I open my eyes as a little boy raises his arm to throw a- plush toy- it looks like. Either a blue bear or a grey dog. I catch it and laugh; his energy is so contagious. Several other children are running around and playing. Their parents- whom I’ve known almost my whole life- span into view almost like the rising of the horizon, but backwards, as I scan the room. My friend’s laughs alert me to their presence. Four of them are with me, all girls. The five of us are on a small vacation in between our busy work schedules.
The children are running around the large living room, although there was barely anything in it. Only a couch and one TV. All other three walls are completely bare- except for one window that lets in all of the light. I turn to Roxanne, who I consider to be my closest friend out of us five. She had beautiful features- very unique for her race, which was an indigenous race in Eastern Europe. Bashkirs, I think it was? Her hair was a natural jet black that swept over her wide shoulders beautifully. She actually told me a funny story about those broad shoulders once. She used to swim in a young women’s elite club for-
“Congratulations, Eliza, you are the winner of a beautiful new accompaniment, that we um, felt encompassed you so well. Go ahead and open up the box-” I blink and we are no longer in the barren living room but a wide stage, three arched steps folding out beneath us. The spotlight’s on us, although no one’s actually in the audience.
The intense heat from the spotlights burn into the thin hairs on my arms. I fidget my fingers.
In contrast to the white marble we were sitting on, Eliza’s huge prize that was in a black cardboard box reflected much of the spotlight which was coming from my right and directly into my eyes.
No one was blocking me from the camera and I was quietly hoping they would. Talk shows made me so uncomfortable in the past; I didn’t expect this to be any different.
Gracefully (as always), Eliza pulled out a huge teddy bear from the box with a note stapled to it’s fluffy ear. She quietly mouthed the words from the majority of the note and then faced the camera for the final words: “For Rome.” She laughed and squealed, thanking the host as he went on about her beauty.
“Rome! How kind of you! I-”
I turn to my three other friends and mumbled, “Rome! I wish I could go to Rome. I haven’t travelled anywhere exciting, yet.” Traveling like this was common for my four friends. The life of a beloved celebrity and entertainer has it’s perks.
“I haven’t been to Rome either,” says Roxanne, who was closest to me. “I’ve only been to Macau, Beijing, and Panama- but that one was only a day.” she giggles.
The other two nod at Roxanne’s comments, probably thinking of all the places they had been to in their short but luxurious career. Mine is much shorter- less than a year.
After Roxanne’s comment, I especially focus on Jessie’s facial expressions. She has blank and controlled facial expression then dismisses the conversation, as always. I feel like we’re the least friendly with one another- it’s all business with her. I respect her for that but I also slightly resent her for it, too. But I’d never let it show. I have to work with her.
I sigh and turn back towards Eliza who is still showing the talk show host how much she truly loved her gift. I continue, but in more of a whisper, “Well, I want to go to France! I would love to see France while on a business trip, modeling, or shooting for a commercial or something.”
Jessie turns to me and flashes a quick smile after I say that and pulls some hair behind her ear. I squint at her and pout my lip. That smile seemed nice but I feel like each tooth in that smiled spelled out: “would▢ you▢ stop▢ being▢ so▢ desperate▢?” I turn away from her and feel the gentle weight and brush from my dangling threader earrings which I proudly showed off. They were from Tiffany’s after all. “Hm.” I mutter.
And once again we’re back in the modest home of my childhood friends, watching the children play. Landon and Celine are playing their guitars and tambourine, entertaining the children in the farthest corner of the big living space. As for the other families, I have no idea who they are. None of them look familiar and I didn’t have the energy to truly acquaint myself as much as I’d like. Their feelings seemed to be mutual.
Suddenly a phone rings. After a moment Jessie, picked up her phone and swoops her caramel brown lob out of her face, answering,”Hello?”
The conversation passes by in an instant and she hangs up. “Alright, ladies. Mickael asked us to pack up and leave for our next photo shoot.” The other girls immediately get up and begin to find their belongings. Gwen, the quietest one, softly throws a lone ball to Landon and Celine’s daughter who gleefully catches it. I turn to Jessie.
“Where is the photoshoot?” I ask excitedly. Jessie smiles at me and shakes her head.
“Your dreams came true, girl. We are flying to France in 3 hours.” She throws up three fingers and I notice a new manicure. When did she get that?
I jump up for joy and then hug Gwen, who stiffens. She laughs and we all make our ways to our rooms.
Finally! My first trip to Europe- and it happens to be France of all places!
I quickly shuffle to my little guest room and snatch my clothes from the dresser under a small TV Landon set up for me. The five of us stayed here for about a week and the other girls hadn’t brought nearly as much as I had. Amateur’s mistake, I guess.
The olive green dress I saved for red carpets, the jeans I got from Coach that hugged my hips just right, and the tankini I was holding out on for a real vacation were amongst my few belongings. We said goodbye to our lovely hosts and left with small gifts while the children called after us.
As soon as we soon pile into our black van, Roxanne requests a song for the ride there.
Our manager bought this van for all five of us to travel safely together. I look at the rearview mirror to see who our driver was. She was the same driver we had while in New York. I had only met her a few times. If I remember correctly, she is very quiet and always wears the same… yeah that hat that covers most of her light brown, short hair. Gwen was Korean and spoke to our driver who happened to be Korean American.
As they exchanged short talk, I look out the window for a few minutes and mentally say ‘au revior’ to the mundane but comforting landscape and buildings. Goodbye familiarity.
Suddenly a huge semi truck appeared in front of us. We must have closed in pretty close to it because it was way too close for comfort.
“Um, do you mind backing up a little?” I ask. The semi truck looks to be at the least, 7 feet taller than the top of our van. We waited there for a few minutes waiting for traffic to move. I take out my small duffle bag and pull out a book I got for Christmas a few months ago.
Felix stood up and ran to the top of the small hill. The yellow flowers flowed at every solid footstep he took. He turned around and with the one hand cupped it to his mouth and yelled, “I love you, Chantel!” He turned to her, smiling his dimpled smile and said, “I love-
“AGH!” Eliza screamed. Another semi collided with the first semi truck just as I looked up. It looked as if the second one was trying to go into our lane and failed miserably. The two trucks remained connected although there wasn’t too much damage.
I watched in awe. I look at the driver and she is calm, but looking for a way to switch lanes.
Then the two trucks began to slowly slide backwards. No, not slide, but glide almost like. I can’t see their wheels but they must not have been turning. The engine must have not been working either, because the truck did not slow it’s turtle-like backtrack. The girls and I gasped and yelped, not knowing what to do in such a situation. The truck was not stopping and its height grew ever daunting as it neared our van.
Jessie was about to say something when the driver yells something in Korean and the semi in front of us slams back, smashing and peeling off the top of our van like a sardine can. Somehow I had seen it coming before it shot backward and ducked low enough to miss the deadly slice in time. I look around me in my crouched position and don’t see any blood on the floor, so I’m assuming we’re all safe. A voice rings in my mind loudly, ‘Get out, NOW.’
I yell and kick the door next to me. The door’s jammed. I kick again. As I do so, the semi truck in front of us pushes forward and sunlight streams back into the now half-sized van. In slight fear, I squint my eyes to avoid any unpleasant visuals, and look around. I sigh in relief. All of the girls straighten and rub their heads or legs or arms. None of us were poorly injured.
Suddenly a loud screech comes from the semi and I shoot up to look for any more oncoming danger. But to my surprise, the two trucks are slowly inching forward.
“What on earth is going on?” I whisper. How was the truck moving forward on such a flat road? How had it even slid like that before?
An earsplitting crash suddenly bursts from a few feet in front of us- past the semi truck- and the semi truck is suddenly floating in the air. In slow motion, I blink and stare at this huge vehicle that had somehow reached 20 feet above the air. We fell silent.
Then the truck began to fall. Fast. My heart started beating so fast I couldn’t breath. Jessie, who had been sitting next to me this whole time turned and kicked open her door with one swift whack and we each piled out. At last when I escaped the car, and we were a few feet away, I whirl back and just in time to see the semi land on the nose of our van, violently throwing it into the air, and then smashing into the concrete.
“What is going on??” I scream. We run to the side of the road and find shelter just in front of an old theatre. I look around to count each of the girls. All of them were there. Except…except the driver.
“Gwen!” I yell, “Where is our driver?”
Gwen looked around for a moment quietly and then gasped, pulling her hand to her mouth and smiling faintly. “She left in the beginning. Sorry.”
“What do you mean, in the beginning?” Roxanne questioned her.
“She left when the first truck hit us. You know, when he backed into us.”
I gaped at her. How had the driver left so stealthily?
A fire hydrant nearby had been hit and was spurting white water into the air. The car crash in front of us was very bad- I’m really hoping no one died from this but I’m pretty sure at least one person did. We are all gasping and staring at our van. “That could have been us.” Roxanne says.
In that moment, Jessie fumbles for her phone. “I need to call Mickael. Something is wrong.” I looked at her. She noticed it, too. Something was off. Just at that moment a man who was screaming ran past us and made Jessie drop her phone.
“Idiot.” Jessie mumbles. I reach down to help her.
“Um, guys.” Eliza called. She was a few feet away.
“What? Eliza, what?” Jessie answered.
“Yeah, what is it?” Roxanne inquired; she was staring at the accident still.
Eliza’s mouth was quivering and agape when she said, “Look. Up.”
All five of us turned our faces toward the sky and were met with several floating, huge, 3 Dimensional shapes not only 30 feet above us.
A purple cylinder. A grey sphere. A cube that was dark blue with pink/purple glitter. And a cone that was orange.
Gwen who was now next to me gaped and said, “셰이프?”
The End… for now.
What do you think is happening to these girls? Why them? What was up with the driver and why did she leave them high and dry? Stay tuned for more in this series of “The Art of Lying.”