Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday Fiction - The Ring Toss Pt. 4

A last-minute change lands Mack in a long white dress, but can she commit?

Week 4! If you're just jumping in, you can check out Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 to catch up. 

Mack's been cast to play a bridesmaid in an equity-waiver production of "Something Borrowed, Something Blue", but at the last minute she's upgraded to the role of Brittney, The Bride. It's a tough gig for a woman with a wedding phobia, especially since her boyfriend Joe's not around to talk her off the ledge. Last week she had to rehearse a scene with Joe's ex-fiance - because that's not at all complicated - and this week, the show's about to start...

The Play – Something Borrowed, Something Blue: A Bachelorette’s Adventure

Director: Dusty Squires
Assistant to the Director: Donald Loudemilk

Brittney (the bride): Mackenzie Reed
Mara (the maid of honor): Geneva Louise
Kenley (the bride’s sister): Dusty Squires
Caitlyn (the bridesmaid): Cheyenne Miller
Salvatore (the stripper): Julio Lorenze
Pete (the groom): Julio Lorenze

The play opened with Mara alone onstage, dipping cosmopolitan glasses in lime juice then coating the rims in sugar. The setting was Mara’s condo, one of those jewel box places decorated by light and space and color. Kenley was the first to arrive and for most of scene one, she and Mara talked about how Brittney was doing. Their job was to lay the groundwork for “Brittney the Inconsistent”. At the end, Mara poured from a pitcher of “fake-tails”—really orange juice and soda—and they toasted the bride.

Then Caitlyn showed up and her first words were to offer a wager on whether Brittney would actually go through with the wedding. She and Kenley proceeded to get into a fight and, as a result, the audience knew quite a bit about my character before I even got onstage.
I watched the betting and the bickering from the wings, waiting for my first cue. By the time I hit my mark, we were on to scene three. As the lights came up, I was sitting next to Kenley on a modular sofa. Caitlyn was staring through the window. A round coffee table sat between the couch and the window and an architectural entertainment center stood on the opposite wall, holding a flat-screen television, stereo gear, and a few books. Next to it was a long, low buffet.

Mara entered, carrying a tray of hors d’oeuvres. “This is the last tray of snacks.”

“Yum!” I reached for one of the little bacon-wrapped dates. They were yummy, and Brittney was one of those lucky souls who could eat whatever she wanted without gaining weight. Because I said so.

Candi’s version of the character had been twitchy, if not outright neurotic, her emotions played large like they projected on a big screen over her head. My take was different. Brittney had a tough childhood and for years she’d wrestled with commitment issues. I didn’t need to go hunting for complications.

Mara passed me a little plate. “Britt’s going to be a bride. How cool is that?”
I laughed, sounding authentically nervous.

Kenley draped her arm across my shoulders. “Cool enough that I had to fly out from New York to see it.”

Caitlyn turned around and faced us. “Oh yeah. You’re living in New York now. And you’re doing what again?”

The muscles in Kenley’s arm tightened. She and Caitlyn didn't get along, and the corner of my brain not focused on Brittney thought it was funny Dusty and Cheyenne were playing the roles.

With a quick glance, Kenley let me see her exasperation. “Modeling. Mostly product demos and floor shows. Nothing too high-end.”

“And she makes more money than the rest of us put together.” I was quick to defend my “sister.”

Caitlyn came and sat next to us on the sofa, shoving me more-or-less into Kenley’s lap.

Kenley laughed and Mara brought over a bottle of champagne. “It’s true. Brittney showed me pictures of your apartment. It’s fabulous.” She lifted the bottle. “Anybody?”

“Cheers!” Caitlyn raised her glass as if ready for us to change the subject. Her character was the poor little rich girl, and she resented when anyone else had more than she did.
Mara poured fake champagne into our empty cosmo glasses.

“Tonight’s going to be so crazy. We’re gonna be a-boozin’ and a-sleezin’.” Kenley tossed off her glass and I followed suit.

“Is it too early to sing the Chi Omega song?” Mara raised her glass.

“Yes! I don’t remember the words unless I’m drunk,” Caitlyn said.

Kenley glanced over at me again. “Write ’em down. Not all of us went to college.”

“Right. Says the one with the best job.” I smacked her on the arm to punctuate my line.

Kenley swatted me back, hard enough it almost hurt. I’d have to make sure Dusty remembered this wasn't a locker room scene.

I sorta remember the song.” Caitlyn had her brows drawn together as if forehead tension would bring the words out of the fuzzy fog at the bottom of her mind. After a minute her face cleared. Either she’d come up with the words or the champagne bottle had distracted her. “Can I have more bubbly?”

“You never remember the words.” I laughed at Caitlyn.

“Hey, Chi Omega was ten years ago.”

Mara got between us.”Come on, girls, let’s drink a toast. To Brittney and Pete, whose love spreads such light on the rest of us. May they live a long and happy life.”

We tapped glasses and the others all toasted to Brittney and Pete. It was time for one of my big moments. I stood and moved to the side, giving the audience my profile and me a straight shot at the other actors.

“Thanks. I…you guys are great. You’re like my best friends and I love you so much.” I paused and swallowed hard, unsure of whether I was wrestling with Brittney’s ambivalence or my own.  That girl dressed up for her QuinceaƱera floated through my mind, a haunting bridal memory. Yeah, I could relate to Brittney very well. “It’s just…it’s so hard to tell you… Shit. I gotta pee.”

I ran off-stage, knowing the other girls were shaking their heads at me, except Caitlyn who was laughing because she thought she was about to win her bet.

By law, an “equity-waiver” theater can only seat ninety-nine people so the stage doesn’t need to be big. On either side were three sets of black curtains, hanging at five-foot intervals front to back. Closing any of the pairs changed the dimensions of the space the actors had to work with.

Geneva and Dusty were still out there, acting out another bonding moment between Mara and Kenley. Cheyenne and I were waiting in the wings for our next entrance. From where I stood, I could only see about a third of the audience. It looked like there were a fair number of people in the house, especially for a dress rehearsal.

While we waited for our cue, I put a dab of Vick’s VapoRub under each eye so they’d tear up. “Hey, after this, do you want to go grab a beer somewhere?” I mouthed at Cheyenne, barely whispering.

She shrugged and turned back to the stage. Strange. She and Dusty were usually up for going out after a show. Maybe they had other plans.

In about three minutes, the next scene would start. There was no time to see if Joe had sent me another text. Textpectation my hiney. I pinched the top of my dress and hoisted it up, then tugged at the back to make sure it covered my butt. A single bead of sweat ran down my spine, tickling my lower back. I watched the action onstage and thought about the upcoming scene. I wasn’t nervous, exactly, just tight with anticipation. The change in my role had cured the acid stomach I’d come in with, because this was the kind of challenge I loved, taking a few scraps of dialogue and making a person out of them. I let go of Cheyenne's weirdness and the crowd in the seats and dove back into Brittney's head.     

Being in Brittney's head might be easier for Mack than being in her own. Check back next week to see how the next scene works out.



  1. Caught up today and I'm loving this story! Lots of fun ;)

    1. Thank you! This one was a lot of fun to write, too!