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I'm Acting, Like An Actor
I'm Acting, Like An Actor
Day 916ishI’m somebody else today. I’m not Amie Gee, the girl who broke up with her almost perfect boyfriend yesterday and who is now on a date with him today. I’m somebody else entirely. I’m Dame Allison Bigh. Apparently, I go by Ali. It’s very convenient that my friends and I planned a murder mystery dinner for this date, because I would rather be anyone than Amie Gee, the girl who broke up with her almost perfect boyfriend yesterday and who is now on a date with him today.
The planning that has gone into this date is elaborate, as it is part of a girl’s choice dance. We have reserved the old Presbyterian Church with its timeworn, brick exterior and its cracked walls and creaking stairs. We are in a great hall of sorts, though the entire church is quite small, and we are seated around a banquet table, with a lavish spread. Our costumes have been carefully planned. I am wearing a multi-colored, pastel, vintage dress (borrowed from a friend) with a tight bodice and a flowing skirt, a hair extension, curled into ringlets, flows over my shoulder from a low, side ponytail. My look has an old-time innocence and yet an intriguing mystique and I can’t help but be smug about how beautiful it makes me feel. Get an eyeful, Ryan, of what isn’t yours anymore.
My character writes murder mysteries and is known for her lifelike characterization of the criminal mind. It’s very suspicious. Maybe I’m the murderer. Nobody knows yet, but my part requires me to be inscrutable and sullen and that suits me just fine today.
I’m acting. I’m acting like so much more than Ali Bigh. I’m acting like a girl who is strong and who is okay. I’m pretending that the boy I’m sitting next to hasn’t heard my innermost thoughts and fears, that we haven’t spent hours talking and laughing, that we haven’t comforted each other through disappointments, and celebrated through successes… but most of all I’m pretending that he doesn’t feel so much like the stranger that he is now. He’s become a stranger because the future is unclear. He’s become a stranger because now he’s free to go flirting with that girl who had her hands all over him in class, and any other girl too. He’s a stranger because I can no longer reach out and lace my fingers through his whenever I want to. Just like that. One minute we’re as close as best friends, and the next… I’m not Amie Gee. Not today.
I sneak a look at Ryan out of the corner of my eye. To his credit, he looks miserable. I don’t think he likes this uncertainty between us much more than I do. One of the other six people is reading their part in the murder mystery, and Ryan shifts in his seat. I feel the warmth of his upper arm as it nears mine. Underneath the table, I feel him place a tentative hand on my knee.
My heart sinks into the creaky wooden floor. My eyelids lower to hide the pleasure and the misery caused by his touch. I’m not Amie Gee. My stomach isn’t fluttering. My thoughts aren’t swimming. My scalp isn’t tingling with the possibility of that hand touching my knee and where else it could end up tonight: around my waist when we walk out of here, on my back when we’re on the dance floor, in my hair at the end of the night as it coaxes my lips closer to his. What is he doing to me? It isn’t fair breaking my heart yesterday and acting as though everything is fine today. I angle my knees away from him, forcing his hand to slip off, and he moves it back to his own lap.
The date goes on this way; the drive to the dance goes on this way. His advances and my anger can be averted because we’re surrounded by friends. We don’t even have to talk much, but then we arrive at the dance. We walk in with everyone else, but our first minute alone he asks if we can go out to the car and talk.
I feel like a jelly fish, walking to the car. I want him to beg for me back and I want everything to go back the way it’s been. Even though it’s been hard, it’s still been easier than this. I sit in the passenger seat and he sits in the driver’s seat. The parking lot is dark and quiet, only the stars and a distant street light illuminate our faces.
He turns toward me, an agonized look on his face. “Amie, what are you doing? I thought… I thought we were going to try not to let this ruin us.”
“How can this not ruin us? You don’t want to be with me anymore.”
He can’t let the falsehood stand. He puts his hands on my shoulders as if he’d like to shake me. “What do you mean I don’t want to be with you? I want to be with you too much, that’s the problem.” With every word his face comes closer, his lips come closer. My eyes must betray me, silently begging him the way my heart is. I think I might see his eyes glisten a little, but then he squeezes them shut and almost pushes me away as he takes his hands from my arms and falls back against his seat.
“I can’t go on the same way. No. I’ve thought it through,” he says, almost to himself. “We have nowhere to go from here. The right thing to do is to break up and see other people. That’s how it has to be.”
His vulnerability and the fact that I still love him soften the exterior that’s been shielding me all day. I reach out and lay my hand over his. “Okay. Okay. I’ll try to stop hating you for it. I’ll try not to let this ruin us.”
He exhales like he hasn’t been able to breathe. He turns toward me again, moves his other hand to our two joined ones and grasps my hand in both of his. “Thank you,” he says, looking down, “Because this has been killing me, Amie.” His head drops to almost lie on our hands. “You’ve been killing me.”
“Will you start the car?” I ask. “I have a song I want to play for you.”
He starts it up, looking too beat to be curious. I find the right song and the notes fill the space between us. The lyrics speak of wishing a person the best, they speak of mending a broken heart, and how it won’t be easy. Then come my favorite lines, the ones that fit today so well, the ones that will fit the days to come, and that I want him to think of when he sees me across a crowded room… maybe on a date with someone else.
“I’m acting like an actor, dancing like a dancer, but when the curtain falls I always call out for you, and from the bottom of my heart I hope you never find somebody new.”
He listens to every word while studying the steering wheel. When the song ends, I reach out and turn the music off.
“Amie,” he says to me, and places a hand on my cheek, “I have no intention of finding somebody new. I still feel the same way about you that I always have.” He lets the hand fall and grabs my hand again with strength, to drive his point home. “I’m not going to get into a new relationship. I’m going to make myself do what I think is best. I’m going to date people, but I hope we can stay close and who knows- in the future…”
His sentence speeds up and then falls off, as if he’s promised himself he wouldn’t allude to our future. However, the hope of it does wonders for me. So does the idea that he isn’t about to find a replacement for me. Maybe those words will get me through tonight; maybe they’ll get me through tomorrow.
I’m not thinking about how they’ll affect my first date, my first date with someone that isn’t Ryan.
Author's note: I had to post pictures of this little Murder Mystery that I saved. I love how I've written all of our names next to our characters, and I LOVE that I got assigned the alias that was a WRITER of all things! Fate? I think so-ooooo...