I have some exciting news,
JUNE IS DREAMING will be out by this week. To celebrate, please enjoy this free sample, and please check out my book which will be out this week. Stay tuned…Thank you!
1 – June Goes to a Party.
I’m going to a party. Even though I don’t want to, I still am.
You have to show up! You’ve only been in the indies! You have to get your name out there, my agent tells me, even though she knows I don’t like parties. She still repeats the need for social interactions, for stroking the right ego, saying the right things. That’s what you have to do if you want to be successful, she always says in her usual belligerent manner.
I think of protesting, but I don’t have a choice in the matter. My agent always knows best. I stir uncomfortably in the car’s leather seat. I look outside at the crowd in attendance. Their faces are a blur of movement, and all I can see is my tinted reflection staring back at me with brown eyes and blankness. I’m entering the party as the entity known as June Husk. I have evidence of makeup on and my hair is swept in a bun that forms a jet-black Fibonacci spiral. My hair is usually curly and wild. It’s not used to following patterns. I’m not used to this. I feel nervous and my skin does, too.
The right eyes have to be on you. But I don’t care about that. Sometimes, it feels good just to look good for me. It’s not about you! It’s about us!
I feel overpowered by perfume. It’s all I can smell. I admit that I excessively spray on some Poison, my mother’s favorite scent. But it’s the memory of her that makes me feel anxious. The mind has a weird connection to the nose. I can smell her. I see a faint reflection of a long, hard bridge of a nose in the tinted car window, reminding me of her.
The driver sometimes glances back at me. He pretends he doesn’t, but I know he does. I realize I haven’t exchanged two words with him. Poor manners are the best way to judge character; you know this, dear.
Diverting my attention, I adjust the bodice of my sparkling light blue dress that somehow always manages to slither down my chest. The dress is strapless and is an original from some French designer (the name escapes me). The car finally stops, and I take a deep breath. I struggle to get out of the car as the driver observes me with a deadpan expression. I emerge onto the red carpet. Once I’m able to focus and not worry about what I look like, I notice that all the celebrities are wearing masks.
It is a masquerade. “That’s great,” I think to myself, I forgot to bring a mask. Well, at least you’ll stand out from everyone else—it’s all about being noticed, you know?
The flashbulbs blind me temporarily, leaving behind an afterimage of dreamy faces painted in satanic furs. I walk on the path created by the boundaries of the red velvet ropes; on the outside, the paparazzi, tabloid journalists, and entertainment bloggers shout questions and stick out their recording machines to get something newsworthy. They are feeding the loop of information; my pictures are not myself. They project their reality onto me.
Soon, men with dark-shades, who are in love with their earpieces, direct me to the entrance as others, more prominent figures in the entertainment industry, arrive.
“You can go through here, ma’am.” One of the men points a finger toward a small entranceway cordoned off with rail-barriers, covered like a pitch-black tent.
“And where does it lead?” I ask, genuinely curious.
“Through the back entrance. You can’t miss it,” he responds.
I can’t believe I didn’t bring my mask. I hate standing out. Hon, you haven’t even cracked the surface yet and you’re imagining they’re going to notice you? Ha-ha, that’ll be the day. I adjust my dress so that I can breathe a little; the heels don’t help, of course. I walk through the opening, which leads to a spiral staircase; little lights guiding me deeper into the burrow. I can hear faint music playing as I make my way closer to its source. The air feels cooler and packed with anxiety. I can smell the whiff of orange nodes and hidden desires; vagrant smells that drift away from their owners, lingering, to tell me secrets.
I walk cautiously, choosing my steps with purpose, landing at the center of gravity on my pencil-thin heels. My ankles are sore from walking too much last night. I can’t help walking; it clears the mind and stops me from doing something reckless, as my agent would say.
I finally arrive behind the curtains, a parting sea of red. I enter a large hexagonal room. It’s furnished with opulent staircases on each end with balustrades of gold, Grecian statues erect on each corner.
There’s a heavy dose of purple light, painting the masked strangers with waves of lace, feathers, and furs. I hesitate. I don’t like parties; small talk is torturous and everyone charms like artificial sugar. I’m not a fan of crowded places and a Gemini with a rising Scorpio to boot, but I have to attend this party or my agent won’t ever shut up. You’re damn right, I won’t!
I walk into the mass of grinning, freakish faces, all enjoying the pleasures of being famous, filthy rich, and a little anonymous. The music is loud, and I can feel the stickiness of spilled alcohol on my feet. A cloud of smoke hovers above me, a group of pink flamingos vaping in the middle of the room. A gentle warmth comes from the mass of people. It’s getting hot. My makeup feels heavy and I’m turning bronze: A statue in the middle of the orgy.
“Is that you, June?” a man gasps from behind me. He wears a hideous mask topped with a silk fedora and a gray pinstripe suit. He holds two curvy blond women on either arm, spiral horns jutting out of their foreheads, both unable to control their giggling. Arms entangle his body, but I can still recognize him. His cologne, even in this place, gives him away.
“Adam Virchow!” I exclaim, faking my enthusiasm. His penetrating blue eyes peer through his domino mask. Adam is a skeevy producer based in the States and is known to pick Northern talent. My agent is very aware of that.
He tried to get me into a movie recently, but only if certain preconditions were met. It’s atrocious what men with power think they can get away with.
“So good to see you! Come here, you sexy thing!” he says, hugging me tightly, leaving the blond twins holding their arms akimbo.
His fingers are cold, and I feel his volute patterned pocket square brushing up against me, like a tongue licking my breast. I don’t let him linger, using my elbows to break free of him. He backs away a little.
“How have you been?”
“I’ve been good … just finished a movie with Tcherkovsky,” I say, keeping my elbows up just in case.
“You mean that artsy fella, huh?” he says dismissively. He looks shorter than usual; his teeth resemble chipped columns ascending toward the right side of his mouth.
“Yeah, him,” I say, making direct eye contact to let him know that I wanted to follow a true artist’s path. Be more diplomatic, Hon, please!
“Uh, well, if you do get bored doing all those types of movies, I have a perfect part for you. We’re looking for a female lead for Oz’s next film,” he says with a smirk. I’m not impressed, but my agent isn’t able to hold in her excitement. She knows what it would mean for my career if I could work with Stephen Oz.
“Have your agent call me, okay?” he says, handing a card to me. I take it reluctantly. You don’t skip out on opportunities. You just don’t.
“Yes, absolutely,” I reply. “I’ll check my schedule.”
“The auditions open next week, so have your agent get in touch with my people … anyway, gotta go,” he turns to leave. “Oh! and by the way, June, I dig the mask. Ciao!” He vanishes with his twin accessories into a mass of bodies.
I touch my face; the mask is there. I thought I had forgotten it.
No, it is here, always present. I can feel the smooth velvet texture of the mask. I look up at the chandelier that hangs above me, dangling Swarovski crystals, a fixed star in the constellation of myself, offering me a twisted reflection. A gigantic purple moth with two black dots at the very corner of its wings covers my face. I have eyes within my own eyes. I’m a phantom now.
I sometimes wonder if I’m even real. I imagine that I’m trapped in a world of eyes that consume me. Multiple eyes, seeing multiple faces. Small bursts of sparkling light emerge out of the cocoon. Why are my thoughts conversing? The other consciousness in my head controls me, and I just let her. C’mon, Hon! I don’t control you all the time. Is it my fault that I want you to be famous? I think deep down you want it too, my agent says.
“I don’t!” I yell out loud. Luckily, the crowd is too busy exchanging chemicals to care that I’m talking to myself. “Why do I keep listening to you? That’s it, I’m leaving.”
The light dims. Masked animals move in synchronicity; pixels of flesh submerging in sounds, tastes, and pheromones. I’m glad no one recognizes me. I’m moving through the crowd without being noticed. I’m almost about to escape. I’m approaching the red drapes where I had entered from, and they part once again, revealing a large screen. The lights go out: surreal silence. I blink repeatedly, and afterimages swirl in the darkness, taking shape in the waking world. I hear a woman cry at the loss of her vision.
All of a sudden, a beam of celluloid light erupts from the urethra of a Grecian statue, now positioned in the middle of the room. I look at the screen as blocks of red letters appear: COMING SOON. I can’t help my curiosity.
It is a rough cut with a time code running below. The character on the screen appears, staring intensely beyond the fourth wall. She looks at me, and I recognize something familiar. It is me! Her demeanor, her eyes, her nose; that is my face! That is me! The scene appears to be from some movie, but I don’t remember shooting a scene like that. Wait, is it happening again?
I look around and everyone is transfixed. There is a low mumble of conversation. The character has a white backdrop with lens flares peeking through her left ear.
“My name is June, and I like to have abortions.”
Ktshh! A glass crashes on the floor, gentle conversations stopped. Yes! It’s her, it’s Katie Alexander, your look alike, and she’s performing your life on the big screen again, June!
“It’s fucked up, I know. I know. But god, it feels good to say that out loud. I feel bad for saying it in my head, but fuck it; I’ll say it again: I like to have abortions! I like to have abortions! I like to have abortions!” June says, or rather the person who looks like me and has the same name as me.
“It feels different when you say it out loud, though, doesn’t it? It feels more real, more tangible. The words evoke political debates. But this isn’t about being pro-choice or pro-life, though some of you might consider me a serial killer. I want to tell you that this is about me. This is my confession, and it’s about me, so fuck your moral interpretations.”
Everyone is in rapt silence, watching her.
“I like the feeling of cool jelly running down my thighs; the soft vacuum-like device that penetrates me with precision. The end of what could be. The end of possibility. 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’re all condemned to perpetual struggle because of consciousness. Consciousness is the reason for our dissatisfaction. It’s like bad sex. Abortions are like orgasms. That is why I choose to end consciousness, the end of the struggle. It is so satisfying.” She closes her eyes when she says that, acting out her little death. I hear gasps from the audience. I see myself in their eyes, glued to the image projected on the screen.
“You may think I’m crazy for doing this, but I’m not. I’m aware of what I do. I have twelve pictures of supposed children— ultrasound images— 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 reflection. No thoughts. No suffering. No consciousness.”
The screen goes blank. The lights are back on. I’m standing in the center of the chaos of stars. There’s a roar, someone whistles, and I’m showered in thunderous applause. Hoots and hollers. I think I’m imagining this— the applause, the praise— all meant for her, now directed to me. No one is wearing their masks, and I feel startled by the heavy feedback as the PA goes off.
“And that was Katie Alexander in the movie June is Dreaming, coming to theaters soon.”
You deserve the applause! That could’ve been me. Applause! Oh, god, that wasn’t me!
It’s happening again. It’s her movie, and it’s about my life. How is this possible?