'He did not ask you out,' Laura sighed, eyes dreamy.
'He's just a guy,'
'Who's your director,'
'But he was different...'
'If you ask me, he and her go together,'
'Laura!' I said sharply, watching her giggle.
'What are you going to wear?'
'WHAT! You don't know what to wear?'
'Its not that important..' She looked me straight in the eyes, shocked.
'You did not just say that. Tell me you didn't just say that!' At my silence she skipped to the wardrobe, flicking past outfits. She came back, victorious with a dress.
'I hate dresses,' I mumbled, starring at it.
'Come on, its blue. Your favourite colour.'
I wiggled into the dress, feeling it hug my non existent hips. I searched for straps and my face fell when I couldn't find any.
'Oh come on, its not that bad. You look beautiful,' I looked down, seeing it fan out around my hips to brush my knees, within the waves of blue, four bows were pinned. Blue material that looked like crepe paper rapped around my stomach, my small chest not looking as small under all the fabric.
'It is pretty...'
'I know!' she squealed, jumping up and down. 'Simon will adore it!' I rolled my eyes as she sat me down and applied make-up, eyeing my face carefully. She wielded a mascara brush, smiling.
'You better tell me everything that happens. Every. Single. Detail.' I stopped myself from rolling my eyes.
'Yes Laura, I will.'
He smiled at me, looking at my face rather then raking up and down my body.
'Hey,' he smiled, holding out his hand. I took it and allowed him to steer me on the street.
'Where are we going?' I asked, watching as he led me past my favourite Café.
'To my favourite place,' he smiled, looking at me with a cheeky expression, 'don't tell anyone.' He led me down a alleyway, holding my hand tightly as I dodged trash-cans.
'Are you sure...' Simon glanced over his shoulder, smiling.
'Trust me. I think you'll like it.' He winked at me and I laughed.
'You know, your a lot different then as a director,' I told him.
He shrugged, 'Of cause. I have to have a air of confidence,'
'Well, your very good at it.' He stopped and turned around, holding my hand with his two.
'Thank-you. We're here.' I looked around and saw white light shine under the door on my left.
'Here?' He nodded and opened the door, holding it open for me.
I walked past him and smiled, little black tables with multicoloured chairs dotted all over the room, a small stage where an armature band played was covered in shinning gold confetti. But it wasn't the band or the tables. It was the walls. Artwork covered the walls from the bottom to the roof. Hand-drawn paintings varying from imaginative to still life, graffiti ran down the walls so expertly sprayed that it seemed real. On one wall, quotes from writers, painters, actors and what looked like bible verses was sprawled all over in different fonts and colours.
'Its... its so beautiful,' I breathed, laying a hand on a drawing of a fairy who's silver wings were so lifelike I had expected to feel membranes under my fingers.
'Look at the floor,' he murmured, watching me gasp. It was a covered in chalk drawings, a maze, drawn so real I swear I would fall down into it and be surrounded by steel walls.
'Its a special kind of chalk that doesn't wash off after a day of leaving it alone, unless you use a kind of chemical. Its called 3D Chalk Art.'
'This place... its unbelievable. How did you find it?'
'It found me,' he said ruefully, helping me into a chair. 'I was upset at the world, drunk and walking down alleyways like a fool. I saw light and opened the door. I've not touched a bottle since.'
'Thank-you for showing me. Its the most amazing place I've ever seen. Who did it all?'
'Its something of a secret for the arts. The painters are both old and young. I bet this is not the only artist den.' A young man with a top that said, "MakeArtNotWar." asked us what we wanted, smiling as I read his shirt. Simon looked at me, raising his eyebrows.
'Whatever he's having, I'll have.' I smiled, nodding at Simon. 'Cool shirt,' The guy held out a hand and I took it,
'Thanks, name's Chris.' I let go of his warm fingers and he directed his attention on Simon.
'My usual. Times two.' Simon smiled, watching as Chris wrote it down and walked off.
'Do you eat here all the time?'
'I pretty much live here.' He looked around, 'you never get tired of this place.'
'Can you draw?'
He nodded. 'You'll recognise it if you see it.' I looked around, up and down the walls, on the floor. I turned back to glance at him then stood up, moving towards the door. My hands traced wings and snake tales, long red hair and dragon talons until I found it. A tower reached up the wall, vines snaking up the lifelike stone. I dragged a table to the base of the tower and stepped up on it, a gasp bursting from my mouth. It was me. I looked back at Simon and pointed to my elegant dress that waved down to the drawn floor.
'This, this is it isn't it.' He stood up and looked up at me.
'Yes, this is it.'
'When did you paint this?'
'After looking at the profile pictures the day before the auditions. One girls face inspired me.'
'Mine?' I thought out loud, looking up at my flawless face. 'it doesn't do me justice.' I told him, staring at the silver circlet in her hair.
'I know, your better then anything I could ever draw.'
I shook my head, 'No, its just that. I could never rise to this dream. I mean, look at her. She has not a single flaw.' My mind went back to me falling down the stairs that led to the dressing rooms, spilling orange juice down my front just before auditions. I could neverbe this perfect. He jumped up on the table and grabbed my hand to steady it.
'No, your better because you make her human. The woman on the wall could never have the feelings of pain, sadness or despair.'
'What are you doing?' At the same time we turned around, looking at Chris. The sudden movement unsettled the precarious table and it tipped, landing me on top of Simon. We looked up at Chris, holding a tray that he balanced easily on his forearm as he helped me to my feet.
'Well done Simon,' Chris said as he led us back to our table, 'You've found a girl as weird as you.'
'Or as epic,' Simon pointed out. Chris handed over two strawberry milkshakes and steak sandwiches.
'Simon looked at the food, 'Its not quite restaurant food but..'
'Steak!' I exclaimed, eyes brightening. 'I love steak.' Chris shook his head, tray under his arm as he walked back towards the kitchen.
'Your not on some diet..' Simon drifted off as I stared incredulously at him.
'I'm on a strictly "see food diet.", ' I told him seriously, 'I see food and I eatit,' he laughed as I enthusiastically picked up the sandwich, biting into it with relish.
'Your so different,' he smiled as he picked up his own sandwich. I waggled my fingers at him, disagreeing.
'You haven't been around the right girls,' I said between bites, 'Look what you drew. Amazing, but a fairytale. I looked back at the girl, her hands resting on the rail, chin on hands as she looked out. I followed her gaze to the other side of the room and stood up, tipping the chair.
'What? What is it?' Simon asked as I went to the black tower, a table scraping across the floor in my wake. I touched the black painted stone, the vines a sickly green before climbing the stared back at me, her mocking smile close to madness. Simon stood beside me on the ground, staring up at me. Her black hair lay around her shoulders, eyes as cold as the stone she stood in. She stood defiantly, proudly. She was a monster. I grabbed my dress and jumped, pushing the fabric down as my feet hit the ground. I turned to look at Simon, tears threatening to wreck Laura's make-up.
'You painted her to perfection.' I walked back towards the table, but he caught my wrist.
'What is it? Please tell me.' he begged, 'Every time you look at Tigan you look so sad.' I looked at him and shook my head, gently breaking his grip on my arm and sitting at the table. I gripped my milkshake glass and stared at the pink liquid.
'Ever since this play started, she's become more and more dark.' I told my milkshake. 'And everyday I watch makes this play seem more real then ever.'
'She could just be acting..' he said as he sat down at the table. I shook my head.
'She always threatened to dye her hair, just tips. She knows how much I loved her hair.' I looked up at him, unable to wipe the moisture out of my eyes in case I smudged the make-up.
'She dyed it black Simon. Black.' I looked away, sadness turning to rage. 'Who ever wrote this play and put her in it I'm gonna-'
'That would be me,' he said, looking more concerned about me then offended.
'You-you wrote it?'
'Much of it,' he said, eyes distant, 'it is what you could call my "life's work" I suppose.'
He stood up, taking my jacket from the back of the chair.
'Come-on,' he said, throwing cash onto the table. 'Come with me.' He helped me put my jacket on and went towards the door, lifting a hand in farewell to Chris in the kitchen.
'Look after her Si,' Chris called as we left.
We spent much of the night staring at the stars, companionably lying side by side in the park.
'So, if this what you do when your sad; how come I haven't seen you here?'
'You go on midnight strolls?' he sat up, 'by yourself?' I laughed, calmed by the stars and his concern.
'Well yes, I guess I do.' I sat up, looking at him.
'Why did you ask me to dinner?'
'It was a good idea at the time. I enjoy midnight better with company such as yourself.' I smiled and then jumped out of my skin.
'Its midnight? Midnight!' I stood up, blood rushing to my head making me fall in his lap. Again. I quickly moved, this time slowly rising to my feet.
'I should go...' Noting he was holding onto my arm.
'Don't race off Cinderella, let me walk you home.'
I smiled, 'Very well sir, lead the way.' He gave me a crooked smile.
'I may be your director, but not a stalker. I have no idea where you live.' I pulled him up beside me, allowing him to swing our interlocked arms between us.
'And here I was, thinking it the same thing.' I replied as I led him down the street, stopping just before my flat door. A nervous shudder ran through my body. In every chick flick I'd ever seen a kiss always ended the night. But he looked at the door and back at me and lifted a hand, gently cupping my cheek. I felt like a delicate bird, watching my keeper stroke my feathers. He smiled and stepped back, giving me a half bow.
'Until the next time we meet Silver Dove know this; with every smile and every tear comes a price.' He was quoting one of the young men who waited on Black Crescent.
'She was once coloured silver, her beauty second but to the moon.' I replied instantly, 'Perhaps young man you should think on this. What is the price for a soul?' He smiled and gently kissed the back of my hand,
'Good night Janna. Sleep well.' he began to turn but then looked back at me, 'My sister used to say "may your dreams be sweet and your pillow fluffy." That is what I wish for you.' And he walked away. No kisses I wasn't sure I could reply to, no sweet words that stuck to the top of my mouth like resistant honey. I unlocked my door, watching him walk down the street. Under a street lamp, he jumped up and clicked his heels together, spinning around the base of the lamp and skipped off. I burst through my door and laughed until I couldn't laugh anymore. Until the world spun and my mind was giddy. He had actually clicked his heels together.
*If you type in "3D chalk drawings" in Google Images, you'll get what I mean about the "chalk art".