Living In The Moment
And somehow I'm sitting on the floor of a bar. It's all torn paper napkins and little plastic straws and sticky puddles and shoes ankles gum cup discarded vape pen. I suddenly feel my scalp, my hair's all tied back and it itches and I think I might cry or at least just go to sleep.
Red high heels. White tennis shoes, but they're grimy. Black loafers.
"Hey, you ok?" A voice from a million miles away, like a sea monster shouting through water and I can't hear it amongst the clanging inside my tiny submarine. Write that down, probably, I think.
Lipstick rolls next to me, touching my hand. Fallen out of a purse, probably.
Then there are brown eyes and black loafers and these high heels are blue, and I don't know what color I'm wearing. Somebody's arguing and somebody has their sea monster hands wrapped around my forearm.
Upright, face. Faces. Right, a question from a million miles away. I feel fantastic, I say but I probably don't. And there are eyelashes on someone and pink sequins and someone else, so many people, all the people. All the people in the world all here all talking in the same place.
On Tuesday morning, I'm sitting on the beach, wearing a $200 bikini and a wide-brimmed sun hat and bejeweled sunglasses. I hate the sunglasses, a gift from my mother, more than I hate her terrible new boyfriend, but they're very shiny and expensive. Two things that I like to be. Or that I pretend to like to be, anyway.
I don't know how I got back to my flat from the bar, but I wasn't killed. I still smell sticky, even after a shower. I can't remember much from last night except that I had some idea about submarines. I think I slept for three hours, my head's pounding in time with the ocean waves, and I'm planning on sitting still until absolutely necessary because I still feel unsteady on my feet.
I've got a notebook open on one of my tan thighs, and I squint down at the word 'submarine' written in handwriting that's less legible than a kindergartner's. I give up, close my eyes, and wonder why my bed smelled like someone else's perfume.
"Macie, it's so good to meet you," the woman says as she shakes my hand firmly. I give her a smile and try to make sure I'm not making a bitchy face, because that's usually how people see my smile. I don't know if it's my smile, really, or just everything else about my that comes across that way. I'm already regretting wearing my low-cut white jumpsuit. I'd stood in front of my closet for two hours before arriving at this dinner, wondering if it was going to be fancy or formal or business casual. I'd gone with formal sexy, with an open back. This woman's gone with a turtleneck blouse and pencil skirt. Just differences in personality, maybe?
"I am so sorry, remind me of your name?" I ask as she seats herself.
Bram gives me a look over the top of his menu. I'm sure he disapproves that I don't already know who I'm meeting. I'm tempted to make a face back at him, or snap it's your fault for not briefing me on this. He may be my agent, but often he feels like my surly personal assistant. I decide to not say anything, because I'm an adult and I can tell when my irritation is the result of a hangover.
"Tessa Livingston," she says, glancing at Bram.
He gives her his 'sorry' eyebrows, which are always directed at other people and never at me. I decide now is a good time to narrow my eyes at him. "Thanks for coming, Tessa, Macie's been working tirelessly on her new novel. I think she only got, what, three hours of sleep last night?"
His blue eyes meet mine and I wish he wasn't so goddamn handsome, with his tousled golden curls and nice eyelashes. I wish I had a glass of wine, because I've got nothing to do with my hands but consider strangling him.
I laugh, like we're all in on the same joke. Like I'm not trying to do the mental math to figure out whether Bram might've dragged me home from the bar yesterday night--this morning. "I can't help it, you know, when inspiration strikes," I tell Tessa with a shrug.
She gives a moderate smile, which I'll take as a win. I don't really need her approval. Once she'd said her name I remembered Bram telling me over the phone last week that she's the producer's assistant. I want the producer to like me, not her. Now I'm just racking my brain trying to remember the producer's name. Russell, I think. Derrick, or Daryl. Damien?
"Ah, Darian! Mr. Russell, a pleasure, as always," Bram says, spotting someone and standing from his seat to greet him. Tessa's eyes flick to me, which means she's not an idiot, points to her. I'll be having words with Bram after this dinner. I easily could've remembered Darian Russell's full name without his help.
Darian, who's the big-shot TV producer that Bram has been so adamant that I meet, is not exactly as I'd pictured. I'd sort of just assumed he'd be some large middle-aged white man. I, after all, am the stereotypical thin white woman, and all thin white women need the approval of larger and older white men.
But Darian is a young, fairly small black man. He smiles wide at the sight of Bram and they shake hands, then do that thing where they pull each other in for a bro-hug. Tessa twists in her seat to give Darian a wave, and then I find myself standing, because that's most polite. Also because a little part of me wants him to see my jumpsuit in its full glory. Take that, Tessa.
He raises an eyebrow. "This is the Macie Clements I've heard so much about?" For a moment we consider each other, him in his perfectly fitted plaid suit, and I in a stupidly expensive, very revealing jumpsuit and big, shiny, dangly earrings. I'm towering over him in my heels, and I'm itching to sit. He's made no move to shake my hand.
"Great to meet you, Mr. Russell," I thrust out a hand, eyes bouncing from his warm eyes to the shiny watch on his wrist as he takes my hand.
"Let's all agree on first names, yeah, Bram?" Darian's still holding my hand and Bram's standing behind his chair, waiting to sit, and Tessa's staring at her menu. I nod. Darian pulls out his seat and sits in one graceful movement. "Mr. Russell. Honestly, Bram. I've known you for, what, six years?" Darian laughs and unbuttons his suit jacket, and I relax and laugh too, because it finally feels casual.
Bram purses his lips and I give him a very, very wide smile even though he's refusing to look at me, and both of us sit. Darian smiles charmingly at me. I can't confirm it, but for the first time I'm thinking maybe I will get a TV deal. In fact, I'm suddenly in such a good mood I think my headache's fading. That's right, no more bar-floor Macie. From now on it's Hollywood Macie.
Or something like that.