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ON THE WALL • by Ev Bishop

The camera doesn’t lie — bullshit, thought Andie. With enough make-up, lenses, filters, and flattering angles, the camera will tell any story you want it to. Mirrors on the other hand, especially mirrors in broad daylight, they’re the truth tellers.

The depressing fact draped itself over her shoulders as she slid Young Plum over her lips, snapped the visor up, and climbed out of her Chrysler 300.

Kyle was already in the studio, of course, and that simpering little slut too. Youth and beauty ruled the Industry and to be honest, Andie hadn’t had a problem with that until recently — the last five years, maybe? When had her face started to look like her mother’s? Yeah, around then…

“We’ve kept you on out of respect, but it’s time, Andie. You’re smart, you gotta know it’s true. And chin up, Greg said he’ll write you out anyway you want to go — car crash, murder, dramatic, heart-rending suicide… You’ll go out as you are: a star. Your fans will weep.”

His words made Andie weep. Inside. Outer tears wrecked make-up.

She countered with a fifteen-item plastic surgery procedure.

“Nah. At some point you just look desperate,” Kyle said, not unkindly.

“I think I could squeeze off another ten pounds.”

“No, that’s half the problem. Young and skinny is hot. Old and skinny — I don’t know. It just makes old look older, you know?”

Andie bit her tongue hard enough that the back of her throat filled up with blood. Later, after her scene was shot, she overheard Greg say, “I don’t know what’s with Andie, but damn that rough voice of hers was hot today.”

The traitor hope wriggled in her heart for an instant, then Kyle spoke.

“Yeah, and since she’s hell-bent on staying with acting, maybe she can get on as one of those 999-number babes.”

“Don’t you mean get off?” someone else asked.

Andie walked to the dressing room, her flesh burning with their laughter.

As she sat before the mirror, moistened cotton pad in hand, ready to start removing the face everyone — viewers, at least — loved, a movement in her peripheral vision stopped her progress. Kyle’s newest acquisition — and her replacement, Andie was sure — stood behind her. Their eyes met in the mirror.

Andie stared at the impossibly perfect, impossibly young redhead — God, had she ever looked that young, been that young? The girl’s expression was kind. Andie wanted to kill her.

“What the hell do you want? I’m busy here.”

The girl nodded — what did Kyle call her? Song? Some stupid name anyway. “I know, Andrina. I just wanted to — ”

Andrina? In all her years with “Revolving Worlds,” there was only one person who’d ever called — even known — her full name. She narrowed her eyes and glared. Come to think of it, the girl even looked a bit like Melody. But her old friend hadn’t had kids.

“Yeah, it’s me,” the girl said as if she was reading Andie’s thoughts.

“Me?”

“Melody.”

Andie stared. Melody, a good ten years older than Andie, had finally been axed last year. And the only reason she’d lasted as long as she did was that she’d played an older woman anyway, so Kyle was more generous in keeping her around. Greg had written her a particularly dramatic avalanche farewell.

“Are you serious? How — ”

“I don’t know how exactly — I just know it works.” Melody set a small screw-top container of glittery blue eye shadow on the vanity.

“Apply this just once and you’ll no longer age. You’ll actually decrease in age until you look like you did at eighteen or so.”

Pre-nose job, thought Andie, but that wasn’t a deal breaker. Rhinoplasty was cheap, and she’d only gone on to other surgeries in an attempt to cling to what this powder offered.

“What’s the catch?”

There was a flicker of something hard to read in her old-now-young friend’s green eyes. “No catch — just no changes with time.”

“Then we’ll be young, beautiful for what… for how long?”

“The woman who sold it to me — I admit I bought it on a lark — was the most gorgeous little Chinese thing you ever saw — and she claimed she was 92.”

Andie smiled and unscrewed the lid.

***

The camera doesn’t lie, thought Rina. And neither does the mirror.

“I am beautiful. I am young,” she whispered as part of her morning ritual.

The reassuring words corseted her as she ran Naïve Nude over her lips, snapped the visor up, and climbed out of her sporty little Mazda — she missed her stately 300, but for some reason, regardless of her intention at dealerships, she could only buy cute cars.

Kyle was already in the studio, of course, and that aging hag Haydn. What did everyone see in her? Youth and beauty were supposed to rule the Industry — her face burned remembering Kyle’s laughter when she’d reminded him of that.

“Yeah, but what’s the saying about old age and treachery?” he’d asked.

The worst part was that Haydn thought it was hilarious too — she didn’t seem to mind aging a bit.

“You’re a good girl, Rina, and you’re smart. You know you have to pay your dues. Haydn’s a star — a woman like that, well, that’s the thing. She’s a woman. But don’t worry — give yourself a few years, mature — you’ll get your lead.”

“But all I ever get are silly walk-on pretty girl parts.”

Kyle shrugged, bored. “You’re pretty, you’re a girl — what’d you expect?”

His words made Rina weep.  Inside.  Outer tears wrecked make-up.


Ev Bishop‘s writing appears in a variety of regional and international publications. Alongside her creative and business writing, she offers editing services and craft workshops for writers of all ages and ilk. Visit her online at www.evbishop.com or read her blog at evbishop.wordpress.com.

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ON THE WALL • by Ev Bishop, 3.3 out of 5 based on 55 ratings
Posted on May 7, 2010 in Fantasy, Stories
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  • Jen

    As somone who loves soap operas and sees how “well” they treat their older stars, I loved this.
    Nice twist at the end, with Rina only able to get bit parts. Hollywood really is hypocrtical, isn’t it?

  • http://jbrubacher.blogspot.com Jen Brubacher

    There is *always* a catch, isn’t there? So tricky. Ominous story, and well crafted!

  • Cathy H

    Can’t really say it better than Jen, times two!! Very well done Ev … had me hanging right to the end. Great twist – loved it!!

  • http://www.angeladorsey.com Angela

    Fantastic story!

  • http://www.paulfreeman.weebly.com Paul A. Freeman

    A predictable storyline with an unpredictable ending.

  • Tony Vincenzi

    Well constructed,made a good short read. I felt I would like to learn what happens next. I was sure that there would be another unkind twist of fate dealt to the deserving. Leaves the reader wanting more.

  • Tyrean

    Be careful what you wish for . . . I liked it.

  • Barb

    Quite a twist, I really enjoyed this.

  • Ellie

    As a woman looking for a placement in the performing arts, this story brought up powerful emotions and rang very true. I agree with Tony’s above comment and I would enjoy reading more of this “short” story, that is, if the author is inspired – thank you!

  • TC

    Another great cautionary tale. Loved it! I love how you convert fairy tale motifs into modern stories.
    I especially liked the little details, like her inability to buy anything but cute cars, and her change of lipstick from Young Plum (read: “Old Prune,” with a twist of marketing) to Naive Nude. And she was naive, wasn’t she? Really an enjoyable story. But I agree with others: I could see this being the start of something longer.
    Great read.

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