Open Season

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By Alison Ogilvie-Holme

“I used to be an actress,” Tally confesses with a throaty laugh, ‘when I was younger.”

He takes a swig of beer and cocks an eyebrow, looking suitably impressed.

“Plays mostly, you know, and lots of commercials. Television helped pay the bills. Does this sound familiar?  I only have eyes for Quicksilver guys. Never mind the fact that musky cologne actually makes me gag.                                              

I guess you could say that acting came naturally to a girl like me. I was already used to performing on command. Both of my parents were high powered attorneys with high expectations… And not just when it came to grades.                                                 

Every Christmas Eve, they would march me and my twin sister downstairs to entertain party guests, like a scene straight from ‘The Sound of Music’. Afterwards, guests would congratulate my mother or father, as if they were the ones who had taken lessons and practiced every day or maybe we were nothing more than some two-headed appendage.                                                                                  

Trina was the gymnast-slash-acrobat. She could do back flips for miles and contort her body into impossible shapes. Once, she even squeezed into an old cardboard box and jumped out, right as Meow Meow was getting ready to pounce. That poor thing was never the same. Apparently, cats do not always land on their feet. Trina had cat scratch fever for days.”

Here she becomes silent in order to milk the punch line and swallow vermouth. His laughter feeds an insatiable hunger. Fuelled by signs of encouragement and the offer of another drink, her narrative continues. 

“I was the triple threat – singer, dancer, and later, actress. Tap and jazz were the real crowd pleasers. Basically, whenever I put on a sparkly dress and wiggled to pop music, folks were happy.                                                                                  

And when the two of us got together, look out. Imagine the affect of synchronized choreography with matching faces! There is just something about identical twins that fascinates other people: Can you read each other’s thoughts? Do you have a secret language? When one of you is hurt, can the other feel your pain? I mean, really?!

Eventually, in our teen years, we had to draw the line. Trina took to shaving her head and trimming her eyelashes, just to look different. My nickname was ‘Barbie Girl.’ Trina started a grunge band called ‘Solo.’ I starred in high school musicals. Trina became invisible offstage. I was voted Most Likely to Cause a Scene.  

Anyways, you get the picture. Thanks to the constant pressure, we both made it on the honour roll each semester. If anyone made the connection between us, Trina would refer to me as her shadow self. I would insist that Thompson is a very common last name and deny any knowledge of her existence.

Fast forward to graduation and what do you know? Trina announced that she was headed off to Waterloo for pre-law …oh, and by the way, she was also moving in with her lesbian lover. That’s right! Although circus performer might have been the more logical choice, my sister would follow in the footsteps of our parents with one minor caveat – they must foot the entire bill, including an apartment for her and her new girlfriend. She would not be herded into residence like all the other freshman sheep. They folded immediately. 

The next day, when I told my parents about my plan to become an actress, they flipped out. You’d have thought I murdered someone and desecrated the body! No daughter of theirs was going to buck tradition and do something flakey like acting instead of entering a respectable profession. They would not waste any hard earned money on an ungrateful daughter … And they never have. Not one red cent!”

Tally inhales the rest of her drink before slamming it down on the bar for added emphasis. The sound reverberates like a gunshot in a library. The hour is late and only a few weathered patrons remain. Her antics are met with paused speech and icy stares, yet she appears oblivious to all. It is his attention she wants. Spirits have steadily uncorked any measure of restraint as words tumble out like tossed dice, landing at odd angles and blurring the line between attempted seduction and naked desperation.

“The thing is, I came close… So close to making it. I had auditioned for a bit part on ‘Day by Day,’ just a walk on line: Your table is ready, Sir. Apparently, I played a damn good hostess because next thing you know, I got a call back to audition for the role of Willow Worthington, young heiress to the Worthington fortune! I kept getting call backs until eventually it was down to me and one other actress. Hell, she even looked like me — and Trina, I suppose.

On the morning of my screen test, I woke up with some strange allergic reaction. My entire head was swollen and my eyes were so puffed up that I could barely see. I tried to reschedule but the producers insisted I come as I was, that the test was really just a formality anyways. That evening they called with the bad news. Jessica Moore — yes, that Jessica Moore — had more of the classic features they were looking for. Well, of course she did. That’s like comparing Quasimodo to Marilyn Monroe. Better luck next time, kid. Except that there was no next time. Not for this kid.”

With exaggerated weariness, Tally buries her face in her hands and awaits his comforting embrace. Age has diminished some of her appeal but no man can resist a damsel in distress. The hero instinct always wins out. At least, that’s what experience has proven. 

Her mind journeys for a spell as she imagines him in bed. How it will feel to sink beneath the weight of his body. What he might whisper. 

When at last Tally raises her head to face him again, she is greeted by an empty bar stool. Her eyes dart towards the entrance and watch the door closing behind him, just as confusion abates. Reality is immediately sobering. It hits her like a cold splash of water. 

Grabbing her purse in some urgency, Tally turns to leave and bumps into an approaching man with deep blue eyes and an open smile. He stops to stare for a brief moment and then punctures the silence.

“Hello, Gorgeous. Can I buy you a drink?”

End scene.

Alison Ogilvie-Holme is a mother and aspiring writer. Her words have appeared on such sites as Spelk, Down in the Dirt, The Writers’ Cafe Magazine, and Fat Cat Magazine, among others.

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