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The New It Girl
Words by Victoria Large
Image by Amanda Chisholm
One morning she woke up a silent movie heroine. It wasn’t something that she had desired or even anticipated, but when she looked in the mirror there it was. She appeared, of course, in black and white, and the eyes that stared back at her were heavily rimmed with kohl. Her skin was thickly layered with pancake makeup and her once-long hair had been cropped into a severe Louise Brooks bob, two shades darker than her natural color. She thought the negligee that she didn’t remember buying was a little risqué for its time. Examining her reflection a few moments longer, she determined that she looked like a bit of a vamp, the sort of girl who was dead by the end of the picture. She was extraordinary and doomed.
She didn’t go into the office that day. In fact, it didn’t even occur to her to call in and talk to her supervisor. Perhaps it wasn’t in her nature anymore to do so. She spent most of her day in bed, eating from a box of chocolates that she found on her nightstand and checking and rechecking the hard dark lacquer on her nails. Occasionally she stopped just to lie there and think about how bad they would all feel, if she simply languished and died from some awful wasting disease.
Hers was a difficult existence, really. There was at once the anxiety of knowing that she was forever being watched, and the dread that one day she might be forgotten altogether. But it was a romantic kind of gloom, and she ultimately embraced it.
Around dusk she thought that she’d like to take her little dog for a walk on a jewel-studded leash, but she remember that she had neither, and decided that a cocktail out would be divine. Her closet was full of short, fringed things; some improbable hats; a suit worthy of day in court. She chose something simple and black and draped her neck with pearls. She descended the stairs of her apartment building in shoes that looked like they should make a clicking sound, and then strode lazily down the sidewalk to the nearest bar.
There were stares when she walked in, but she was used to that. She primped her hair and ignored the whispers. Resting against the bar and surveying the room, she was largely unimpressed by the men, who were mostly dressed like dockworkers, and the women, who were scarcely dressed at all. The gentleman at the corner table though, with neat hair and a slightly loosened tie. She liked his thoughtful eyes, his Ivor Novello profile.
She strode noiselessly over to him and extended her hand, smiling down with glinting teeth. He looked up but didn’t take her hand, and his hello was uncertain. Intimidated. Frightened like a little boy. Of course. She took a seat.
“Who are you?” he asked in a wobbly voice, and she could only mouth an answer. Her explanation consisted of nothing more than the soundless movement of her lips. She had no title cards. She began to flicker.
The color had drained somewhat from his ruddy complexion, and he clattered loudly out of his chair. She realized that he was fleeing to the men’s room, probably to splash water on his face and stare intently into the mirror. She flickered again, her existence winking in and out. It didn’t matter, she knew. He didn’t matter. She would live forever, as screen idols do.
#Unreal #QueenOfTheScreen #SilentMovies #FilmStars #BlackAndWhite
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