3. Joanna

3. Joanna

The scripts piled on her nightstand, the hard cardboard covers from the most prestigious agencies folded and stained and ignored under last night’s drinks, her cigarettes, or sometimes even a book of poetry by a fashionably semi-obscure and famously dirty poet-songwriter of the nineteen seventies.

And here she was again this morning, with the languid sunlight creeping across the floor towards her bed. When the sun reached her pillow and started to crawl across her face, she sat up in bed and pulled a certain dog-earred script off of the pile.

No one watching would have known that she looked more at the patterns that the words made on the page, or the composition of the paper itself, or even the tiny hills where the ink rose off of the page- anything but the words themselves.

She finished the page and turned to the next. The sun was warmer now and her hand let the script fall; she observed passively, detached, as it moved up her body and ran through her hair. She never tired of her hair; its texture, the mixture of her natural smell hidden beneath the twenty-dollar-a-bottle shampoo she insisted on having delivered from the Pacific Northwest. Her hand grew bored with her hair and wandered south, down the line of her neck and into the downy folds of the blanket.

As she slipped her fingers under, as the elastic of her panties snapped back and held them, she felt what she always did: a little electric shock that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. More than simple lust, it was the realization, always a surprise, of the beauty of her own body. Instead of being the girl in the centerfold, she was the fourteen-year-old boy finding the magazine in the back of some dark closet forbidden by his father –  the idea that she had been given unrestricted access to this body amazed her- it was simply too good to be true. There was no vanity- she saw her body always, purely and simply, as the teenage boy would have: as a gift too amazing to ever dare ask for- and yet it was presented to her in the morning or early afternoon when she awoke, by some infinite grace she could never hope to understand- she could only fall to her knees and worship.

In the afterglow, the sunlight fell across some words of dialogue on the page of the script, sprawled across the floor where she had must have kicked it, and for a fleeting narcotic moment before her mind returned to its usual sharpness, she let herself imagine that it might be the one. That after all the years of “guest starring,” and “also featuring,” of work that ranged from the awful to the simply forgettable, that she might find… not money, or stardom. No. She wanted something more, she told herself, and most days she could even make herself believe it. She was simply waiting for the story, for the character that was her. Then, the world would see, would know what she felt in her bed each morning as the sun moved slowly across her pillow and her hand progressed lazily down her stomach and onto her thigh.

On the nightstand, her phone vibrated. Joanna reached across and rejected the call without even looking at the display. She knew as surely as she knew anything that it would it not be the last call of the morning from that number. There was no need to answer yet.

Outside her window, a horn sounded. At the window, she saw the long black car on the street below, the uniformed driver waiting for someone she never imagined for a second wasn’t her.

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