Summary: The play was the important thing; second only to their friendship. And it was supposed to open doors for them, into writing and acting and the bedrooms of a collection of teenage fangirls. It wasn't supposed to break them up or interfere with the dynamics of their triangle. It wasn't supposed to make them fall in love or get jealous or think about the underlying sexual tension. It definitely wasn't meant to start to blur into reality and get inside their heads because it was only a play, and for God's sake, it was only acting, wasn't it?
Somehow, against all odds, the play did all three, but they wouldn't change a second of it
Warnings: Contains slashy goodness, and fucked up triangle relationships. Graphic and just downright weird in places. Enjoy!
Note: Yes, I am starting a new story. Well, technically I'm posting the first chapter of the story I was gonna do this year for NaNoWriMo- I was so busy that I only managed to do a plot outline and a chapter and a half. Don't worry, Until You Loved Me is still in full swing!
The curtains open to a familiar scene. I am sitting in my bedroom, curtains open, moonlight streaming in. The air is cold, my windows are open and it is 2am; I am inspired and my fingertips are moving across my keyboard with alarming speed. There is no feeling quite like it- I am working on pure adrenaline and I am the happiest I have ever been and it feels like anything could happen.
I am writing a play.
I am in high school, so it will not be a grand production full of obscure metaphors. I'm not sure what story I want to tell yet because I am sick of musicals, and it amuses me to prolong the moment Leila hits her top C and gets catapulted into superstardom. She can't wait for it; it's terribly amusing because she goes into paroxysms of excitement if Josh even mentions the 'B' word. I mean, it's just Broadway. It makes me laugh because I honestly couldn't care less. Me, well...I am content to languish here, writing my tortured little heart out. I've lived with fame and fortune my entire life- nothing matters less to me than public recognition. I care more about the presidential campaign, global warming and the price of a Starbucks coffee than I do about being rich and famous, and believe me, I don't give a flying fuck about any of that either. All I want to do is tell my story; if it means being an impoverished stick insect living in a squat then so be it.
All I need now is a story to tell.
You see, I have the characters. I sit in my bedroom and I write them out, making them achingly tragic and gorgeously incomplete. They are perfect in their imperfection, they are wonderfully flawed and a dozen other clichéd oxymorons. They will fall in love; they have to, it's the single requirement that our esteemed director feels qualified to give me. Make 'em fall for each other, lad, he says, and I agree to do it, and it brings me to here.
The curtain rises. The stage is dimly lit. A teenage boy stands under an umbrella, his back to the audience. He stands facing a long driveway to an expensive house. A storm rages.
I suppose I should admit that the boy is actually a thinly veiled version of me, but that's so last year, so I won't. Should anyone ask, I shall say that he just came to me. I shall say that my imagination was running away with me and that he is a product of a late night burst of inspiration. It's partly true. It's two in the morning, after all, and even the servants are asleep. I'm running on coffee and cigarettes, like it's 1999 or something.
Actually, I'm lying. I don't smoke cigarettes because my parents would probably think it was a good thing, and I don't like the thought of pleasing them too much. I think they want me to be some sort of rebel, staying up late (which hello, I am obviously doing) and going to wild parties to celebrate my youth by copulating with a dozen nubile young nymphs. Obviously the second part's not really happening for me. Maybe the fact that I actually phrased it the way I did explains why.
I shake off the image of the nubile nymph that floats into my consciousness, trying to concentrate on the boy. I keep writing, reams upon reams of drivel that will be deleted by morning, purely for possibility of stumbling upon a magic phrase. I don't know where to begin my tale.
The curtain rises. The stage is lit by rosy light, as if in a dream. A boy pushes a beautiful girl on a swing. Birds are singing- it is spring time.
I ponder the idea of doing a Pinter, and telling the story back to front. I spend ten minutes googling Pinter (and wow, is 'to google' actually a verb, because that would be wonderful) in order to procrastinate because I forget the title of that play. I find it- it is called Betrayal, and somehow that does not encompass the all-consuming sense of adoration that my director wants me to capture. I scrap that idea. Time has been wasted effectively.
I don't know how to do it without making it sound cheesy. I curse my natural shyness and inability to talk to anyone other than Leila and Josh. I have never had a relationship, I cannot draw on memories for inspiration, there is no pretty girl with a broken heart (or even one who could claim she broke mine) to call upon as a muse and I don't know where to start. I forget that it is 2am, which is a fairly regular occurrence for me. I grab a pen- no more computer distraction or delete button. And then, finally, I call Josh- not on his home number, because his dad is a major pain in the ass about calling after ten, and when I say major, I mean army insignia and twenty press ups before bed Sir yes Sir and I wouldn't dare risk upsetting him. I call Josh and he doesn't let me down.
Josh answers on the sixth ring. He isn't exactly a heavy sleeper but he doesn't sound thrilled about the call either way. His hoarse "this better be good" makes me chuckle. I think I have had too much coffee. I am practically jumping out of my seat in the anticipation of getting inspiration from him. Is that normal?
"Evening Josh!" I can't keep the happy excitement out of my voice. Talking to Josh is always exactly what I need- he has only been living in Newport for a year and it feels like he's always been around. He clicked with Leila and me from the second he started at Newport High, but there's still so much I don't know. He's also had a girl in every city he's lived in. He has lived the life I need to write this story believably.
"Talk love to me, Josh." It's too late at night for me to worry about how that sounded. Sexuality really means nothing to me at all- to be honest I've never been attracted enough to anyone at all to be able to confirm my sexuality with any conviction. I don't know how Josh will react though. I hope he doesn't take offence.
"You are such an asshole," he replies, but he is not serious. I know I am safe, because by now he understands my eccentricities. I laugh and wait for him to say more.
"What do you need to know?" He eventually asks, a resigned laughter bubbling underneath his tone. I smile into my phone, stretching and twisting so that I'm lying back on my bed.
"Where does a love story begin?" I don't want to know about all of those girls. Now is not the time for that. I don't want the facts at all, to be honest. I want to understand it.
"Oh God. Isn't it a little too early for philosophical questions, River?"
"Nothing I write seems to flow, Josh."
At this he snorts, and I smile wider, knowing that my terrible sense of humour has probably won him over. I thank my free spirit of a mom for naming me River. He will tell me now. And he will say something inspirational, I can tell. I am excited still, maybe more so than before.
"It begins with a fairytale, I'd say," he says finally, choosing his words carefully. "Things always seem so perfect at the start. You want to be one of those boys in books."
He intrigues me and I am almost chuckling with the unrestrained glee that is now coursing through me. I've got it! Holy Mary mother of GOD I've got it. Yes. Yes. YES!!!!!!!!!
My evening is complete.
"Thank you. I love you. God bless you. JOSH. You beauty," I can't stop the words from falling from my tongue. They are intrepid explorers wanting to escape the cave of my mouth and I don't have the power to stop them. I feel like I am on drugs. I have never been on drugs, and that kind of negates what I just said, but by golly Miss Molly I'm so freaking happy I could scream.
I am the happiest I have ever been, ever.
Josh hangs up the phone on me. I am already scribbling away on my jotter pad.
The curtain rises. The stage is lit by street lights; the city skyline is the backdrop. A girl is being attacked by a drunken hobo. A boy walking down the street hears her scream.
Girl: (Screams) somebody help me! Get him off of me! NO!
Boy: (stops and turns, seeing what is happening) Hey! Get off!
(Boy runs over, pulling the hobo off the man)
Hobo: (Slurring) Screw you... you don't know... how lucky... (coughs) asshole.
Girl: (angry) Lucky? I wouldn't touch you if you paid me.
Hobo: (grins at her, leering) I wasn't giving you a choice, Princess. If... if Prince Charmin' here hadn't been playin' the hero... (laughs; which eventually becomes a hacking cough)
Boy: oh, come on.
(Boy grabs girls hand, they run away. Stop under a streetlight , gaze into each other's eyes. A waltz begins to play)
Girl: Thank you.
Boy: (pauses) any time.
(Dream sequence begins; girl removes coat to reveal ball gown, boy pulls crown and sword from his backpack. Boy whistles, and they ride away on a horse)
Narrator: And that was it. The moment they fell in love. They looked at each other and that was it- suddenly the world seemed brighter. Suddenly, they were living in their very own fairytale. And the funniest thing was; the hobo was right. If he hadn't played the hero that night, their fairytales may have ended a totally different way.
I stop there, wondering. I wonder if Josh has ever been in love and I wonder why I didn't ask him earlier. I wonder why it matters and I wonder why his fairytale didn't live up to his expectations.
I wonder about him more than is strictly necessary, and I realise this.
And I rip the page out like I did with so many others before it. I put down my pen. I feel the coffee high drain away.
And I fall asleep.