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 email@example.com
Kris Milano took a sip from her cappuccino grande, her hazel eyes focused on the computer screen before her. She was going to finish writing this essay tonight if it killed her.
Starbucks was in full swing. The caffeine-addicted masses continued to pour through the doors in need of a fix and Kris observed it all from her place on the couch. Her laptop stared up at her from its place on her lap, and Kris glanced at it despairingly. Why they were forcing her to take an English class was beyond her. All she cared about was art. Who cared about Shakespeare? He was dead already. But art ... art lived forever.
She didn't dwell on the fact that most people considered Shakespeare to be art. That was beside the point and didn't aid in her procrastination in the slightest.
"How's it coming along?" Leigh Radlin, Kris's best friend and roommate, asked. She was dressed in her Starbucks uniform, complete with the green apron and all. She carried a wet rag in one hand and a bottle of blue cleaning liquid in the other. She proceeded to wipe up the nearest table to Kris.
Kris shook her head, not bothering to remind the red-head that she'd already cleaned that table. Twice. "I'll read you what I have so far," Kris said. She cleared her throat in an exaggerated fashion. "In Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream ..."
Leigh was waiting for her to continue. "Yeah," she urged.
"You've been sitting there for four hours," Leigh stated. "What on earth have you been doing all that time?"
"I was thinking of color schemes for my latest painting," Kris admitted. "I can't decide whether to give the sunset a sense of heat ... or a sense of cool detachment. Maybe I'll do both. Oh, plus there's this really cool photograph that I recently developed. I'm thinking of doing a kind of collage with it. Maybe even ..." She paused in her babbling to note the look on Leigh's face. "Yeah, okay. The essay." Resigned, she turned back to the computer screen.
* * *
Two hours later found Kris in the same exact place. The cappuccino had since been replaced by a caramel mocha and an over-priced piece of cake. She was certain that one or the other, or perhaps even both, would be the cause of that night's insomnia spell.
Leigh plopped down beside Kris with a long sigh. "I thought I'd never get out of here."
"You're still here," Kris pointed out.
"Yes, you're right." She glanced at her best friend curiously. "So did you manage to write at least a full sentence?" Leigh teased.
"Two, in fact," Kris replied proudly. "Time for a break," she said. "Let's go."
Leaving Starbucks behind, they headed down the busy streets of Time Square where a large crowd of screaming people were gathered below the windows of MTV Studios. They screamed and shouted, holding up banners and signs.
"Time to feed the sponge-minions," Kris commented dryly, glancing across the street at the madness gathered. "I guess The Backstreet Boys must be back in town."
Leigh shook her head, distracted by the posters hanging on the outside of Virgin Records. "It's that chick from that show you hate," Leigh said. "You wanna catch a movie, or do you have to get back to the essay?"
"No I'll watch something with you," Kris answered, glad to have a reason to procrastinate. It was only Friday, after all. She still had until Monday to turn it in. The essay could wait. She glanced again across the street. "Julianne Franqui?"
"That'd be the one," Leigh confirmed.
"She's such a snob," Kris muttered, turning to face her roommate. "Did you see her on Leno last week? She could at least pretend not to be stuck up."
"She's talented, famous and beautiful," Leigh replied with a shrug.
"Well she doesn't have to rub it in everyone's face," Kris replied. "She's an actress, she could at least pretend to be a decent human being."
Leigh glanced at her best friend. "I hope when it's me up in the silver screen you're not quite as judgmental."
Kris laughed. "I'll be your number one fan."
Leigh held up her bookbag in front of her. "I would like to thank the Academy for this prestigious award. The director, the cast and crew of So-and-So, and my best friend ... uh ...Hold on, I had her name written down somewhere."
"Ouch," Kris said, clutching at her heart. "After all I've done for you. I've sat through one horrible play after the other."
"Horrible?" Leigh complained, her offence obvious. She appeared to consider. "Alright, I'll grant you that the one about the drug-addicted nun wasn't all that wonderful. But the one where I played a pseudo-intellectual rapper with a flair for home decor was quite original."
"The Martha Steward musical?"
"Martha Stewart is not a rapper," Leigh argued. "I took my role very seriously. I wish you wouldn't mock me so."
Kris had to laugh. "It was horrible."
"Okay, yeah it was pretty bad." Leigh shrugged. "Maybe if I get into Tisch."
"Did you apply?"
"What's the point? I can't afford NYU. But at least there's Starbucks."
"Amen," Kris agreed.
* * *
Later that night, Kris sat with her laptop open and her feet propped up on the coffee table before her. Leigh was seated next to her on the couch, television remote in hand armed and ready to take on the world. Or the little world inside the TV set, anyway.
The TV flickered with the change of channels. Leigh was a professional channel surfer. She had the trophies to prove it. "There's nothing on," she mumbled.
"Well, maybe if you stopped on something long enough to give it a chance," Kris suggested, knowing it was a lost cause. For as long as they'd been roommates‹two years to be exact‹the ritual had been the same. Kris looked down at the monitor and focused on the email she was writing.
Leigh leaned over to see what Kris was up to. "Writing to Nathan?" she asked.
"No," Kris replied, moving the laptop so that Leigh couldn't see what she'd written. "Excuse me, you nosy woman."
Leigh returned to her original position. "Fine. But if you're cheating on your boyfriend I want to know about it."
"If you must know, I'm writing an email to my dad."
"Oh," Leigh said, looking disappointed. "Here I had my hopes up."
"I don't understand why you don't like Nathan," Kris said. "He's a nice guy."
"He bores me to tears," Leigh explained in an exasperated manner. "All he talks about is his car. And if he's not talking about his car, he's talking about how he can't wait for law school and how he's going to be rich and powerful someday. Blah blah blah. Get a life, I say!"
Kris smiled. "He's just proud that he got into Harvard."
"And I'm proud that I got into Starbucks," she countered, "but I don't go around bragging about it. Coffee, my dear, is a way of life. Law school is ..." She shrugged, continuing the search for the perfect channel. "And anyway, what are you doing with a high school kid? You're a college woman now."
"He's only a couple of years younger," Kris argued. "We've been together forever."
"Forever being the operative word," Leigh replied. "Now that Nathan's leaving for school, don't you think you guys ought to give it a rest? It's not like your relationship is all fireworks and stuff."
Kris frowned. "There are fireworks."
"Right. You barely call him. You barely talk about him. When he's here it's like the two of you are a couple of buddies instead of boyfriend-girlfriend. You haven't even slept with him."
"Not until after we're married," Kris explained. "Do you know what would happen if my mom found out I was having pre-marital sex?"
"Which brings me to my next point," Leigh stated. "You're twenty-years old. Shouldn't you stop caring so much about what your parents say?"
Kris shrugged. "It doesn't work that way in my family. And anyway, I don't do everything they say. They wanted me to live with them while I was in college and I refused."
"Because I stepped up and argued with them! You were ready to give in."
Kris had no argument. It was true. But she couldn't go against her parents' wishes. They were her parents after all. They raised her, clothed her, fed her and paid for her education with the little money they had. The least she could do was obey their wishes.
"And anyway, you don't love him."
Kris stared at her best friend in shock. "What?"
"I know you, Kristina," Leigh said seriously. "You're just with him cause your parents are in love with him. Not because you are."
Now she was offended. "I'm completely in love with Nathan."
"Whatever," Leigh replied.
Deciding to drop the subject, Kris returned to her e-mail. Her father now lived in San Francisco, so she rarely saw him. But they kept in contact through the computer. Once in a while, she even caught him online. After sending the letter, Kris put the laptop away and sat back to watch the parade of channels. To her surprise, Leigh finally stopped at something.
"Look it's your best friend," she teased.
Kris rolled her eyes. "You can change it whenever you're ready." She made a grab for the remote.
Leigh held it out of her reach. "Hold on, I wanna see what she has to say."
Kris sat back in resignation.
"So Julianne," the host on TV was saying, "I hear that you've landed yourself a boyfriend. Tell us about him."
"He's my best friend," Julianne replied. "And the most wonderful man I've ever met."
"Any wedding bells in the near future?" asked the host.
Julianne laughed. "I wouldn't count on that quite yet."
The host moved on to a different topic and Kris noticed that Julianne appeared to relax. "I guess she doesn't like talking about her personal life," she said.
"I'd imagine," Leigh said with a shrug. "Anything she says will be plastered all over tomorrow's headlines."
Kris had to admit that was true. She returned her attention to the television set.
"Any movies on the way for you?"
Julianne nodded. "There's one coming out soon. It's based on the TV show, Guardian." There was a roar of applause from the audience.
"Where you play an angel?"
"Right. I play a guardian angel named Kiara."
"So you'll be playing the same part in the movie?"
"Yes," Julianne verified.
"How does it feel playing an angel?"
Julianne considered. "It's interesting," she said. "Kiara is the embodiment of everything that is good. It makes me feel a little closer to God."
"Oh please," Kris muttered. "Closer to God, my ass. It's a TV show."
"Shhh, this is the best part," Leigh said.
"I brought a clip," Julianne announced, to the crowd's pleasure.
Leigh laughed gleefully. "I love it."
Kris glanced at her with a raised eyebrow. "You are so odd."
Leigh shut off the television and stood in front of the couch. "That is the first thing they teach you in acting class," she informed her. "Once you've got the clip line down, fame and fortune is at your grasp."
"Don't you already have to be famous to have a clip to show?" Kris wondered.
"Hush," Leigh told her. "I've been practicing." She coughed to clear her throat, and took on a dramatic air. In a very grave tone she said, "I brought a clip."
Kris watched this in amusement.
"Or," Leigh said, smiling brightly until she couldn't expose anymore teeth. She adopted a horribly fake southern accent. "Howdy, I brought a clip for ya'll."
"I thought you were from Brooklyn?"
Leigh considered. "Well, I've been thinking about my public persona, and I think I may go for the southern belle thing. What do you think?"
"I think you're insane."
"Glorious news," Leigh replied, plopping back down on the couch with a proud grin. "The mark of any true artiste."
"I take offense to that," Kris said with a smile.
Their conversation was suddenly interrupted by the ringing telephone. Leigh reached over to the coffee table where the portable phone rested. "New York City morgue," she said into the phone. "You kill 'em, we chill 'em. Oh, hi Mrs. Milano. Yeah, she's right here."
Kris took the receiver. "Bendición, mami," she greeted her mother in Spanish. "¿Como andas?"
"Bien, Kristina," Sari Milano replied. "William viene mañana. Quiere decirnos algo así que pasa por acá."
Kris covered the receiver for a moment. "William's gonna be at mom's tomorrow. Wanna come with me?"
"To see your dreamy step-brother?" Leigh asked. "But of course. What is it about Puerto Rican men?" she suddenly wondered.
"Leigh's coming, too," she informed her mom, ignoring her best friend's last comment.
"Esta bien," Sari allowed. "Everything okay with you? How's school?"
"I have an essay due on Monday," she answered.
"Y como va?"
"Oh it's coming along wonderfully," Kris lied.
"Bueno, pues nos vemos pronto. Cuídate. Te quiero mucho, recuerda."
"I love you too, mom. See you soon." Kris hung up the phone and regarded her roommate. "William hasn't been by in a while. I wonder what's up. Mom said he wants to tell us something."
Leigh considered. "Maybe he found the woman of his dreams. He's probably getting married. There go all my chances at true love." She sighed over-dramatically.
Kris laughed. "Maybe. But somehow I don't think so."