The Star

10 October 2018

‘So,’ Jay begins, ‘here’s what we’re going to do. Are you ready?’

‘This is a terrible idea,’ Sam warns.

‘I’m going to get us two tickets to a random show tonight, and I’m going to let the attendant decide for us.’

‘I cannot believe you’re leaving it up to a stranger to decide what we watch.’

‘What if I ask her to pick the most popular one?’

‘Depends, is Vin Diesel in them?’

‘Fair point. Here goes nothing,’ Jay grins, backing away toward the counter.

Sam ambles over to the confectionary stand, feeling her heart flutter with anticipation; it’s her first date in years. She picks out some snacks and wills herself not to embarrass herself as she waits.

Jay rejoins her, ‘‘Two tickets to Black and White Memoirs. Have you heard of it?’

Sam shakes her head. ‘Who’s in it?’

‘She didn’t say.’

‘I guess we could check out the posters. Is that allowed?’ she asks cheekily.

‘Sure it is, but mark my words: there’s no turning back now,’ Jay winks, ‘We’ve got about an hour to kill. Wanna check out the art installations across the street?’

She nods.

On their way out, Jay hangs back to retie one of his shoelaces. Sam strolls ahead of him, surveying the line of posters on the wall. Involuntarily, she looks up at the neon sign above. A gasp escapes her.

Black and White Memoirs. Starring Arthur Gadsby and Julie Sainsbury.

‘Did you find it?’ Jay asks her, catching up.

Sam doesn’t respond, as the resounding pounding in her chest rises to her cheeks and ears.

‘Sam? What are you—’

He follows her gaze upward and finds the names she is staring at. 

‘I change my mind about the movie,’ Sam says quietly, ‘Want to grab a bite to eat instead?’

He turns toward her, and for a moment, Jay’s unfocused eyes have her fearing the worst. Then, a fog seems to clear and he smiles brightly.

‘Dinner sounds great,’ he replies, taking her hand, ‘I know a place nearby.’

Out of the corner of her eye, Sam watches him crush up the tickets and toss them into a bin.

If her mother had been watching, she would’ve had something to say about the new spring in her step.

*

9 September 2017

Sam knocks on the door tentatively, ‘Jay?’

A minute passes before she hears shuffling on the other side and the click of a lock.

A haggard face appears, with disheveled hair and a torso to match. ‘What are you doing here?’

Sam raises her eyebrows in response, ‘It’s good to see you too. Heena wanted you to have this.’

She shoves a box of pastries at him. 

‘Oh.’

‘She’s got a 1am deadline, so she couldn’t be here herself.’

‘Right,’ he mumbles, taking the box from her and walking away.

Is she meant to follow him in? Her roommate’s errand is turning into a social call that she doesn’t have an appetite for. 

‘I can’t stay long,’ she calls after him, closing the door.

‘Okay,’ he replies, plopping down onto the couch. 

She sits down across from him in an armchair. ‘How are you holding up?’ 

He picks out the largest donut in the box and takes a bite, ‘Well, I clean when I’m upset,’ he gestures around his living room, ‘So this is the tidiest my apartment has ever been.’

‘So she’s really gone, huh?’

‘I was getting her mail until a week ago, but I haven’t seen anything since Tuesday.’

Sam frowns. Julie has pulled stunts like this before, but never long enough to set up mail forwarding. 

She leans back into the chair and pulls up her feet, ‘Do you have any idea where she is?’

‘I can narrow it down to the LA County area.’

They sit in silence as Jay reaches for a second helping.

‘Well?’ he enquires, after a couple of minutes, ‘Aren’t you going to shrug at me and say I told you so?’

‘What good would that do?’ 

‘That hasn’t stopped anyone before.’

‘Well, I learn faster than most humans.’

Jay snorts. 

‘I liked Julie.’

‘As did I,’ he acquiesces.

‘But—’

‘Ah, I should’ve known there’d be one.’

‘—she had dreams, and if you couldn’t fully support her journey, then do it from afar.’

Jay watches her silently, polishing off his third treat.

‘That might be the realest thing anyone has ever said to me.’

‘You’re welcome.’

When he reaches for his fourth, Sam is obliged to move the box into the kitchen

9 thoughts on “The Star

  1. Nice job inserting details from the photo without being obvious! The first section made me think Sam and Jay were together. Something about her nervousness that I was misinterpreting. Maybe just throw a few words that indicate they’re friends and not on a date?

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    1. Ah yes, I can see the ambiguity. It’s funny because I had a line in there about Sam being nervous because it had been her first date in a while… I should’ve left it in. The intention was to have a non-linear storyline where we see how Jay and Sam are today, and what he was like months previously, when Julie had just left him.

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  2. I found the characters interesting. I needed a bit more info to understand the nature of their relationship and who Heena was. Did she react to the movie poster because Julie is Jay’s ex? I was not certain.

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  3. The dialogue expresses their chemistry well, very engaging! I was confused about the chronology where it felt like they were on a date, but then he was breaking up with the movie star. Perhaps title each section with a date?

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  4. I won’t lie, I was kind of confused about this story. Now that I have read some of your comments I get that the second half is a jump back in time. That makes more sense. I really enjoyed your dialogue, both Sam and Jay have distinct voices.
    This is probably just a solidly me problem, but I would consider changing the last name of the actor that appears with Julie in the movie. With Jay and Gadsby being so close together my brain got stuck on the idea that this was some modern version of the Great Gatsby…like I said, probably just a me issue.

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    1. Thanks Kirsten! Haha, I didn’t realise it until you just mentioned how close the names were to the characters in the book.

      Yes, I overlooked the jump back in time and missed a couple of important details. I’ve gotten too used to shedding weight even if it’s important, I’m hoping I get better over the coming weeks!

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