My Unscripted Life(8)

By: Lauren Morrill

But back in the real world, where I’m not having fond memories of practicing kissing on a poster of Milo Ritter (not that I did that…but I totally did), I blink at the real-life Milo Ritter. I think he’s asking me where hair and makeup is, but what comes out of my mouth is “Oh my God you’re Milo Ritter.”

Smooth, Dee. Real smooth.

As soon as I hear those words, all strung together and loud, I reach up and cover my mouth with both hands, my eyes going wide and, I’m sure, my cheeks turning crimson.

“Left down the hall, third door on your right,” Ruth says, running in behind him. Other than answering his question, she barely takes notice. She couldn’t care less that she’s just brushed past one of the most famous pop stars in the known universe, even bumping his shoulder as she goes. She just hustles over to where I’m standing, takes the stack of inventory papers out of my hand, and shuffles through until she’s found whatever she’s looking for. She plucks that page from the stack, crumples it up, and tosses it toward a trash can in the corner. Then, just as quickly as she arrived, she’s gone.

The silence returns to the room, but Milo is still there. He’s looking at me like I’ve got something on my face, and it’s only then that I realize what it is. It’s an embarrassing expression of shock and awe, my mouth hanging open, my eyes wide. I blink at him. Now would be a good time to pull myself together. To not look like a complete and total fangirl/stalker/psycho. But it’s not happening, and his nose is wrinkling now, taking on a look of faint disgust.

“I, um, sorry?” I say. My tongue trips over the words, not even able to get out one half sentence correctly. My God, I am such a goober. Stop staring, Dee. Stop staring. Right now. Look. Away. And finally—finally—I tear my eyes away from him and look down at my inventory sheets.

I hear a sigh and the sound of a long, slow stride retreating. Then the door opens and slams shut, echoing in the room, now empty except for me and an army’s worth of glassware.

As soon as he’s gone, all the blood that I didn’t realize had left my brain floods back. I feel sort of like I might fall over into my tower of pint glasses. I throw a hand out to steady myself while my mind immediately begins to punish me, running me back through the last minute and a half of pure embarrassment, over and over again on a loop. Any hope I had of being cool—hell, of being normal—has completely disappeared. Milo probably thinks I’m a small-town loser, and right now it feels like he might be right.

The door swings open, and my blood runs cold. I’m worried it might be Milo again, back to hear me mangle the English language some more, but it’s Ruth. She takes the inventory sheets out of my hand, the whole stack this time, and tosses them onto the work table. Then she thrusts a spiral-bound black notebook at me. I recognize it immediately. It’s the exact same sketchbook I have in my bag in the back of the room, the same kind I’ve been using since Mrs. Fisher, my art teacher, first gave me one freshman year. This one is brand-new and covered in plastic, the hard black cover free of scuffs, the black spiral binding lacking any bends or chips. The white pages between the covers are crisp and bright, and I know if I held it to my face I could inhale the earthy smell of new paper.

“Go beat this up,” Ruth says, as if that’s the normal instruction that accompanies a brand-new sketchbook.

I blink at her. “Excuse me?”

“Beat it up. Make it look worn.” Her tone is clipped. That’s one question, one answer. I can maybe get one more out of her before she either dies of exasperation or simply walks away.

But I have so many questions. “How…I mean, are there tools? Or should I—”

Ruth shakes her head, a quick, tiny movement, like she can’t believe she’s having to explain this to me. “Go outside, throw it in the parking lot, drop it in some dirt, walk over it a bit, whatever. Run it over with your car if you have to. Just make it look like it’s been carried around for the last couple years. It belongs to our main character. He’s never without it, and it needs to look like it.”

They’re the most words she’s said to me all in a row since I got here, and I mentally grab hold of them and hang on for dear life. I rewind them and run them back while she disappears out the door.

Outside it’s blazing hot, and the gnats are almost as thick as the pollen. I sneeze and swat in front of my face before I remind myself that the trick with gnats is to blow them away. This is why I could never be a camp counselor. The outdoors and I do not agree on a whole lot.

With the sun beating down, the black covers of the sketchbook heat up in my hand. It won’t be long before the spiral binding is collecting enough heat to leave a temporary brand on your leg, a lesson I’ve learned sketching through many Georgia summers.