Her book draft excerpt {M} finds out.

{M } from her book

{what scene?}

{she finds out}

{jenny and I get overheard}  initially the scene is set as retrospective on the months of filming that have gone on

{m} First time singing

Then {jenny} and I are talking, not knowing {m} is there. Secret is out

{m} sees that she needs to try harder, is this real?

The studio building loomed beside as {jenny} and I walked the length of it. I’d lost any sense of the strangeness of this during the months the filming had gone on.  Working together in what were quite tough circumstances had made us very close. We were heading towards a cafe that surely had been there since before the studio was built, it seemed to exist in a little bit of the normal world, surrounded by the studio buildings. These were huge corrugated metal rectangles designed only for their functions, and without any regard for style. Ironically enough given what went on inside.


People mostly rode bicycles or electric golf carts, walking was usually something to avoid because of the scale of the place.  {jenny} and I didn’t speak as we walked, it was pleasant just to feel the wind and the warmth of the sun after hours spent inside under artificial lights.   People who noticed us always acknowledged {jenny}, no-one knew who I was, but I was happy to know that I was the one that was walking with her. I could see the questions in their eyes .

We turned a corner and I could see the cafe at the end of one of the steel buildings. It was almost hidden among a group of trees, and the green of its surroundings were always a relief after the stark white of the pavement. We visited this place at the end of most weeks, just to talk to plan and for me the experience more of {jenny’s} company. The windows were made of small rectangles of glass in dark wooden frames. Everything was wood, worn with many years of use. I imagined generations of alcoholic actors sitting at the bar, worn down by drinking, but hiding it easily from their public with charm and a nice smile.  Now the placed served coffee, and had cleaned up. It never seemed to be full of people, but there were always people here. Customers talked quietly or just sat in silence winding down after long stress filled days.


We walked in and took a corner table, {m} was due to arrive in about half an hour. We ordered coffee and talked.


The filming had been going on for over five months now, and the work had settled into a routine. {m} had begun to sing, and I had even begun to understand how to talk to her and to accept how different she was to my imaginings.  Still in those instances when she was like one of her characters I would just smile. I think she played for those smiles, just to tease me.


The band had accepted her now, understanding that behind all the weirdness that fame produces, she was as hardworking as they were, and she was just a person. She had a family to go back. Sometimes she got sick, but she’d always turn up, even when it was obviously very difficult.  When she wore no makeup and dressed without care it was almost possible to forget who she was. She had people she loved, trusted, disliked or just ignored. But then, the sight of her driving up to the studio building in the Ferrari, made you realise exactly who this was, the money she controlled, the true weirdness of the life she existed in. But then each morning she’d come in,  hugging each of us in the innocent way she had.


The coffee was always really good here, the waitress didn’t speak as she served us. I just sat looking at {jenny} drawing out the time until I would take my first sip. Often there was nothing said for quite some time. She knew I liked to watch her, and she didn’t mind it.


The conversation proceeded in an ordinary way then, we talked about what had gone on in the week, and discussed scenes that would be filmed soon. We also talked about song choices and wondered about marketing things we could do. But then,


“so, you haven’t told her, and she hasn’t guessed.”

“well I just don’t think it’s appropriate. what would she do”

“she trusts you absolutely now, I’m sure she’d understand. I don’t see what the problem is, I think she’d love the idea if the new. that she is playing a character that was only written for her, but is her”



We both looked round at this, {m} was standing there having walked up to us quietly.

“what do you mean written for her, and is her, you’re talking about me right?”

I was silent, I couldn’t think of anything to say other than to tell the truth. I was embarrassed at our indiscretion.  I knew I had to speak now. {jenny} was just smiling at me, and seeing the look on her face I believed she had hoped for this moment.  I felt like poking my tongue out at her.

“well, and please don’t get angry, your character in my book is you. I didn’t just write a character that I thought you might like to play and be suitable to play, but I wrote you into the book as the person I imagined you to really be. so now you are really playing yourself.  Well a kind of combination of that character and you. Does that make sense?”

“and why haven’t you told me this, didn’t you think I’d want to know, surely you know me well enough now?”

“ah, shit, I feel bad, I know I should have, but at first when I didn’t know you I just felt no-one needed to know about my craziness, and I was worried, I admit it. “

“but now you know I wouldn’t do anything, you’ve known it for some time?”

“well, yes , are you angry?”

“no, but I am a little disappointed, you should have mentioned it. but why not?”

“I was worried a little bit that you might think I had some sort of a fixation on you,  I didn’t want you to think I was a creep or anything like that. ”

“oh, but there’s no question of that, surely it’s obvious that I don’t think that way.”

“I know, I know but it is a fear of mine, as an older guy, perhaps a paranoid fear.  what if there’s an evil inside me and I lose control.”

“you say such stupid things sometimes, come on, there’s nothing like that, we know, you’ve just been watching too many movies, {m} and I have known you now for quite some time, and I know that I have never had the slightest doubt about you.  ”

“yes, don’t worry about it, I forgive you, not that there’s anything to forgive, but I’m extremely curious about this. do you think I’m like {her} for instance.”


“Ah, I didn’t think of this, how to explain.  There are facets I guess, mannerisms. {she} is kind of pathetic in some ways though and you’re not, not at all.  You’re shyer than I expected, but that just says to me that you’re much braver.”

At this point she leaned over and kissed my cheek, I could feel my face burn at this.

“thankyou, what else”

“well, I was already prepared by meeting {jenny} here, for the realisation there’s going to be a completely other person there, unrelated to any character I’d seen you playing.  Before, I had this weird idea of actors, that they inhabited some strange other world without cares or the worries of the rest of us. I’d seen real estate photos of a house {jenny} was selling and got a sense of this weirdness from that.  But now I see that the fame and the money it only adds things it doesn’t replace them so I see all the normal things going on in your lives, both of you. You’re just like any number of amazingly attractive women.”

They both laughed at this.

“I see that that creates all the normal problems, though don’t worry.  I think the most compelling thing is that I have seen the contrast between the confidence that you both share, but have seen the surprising vulnerability. ”

“surprising?” {jenny} said

“well, not now, but it was originally, when I was ignorant. I imagined the fame would produce a confidence that would mitigate against any negative feelings. How silly was I?”

“with some people it does”, {m} said, “or perhaps it just appears that way, people often ask if the fame has changed me, which of course it has, but they don’t ask the question, ‘has it helped me’?.  And the answer to that is I’m not sure. “

“well, I guess you probably won’t ever have to get a real job.”  I tried to say this with a straight face but failed.


Cafe scene; a waking dream of {E}.

I often entertained the idea that when I was sitting in public like this that some person, really it was always a woman, one that I’d known from somewhere, a work colleague, that was most likely. That she’d just walk up to my table and sit down. Often these imaginary meetings turned out to seem more real than anything in reality. I’d look up in surprise and there she’d be. A little older than when I’d first worked with her. {E}. I think I’d loved her from the first moment I’d seen her, I’d been sitting across from her in a meeting. She’d had straight black hair cut in a bob I guess it was, to me I always imagined it was a kind of an Egyptian look. I was lost from that first moment, but I hadn’t really talked to her until a long time later than that. I’d interacted with her when she needed to work with me but that was all. But at some point we did begin to talk. And in the end I’d spent a lot of time talking with her and I felt we’d got to know each other quite well. And there’d been moments when I thought she liked me more than as just a work acquaintance, but I’d never told her how I’d felt. There seemed to have never been a moment when I felt able to bring up the subject of us. I had a whole set of excuses that always stopped me, she was too tall, too good looking, too young. And the biggest excuse was that it was work and what if I made a misstep and she complained of some kind of harassment, I’d be in deep trouble. So I never knew if she felt anything, and when I left ,(although my exact method of communication escapes me), when I told her of my divorce she seemed to want nothing more to do with me.

But right now, here in Paris I see her walking in through the door. I had the shock that you do when you see someone special, someone with whom there’s been an emotional connection. And I’d forgotten how striking she was, how beautiful, the kind of beauty that doesn’t need makeup. Although she wasn’t in any way a cliche, she looked like no-one else I’d ever seen, like some kind of Gothic, Bohemian princess. Pale, black hair, fine skin, tall, intelligent. And smiling. And that’s what she did when she noticed me, I thought she might not see me but she was checking the room, perhaps to see if there were any tables free and without any hesitation she came and sat down in the bentwood chair to my left.

She leaned over and kissed my cheek.

“Hi, now I believe you’re real, I was having some trouble believing it could be you ”

“It’s good to see you too, and who else would it be?”
“Oh, no one else is like you, I was only filled with disbelief. Are you on a holiday over here?

“No l I work here now, in .. {some place close}.”
“The same kind of things”
“Yes, mostly the same. And I have friends over here too, the kids know each other so it’s worked out well.”
“What are you doing here I haven’t heard anything about you since you left?”
“Ah well, tomorrow, and believe it or not, I start school here, a music school. I’m leaving the IT behind, I already left it behind quite some time ago.”
“Are you serious? I would not have suspected it.”

“No I guess you wouldn’t have, the music is something I’ve found it difficult to admit to myself. But I’ve finally given in to it, some kind of compulsion to perform I’m not sure.”

“This is amazing, I’m pleased for you.”

“Thanks, although I must admit I am filled with fear, they tell me the school is hard and it’s different to IT, I knew I could do that, this I know nothing about. I just have to hope. But right now, you’re here, making me forget everything. I’ve missed you you know, I was sad when it seemed you didn’t even want to be my friend. Once I left, once I told you I divorced”
“But I think you loved me, and I didn’t want to hurt you or disappoint you, and you know I’d met someone, you knew that.”
“Why does loving you preclude being your friend, and you never said anything?”
“Oh so you admit it, you loved me, and why didn’t you say anything?” She laughed.
“Was it so obvious, and no I don’t want to deny it? Of course I loved you, from the first time I saw you. I couldn’t help it, who could? But I could have been your friend. Surely”
“And not get hurt?”
“Of course I’d get hurt, I already did, I always do, but that’s how I know I’m alive sometimes, and I’d have been able to spend time with you.”

“You hardly know me, how could you love me?”
“We talked quite a bit if you recall, but you’re right, you’re a very distinctive looking attractive woman and I was lost. I just fell in love at first sight, that can only be a thing if falling in love doesn’t need knowing. But then, perhaps it is possible to judge a book by the cover, sometimes, and I think that my first instinct,or whatever it was, was quite correct, knowing you even a little bit more only affirmed my original fall. I never changed my mind about you, even after I realized you’d probably be quite difficult.”
“Difficult, oh, and what does that mean?” She smiled.

“Just that I can’t imagine being able to let my guard down, difficult is a good thing by the way, in my view anyway. Anyone who isn’t difficult is probably boring.”
And by a supreme act of bravery I didn’t wait, but I brought up the subject of her current romance.
“I suppose you’re married now, to that guy”
“Oh no, that didn’t last too long.”
“So you’ve met some French guy, after all I can’t imagine anyone being able to resist you.”
She just smiled and shook her head.
“I don’t understand, am I only imagining how beautiful you are, is there something wrong with me, perhaps I’ve only ever dreamed you?”

And of course I was, and now as the conversation seemed to to turn towards a place I never really ever believed it would go the horrid realisation came over me that I was about to get hurt, as in my imagination this meeting was no accident, but it was fate bringing us together just at the opportune moment, the moment for my second chance.

But of course, nothing would ever really happen? I’d lost her, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever had her . There was a gap when she was single after her divorce where things may have happened, but I never knew about it. And I can’t imagine I’d ever have had the courage to approach her romantically. And throughout most of the time when I was getting to know her she was meeting her new guy. By now they’re probably married. And I’d never see her again, I knew it. Her interest, in me, however strong it was, hadn’t lasted, I felt sure. Perhaps, in reality, she didn’t even remember me, but even if she did, it felt inappropriate for me to contact her even to try to rekindle the friendship. I couldn’t imagine being able to say anything that would convince her things could be innocent, and that I wouldn’t be some kind of a problem for her. And of course there was the new boyfriend, likely new husband; it just wouldn’t work. Perhaps if we had mutual friends, but no we didn’t. How could we, when I had no friends of my own.

I’ll always wonder if she did actually like me at some point. Strangely, just sitting here thinking about her has reminded me that there was one occasion when she did actually see me at a random place, and she had approached me. I’d forgotten this. I was sitting outside waiting for my son to finish gymnastics. Her children were doing gymnastics at the same center. So I was sitting outside waiting, and then there she was, she recognised me and she walked up to me. We talked, I don’t remember what about. I smiled now to think of it, but this was tempered with the sadness of the realisation I’d never see her again. It’s a weird feeling, happiness and sorrow at the same time. I treasure the thought of her even as I feel the loss.

The same waitress re-appeared with my scrambled eggs. I thanked her, but I couldn’t in that moment think of anything to say, my head was filled with {E}. She started to turn away, but then she hesitated and turned back. I looked back up at her feeling a momentary shock.