The Best Actress
Her life was one to envy. It had been so many years ago when she arrived and looked skyward at the HOLLYWOOD sign. She felt like she finally belonged. This had been her dream since she was a mere child. She knew she would arrive one day, the sun had finally risen and this was the place she worked so hard to get to. She had come so far from the small town theater group she starred in every weekend.
Her birth name was Clemintine Rose. She was named after her mother who died shortly after her daughter’s birth. Her father turned to the bottle that sat almost always empty. He called her Clem, and it stuck. He just couldn’t make himself say the name his wife had held so honorably. She had been gone so long he almost couldn’t remember her face. But he could smell the nape of her neck every time he passed a Lilly. Every time, that combination would be the drive that took him to the local bar. He would sit alone, nursing his drinks with absolutely no care or regard for himself or others. When the lights would wake up at 2am, a cab would be summoned, and he would be home but not remember how he got there, nor did he care.
She thought of those days as she was wrapped with care into the limo that was taking her and her prince to the “ball”. The majority of the country was buried in snow and winter’s bite seemed like the very definition of eternal hell. But in Southern California, winter is a set in December that has fake snow blown by giant fans. Extras huddled and shivered most convincingly for a hundred dollars a day. Many had dreams of their names printed on the high chairs for the stars to sit and get freshened up, to be spoiled and every whim delivered with golden kisses at any request. Her bare shouldered black dress was appropriate for the weather and was glamorous for the awards show that she would own once again.
This had been her year. Most never considered her a serious talent, but she was cute, and there wasn’t dirt that had to be explained by legal at least weekly. Clem loved to act. The money was a surprise, and she never truly understood what rich really was like. She did now, and couldn’t go back. It would be like drinking toilet water after a flute of the finest champaign. She glanced at her husband of two years. They were the golden couple of the minute. Her beauty, his squared, masculine features that held enough stubble, but didn’t look sloppy or metro. Just a ton of appeal and a face that didn’t have a bad side. He smiled at her, and touched her hand. She withdrew it from reflex, but he didn’t notice. Their displays of affection were for the cameras only. How long had it been like that? Had it ever been normal? Was there a even a word that was similar to that in this town of special effects, and kisses that look real.
The car started the stop and go in the line of black and white stretched luxury autos all holding the A listers for the ultimate prize named Oscar. There were hundreds of fans that were lining the road. Holding signs. “WE LOVE YOU CLEM! GOOD LUCK!” They couldn’t see in, but she stared at each person with the smiles on their faces from the off chance they could see someone famous. How is it that they almost looked happier than her? They have no idea that it is her who sits envious of those who go home to a regular house and a van filled with kids. She didn’t desire poverty, just a regular life where her work would continue, just not the weirdness that goes with the business.
She could hear the screams as her car pulled up. The door was opened by a tuxedo clad man who said good evening, and wished her luck. It almost looked like he winked, but then he looked down so fast, she thought she had imagined it. Is anything real? Showtime.
She had the smile to a science. The wave, the eye contact that makes the person on the receiving end feel like she was there just to say hi to them. That is truly a skill. She signed more autographs than the time limit allowed, and a man soon had his arm through hers and moved her along the red carpet that distanced them from “regular people”. Little was it known that she craved just what they were trying to keep her away from.
She walked up the final steps and stood next to a large statue of a golden Oscar. An unknown entertainment reporter that knew her caught her eye and gave a pleading gesture to let her have the interview. The big stations with their anchors looked grossed out when she passed them and went to her friend that represented the little news station that her home town had access to. It was the only way her friend had the press pass.
They hugged and her friend whispered a heart felt thank you for the chance of a lifetime. She had given her a list of questions so she would sound like she knew the game. It went smoothly, and the final chord of music sang, telling all to go inside. The show was about to start. She kissed her friend on the cheek, and started to walk in.
“Clem, wait! I have one more question.” Clem turned and was patient, even though the gate keepers were looking slightly annoyed. “This has been the best year of your career. For sure the best acting you have ever done! How do you explain the difference?”
She tried to not let the moistness show in her eyes. “My best acting? It is always away from the camera.” She glanced back at her husband who was smiling much too long at an actress that looked better on screen than in person. Her smile faded, and seemed hollow like a wax expression took over. Even her feelings were nothing more than movie magic. She turned alone, and went to accept her award.