Another day, another audition. Maybe I’d actually get a callback this time.
I’d been surviving on commercials and brief guest spots on long-running crime procedural dramas. For the commercials, I was trotted out any time they needed some vaguely “alternative” girl in the background or one half of a “hip” young lesbian couple. And on the guest stints, I almost always played a hacker.
Hey, I had a niche. Or blue hair, anyway, which was apparently all I needed.
Starlight Shores is a pretty big town. And there are a lot of people. And a lot of people who look alike, because that skanky cookie-cutter gets around.
But when I was walking home after my audition, I thought I saw Bas.
I knew he wouldn’t want to see me. I probably didn’t want to see him. What would I even say? Hey, sorry I was such a raging bitch as a teenager, I was young and angry and hostile then and now I’m…older.
Yeah right, like he’d even want to look at me. I could imagine the confused look on his face when some fat chick wandered up to him in the land of the beautiful people–and then the horrible disappointment when he realized it was me. Years of freedom, only for me to ruin that.
He was probably waiting for someone anyway.
And I had to get back to Trash and Garbage.
…Yeah, right. I liked how cats didn’t really need anyone–it was one of the reasons I got them in the first place.
I could tell they kind of bugged the shit out of Daisy sometimes, but she obviously tried really hard not to say anything, even if they sat on her pristine wannabe chef counters.
Or slept on her pristine wannabe chef counters.
Or expressed their deeply committed gay love on her pristine wannabe chef counters.
She probably wasn’t a huge fan of them clawing the furniture–and it was almost all her furniture–either.
But she never yelled at them, or asked me to rein them in or anything. She was nice. Too nice. It bugged the shit out of me, honestly.
“You’re so pretty,” she’d told me within a day of meeting me for the first time. “And curvy! Ohmigosh, I should introduce you to my brother. I used his computer to rewatch episodes of Young, Haught and Rich on Simflix as a kid, and then I accidentally looked through his entire browsing history, and he loooves curvy women. Really, really loves them.”
I hated people who tried to call me “curvy.” Or plus-sized, or full-figured, or whatever else they thought sounded better than “fat.” No, Daisy, I do not want to meet your porn-addict chubby chaser brother, thanks. And learn to stop oversharing.
“Sorry,” I’d said. “I’m getting really into the whole method acting thing, and I’m playing a cool young lesbian mom in my next commercial. Trash and Garbage are the stand-ins for my kids.” She couldn’t know that all I had to do was channel my grandma Vilhelmina, the coolest lesbian mom I knew, ancient vampire or no.
I really should be nicer to my roommate. I wanted to be. Maybe I was defective–well, in more ways than one, and one of those ways included not being able to be nice, even to people who deserved it.
When I got home from the audition, she was practically vibrating with excitement. It was dinner time, and there was kitty litter all over the counters, so she was eating up in her room instead. (I lied and said I already ate, but I was trying to lose a few pounds in hopes of getting a role on a pilot episode of any of the new TV shows gunning for a full season order.)
She grinned at me. “Guess what.”
Ugh. Did I really have to play that game? I tried to mimic her enthusiasm. “Garbage shat in your bed.”
She spooned some meat mush in her mouth, shook her head, and swallowed. “I got a new job! A chef job. Working for…you’ll never guess who.”
“You’re right,” I said. “I won’t.”
As an actress, I was pretty good at keeping a straight face when I had to. But I knew some of my disgust filtered in anyway. “He’s a shitty actor.” And a shitty brother, but I used Galatea Lockwood as my stage name instead of Galatea Straud.
To hell with my family connections–or the shocked and disappointed looks when people saw what the beautiful, famous Isla Straud’s daughter looked like up close. “Why would you even want to work for him? He’s a nightmare. Or so I hear.”
“Didn’t you watch Young, Haught and Rich when it was still on? He played Roland Rich, who was both the hottest and the richest one on the whole show…” She let out a dreamy sigh. “Rhys Straud needed a personal chef, and he could’ve hired anyone, but he hired me. I’m such a huge fan. Can you believe it?”
She was hot. I could believe it–him hiring her, not her being a huge fan. I’d never, ever let her find out that Rhys Straud was my brother–she’d probably want an autographed pair of his monogrammed boxers. Ugh. “Congrats,” I managed.
And then I escaped to Finn’s apartment, leaving the cats to keep her company. They were probably better company anyway.
“Long day?” he asked, opening the door after I banged on it a few times. Okay, more than a few times.
“You should fuck my roommate,” I said, by way of greeting. “She has too much energy. I bet she squeaks the whole time though. Seems like the type.” For some reason, being around Finn had sort of a calming effect on me. It was like he was the one sane person in our whole family.
He just smiled at me. “She sounds nice.” He didn’t sound too interested though, which was good–I always liked his boyfriends better than his girlfriends. Maybe I was secretly a self-loathing misogynist or something, but I didn’t have a therapist to help me explore my “deep-seated psychological issues” anymore.
I headed for the couch, idly wondering if Dr. Puck still practiced therapy. “Is your freaky fuck-buddy lurking in the shadows somewhere? Because I can leave.” It was strange, how that was a thing. I would’ve expected Dad to go after one of my now-legal childhood “friends,” not Finn.
“Please don’t call her that,” he said. “And there’s no one else here.”
He sat down next to me, and then it hit me that this was probably his “Simflix and chill” couch. But I didn’t want to find out if they did it here or on the bed or on some skull-studded obsidian altar or whatever the hell that girl was into. Luckily, Finn’s loft didn’t look much different from mine and Daisy’s, aside from the monochromatic color scheme.
“Why do you even live here?” I asked instead. “Don’t you still have that massive sex pad Dad gave you?”
“Maybe I like living next to my little sister.”
“Little, my fat ass. What’s the real reason?”
His smile faded slightly. “I don’t know what to do with a mansion like that, Gal. It’s too big, and too lonely.”
I could understand his dislike of huge, empty houses, so I changed the subject instead of making a (way too easy) porn joke. “I just auditioned for this part in a new TV show about vampires playing chess or something. I bet it started out as a show about chess, but some studio exec made them add vampires so people under fifty would watch.”
“Good luck,” Finn said. “I think you have a real shot at it, with your talent.” For some reason, it didn’t bother me when Finn said shit like that. Maybe because I knew he believed it.
“Doubt it. I’m probably too fat for network television.”
“You’re not fat.”
“Look out the window, Finn,” I said, patting my stomach. “I’m practically a whale in Starlight Shores.”
This time Finn changed the subject. “Dad’s unbirthday is coming up. I know he’d like to hear from you, Gal. I got a card and signed both our names, but a call would be even better…”
“Don’t lie and pretend I actually give a damn about him.”
“But can’t a lie be a good thing sometimes…?” There was a weird undertone to his question, like he really cared about my answer. “If it makes someone feel better. If it gives them hope.”
“You’re asking a fae,” I said with a shrug. “When given a choice, I’ll lie my ass off.” I sighed. “Fine, just tell him whatever you want. He’s a sad, dirty old man whose kids and ex-wife don’t love him. Let him forget about that for just one day.”
“You don’t love him?” Finn was always trying to keep the peace, to make everyone happy, to shove everyone’s anger and jealousy and resentment into a giant coffin and bury it six feet under. Maybe someday he’d learn to accept that some people just fucking hated each other, even if they were family.
Especially if they were family.
“Don’t be like that. I don’t love Mom either. Or Rhys. You’re not bad, though.” I didn’t have to fake a smile with him.
“I wish I knew where it all went so wrong,” he said. Maybe it was a middle kid thing, to always feel like he was in the middle of everything while I was the youngest and couldn’t care less. Dr. Puck would probably know. “I wish everyone got along, at least. I wish…”
One day, he’d finally realize that wishing was about as productive as watching a turd swirl down a toilet bowl.