I am at a party again. Even though I don’t want to be, I still am. You have to show up, my agent tells me, You’ve only had a few movies out; You have to get your name out there! She doesn’t understand that I don’t want to be known in the first place, but she still repeats the need for social interaction, stroking the right ego and saying the right things. That’s what you have to do if you want to be successful, my agent says in that belligerent manner that she’s known for. I really don’t want to be here but, as usual, I have no choice in the matter. I’m still June, by the way, June Husk, that’s what they call me; and for now, I can still pass off as an entity.
I have evidence of makeup on, my hair adjusted in a bun that formed a Fibonacci Spiral. I’m bathed in perfume, Poison, if you’d like to know and I’m sparkling in a sequin light blue dress, strapless of course. The right eyes have to be on you. I really didn’t care for that; sometimes, it feels good just to look good for yourself. But little did I know that this was a masquerade. This realization occurred as I stepped out of the Limo that was provided by the agency. You always have to appear glamorous, always. The flash bulbs leaving behind an afterimage of amorphous shapes, blinding me temporarily but not enough to notice the other guests had masks on. Dream faces painted in satanic furs.
‘That’s great,’ I thought to myself, I forgot to bring a mask. I walk inside the red velvet ropes; while, on the outside, the paparazzi, pseudo-journalist, and entertainment bloggers shout questions, comments and stick out their recording machines to get something newsworthy. They are feeding the loop of information, my pictures are not myself. Projection of a reality I seem to portray, hoping to catch something of me…unedited. I’m directed in by dark-shaded men who are in love with their ear pieces, as other more prominent figures of the entertainment industry approach. I always like being in the background, I know the narrative about me or the stories they will eventually tell, but I know they aren’t the real me. Honey, you haven’t even cracked the surface yet and you’re imagining they’re writing rumors about you? Ha-ha… you’ll be lucky if they even mention you. I survive the mob and adjust my dress, so I can breathe a little, the heels don’t help of course.
“You can go through there mam” the dark shaded man waving his fingers towards a small entrance way, which was cordoned off with rail-barriers on the outside, looking like a black hole. The party was being held in a grand hotel that has a name which is too generic to be remembered.
“And where does it lead?”
“Through the back entrance. We don’t want to cause too much of a security concern for the hotel.”
I nodded and made my way through the dark entrance. There were little lights directing me deeper into the burrow. The faint overtures got louder as I got closer to its source. I saw now the threshold covered with red drapes. Parting, I enter a large hexagonal place, with opulent staircases on each end. Grecian statues doused in heavy purple light surrounded by a mass of people covered in lace, feathers, and furs. I stepped with hesitance. I don’t like parties. I’m an INFP after all but I have to attend this party or my agent won’t ever shut up. You’re damn right I won’t! I walk a little closer into an orgy of flesh, grinning with their freakish faces, probably because they were enjoying the pleasures of being famous, filthy rich and a little anonymous— just for today I guess. The music was loud and I could feel the spilled alcohol on my feet. Fire-dancers circling in the middle–the soothing warmth of twirling flames. Contortionists suspended in metallic cages in the corner of the ceiling. This was not a conventional party.
“Is that you June?!” a man screamed from behind me. He was wearing a hideous mask, and accompanied with two blonde women, with spiral horns jutting out of their foreheads unable to control their giggling fits. Arms entangled in three bodies but I could still recognize him. His cologne gave it away.
“Eddie Virchow?!” I exclaimed in fake enthusiasm. Eddie was a skivvy producer who was trying to get me into a movie but only if certain preconditions were met. I won’t go into details but you can think of what men can do if they have absolute power and no one to tell them otherwise. “So good to see you!”
“Come here you sexy thing,” He said, hugging me closely, leaving the blonde twins with their arms akimbo. His fingers felt cold and I didn’t let him linger too long, using my elbows to break free of him. He backed away a little. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been good just finished a movie with Tcherkov,” I said, trying to act as much as I can that I didn’t think of him as absolute scum.
“You mean that artsy fella, huh?” he said in a dismissive manner.
“Yeah, him,” I said making direct eye contact to let him know that I wanted to follow a true artist’s path. Be more diplomatic, Honey, please!
“Uh, well if you do get bored doing all those types of movies; I have a really good part for you,” he said with a smirk. “Have your agent call me, ok?” handing his card to me. I took it reluctantly. You don’t skip out on opportunities, Honey, you just don’t.
“Yes, absolutely” I replied maintaining my act. “I’ll definitely see my schedule”
“You should, anyway, gotta go, and by the way, June, dig the mask. Ciao!” He said, vanishing with his twin accessories into a sea of bodies.
I touch my face and the mask is there. I thought I had forgotten it. No, it is here and ever present. I can feel the smooth velvet texture of surface in the past. I look up at the ceiling, it’s lined with mirrors and I see my reflection on plain surface. It looked like a gigantic purple-black moth covering my face. Intricately patterned with two black dots at the very corner of its wings. I had eyes on top of my own. I’m a phantom now. Multiple eyes, see multiple faces. The chandelier acting like a fixed star in the constellation of myself. An exposed eyelid. Crystals dangling and small bursts of sparkling light emerging out of the cocoon. Why are my thoughts conversing? Ultrasound consciousness. Jelly self-actualization. I’m your Life process. The light dims. Masked animals move in synchronicity and I’m in the middle of it. Pixels on flesh, submerged in sounds and pheromones. The crowd drowning in the stimulation.
They don’t recognize me. I’m at a party. I move through the crowd. Lowering my gaze and I see the carpet which has no undulation and a multitude of dynamic images moving through the crowd looking for an escape. A huge screen comes into being from the red parted drapes. Then silence. The lights go out: surreal darkness. The kind where you see afterimages swirling in. I heard a woman cry at the loss of her vision. All of a sudden a beam of celluloid light erupts. Its source was from the urethra of one of the Grecian statues that were now positioned in the middle of the room. I looked at the screen and blocks of red letters flashed onscreen: COMING SOON. I couldn’t help my curiosity.
It was a rough cut with a time code on it. The character on screen appeared staring deeply beyond the fourth wall. It looked like me but this wasn’t me. The scene appeared to be from some movie; needless to say, it was probably on the verge of being cut in some editing room somewhere. Why would they show it here? I looked around and everyone was transfixed, there was a low mumble of conversation still happening. The character looking directly at the audience against a white backdrop with lens flares peeking through her left ear.
“My name is Cathy and I like to have abortions.”
Ktshh! A glass broke somewhere and even the gentle conversations stopped. The flames turned into smoke and the contortionists got stuck in their camel yoga pose.
“It’s fucked up I know, I know. But god, it feels good to say that aloud. I feel bad for saying it in my head all the time, but fuck it I’ll say it again: “I like to have Abortions!” “I like to have Abortions!”, “I like to have Abortions!”” Cathy says, or the person who looks like me says it.
“It feels different when you say it aloud, though, doesn’t it? It feels more real, more tangible. The words create references to political debates. However, to be honest with you this isn’t about pro-choice or pro-life, though some of you might consider me a serial killer. I want to tell you this is about me. This is my confession and it’s about me… so fuck your moral interpretations.” Everyone in silence.
“I like the feeling of cool jelly running down my thighs, the soft vacuum-like device that boldly intercepts me with precision. The end of what could be. The end of possibilities. Life doesn’t mean anything. All the toil, all the suffering, all we have to do to become a person is meaningless because it is a lie. We are all condemned to perpetual struggle because of consciousness. Consciousness is the key to dissatisfaction. Abortions are like orgasms. That is why I chose to end consciousness, the end to the struggle. It is so… satisfying.” She closes her eyes when she says that, acting out her little death. I could hear gasps from the audience. I see myself from their eyes. Theirs glued to the image projected on the screen of another character, who I wish I had played telling them about how I actually feel.
“You may think I’m crazy for doing this but I’m not. I’m aware of what I do. I have 47 pictures of supposed children or ultrasound pictures on my wall. Each of them haunts me every day, but this is the sacrifice you make when you want to eliminate any thought. A sacrifice for pleasure. I cry tears of happiness that I chose to end those possibilities. If I look at them closely they resemble cancer cells. Fetus or tadpole? No self-reflexivity. No thoughts. No suffering of this world. No con—.”
The screen goes blank in mid-sentence. The lights are back. I’m standing in the center of the chaos of stars. There’s a loud roar, someone whistles and I’m showered in thunderous applause. Hoots and hollers. No one is wearing their masks anymore. There is heavy feedback as the PA goes off.
“And that was June Husk, in the movie The Unborn Ones. Coming out to one of your local film theaters this year.”
You deserve these applause! That wasn’t me. Applause! Oh god, that wasn’t me!
The sounds dissolve and the flash bulbs fuse, blinding me temporarily but not enough to notice that no one was there. I’m standing in the middle of a hotel room. Staring at an image of a pattern of orange triangles, on a green minimalistic horizon. A tear in the wallpaper as unseemly as cobwebs found on the corners of walls. I hope they recognize me for what I truly am. A fraud.
Water drips from the sink. Tip. Tap. It’s hot when I shed my disguise, a shower of steam to evaporate the mask. My hands feel the cool tiles, as I lean against the shower head, spurting me with the optimal amount of hot water. Eyes downward, circling the drain. I let it consume me. You have it all by yourself, honey, you have conquered the art film scene…let them think it was you…ha-ha… you are their darling….time to think… bigger….bigger than the whole world and it can all be yours now.
The card is on her side table. I don’t deserve applause, they need an explanation. And you won’t give them one! The guilt I felt was real and the punishment felt deserved. Water is circling the drain. The business card is smudged; it’s smudged with dripping mascara. I’ll have the agent call him tomorrow. She always knows best.
© A.R. Minhas 2016
You are welcome
Are we our masks, or our masks, us? No matter…wear them long enough and they will become us.
Thank you so much for your comment, Mary. Yes, I can’t tell what is the real us and what is the mask we put on for other people. I think our struggle for identification is a constant source of misery.
I couldn’t agree more.
Fascinating piece – impossible to skip past this one with a title that bold. You captured the feel of it being somewhere between a movie and a nightmare. Good writing – enjoyed this very much.
Thank you so much for your comment, Nik. I really feel we’re trapped somewhere in between a nightmare and a movie. Anyway thank you for the support and look forward to hearing from you again. 😃
This is incredible. The writing, the content. Very well written. The humanity in her is very relatable.
Thank you, LRose. Yeah, I think my stories are more about characters and themes rather than they are about plots. I’m just fascinated by us..ha-ha. Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed it and you’re more than welcome to provide your feedback anytime! 😃
Damn, this is quite a fascinating short story! Well written ☺️👍
Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it. 😃
Thank you for the follow. I really appreciate the support. 😃
I look forward to reading more from you! Cheers ☺️👍
Whoa, powerful. The abortion trailer part was especially well written and memorable, the idea of someone having all the scans on a wall, and the power of life and death of knowing what could have been…really great writing.
As was the theme of masks and the nagging voice of the agent. All highly imaginable, and the narcissistic complex of that scene must be nauseating in reality.
Thank you so much for your comment. Yeah, I really love the theme of identity and consciousness. I find it interesting that we constantly struggle to give meaning to our lives. The scene about the abortion is a capitulation to the struggle and the agent, on the other hand, is willing her to become ‘somebody’. We are all caught in that struggle in a certain sense. Anyway thank you for your feedback, your comments are always appreciated.😃
True, meaning is always being chased. And in that scenario it can be through fame, an engineered process, or even through children, the antithesis of the trailer section. A process natural in its creation but equally processed, the outcome a known quantity, but not always what is wanted.
I couldn’t agree with you more. We are all haunted by randomness and never getting exactly what we want.
Interesting – I particularly like the ‘bun that formed a Fibonacci Spiral.’
Thank you, Polly. Yes, shapes are a huge motif in this story. Glad you enjoyed it though.
It is so gripping you can’t stop until you have finished. Really good stuff. your work stands out from the rest. Ps. INFPs rock!
Thank you so much for your comment; It means a lot to me. Ha-ha, yes they absolutely do! 😃
Very interesting and fascinating.. U chose a very touchy topic
Thank you 😃
This is so captivating! Right from the first sentence, I was hooked to it. Brilliant! 🙂
Thank you so much. I’ve been working on making this into a novel, but it’s been a struggle. I really appreciate your kind words because it motivates me to keep going! You have made my day 🙂
It is very beautifully-written! I am already reading the second part 🙂
Wow! This is going to be so controversial. I like the boldness with which you write, and again, I love that you retain the poetic language and nuances – I don’t come across it very often in prose/fiction.
There is so much to analyze about this, it’s quite layered and deep. Congratulations for all the hard work and keeping my fingers crossed so you can publish it soon!
Oh, and you had me at “… fuck your moral interpretations.”
I’m so flattered by your comments. I really love exploring controversial topics. I’ve been trying to get better and it seems to be working. I can’t tell you how important your comments are and they’re really filling me with hope. Thank you once again.
Yeah, I just need to finish the editing process which is not the fun part. Hopefully, I can get it out into the world soon.
Ha-ha thank you. 😄
Actually, I shouldn’t have been surprised by how controversial this is after reading some of your poetry, but I guess it’s more accepted in poems – that kind of freedom. Right? Aww, I’m really glad you find my words encouraging. I’m genuinely appreciating your art so no need to thank me. Just keep going 😀
Editing can be a daunting process. I love it though, I’ve been working with a few people in that direction. If you need any help with it, let me know. Or if you intend to have another pair of eyes reading/revising it.
PS: I’m really curious about your real name 🙂 But it’s ok if you don’t want to reveal it on your blog.
Ha-ha true most of my stuff is out there. I like exploring dark topics and characters. It’s very interesting to see what motivates people and how we pretend to be logical but our actions are usually the opposite. Yeah, you’re right, fiction is a little bit more grounded so it makes it very real for people. TBH I haven’t heard any negativity so far about the subject matter. However, I do recognize that I have to treat it with care as ‘abortion’ is very stigmatized especially in NA and the last thing I want to do is to make it worse.
How is it treated in Romania?
Yeah, I hired an editor to look over my first draft. They found some issues with it and I have to re-write at least two chapters. Thank you for the offer, I will definitely consider it as I’d love to get your feedback.
P.S. I won’t share my name here but I do go by A.R. in daily life. 🙂
BTW I listened ‘Cygnet Committee’ it was so unique, I absolutely loved it. I can’t believe I almost missed out on experiencing David Bowie’s music my entire life. Thank you for the recommendation! 😁
You’re right – we think we are very rational beings when, in reality, it’s probably our subconscious calling all the shots.
It is a touchy subject, but I’m sure you will handle it with care (not necessarily in the ‘political correctness’ sense, but artistically).
In Romania, it’s obviously still a taboo since it was only legalized in 1989. And considering the very strict gender roles here, the more conservative views on sex and gender, as well as the high emphasis on religion and the church (I refuse to capitalize it), well, you do the math. I know, it sounds like I live in hell, haha.
Good luck with your editor and the rewriting then – novels do need a lot of polishing before being sent out into the world. They’re like babies, in a way.
Ok, A.R. 😛
I knew you’d like ‘Cygnet Committee’, I listened to it again, right after I recommended it, and it’s a masterpiece. You’re welcome, I’m glad I could bring a bit of Bowie glam and magic into your life! Since we were on the topic of US politics, you might want to check his ‘This Is Not America’ as well – haunting track.
Yeah, half the time I think about what I’ve done in my life and it’s very rarely logical. The subconscious is truly powerful.
That’s what I was afraid of and it’s a hardline because you don’t want to minimize the experience of women going through that process; at the same time, I have to tell a story that will have dark parts so being too ‘politically correct’ might reduce the impact.
Wow! I didn’t realize it’s that conservative over there. Ha-ha I hear you, religion destroys one’s critical thinking skills. And that’s one of the many things I credit Marilyn Manson for– I think he opened my eyes to a world without god. You should come to Canada, it’s one of the best places to live and everyone, for the most part, is nice.
Thank you, yeah I hate this process because it’s so tedious. I’m procrastinating rewriting the chapters and I’ve got to force myself. Yes, it’s hard to hear criticism of your babies but I have to face them and make it better.
You got me hooked. I’m checking out his stuff and his version of ‘golden years’ is also good. I will check it out. Keep the recommendations coming. 🙂
Yes, the subconscious is powerful, but it is the more powerful when we try to hide or repress things, in other words, deny its existence.
I don’t think you could minimize women’s experience of abortion. Besides, it’s not your job as an artist to be politically correct. From my perspective, if it’s a good story done tastefully, you can go as deep and dark as you want. Push people into seeing things differently, as long as it’s not for shock value only, of course.
It is a conservative, fucked up environment, but there are also people who are open-minded, non-religious and nice. I think, haha. Yeah, MM’s relationship with religion was spectacular. He must have opened the eyes of many people, I’m glad you had that experience. I was actually religious up until college when I started wondering ‘why isn’t god a woman or black?’. That was the tipping point for me.
Aww, I should come to Canada, I’ve heard people are really nice and your health care system is great, among many other things. I actually had one great friend in college who was obsessed with Canada, haha (her favorite punk band was from Montréal).
Oh, one of these days you will get to rewrite them, don’t worry. I imagine it’s harder to start, but once you’re at it, it will be fine. And hopefully, your editor will give you a break 😀
Wow, can’t believe I got you hooked on Bowie. I hadn’t listened to his music in a long time, maybe mostly because it reminded me of someone I lost… so to speak.
Well, here’s one more, as a bonus. Two, actually, because I can’t decide 😛 The second one is not so known, but I like it a lot (and it’s from one of my favorite albums of his). Enjoy!
I agree that the subconscious expresses itself whenever it’s repressed. It’s interesting how much it impacts our everyday actions.
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I’m just being paranoid and I just need to focus on writing a deeper story and making richer characters.
Yeah, obviously, not everyone is going to be like that but it’s great that you’ve been able to find like-minded people.
Wow that’s very similar to me, I was conflicted but still religious up until my first year. And then ‘I killed my god’ so to speak in my second year; it was hard but allowed me to grow. Manson helped but so did Nietzsche who really brought me to that conclusion.
I think it really hit me when I thought about the world– everything is so random and I do not see a grand plan. Also, the idea of heaven and hell also makes me uncomfortable.
On a side note, have ever watched ‘The Good Place’? It’s a great show that explores so many topics like that.
Yeah, Canada is awesome but I still want to explore it more. After this crisis is over, I’d love to travel more.
Ha-ha, hopefully, I know what’s stopping me is reading my editor’s notes. I just got to force myself to do it as I want to honor my promise and finish it by this summer.
Yup you did 😁😁😁. I get it– there are a couple of songs that get associated with people and it can be painful when you listen them. So thank you for sharing them with me. 🤗
They must be good if you can’t decide lol. I’ll check them out. 🙂
I have been able to find like-minded people, but I still feel like the odd one out. It’s always been this way. I’ve been planning to move out of the country for years now and it’s getting harder as time goes by.
Oh, I’m sure there’s a lot to explore about Canada 🙂 It’s great that you intend to travel more. Although I think people will be more reluctant to do that for a while, even when the crisis will be relatively over. But we’ll see. It might even give rise to deeper nationalism, it’s scary. Anyway, I’m rambling now.
It makes sense that Nietzsche also contributed to that – for me, it was feminism who killed god. There is a lot of random, isn’t it? I don’t believe in a grand plan either, although sometimes it seems like some things were meant to happen. Do you get that as well?
No, I haven’t watched ‘The Good Place’, but I’ll check it, thanks! 😀
I’m really glad you enjoy Bowie’s music so you’re welcome! ^_^ It’s funny because you made me listen to him again, after all this time.
They are good, I hope you like them. ‘Rock’n’Roll with me’ is from his ‘Diamond Dogs’ album which was heavily inspired by ‘1984’ (one of my favorite books). Here’s what Wikipedia says: “Thematically, it is a marriage of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and Bowie’s own glam-tinged vision of a post-apocalyptic world.” Pretty timely, isn’t it?
Ha-ha I feel the same way, always. Hey keep trying if there is one thing I’ve learned is you gotta do what makes you happy.
Yeah, I’m beginning to think that too– it looks like there will be a new normal. I doubt people will want to shake hands anymore. The nationalism thing is very real– if this crisis continues I don’t doubt that some of those characters will crawl out from their holes to shake society.
Nice, that’s also a good way to look at it. I mean God is pretty patriarchal lol. I do think that there is so much randomness but because we as human beings are pattern-recognition monsters we see connection in things that might not be there; however, I do see how amazing it is that somethings align together. I think I talked about the horoscope thing before with you but I’ve also learned palm reading and tarot cards as well. There is something weird about our existence.
Yes, I think you will like it– also would love to know what shows you like?
I loved that song you sent me. It was somehow nostalgic for me and it got me thinking about my past. Wow, that’s why he was a true artist. Damn, it is pretty timely.