|Subject: Chapter 195 - Part 1
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Date Posted: Monday, July 11, 07:14:45am
In reply to:
's message, "Dreams in the Dark - Chapter 193 and onwards" on Thursday, July 07, 07:06:24am
Dreams in the Dark (195/?)
by Katherine Gilbert
It was a dark, chilly sort of morning--but it shouldn't be in Los Angeles in July; that was one thought which kept crossing her mind. The sun was always supposed to shine here, never a cloud in the sky. Everyone was friendly, always trying to give a girl a contract for nothing more than sitting prettily at a soda fountain. It probably shouldn't even be a surprise if everyone around you broke into heartfelt song and dance. All the movies promised it. Her eyes circled around. It seemed a real shame, then, that no one was singing at all.
The day wasn't proving particularly perfect for Sondra Gala, but few of them had, since she had come to Hollywood. Sure, she was at a studio at last, one which was the home of two of her favorite stars, but the people in charge of it hadn't yet fallen over themselves to offer her a contract. It seemed odd, too--given everything she had read about in the magazines. She was as all-American as they came--was blonde, with a good figure and pretty features, had always been told she was cute enough, and had even been the lead in several school plays. Her acting teacher had even smiled at her, when she had told him she was going out to be a star, and he almost never did that--usually only smiled when he found something funny. No. She almost shook her head. Things weren't working out at all as they were supposed to.
The young girl--the whole of 18 two long weeks ago--was pondering all this now, but little in the way of sane explanations came to her mind. There was just no comprehending the differences between what she had been told and what she was seeing. Everyone was supposed to make it in Hollywood--everyone with talent, anyway. Even some of those without it seemed to thrive. Why, Mary Jane, that girl who liked to call herself "Aurora," had come out here already, had even gotten a bit part in a movie--and no one in town was even *entirely* certain about whether her family background was really as, well, pure as she claimed. There wasn't always a lot of sun in Iowa in the winter, and the girl still managed to stay about as dark as most farmers in mid-summer. It wasn't that Sondra minded this fact as much as some of her friends, but you really should just come out and say what you were. Hiding it only caused trouble. Surely everyone had figured that out by now.
This aside nearly made her shake her head--or it would have, if she hadn't been told to hold completely still. The man who was setting up the picture, and the older woman with him, needed to get it just right. Still, it left her mind time to wander. At the moment, she saw no reason to focus on this place entirely.
Her thoughts turned back to the girl she had grown up around, then; she couldn't really call her a friend. If Mary Jane, Aurora--whatever she wanted to be called--could make it, surely Sondra could; her thoughts turned once more. Of course, they hadn't heard from the girl for awhile, but that was probably just some trouble with the mail system--or maybe "Aurora" had just forgotten how to write. She always had seemed far more interested in boys than lessons.
These thoughts would have sounded catty, had anyone heard them, but Sondra didn't mean them that way at all. She just knew the difference between right and wrong, as she had always been taught. A good girl--as the movies proved, as well--had light hair and skin and sparkling eyes; she was never overweight, because she knew how to eat what her parents told her to and nothing more, and she never allowed--certainly never encouraged--a boy to go too far. And the right boys never pushed too hard, if they knew the girl was good. It was only the bad girls who got hurt by boys--and that was only because they had forgotten the rules of decorum, in one way or another. Good girls were always respected. Only the sort of men she would never dream of associating with would ever harm a hair on her head.
These thoughts were a sacred sort of protection for Sondra, had been instilled in her from her earliest days. It wasn't that she was really judging the bad girls; they had probably just been raised wrong. But she was certain that, if they had really tried, they could have been good too. And then everyone would have loved them, as they always had her.
The photographer took one picture, at last, while the dark-haired woman near him stared into the newcomer with steely concentration, but Sondra tried not to let it bother her. She was probably just a secretary who had been asked by her boss to watch her, while he cleared some time to meet their future starlet; her old dreams renewed themselves. She was undoubtedly just looking after her, until the important men arrived.
She tried to tell herself this, tried to believe, as she gave her best prom queen smile to the camera, doing her best to restore her old hopes. After all, even if things hadn't gone quite as she had expected, she was certain to get a contract soon. Everyone had always told her how pretty and talented she was. Surely, these movie people couldn't ignore that fact for long.
She felt her heart swell with these thoughts, regaining her confidence--shrugging off all the setbacks she had had. So what if these people had seemed so unencouraging, when they had told her that she might only be good for "stand-in" or "doubles" work? They were probably just having a bad day--if such a thing were possible out here. There was no reason to take it to heart.
She reminded herself of this now, her smile more genuine, as she continued to reinterpret her day so far. True, she didn't want to be a "double," wanted to be her own star, not an actress who did films that looked like someone else's--although she wasn't entirely certain why anyone would make those. A stand-in sounded good, though, was probably the sort of actress they pulled in when the original star couldn't make it, or was having a baby, or grew too old, or something like that. She was sure to get a nice dressing room and some pretty clothes to pose in with such a contract, could start giving her interviews soon after; she almost laughed but managed to hold her polished look--even if the photographer and woman didn't seem to be paying too much attention to her now.
Wouldn't her mother be surprised when she saw the first one? Old gloomy gus that she was, Mom had warned her that it might take up to a month to get her first contract, had told her she shouldn't be too anxious. And now here she was, Sondra Gala, about to become a big Premier star! She might even get to meet Michael Samuelle, if she could keep from swooning, could share makeup tips with Kitty Ward. Then, it wouldn't be too long till she was able to land her own perfect actor for a husband; her sigh was quiet. Too bad she had gotten here too late to meet Michael when he was single; her distant gaze was dreamy. She would have made a *great* Mrs. Samuelle.
This regret didn't last for very long, only until her new benefactor came in the room. Mr. Bauer smiled at her quietly, making her sigh contentedly. He really was quite nice, for an old guy. He was helping her out, just like the movies said he would. It was only a few days since she had met him, and he was already getting her a contract. Her dreamy eyes looked quite sweet. She really was going to have to find some way to thank him, once she was a star.
The pair who were discussing her looked back toward her, the woman quite critically, and Sondra managed not to frown in return. She didn't deserve that sort of stare; it was rude. Hadn't the woman's mother told her that? The way the woman sized her up, you would have thought she was a piece of meat she was considering buying, rather than a future star she was keeping company, until her important boss came along. Her pride wilted a little. Yes, maybe there were a few faults in her, but she couldn't help those--the Russian name her grandfather had passed along to her not her decision at all. And it could be changed--already had been, "Gala" a great shortening of the several-syllable collection of what were, to her, unpronounceable sounds. She knew her nose wasn't always perfect, either--or so she had told herself more than once when staring in the mirror--but some makeup should do the trick there; it certainly had at the prom, and at all those school plays. Other than that, her only physical flaw might be the fact that a jealous boy had once said that her breasts were uneven, but she fixed that by stuffing the right one just slightly; her pride rebounded a little. Besides, she had never been certain that he was telling the truth; something in her rebelled. What reason was there to stare at her like that?
She pulled her usual self-conception back together a second later, lifting her head, putting on her best stage smile--ready to face them down. The photographer stared at her like she had made a joke for a second but then just shook his head and continued on with the conversation--leaving her bemused. Her eyes moved to her benefactor, who gave her another encouraging smile; she tried to return it, even if something deep inside her didn't go along, seemed a little repelled. She had to chastise herself. Her Daddy always said that she was too quick to judge men, never gave them a chance. Her mother had even thought that he was a little rough around the edges when they had first met, and they had been married for 25 years now. She knew he was right. A man should be a little stern, should be a father-figure to his wife; her Daddy always was. And her mother never complained about it, so she must be happy; some tiny voice rang in the depths of her mind. Of course, her mother never talked very much at all, whenever he was around, but maybe she was just more shy than Sondra had thought.
This last insight was too quiet for her to hear, or to want to. Besides, the movies and magazines always seemed to say that this town was just full of men who were looking to help give a girl her lucky break. If something in her seemed to pull away whenever Mr. Bauer was close, that was just her being silly. No woman in her right mind would turn down a kind man like him. Anything in her which suggested that he wanted something more than to innocently aid her rise to stardom just wasn't paying attention.
She tried to put away these thoughts, then, knowing better than to fear. Mr. Bauer was a keen businessman. He had mentioned having a contract with her, so he was clearly just looking for new talent to put in his movies. He had never suggested anything else he wanted from her, and he certainly wouldn't. She had always been a good girl--and no one ever thought about a good girl in that way.
She was smiling back at the photographer now, ready for the important men at the studio to come give her her contract--her life mapped out, all of it wonderful. She would become a star at Premier, would make movies during the day and attend glittering premieres and balls at night; she might even win an award! When she found the perfect movie star of her dreams, he would offer to marry her on the spot. Then, she would quit making movies, to the tears of her many fans, and start a good life of having and raising his babies, while smiling on his arm at all his big premieres. It was what she was meant for, she was sure. No one here could ever think of keeping her from it for long.
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