[looks furtively from side to side]
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When we last left Gina, Tom was out the door, Gina was on the floor, and Gina left Lacey wanting a whole lot more...
“Gina, it’s me baby. I got your message. It sounds like we’ve got a lot to talk about, but I’m happy to hear you’re figuring things out. Give me a call when you get a chance. I love you baby. Talk soon”
“Hey, it’s me. I know you’re on set right now, but if you can call me, we need to talk. Something’s going on with my mom. Este wouldn’t tell me much, but she’s in the hospital. He wants me to come to New York. I’m going to wait a bit to see if I can get a hold of you, but I might have to go. I love you, I’m going to try you at the studio.”
“I’m sorry baby, I’ve been trying to reach you for hours. My mom’s taking a turn for the worse. They say she’s had a massive stroke, and don’t know if she’ll make it through the night. I know you’re filming and I want you with me, but I wouldn’t ask you to give everything up to come with me. I’m getting on the 4:15 to New York. Call me when you get this, but I might be in the air. I’ll call you when land if I don’t hear from you. I love you.”
"Okay Gina, let's take it from the top of the scene again. Jim, could I see a red gel in G5? And Max, keep the focus tight on Gina this time through the second exchange." "Places for rehearsal everyone... and action!"
The director's shout brought me to life. I summoned all the strength I had and became my character again. She had her own problems, but chronic malnutrition, fatigue, and passing out mid-conversation weren't among them. For the next 3 minutes, I didn't have those problems either.
I cut through the scene like an expert swordsman, sparring with the other actor and taking him to task with every line. We we're on our sixth rehearsal of this scene alone, and I was running out of strength, but this was my first real tech rehearsal, and I'll be damned if I wasn't going to give it everything every time.
The problem was, I was mopping the floor with the other actors.
We finished the scene without so much as the customary "cut". We weren't rolling film yet, just blocking the scenes, testing the shots and lighting, and running the lines.
The director approached us. He'd taken his glasses off and was rubbing his eyes.
"Nathan" he said, still rubbing his eyes. "what's going on?"
"What do you mean." the actor asked nonchalantly, taking a sip of latte offered by his assistant.
"What I mean is, you're phoning it in. At this point i don't care if you hate me for saying this, but Gina is making you look like you're a first year acting student."
"Are you serious?” Nathan said, cooly, but he had snapped to attention. For the first time, he seemed to be taking part in the proceedings with the rest of us. “I don't have to take this, I'm here as a favor..."
"Oh stuff it Nathan. If you want to walk off, I've got a hungry, amazing no-name waiting in the wings who would kill for your part." Nathan eyed me as He said that, and I suddenly realized I'd probably taken this part from a bigger name actress, likely one of his friends. Nathan bit his tongue.
"If you're going to stay, then shut up, take whatever anger you're feeling at me and put it in this scene, right now, and step up to the damn plate."
Nathan's lip curled up, but whatever he was thinking, he didn't say a word.
"Alright! The director shouted once more, not waiting for a reasoned retort. Roll rehearsal. Action."
Again I was brought back to motion by his yell. And this time, finally, so was Nathan. The scene took on a whole new shape, and I nearly lost the last half of my first line as Nathan advanced, cutting me off. His character was quieter now, with a deeper anger, and we cut at each other with the lines of the script.
It was over before I could think about it, but as we closed the scene and I had a second to breathe. I closed my eyes to steady myself, I felt my knee buckle. I reached for Nathan's arm and caught myself.
He was facing away from me and only felt my hand on his arm, and mistook it for a social gesture. He put his hand on mine and simply said "thanks."
I smiled at the moment of unintended kindness that had just passed between us. I'd just made a friend.
The director was watching the playback on a monitor, with headphones on. I steadied myself. No one had seen me almost lose it, right here on set. I took and deep breath, shook my head too try to clear some of the cobwebs, and we waited in silence for a moment.
"Yes!... Yes!!" the director leaped up, tossing the headphones to the table, exuberant that we'd finally given him the take he wanted. "Now that, that's what I was looking for! Everyone, mark that, I want it exactly like that tomorrow. If we nail it like that we've got a blockbuster in our hands, folks. Let's break for 30 here, good work."
He approached us both. "That was something. Nathan, I'm sorry if I pissed you off, but whatever just happened, that was the best I've seen you since the pilot. Please don't make me be an asshole every time I need your best work, okay?”
They both laughed. A hollywood truce transpired before my eyes, and they were old chums once more. Nathan’s eyes even crinkled a little when he smiled. He actually was a good actor.
“And you.” he said, throwing an arm over my shoulder. “I don’t know where you pull it from, when when you’re on, you’re like clockwork.”
I smiled at them, and realized that I had no idea what to do with myself. I’d been in pretty much every scene that had been blocked today, and had been going since 8 AM. Aside from a lunch break that we talked entirely through, I hadn’t had a moment to myself in 9 hours. I walked to the wings as the lights turned off, and I wandered a bit, half in a daze.
I pulled my phone from my purse, absentmindedly. My email was already loading when I noticed a bunch of missed calls. I flipped back to the home screen, and there were 7 of them, all from Tom.
My heart rate rose, and I sat down in a chair. I listened to the first message, then the second.
As I finished the final message, tears were streaming down my face. Tom’s mother was deathly ill, and I’d missed it. I’d missed him - It was 5pm. He was already on a flight back to New York.
I felt my hand slip down the chair. Strangely, the stage lights dimmed.
The floor felt cool against my face.