Still moving it along steady-like…
Rachel leaned against the bar and raised a glass of champagne to her eyes, observing the crowd through the hay-colored lens. Her control top tights had ridden up and devoured her underwear, and her belly fat spilled over the top edge, making her abdomen ripple like a funhouse mirror reflection. She was wearing “the dress,” a skin-tight piece she had purchased for her first big premiere and hadn’t bothered to replace with anything else. That day she had puzzled over ways to make it fresh, and had settled on an enamel pin in the shape of a stargazer lily that was heavy and limp on her left shoulder. It wouldn’t matter anyway – publicists barely looked up from their checklists when she walked the step-and-repeat. One thing that had changed was her shoe preference, as she’d long ago given up the heel in favor of wool-lined leather flats that were alternately a daring fashion choice or a pair of slippers she’d bought at Goodwill.
She knew the cheese cubes on a first and last name basis – Mr. Dill Havarti, Miss Baby Swiss, and, if the marketing team was feeling generous, Monsieur Blue Stilton. When asked why she RSVP’d to even the smallest premieres, she only half-jokingly said “it’s for the cheese.” There were slim times when it was the only thing she ate all day, and would get soused on cheap white wine before the appetizer trays could reach her.
There had been other premieres where the events of the evening had been eclipsed by her fantasies of reward. That after the endless smiles and hugs and introductions there was powdered sugar sand, big sunglasses, floppy hat, cold drink. An impromptu interview on the beach – “Oh, I absolutely have the time. What would you like to ask?” It was one audition away, one gig in the wings.
Tonight, she was a tree sloth named Edie.
Someone early in her career had warned her to “never do soap operas or voice work, unless you want to be there forever.” It had happened to her beautiful male friends, who were practiced in stern looks into their lover’s eyes paired with a soft squeeze on the shoulders that defined the daytime leading role. They would tell her it was because their rent was two months late or that a repo man was ready to tow or carry, but she knew that if they were really hungry for it then they could find a way. That she’d gracefully backslid into voice work was fitting for someone who spent so many years deriding what she considered “low art.”
Money was money. That and she had gained a reputation in the industry for being a hard worker and a team player. It didn’t hurt that she also had a gymnastic vocal range that could mimic any accent or animal call that was required.
She saw her friend Mark dodge the check-in table and slide past life-size cardboard cutouts of the animated movie cast. Mark was Peter Pan, and did seem to be following his shadow. Walking a few paces ahead of him was a man in a black suit and white shirt, a film negative for Mark’s audacious white linen suit and navy scoop neck.