belle finds an enemy in herself, and fights her own inner struggles. thanks be to: katy, kyle, cece, sarah, emma, and alex.
My pupils try to adjust as my eyelids part. The waxen-colored orbs feel more invaded than threatened by the bright beams of sunlight that broke through the window like a thief, stealing me away from the tranquility of my alcohol-induced slumber. I battle against the luminosity and out of the clutch of the blankets, feeling the chilled air nipping away at my exposed skin that's currently heavily veiled in nighttime perspiration. The sudden movement assaults my head, affecting it like an earthquake to the already leaning Tower of Pisa (although I can hardly compare my troubled mind to such a magnificently defiant structure). I close my eyes and feel my way to the bathroom, stumbling over thoughtlessly discarded items that might as well be landmines. My mouth is coated in a thick, frothy substance and the only thing that my battered head reveals to me is the one thing I'd like to forget:
It wasn't supposed to end up this way.
You hear stories of drunken escapades, and they always end with "I can't really remember." Am I not fortunate enough to receive such a luxury?
It's in my nature to hurt people who are close to me. It's something that was unfortunately encoded into my DNA, or at least that's the best excuse I can come up with right now.
I can't bring myself to look at my reflection in the bathroom mirror as I turn the faucet on. I run the water and use my hands as a cup, lapping the liquid up like a dehydrated puppy. It does nothing for the film in my mouth, or the steady pounding of my head. I uncap the toothpaste and spread a dollop directly on my tongue, using my finger as a makeshift toothbrush. This action is proving to cleanse my mouth, literally... although a figuratively cleansed mouth would be more fortifying.
Walking gingerly over to my bag, I begin to hunt for a cure. The sounds of a polyphonic "Call Me" begins to chorus through the room at what is proving to be a mind-shattering decibel. With urgent fingers I press the "talk" button on my cell phone.
"Hello?" My throat is dry as I croak out the greeting.
"..You sound like death."
"Are you okay?"
"If I say "yes" will that constitute the end of this call?"
"Ugh, no...you think I would call just to ask how you are doing?" I hear her huff out incredulously, and if I hadn't quickly adjusted to her infectious sarcasm I would probably take offence to her tone.
"That's why I love you, Elyse. You don't waste time with being personable."
"Well, I'm glad someone appreciates it," She pauses to clear her throat, letting out a series of short cigarette-induced coughs before speaking up again. "But to get to the point, I got a call from David, and he was brief but said he wants us to come in at noon for a meeting. Anyway, I'll be there to pick you up in twenty. You at home?" Elyse's voice is quick, and although I hear every word of it my brain absorbs the information rather slowly.
"Twenty minutes, okay?" She asks again, and I mumble a half-assed response before she hangs up. I shove my phone back into my bag and search with more dedication for something to make me feel insouciant.
My head pounds harder as desperation fuels my search, and frustration makes my hands dump my bag upside down over the floor. I dig through it like a dog in search of a bone until my hand grazes the texture of a pill bottle. I grip it for further examination. The off-orange colored plastic alerts me of its mysteriousness and the prescription label is imposing enough to rouse my cloudy mind.
OxyContin, 30 mg.
Take once every 4 hours or as needed for pain. Do not exceed 8 pills per 24 hours.
I let my mind wander to the thought of painlessness. I eye them for a moment.
I sit at the kitchen table, a cup of coffee in my hand as I stare at my laptop. I've been writing all morning, but it's all incoherent... even to me. The caffeine isn't helping as much as I hoped it would.
My eyes scan back over the under-edited entry.
Melancholy. Ecstatic. Depressed. Euphoric.
It's funny how one sentence from one person's lips can take you through every wave of the emotion spectrum.
/It wasn't suppose to end up like this./
Did she mean we were supposed to be happily ever after? Did she mean she thinks we could strive for that? Or does she mean we should have never started this whole thing? That we were never suppose to be in this situation?
She should have said "I don't love you and I never could." Or "You make me want to scream and hurl myself over a bridge." But she didn't. She chose that particular sentence structure...and it stuck. And whether she wanted me to take it literally or not, it's going to be imprinting in my mind for as long as she takes up vacancy there.
So do I give up while I'm ahead? I could end it now, with no hard feelings...
Who am I kidding? If it were that easy I would have stopped this before it started. But it's not. There is just... something in her that won't let me lay this to rest.
She could tell me anything, or do anything...because I'd stay. She's a wreck, and I'm gluten for punishment.
When did I turn into the poster child for self-destruction?
I peel my eyes away from the screen when I hear the door open. I look into the doorway as he walks through it, sitting down in the seat next to me.
"You look like shit," I tell him as he looks up at me under the brim of his ever-present hat. He is wearing circles under his eyes that could rival mine, and although the disarray of his appearance is normal, there is just something off with it on the particular morning.
And then I remember.
"Greta left this morning..." I trail off as he opens the brown bag in front of him and pulls out a sandwich, flopping a magazine down on the table and skimming his eyes over the page that it opened to. His hand mechanically brings the sandwich to his mouth as his eyes scan the page, and every motion seems to be predetermined.
He's got it bad.
"You want some coffee?" I ask, but his eyes don't leave the page as he mumbles a "no" through the half masticated mouthful of sandwich.
He finishes the sandwich and looks back down at the magazine. He's still on the same page and it's easy to tell he's in another world because I notice his eyes aren't skimming anymore.
"I know you probably don't want to hear this right now, or whatever..." I look down to my fingers for comfort, but they provide nothing. "...but Belle's still upstairs sleeping. 'Trick, she was fucking toasted last night. She never really drinks, ya know? But something is wrong, she was..." I trail off and look at him as he rests his head back on the chair.
His eyes lazily meet mine and he shakes his head a little bit. "Sorry. What'd you say?"
I take a deep breath as I stand in front of the door. You're being fucking ridiculous, Elyse.
I chastise myself now? That's how I know I'm loosing it.
And to think I've virtually forgotten about Patrick, and if it weren't for Allison and her continual 'Let's analyze your feelings' bullshit I wouldn't be standing here like a 13-year-old douche bag with sweaty palms.
But the thought of him...
Maybe it's the fact that I haven't has a crush since my senior year in high school, or my last boyfriend left a lot to be desired in romance department.
Or maybe it's just Patrick.
He has this way of looking at me like I'm the only person he sees. And he's genuine. And we have history. And...
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.
I know virtually nothing about him now. Fame could have changed him. For all I know he could be a cocaine-snorting womanizer.
I need to cool it.
I lean my head towards the sky, as if it holds all of the answers I'm looking for.
I'm here for business. Purely business. Just here to get Belle.
He might not even be here.
Well, then that would be a waste of the two hours it took me to find a fucking outfit this morning.
I glare at the clouds and turn around on the front porch to stomp my feet in rapid succession, like a two year old whose mom just denied her the latest Barbie Corvette.
"Ugh...are... erm, is everything okay?"
With my back turned towards the obviously male voice, I contort my face into a wince and inwardly call myself an asshole before I turn around and plaster a smirk on my face.
"Yea...I just remembered I forgot my mind at home this morning..." I tell him, because when all else fails I can usually rely on sarcasm for backup.
He looks at me like I'm crazy.
So, I continue. "...and my ability to lie myself out of an embarrassing situation." Maybe relying on the truth doesn't really help as much as they say, because I realize I'm explaining this to a man with amazing eyes- eyes that happen to be reading "ALERT" right now.
I recognize alert-eyes as a band mate. Perfect. He stands there with a confused expression on his features and a leash in hand that is connected on the other end to a small, white and brown spotted English bulldog.
"I'm Joe," He offers his free hand.
"Elyse," I reply. His eyes ask for a more informative introduction, and I feel the need to oblige. "Oh, I'm here for Belle. I'm her agent,"
He nods his head in understanding. "I think she's still sleeping," He states, causing my eyes to roll sarcastically. He smiles and it makes me feel a little less like an asshole. Score one point for me.
"Feel free to go in and wait for her. I haveta walk the mutt before he pisses on everything," He opens the door to allow me entrance, and I smile politely as I walk past him.
I hear a voice coming from deeper in the home, and refusing to eavesdrop, I walk closer to the sounds and loudly announce my presence. "Ugh, is Belle here?"
The two sets of eyes shoot my way from the kitchen table; one set looks utterly confused and a little aggravated, and the other (more familiar set) looks slightly relieved.
This might be wishful thinking on my part...
But I believe he's wearing that look.
"I said, Belle was wasted last night. She fucking purged all over my bathroom. That's not her; she doesn't just do that shit." I explain to a slightly more attentive Patrick. I hate repeating myself and he knows that.
"What do you suggest we do, Pete?'" He pauses to take a deep breath and let his eyes meet mine for a non-physical wrestling match. I clench my jaw, but open my mouth to talk.
He beats me to the punch. "Actually, I'm taking a break from Belle's life today. I deserve a day off," He says conclusively, shoving the remnants of his breakfast back into the brown bag.
I wait for him to continue but he seems content at leaving it at that. I can't help but let a "humph" escape my lips. "Are you fucking dense, dude? You're starting to-"
"Ugh, is Belle here?" The feminine voice interrupts me and causes Patrick's head to shoot in the direction of it.
An unfamiliar awkward figure appears from around the corner and half smiles.
"Hey," She offers, raising her hand to mildly wave. I look over to Patrick noticing his sudden change of attitude. He immediately sits up straighter in his chair, and the look of utter misery quickly abandons his features.
I glance back over to the girl, and when I fail to find her even slightly deserving of Patrick's sudden mood shift I open my mouth.
"Who are you?" The words leave my lips with animosity that is supposed to be aimed at Patrick. Oh well.
"Pete, this is Elyse. You know, Belle's new P.R.," Patrick presents, with his eyes still on her. "What's up?" He asks, as he motions for her to sit.
"Actually I came here for Belle. We have a twelve o'clock with David, and I knew if I didn't show up and hour early we wouldn't ever get there," She offers with a small smile as she takes a seat opposite of Patrick.
"I suppose I'll go get Belle," I said, as I stand up and let my chair squeal across the tile.
Neither of them blink.
"Why are we doing this at his office?" Belle asked with curiosity as she stepped out of Elyse's car and they walked towards the building.
"I dunno. He just said to meet him here at noon," Elyse explained after being seated in the formal conference room.
Belle took note of the various faces in her presence. Christian, his agent, the co-producer, assistant director, costume designer, and about twenty other people whose faces she recognized but couldn't name.
So this is how impending doom feels... She thought while slumping down into her chair. She looked over to Elyse for comfort, but her posture read uncertainty almost as loud.
David walked in a minute later, with a man Belle didn't recognize. He looked like hell, his eyes red from what Belle recognized as lack of sleep.
"As you all know, we had the test screening with the film company..." He trailed off as he looked around the room, his eyes reading uncertainty. His jaw was clenched, and even despite his proper faÃ§ade, his face clearly read insecurity.
"I'm not in the nature of sugar coating bad news. I've invited you all here to personally inform you that the release date has been indefinably pushed back. Apparently the film company is not impressed with the test audience's response to our film. I am trying my damnedest to meet with the editors and see if we can't edit it in a different style without removing the artistic quality of the film. But as it sits, the producers don't think it will catch on with the general masses," David paused as if he were going to continue, but instead decided to take a seat and let the information absorb.
"That's bullshit, David, and you know it," Belle spat out irately with her defiant stare hot enough to burn holes into him. It didn't take but a moment for his eyebrows to reach his forehead in astonishment. She took his silence as consent to proceed. "When we filmed it you knew it was risky, you knew we would catch heat. You knew we were playing with fire and you said you didn't care! Why do you care now, huh? Why?!" Belle was screaming and all eyes were on her as people shifted awkwardly at her outburst.
"My personal outlook on the situation at hand is not going to fix the problem in any way you look at it-"
"Whatever the case may be,/ David/, if you delete or alter any of this movie to dumb it down for the masses, don't bother releasing it. I don't want my name attached to it-"
"Who do you think you are?" His voice was low and menacing as the words left his mouth, causing Belle to reel back at the blow. "You haven't been in this business long enough to demand anything from me! This is my movie, and you're just a pawn. You're easily replaceable, so if you want to speak I strongly suggest you fucking think first!" The room was quiet as David tried to calm himself, not noticing the mixture of defeat and fiery in the eyes of the young actress.
Belle opened her mouth to reply, but nothing came out. She stammered for a moment before she grabbed her bag and looked down to Elyse, who looked confused for a moment before chasing Belle out of the building.
Belle was practically jogging to the car, incoherently rambling. "Can you believe that? Do you know what that would do to me, Elyse? The first movie of my career and...it's...nobody..." The defeat in Belle's voice slightly perturbed her female companion as she unlocked the door. Belle got in mechanically and sat silently as Elyse started heading back in the direction of Pete's house.
"Do you know how hard I worked for this? That this was the one thing in my life that I can take credit for...that I've actually done for myself?" Elyse recognized the rhetoric nature of Belle's lamenting questions and sat back further into her seat.
"This...I was looking forward to this. This...it was it. My Career. My Life. All down the fucking drain, and for what? Some shitty fucking audience? Who says they get to decide my outcome?" The tears flowed faster down her face as she cursed fate.
Elyse sat, stunned into silence as she made the drive. The sobs of Belle muffled through the empty vehicle, reverberating off of corners and being etched into her mind.
When they arrived at the house, Belle got out of the car and made her way towards the front door with Elyse following her closely. "Belle, it's not the end of-"
"Don't try to make me feel better about this, okay? I'm not going to feel better about this. I'm not going to take it in stride."
"You just need to know it's not the end of the world."
"Correction. It's not the end of your world, Elyse." She said, turning her around on her heels to face her. "I just...I don't want to talk about this right now and I'd appreciate it if you left." Elyse knitted her eyebrows together and clumsily took a step closer to Belle before awkwardly embracing her.
"If you need someone to talk to, I'm only a phone call away." She said, turning around and making the slow trudge back to her car.
Belle irritably wiped the tears from her face as she unlocked the door and slid into the living room.
"FUCK!!!" Belle's lonely voice echoed off the walls in the room, sending the frustration she felt back to her ears as quickly as she released it. She sent her bag flying across the living room, landing with a crash against the wall and ejecting all of her belongings on the floor. She felt hopeless as she stood in the middle of the room, sobbing hysterically.
Her chest heaved rapidly as she curled up on the couch, giving a new meaning to the fetal position. Her small hands contorted into small fists, which she aimed lamely at the furniture around her. They started slow at first, until the momentum stopped providing her with contentment. She sat up and faced the couch, pushing her arms in the direction of the cushions and using all of her body weight to aim at them. When that proved to do nothing but build on her aggravation, she tore at the cushions, the blankets - anything she could grasp, and in her weak state no physical damage was done, which only proved to distraught her further. She needed a release and none of the screaming was subsiding, nor the frustration beginning to break. Her sobs weren't pacifying her; the aching muscles didn't release her. She was a prisoner of her agony, and no physical action was lessening it.
She tried taking deep breaths. She tried soothing herself, telling herself it was "okay".
But when you're down you have a tendency to focus on your misfortune, and everyone has a breaking point.
"It's not okay that I have nothing to show for myself... It's not okay that I can't be happy. It's not okay that nothing works out for me!" She wailed as she slid down the wall and held her face in her hands, openly sobbing. She reached for her pants in effort to shred something, but a distinguishable texture met her palm instead.
Her hand trembled as she picked up the sphere-shaped object.
Her hands worked alone as they pried open the bottle. She tilted it until she felt the relief of one slip into her palm.
as needed for pain.
She let another small white pill graze her palm. Somewhere outside of herself she heard a reassuring voice. She brought her now steady hand to her eyes and examined the two small pills that sent mixed feeling through each vertebrae in her spine.
She turned her head toward the ceiling for an answer, but was distracted as something caught her eye. She saw the headlights outside and felt panic rise in her body. She gripped the two pills in her palm and ran to the couch to adjust the cushions before running back and grabbing for her bag, trying to simultaneously rub the tears from her eyes.
She heard their voices outside as she threw her belongings back into her bag. All she could focus on was the distinct laughing. The happiness...and she began to believe that it was not contagious in the same way it used to be. It was no longer an epidemic.
"Is there anything that kid can't do?!" Andy's voice echoed through the hall and broke her trance. She shoved the bottle into the pit of her purse before standing up and letting her legs carry her as quickly as they could to Pete's bedroom, still clutching the two pills tightly in her palm as if they were her lifeline.
...Maybe they were...
/Author's Note:/ wow. do you even remember what this is about? no? me either...
seriously, though. i love you for putting up with me. i'm thinking about working harder for this.
Every member of the DoJ helped out with this one. Big ups to my ladies...