Extra post: 525 words
Washed up. Those words were burned into her mind’s eye, the only thing she could truly remember from the critic’s corner section of the newspaper.
It served no purpose dwelling on it, but her hand sought out the article without thought.
She pulled the paper close, griping the sherry glass stem so tight it would leave bruises on her palm.
Flipping to the back page of the Local Legend, her eyes zeroed in on the post detailing her performance in her latest play.
Helen DeCarlo plays a vivacious young woman trying to find her way in a world that’s changing around her. It would’ve been a believable performance if the actress herself was young enough to pass as anything under thirty. They plaster her aging face with make up to pass her off, but nothing can hide the stiff way she moves through each scene. Her days as the blooming theater star have passed. Helen would be better served retiring, her performance and the play the last breath of a washed up actress.
It went on, detailing the performances of her costars, but she stopped reading. She downed the sherry, unable to taste the decidedly fruity notes in the otherwise dry wine. It was a waste of expensive wine, but it would do its job.
She needed to forget. Pouring another dram, she downed that too and carefully sat the glass on her vanity. The bulbs on the mirror glared, bringing her face into stark light. Here was a truth that was unavoidable.
She was old, well passed the age of a young starlet fresh on the stage, and it was evident in the lines on her face.
She lifted shaking hands to her face, pressing and pulling at the loose skin. Crows feet, smile lines, jowls, wrinkles, wrinkles, and wrinkles. The soft coral of her lips had hardened to an unappealing cherry. She was tired and she looked it in the pale cast of her skin.
Tears filled her eyes and she let them fall. She cried over how much of her life she’d given to being a star. The exercising, the practicing, the drugs, and the fucking. She had nothing left with her glory days firmly behind her. Her stellar career was suddenly nothing as the wrinkles and the gray crept in.
Helen DeCarlo, old crone and has-been. It wasn’t fair.
Anger bubbled up. She screwed up her mouth and fisted her hands as the injustice of it overwhelmed her. It didn’t matter that she still drew a crowd or had her name in lights or on the door behind her. She was angry that time had stolen her youth.
Grabbing the sherry glass, she stood and tossed it at her vanity mirror. It struck the pane, shattering it so she could no longer see her face.
The tears became a flood then. She crumbled to the floor, stuffing her knuckles in her mouth to stem her sobs. But no amount of anger could change who she’d become.
Old, out of date, washed up.
That was the hardest to swallow and she cried all the more because of it.
Bravo Cara, I am envious if your ability to come up with this beautifully written short stories that encapsulate so much in so few, perfectly selected, words
Thank you! I really appreciate the feedback truly. Sometimes I’m not sure I’m headed in the right direction
Now that I know the genesis behind the story, I’m even more impressed. You are so damn good at what you do!
Trying to make me blush.
Wonderfully written story Cara. It all rang so true. As someone whose career was in theatre and television I could particularly relate to this.
It reminds me of Sir Donald Wolfit who toured England with his theatre company between the wars. At the end of one performance he addressed the audience and said tomorrow night I will perform Hamlet and my wife will play Ophelia. To which someone called out ‘She’s too old’ . Sir Donald unperturbed said ‘Nevertheless ..
Sorry that went on a bit long! CP x
It’s funny that men have always had an easier time transitioning than women. Women pay such an ugly price to be in the spotlight. And I didn’t mind your comment at all