammy heard him snickering softly from within the garage. Virginia and Ceci looked livid.
"Andrew and Drake Reston are NOT creepy," Ceci growled.
"And they are not insects," Virginia pouted. This only made Dani laugh harder.
Ceci got madder still. "You think ALL twins are creepy, Tammy. You always tell me that such-and-such and his twin brother are scary, or so-and-so and her twin sis are frightening…"
Tammy smiled, but it was empty.
Jennifer ushered everyone into the den, where Jason and Brad were speaking animatedly about car parts. Tammy settled into a chair, where she listened to Dani and Jennifer expound on the latest celebrity gossip. Ceci and Virginia spent a good deal of time lambasting their female superiors, and assuring themselves that they would marry Andrew and Drake, respectively.
Tammy's empty smile stayed on her face as she listened and added to Dani and Jennifer's conversation. Dani noticed that Tammy seemed on edge.
"Do you really think all twins are creepy?" Dani wondered.
Tammy breathed a sigh of relief. "Of course not. I don't like the Oates twins, or the Restons… but there's all kinds of twins out there, not just those two."
Jennifer began to snicker. "Like the Avons?"
Tammy turned a terrific shade of crimson, nearly falling out of her chair. Dani began to laugh.
"You're right, Jenny, she acts just like your sister," Dani noted. "Who are these Avon twins?"
"Michael and Terrence Avon," Jennifer explained with a sly smile. "British character actors."
"Of course they're British," Dani commented dryly.
"Tammy wouldn't like them otherwise," Jennifer countered. "Right, Tammy?"
Tammy's voice refused to work. She was thoroughly humiliated and unable to find the right words to say.
"…She must have a huge crush on them, then," Dani mused, noticing Tammy's flushed complexion. Tammy would have buried her face in her hands, but she didn't want to be rude to her guest.
"Yeah," Tammy finally managed to say. Her throat had become oddly dry. "Yeah, they're… very good-looking."
Tammy didn't say anything else in the conversation, choosing instead to dwell on her thoughts. Yes, she was in love with two identical-looking boys – but they were so perfect that it was hard not to love them. Their soft, long brown hair masked their lightly freckled complexion, and their lively blue eyes lit up every screen Tammy had ever seen them on. And, fortunately for her, Tammy knew that she had no chance with either of them; she was only seventeen, whereas they were twenty-three. They were actors, and she was a bookworm.
Much to Tammy's surprise, Jason sat down beside Tammy while she brooded. Tammy glanced at Jason with a mildly confused look, which was quickly explained.
"A film company I do business with has bought the rights to a sci-fi book," Jason said, the tiniest hint of amazement in his voice. "And the company needs every man, woman, and child with any acting talent at all to audition for a role."
Tammy quickly saw where this was headed, and turned to Jennifer. Jennifer smiled. "Your father and I have already talked about it. We think it would be good to try out."
"Let's face it, thousands of people try out for movies," Dani shrugged.
"And you were the best one in all of those plays you did," Jason explained.
"But I was always –" Tammy tried to protest.
"A minor character," Jennifer scowled, "of your own choice."
"You always stole the show from the stars," Dani recalled proudly.
Tammy turned back to Jason, noticing that his green eyes were full of pleading. Dani's words about not even making it didn't gel with Jason's face. It was as if he honestly expected Tammy to get a part. Dani impatiently ran her fingers through her dirty blonde hair, snorting.
"Eh… why me?" Tammy wondered.
Jason was all smiles. "Because you're more than a pretty face."
"We all know that you're going to succeed, Tammy," Dani elaborated. "It's just a matter of when you start. And this movie has one of the best scripts I've ever read."
Tammy couldn't help but feel like the whole idea was stupid. The movie was obviously going to be a HUGE deal. Even if she was good enough to be in it – and fat chance anyway – a big movie company would never go for an unknown if there was an established star doing more or less the same level of work. But the glint in Jason's eye was genuine, and Jennifer and Dani were pushing for Tammy to agree.
Tammy sighed. "What… what is this book they wrote a script for?"
The three adults' smiles grew even wider. Tammy stared at them, dumbstruck.
"What?" Tammy asked.
"It's a sci-fi military drama," Jason answered, "called The Way We Lose."
Author's Note – a friend who edited/previewed my first chapter asked me if The Way We Lose was a real book. It's not. The basic story of TWWL is based upon the story of one of my favorite books, with numerous changes.