By:  Dreams

 

Disclaimers: Nope, sorry, can't say there are any. All of the characters are mine. I take full responsibility for all of their actions. Hmm ... On second thought  ... I've never seen them before in my life. They just followed me home one day ... really ...

 

Violence/Sex: No violence, I don't think. I guess that would depend on what you mean by "violence" ...  I don't think there is any. You can decide for yourself.  And sex?  Umm ... I'll go on the safe side and say there will be. But don't go suing me for false advertisement if you can't find any. It really depends on what you mean by sex. As there are people in some cultures that show their affection by licking each other's eyeballs, it is possible that my definition of sex may be different than yours. Mine may involve cows in ballet slippers for instance ... wait, that doesn't sound right ...

 

Warning: This story involves an in-the closet actress, online relationships, Puerto Ricans, the Spanish language, Starbucks coffee, angels, boyfriends, sexual relationships between women .. and a ton of other random things that poured forth from my artistic loins. If none of the above things interest you, then you may not want to partake in this little tour of my demented psyche.

 

Dedication: to you and you and you you and you .. to people living with living with ... ::notices there are people watching:: Ahem. Sorry. Too much "RENT" for me. Strike that. There can never be too much RENT. Unless it's the kind you have to pay. But my point.. and I do have one .. is that this story is dedicated to you. Thank you for taking the time to delve into my madness. What a brave soul you are .. muahahaha <coughcough>

 

Special Thanks:  To Amber, Cindy, Camilla, Christy, Amy, and Robin. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don't know what I'd do without you guys.

 

Write me: Cause I'd love to know what you think. I may be reached at amazonkiwi@aol.com


 

                                                   11

 

"Where the hell have you been?" Leigh cried. "I've been worried sick!"

 

Kris stepped into the apartment after hours of wandering around New York City. "I took a walk," she responded, throwing her jacket on the couch.

 

"Well Nathan was going insane," Leigh informed her. "He called like twenty times. Then he stopped by. Then he went out looking for you. Then he came by again. Then he left. So I'd suggest you call him. And you should probably call your parents too because they called here five times. Carlos is going bizirk."

 

Kris rolled her eyes and collapsed on the couch. After all of that walking, the last thing she needed was to face the people she'd been running from. All she wanted was peace. Why couldn't she have that? Just some time to herself. No family. No boyfriends. No essays to write. Just her and her art. "You call them," she said. "As soon as I gather enough energy, I'm going to take a shower. And then I'm going to bed."

 

Leigh stared at her best friend for a long moment. "Kris, what happened?"

 

"Nothing," Kris replied. "Dinner was just great. My boyfriend is just great. Sweetheart to the max. I'm beyond in love with him. So much so that I'm transferring to Harvard so that we can be near each other. Then we can commence our life together. I'll stay home with the kids while he goes out and lives out his dreams. Sounds perfect. I can't wait."

 

Leigh sat down on the coffee table, regarding her friend cautiously. "Are you alright?"

 

Kris sat up with a start. "Alright? No. I'm not alright. I don't want to go to Harvard. And I really don't want to have kids right now. Or even get married, for that matter."

 

"So don't."

 

"Don't," Kris repeated softly, as if the possibility hadn't occurred to her. "That's exactly what I'm going to do! I'm going to do none of those things." She stood and headed toward her room.

 

"So what are you going to do?" Leigh called after her.

 

"I'm going to take a shower," Kris replied. "Because that's what I want to do."

 

"Right," Leigh said, totally confused by her friend's outburst.

 

A few moments later, Kris returned, wearing her bathrobe. "You know what pisses me off? It's that they didn't ask. Never have they once backed me up on anything. You'd think my mom would want to have some of my artwork hanging around the apartment, but does she? No! And Nathan? Do you think he gives a damn about how I spend my time? No! All he cares about is his car. And his .. his law school. And his .. his his car!" She ran back into the room and slammed the door.

 

Two seconds later, she opened it again. "And why was he yelling at me for not telling him about William? It's my family! Why does he care? And why does everything have to be about him? Just cause he's the man? I don't think so! Fuck him and his penis!" She stormed into the bathroom.

 

Leigh stared at the closed door. "She's finally lost it."

 

 

*          *            *

 

Later that night, after she'd managed to calm down, Kris sat at the kitchen table with the computer in front of her. Her outburst had made her feel better. The shower had helped as well. She'd called Nathan and assured him that she was fine. She'd called her parents and assured them she was fine. And that, no, she didn't need to see a psychiatrist. And that, no, it had nothing to do with William being gay.

 

But now, at least she was at peace. Leigh had gone to bed. The apartment was quiet. For the moment, life was relatively good. Relieved, and in better spirits, she signed on to the internet to check her mail.

 

One message.

 

 

Dear Kris (may I call you that?),

 

I would love to know what led you to create such a fascinating piece of art. The picture was one of a figure standing in a crowd, with her gaze focused on something in the distance. It currently hangs in my bedroom so that I may admire it every night. I believe it's the only picture in my house that I picked out myself. I'm not big on decorating and I fear it's painfully obvious from the moment one steps into my home. But luckily, not that many people do.

 

It's not very often that I get to cheer up someone's day or even help them procrastinate, so I'm glad that I could give something back to the  artistic community. If I can be of service in the future, please let me know. :o)

 

Take care,

J.R.

 

 

 

Smiling, Kris hit reply.

 

 

Dear J.R.,

 

That was my favorite piece, actually. I was thinking of making it into a collection. Color paintings and maybe clay figurines. They'll decorate my apartment, at least.

 

I must admit, I'm a bit thrilled by your interest. Sometimes it's very disillusioning to be an artist. You never really know if people appreciate it. Once in a while, they'll pass by and smile in approval. But most of the time they pass by without casting a second glance. That's when I start to doubt if it's really worth it. I start wondering if perhaps my parents are right and I should focus my life on something concrete instead.

 

But then I receive an email from you and all of my doubts dissipate and my inspiration returns.

 

I'm sorry if I'm carry on.

 

About the drawing. I guess the reason I like it is that when I started it, I didn't really know what I was drawing. I usually have a set pattern in mind and then I put it down on paper or canvas. But that one just came to me. I started to draw something and suddenly it took form. Sorry, that's not a very interesting story. :)

 

Anyway, thank you for once again cheering me up. It hasn't been a good week and your emails have been very much appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Kris

 

PS: Yes, you may call me that :)

 

 

                                                    12

 

To Julianne's great dismay, Sunday arrived. So she found herself sitting in a crowded auditorium, watching a bunch of bumbling idiots destroy what should've been a wonderful play. Her beloved sister was among them. Playing Juliet, no less.

 

"Oh Romeo, Romeo "

 

Kill me. Kill me now, Julianne pleaded silently. Her poetry notebook lay open on her lap and she was scribbling random lines of poetry in the dark. She only wished she'd thought to bring her laptop. She could've found someone to chat with and help pass the time.

 

If God was indeed merciful, he'd take pity on her now and strike her down. She cast her eyes heavenly, waiting for something to happen. Nothing did.

 

I'm in hell.  She glanced on stage. And my sister is the Devil.

 

Finally, an eternity later, the curtain went down and the house lights came on. The cast came out for their curtain call, and Julianne clapped along with the rest of the enthusiastic audience. As the crowd dispersed, Julianne made her way to the front of the auditorium to meet up with the rest of her family.

 

People recognized her as she passed by them, and she forced smiles in their direction, hoping that no one would walk up and start talking to her. Just in case they were considering it, she made sure to wear her most unapproachable look. Thankfully, it worked.

 

"Oh you showed up," Jan noted, still standing atop the stage so she could look down at everyone else.

 

Julianne looked up at her sister. "Promised I would."  She kissed her mother's cheek and then her father's. "Mom, Dad," she greeted casually.

 

"Wasn't she wonderful?" Susan Frank asked, smiling proudly at her youngest daughter. "One of these days she's gonna give you a run for your money."

 

Julianne tried not to laugh at the idea. "I live in fear," she replied dryly.

 

Jan rolled her eyes. "You're just jealous, Jules. Cause even if you are a big deal actress, you'll never be as beautiful as me."

 

"Jan, control yourself," Timothy Frank said, speaking up for the first time. "Go change. We've got reservations for nine."

 

Jan headed off to the dressing room to change, leaving Julianne to battle the lesser-demons.

 

"What is this you're wearing?" Susan asked in obvious distaste.

 

Julianne looked down at herself. Just to piss off her mother, she'd decided on a long-sleeved cotton shirt with the sleeves rolled up. A black leather vest, black jeans, and black boots. "Don't you like it?" she asked innocently.

 

Susan let out a long breath. "You look like one of those beatnik poets."

 

"Why thank you, mother," Julianne replied with a bright smile. "That's the biggest compliment you've given me yet."

 

Timothy cleared his throat. "So, Julianne, how's the movie coming?"

 

"Pretty good, Dad," Julianne replied. "The budget for the film is a lot bigger than for the TV show so we've got some pretty cool special effects underway. The director, Gina Loeb, is excellent. I really love the different dimensions she's brought to Kiara's character."

 

"How much did you get paid?" Susan asked.

 

Julianne sighed at her mother. Why was it all about money with her? "Four million," she answered.

 

Susan frowned. "That's it?"

 

"What do you mean, that's it?" Julianne asked, trying not to yell. "How much do you make?"

 

"Julianne," Timothy warned.

 

Julianne bit her tongue to keep from lashing out at her mother. What nerve!

 

The three of them stood there in silence until Jan returned from the dressing room. "All set," she announced, jumping down from the stage. "Where are we going for dinner?"

 

"Someplace cheap," Julianne answered. "Because apparently, I'm poor." She started walking toward the exit doors, leaving her family behind. She needed to be away from them for a few minutes, if only to collect herself. There was no way she was going to survive dinner without losing her temper. Not if her mother kept testing her patience like that.

 

Out in the parking lot, she leaned against her Rav4. She focused on breathing. It was supposed to be a calming thing, but it resulted in making her dizzy.

 

Her father was the one to approach her finally. "Meet us at Ramone's," he instructed. "Do you need directions?"

 

"Nope," she responded. "See you there." She jumped into the car and sped off, anxious to put some distance between them.

 

 

*          *            *

 

The restaurant was a ritzy affair. Julianne's father made a lot of money, and her mother wasn't afraid to use it. Ramone's was well-known for serving the stars of Hollywood. Anybody who was anybody was sure to make an appearance on any given day.

 

Julianne knew that the only reason she'd been invited along on this little adventure down dysfunctional family lane, was because her mother hoped that if Julianne was there, then any stray reporters would cast their cameras their way.

 

They didn't let her down. A reporter snapped a few shots of them entering the restaurant. Susan and Jan enjoyed the attention, or rather, enjoyed pretending they didn't. People in the restaurant glanced in Julianne's direction as she passed, pointing and muttering.

 

Julianne ignored everyone. She merely followed the matre'd to what he claimed was "the best table in the house" and took a seat. As her family joined her, she disappeared behind the large menu. With any luck, they'd forget she was there.

 

"I am honored to be serving you again, Ms. Franqui," the waiter said, with a slight bow. "If I may recommend anything, let me know. Tonight's menu is superb."

 

Julianne nodded. "I'll just have my usual, thanks," she told him.

 

He nodded and wrote down the order, then took the menu from Julianne. The rest of the family requested a moment to decide.

 

With her shield of protection gone, Julianne faced the firing squad.

 

"Come here often?" Jan asked, glancing at her sister.

 

"No," Julianne replied.

 

Susan took a sip from the cup of water in front of her. "You're sure in a mood tonight. What's going on? You look a bit drained."

 

"Im perfectly fine, mother," Julianne replied. "Probably just PMS."

 

Susan chose to ignore the comment. "So how's Adrian doing? You should've invited him tonight."

 

"Is it true the two of you are together now?" Jan added.

 

Julianne regarded her two least favorite women in the world. "Adrian is in San Francisco, working on a new film. And yes, we're very much together." She should've denied it, of course, but the look of disappointment in her sister's face made it all worth it. Julianne knew that Jan had been in love with Adrian for ages.

 

The sixteen-year-old sighed. "Someday he'll be mine."

 

"Right." It was all Julianne could do not to laugh out loud at the idea.

 

Susan smiled. "That would be such a beautiful wedding," she mused. "The two of you would make gorgeous children, no doubt."

 

Jan made a face. "There goes my appetite."

 

Mine too, Julianne agreed. Having sex with Adrian would be "Ew," she muttered, shuddering at the thought.

 

Everyone looked at her.

 

Julianne froze. "Um, I thought I saw a hair in my cup," she lied. "But it was just the reflection of the light."

 

"Where do you think you'd like to get married?" Susan asked, still on the topic.

 

"We're not getting married," Julianne said. "I've got my career. Adrian's got his. We're just "

 

"Having sex?" Susan guessed, with a shake of the head.

 

"Gross," Jan mumbled.

 

"We're not having sex," Julianne replied, feeling incredibly embarrassed for no good reason.

 

Jan glanced at her in surprise. "Are you serious?"

 

Kill me. Kill me now. Please. Someone. Anyone. Help. "I'm not going to discuss this," Julianne said as defiantly as possible.

 

Jan sat back in her chair and let out a short laugh. "But he's so hot! Are you crazy? I'd be on him like a"

 

"Jan!" Both Susan and Timothy chorused.

 

Julianne sank down in her chair, covering her face with one hand. This was going to be a very long dinner.

 

 

*          *            *

 

 

Three hours later, Julianne collapsed on her bed. It had been the longest day of her entire life. Between her mother and her sister, she was going to need a few more hours of therapy a week. It was a good thing that Adrian came cheap or she'd be broke by now.

 

Pulling herself together, she got up and got ready for bed. She slipped on a pair of Garfield boxers and a white tank-top, then grabbed her laptop and climbed into bed. "Ah, heaven," she sighed. She hooked up the phone line to the computer and started it up.

 

First things first, she decided, reaching over the edge of the bed to grab her poetry notebook. It was time to upload the poems of the day to her super duper secret website. She didn't know if anyone actually read them, but she liked to have them out there, nonetheless. Between acting and writing poetry, Julianne felt complete. Well, more so than she otherwise felt, anyway.  Perhaps complete was a poor choice of words.

 

She typed up her latest poem, pleased with what she'd written. With a click of a button, it became public property. Anyone who wanted it, could take it. She didn't really give a damn.

 

Moving on, she opened her mailbox. One message.

 

 

Dear J.R.,

 

That was my favorite piece, actually. I was thinking of making it into a collection. Color paintings and maybe clay figurines. They'll decorate my apartment, at least.

 

I must admit, I'm a bit thrilled by your interest. Sometimes it's very disillusioning to be an artist. You never really know if people appreciate it. Once in a while, they'll pass by and smile in approval. But most of the time they pass by without casting a second glance. That's when I start to doubt if it's really worth it. I start wondering if perhaps my parents are right and I should focus my life on something concrete instead.

 

But then I receive an email from you and all of my doubts dissipate and my inspiration returns.

 

I'm sorry if I'm carry on.

 

About the drawing. I guess the reason I like it is that when I started it, I didn't really know what I was drawing. I usually have a set pattern in mind and then I put it down on paper or canvas. But that one just came to me. I started to draw something and suddenly it took form. Sorry, that's not a very interesting story. :)

 

Anyway, thank you for once again cheering me up. It hasn't been a good week and your emails have been very much appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Kris

 

PS: Yes, you may call me that :)

 

 

Julianne grinned and hit reply.

 

 

Dear Kris,

 

If you go forth with the collection, I would like to place my order to buy it from you. Doesn't matter how much it costs. I'll pay anything :o) 

 

I can understand how you feel about your art. It's tough to bare your soul to the world day in and day out, and feel yourself rejected. And I find it admirable that you persist on doing so.  But trust me when I say, that it's better to be rejected for being who you are, than accepted for being somebody you're not.

 

I find it interesting that we'd both see ourselves in the same picture. Like we're both standing at the wrong sides of a two-way mirror and we can only see ourselves. Maybe if we turn it over, we can see each other.

 

 

Julianne frowned at the third paragraph. "That sounds like I'm coming on to her." Quickly, she deleted it and started a new one in its place.

 

 

You must be having a really rough week for my emails to be cheering you up so much. If you ever need to talk about anything, well, I'm available.

 

Take care,

J.R.

 

 

Frowning, Julianne let the arrow hover over the send button. When had she become so nosy? And why did she care?

 

She highlighted the last paragraph, but hesitated in deleting it. "Fuck it, I've got nothing to lose," she decided, hitting send before she had a chance to change her mind.

 

                                                                twelve


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