The children have brought their wood turtle
into the dining hall
because they want us to feel
the power they have
when they hold a house
in their own hands
Dinner was tater-tot casserole, rolls, and a tall glass of milk. The family was just settling into their seats.
“Dad, can you pass me a roll?” asked Madison. She was a sweet, just barely precocious girl.
“Sure thing, hon,” Dad replied. “So, did you learn anything today in school?”
Madison looked down at her plate. “Sarah said that her dad said that Mom’s a whore.”
Mom dropped her fork. “Maddy! You know better!”
“I’m sorry, Mom. I mean escort.”
Mom’s demeanor lightened. “That’s better.”
“Dad, why is Mom an escort?” That was Danielle, Madison’s older sister. She was the serious one. She tried to prove it with dark eye-shadow and a belly piercing.
Mom interjected. “You do want to go to Princeton, don’t you sweetie?”
Danielle slumped her shoulders. “Yes, Mom.”
“Alright!” Dad piped up, swallowing a lump of tater tots. “That’s settled! Now Danielle, dare I ask what you learned in school today?”
Danielle glared at her Dad. “Someone told me that you’re a faggot. That you suck so much dick that you could sell your spit to a sperm bank.”
Dad looked at Mom, then over at his daughter. Then he grinned. “That sounds about right! Now who wants another roll?”
“And cut!” James bellowed, in between giggles. “Just brilliant! Everyone take thirty and we’ll shoot the next scene.
Heels approached him fast from the right. Ah, shit.
“What the hell was that?” It was “Danielle’s” mother. She towered over him. Her hair was wound tight as a drum. As was her asshole, he suspected.
“You promised me she wouldn’t have to say anything dirty. She’s the serious one!”
“I know!” James said. “She ad-libbed. I didn’t tell her to say any of that.”
“So you’ll reshoot?”
James shrugged his shoulders. “People laughed.”
“I never…” She stopped herself, then looked towards the set. “Annabelle Lyn! Get over here!” She huffed in place until her daughter mosied her way over. “I’m disappointed in you. And I’ll tell you one thing, no more Showtime. Only Hallmark and Lifetime movies until you’re eighteen.”
“Shut it!” She grabbed Annabelle’s arm and dragged her out of the studio.
James watched them leave, dejected. Craning his neck, he saw the mother of Jessica, who played Madison. She looked back, sheepishly. “You know, your girl is a natural.”
“Thank you, sir. I guess I…”
“How would you like her to take over the part of Danielle?” He turned so he could face her directly. “We could make her look a bit older. I think she’s ready for this kind of role.”
“I don’t know…” She blushed. “It’s hard enough for me to hear her say wh… well, you know.”
James leaned forward. “I know. I get it. It’s your little girl. But this is acting. Any true professional will understand that. And it’s a much bigger part. With her talent, not only will it get her more notoriety, it will also land her a bigger contract. Whadya say?”
“Um… I’ll have to think it over. I’ll talk to her.”
James smiled. “Great. Let’s talk after lunch, eh?” He confidently sprung out of his seat and headed towards the exit.
Jessica approached her mother. “Hey, what were you guys talking about?”
Her mother looked around to see if anyone was listening. “You did it.”
Jessica grinned. “The part’s mine?”
Her mother smiled. And gave Jessica a high-five.
K: It’s a dangerous game writing about acting for someone who’s worked as an actor. First of all, mothers are not on the set, particularly during 14-hour TV days for major cable outlets. Second, why the hell would Mom have allowed her daughter to audition for this part if she had those hangups? It wouldn’t matter to her whether her daughter was the one saying objectionable things; the content of the show would matter. Also, none of the producers step in and try to defuse the situation? They just let mother and daughter walk from the set, with no repercussions about contract or money? And the girl playing the other daughter just happens to be right for THIS part, too? Also, it’s not cutthroat on a film or TV set. It’s collaborative. I like this prose, and part of me wishes I wasn’t so well-versed in the way things work on set.
DG: I liked the pacing of the reveals of the various levels of manipulation here. The characters all have their goals and they are pursuing them single-mindedly here. That could make the story straightforward, but the reveals keep the reader interested in where it’s all going. GOLD
I knew there was zero chance this could ever happen on a real movie set. I wrote it anyway, for fun. I’m glad it worked partly. I wish I could have made it more even throughout, but I’ll take it.
I remain firmly in second place with four challenges left. high