This story is by Sheilah Ward and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Did you see any stars?” Lauren asked.
“No, but I still have a terrible headache. Is the bruise getting any worse?” I touched my eye; I had clumsily banged into my bathroom door three days ago.
“No, you dunce! Not you. Did you see any celebrities? Any movie stars?”
Lauren and I were walking in our neighborhood early one fall morning. We came upon my neighbor’s house where a movie production was going on. We stopped and surveyed the activity happening in their yard. We live in a neighborhood north of Atlanta. Hollywood was movin’ south, y’all!
“No one yet. It’s rumored that Ryan Gosling is playing the lead male role.” I winked at her with my good eye.
“Yum,” Laura said. She looked in the direction of my friend Kathleen’s house. “Who’s that?” She pointed to a tall, handsome man who stood near the property line. He was talking to a couple of people who were dressed differently than the construction crew. His manner was unique, in that he held himself in a way that wasn’t over confidence, just confidence. And sexy. Definitely sexy.
“I haven’t seen him, so I have no idea.” Maybe the production big wigs were finally starting to show up. The sets that the construction crew had been working on for several weeks looked finished. They’d actually built a full house in between two properties and planned to burn it down when they were done with it. Hooray for Hollywood. I was beginning to see different faces now that the location team was finishing up. Construction teams were being replaced by production crews; actors were starting to come in and do their thing.
Mr. Handsome started walking our way. I noticed that he was with Lainey Wood, a location manager that I’d met when the movie people, as we neighbors called them, showed up here at the end of the summer. She was about a foot and a half shorter than him. She held a clipboard that seemed never to leave her grip. She was pointing our way and talking, but he had to lean down, to hear her, I guessed. There was a good bit of noise from generators.
Lainey was great. She was very helpful about the whole shooting a feature length movie in your neighborhood and house process. She and I were becoming pretty good friends.
Time to exit stage right. There was no way I was going to meet this man with my grotesque eyeball affliction.
“Let’s go.” I turned around to leave. “C’mon Lauren.”
“Cameron Love! Stop right there. The tall guy is coming over with Lainey. Let’s find out some scoop. He seems important.” She tugged on my hoodie sleeve but I wrestled free from her grip.
“No Lauren. My eye. I need to go get my sunglasses.” I backed away further; Lainey and Mystery Man were getting a little too close.
“Sunglasses? Cameron, it’s forty five degrees and rainy out. Fall, remember? Chilly? You look fine. It’s not that bad anymore. It’s hardly noticeable. C’mon, Cameron. Stay!” Lauren pleaded. She reached again to grab my arm.
I made my escape, though. I jogged the few hundred feet to my house. Lauren could handle them. Since my divorce last year, I ran, not walked, away from any type of male specimen, especially ones that looked like Cary Grant in modern times.
I got home and my black lab, Mac, greeted me at the door with his cold nose and languid tongue. This is what it’s come to, I thought to myself. A four bedroom house and a ninety pound black Labrador Retriever dog for a roommate. It could be worse, I guess. Leaves of rich gold and deep red blew around my feet as I walked into the foyer. The cool breeze was picking up. The house was very cozy against the crisp air. My fireplace in the kitchen was throwing off some extensive heat and kept the room very warm. For a moment, I pictured Geoff there, but like mist in the dawn, the image faded.
Geoff and I had been married for twenty five years when he decided that he needed to leave me to go live with a twenty three old child named Yvette. She was two years older than our twins, Beth and Josh, both of whom were freshly graduated from college and out on their own. Here I was fifty four years old, divorced, empty nested, and wondering what this part of my life would bring. Well, maybe I could be in the movies. Well, not me, but at least my house would be. The movie crews had manicured my lawn. The front of my house was painted a funky color cross between pink and brown to make it mimic a fifties style suburbia home for the setting of the movie. They would put everything back pre-movie when they were through. I’ll take any excitement I can.
The door opened and Lauren came in. To my horror, in her wake were Lainey and Mr. Hollywood. Oh. My. God. I am not going to be friends with Lauren anymore after this.
“Cam! Cameron! We have company!” Lauren called out. I had made it down the hallway to my bedroom and I leaned against the wall. What was she thinking?
“Be right there!” I made my way to my bathroom counter and grabbed my trusty foundation. Oh my goodness, if this doesn’t work, I am going to just die. I felt like a school girl at a dance. What was wrong with me? A couple of dabs later, though, I had the bruise pretty much covered. At least the yellowish parts around the socket looked minimal.
“Hey Lainey,” I said as I walked into the kitchen. Lauren, my former friend, had poured everyone coffee.
“Hi, Cameron. Cameron Love, this is Kyle Fall. Kyle is our Executive Producer.” Lainey smiled up at him. Their height difference was even more pronounced in the confines of my kitchen.
I extended my hand and looked into ice blue eyes that smiled on their own. “Nice to meet you Kyle.” My eye started twitching and I thought I was going to have some kind of seizure.
“Nice to meet you, too, Cameron. Thanks for letting us invade your home and hearth.” He didn’t let go of my hand.
“Oh, it’s quite an adventure. Not a problem at all.” My tongue felt like it was four times thicker than normal, as if I’d drank a fifth of scotch. I was really having a hard time understanding why I was allowing this guy to have such an effect on me. I wasn’t interested in getting involved or even dating anyone. The whole divorce thing and Geoff being gone was kind of a relief. We’d been far apart for so long, anyway. I liked being on my own. Even the upcoming holidays didn’t seem an impending doom like I thought they would. So why? God, why????
Lainey and Lauren had made their way into my den. I didn’t even realize that: number one: I was still holding this guy’s hand, and number two: we were still staring at each other. I shook myself out of whatever it was that I had been in and stepped away from the madness. He too, backed up a little and reached behind to steady himself against the counter.
“Well, listen, I know you are so busy, I can’t even imagine what an executive producer needs to do, so…”
“I’m not busy, actually. I, uh, was taking a break when Lainey led me to meet you. I hope we haven’t intruded. She said your door has always been open since we’ve descended on the neighborhood.” He smiled at me. He seemed very sincere and kind. Not Hollywoodish as I thought most of them would seem. You know, uppity, unapproachable, all that.
“She’s absolutely right. I told her that my house is theirs. We’re a close knit neighborhood; we all are good friends in these few houses where y’all are filming. You couldn’t have landed in a better spot.”
“I can see that.” He smiled again and I knew that something was starting here that was way beyond anything I could imagine.
“Cameron Love, huh? Is that your married name then?” His brows rose ever so slightly, like he was waiting for a right answer.
“Nope. Not married. Not any more anyway. My name and my name alone.” I felt my mouth break into a lazy smile. I may as well have fun with this.
Lainey and Laura came back into the kitchen, thankfully, and disrupted whatever the hell was going on between the two of us. But as they all readied to leave, I happened upon the thought of our last names. Fall and Love. Wonder what kind of significance that combination had on this, this, whatever it was?
Well, maybe I would just go out on an autumn limb in this chilly month of October and find out.