This story was created as part of a writing challenge. The goal was to write a story with the title "The Set" using the following ten words: Charity, Harmony, Lavender, Painting, Remote, Ribbon, Skulk, Sky, Solace, Transform
Now on with the story.
* * *
I've always loved movies. When I was a kid, my dad and I would go to a matinee every Saturday. I would sit in the front row and let the movie fill my vision completely. I can still remember exiting the theater into the cruelly bright light of day and feeling buoyed by the two hours I passed in bliss. Sometimes I couldn't even remember what I'd seen, only that I had seen it, and it was wonderful.
When I turned twenty, I abandoned a community college liberal arts program and moved to Hollywood. I had no delusions of being a big name actor, director or screen writer; I just wanted to be there when the magic was made. I worked in restaurants with people who claimed to be actors and actresses. None of them ever made it on screen, but they auditioned which to them made them actors and somehow better than me.
While taking my tenth tour of Universal studios, I got separated from the tour group by a giant painting of Dracula's castle. It was a recreation of the backdrop used in Bela Lugosi's Dracula and it was passing between me and the rest of the tour group. By the time the workers had finished moving the set piece, the tour group was long gone.
This being my tenth time on the tour, I knew where they had gone, but I felt no desire to rejoin them. This was my opportunity to snoop around the studio. If was caught, I'd explain how I'd gotten separated and was just trying to find my way back to the tour group.
I skulked around for the entire afternoon, drifting from one sound stage to the next. When I got hungry, I grazed on the craft services that were set out for various movies. I watched them assemble sets, I watched actors warming up their voices, I watched directors rant, and starlets flounce off the set. I was in heaven.
The next day, I returned to the studio and filled out applications for every open position they had, anything to get back in on a more permanent basis. I worked as a grip, a carpenter, and was even the best boy on a low budget picture. Eventually I found a home as a prop manager; I was in charge of the set.
* * *
I was working on a movie that was a modern retelling of the classic "Metropolis." The modern version has the poor working class living on the surface of a desolate earth, and the rich wealthy class living in luxurious subterranean abodes. They were using green screens which allowed them to fill the background with scenes from a distant future. The few set pieces were thin plywood walls and the props that I set up under the careful scrutiny of the computer geeks and the director.
The film was halfway through production when I first met Lisa. Aside from a few very minor independent movies, she was a virtual unknown. An unknown who had landed the female lead in what was sure to be the biggest movie of the year.
I arrived on set early to get things ready for the day's shooting. Lisa was sitting at the table meticulously placed in the middle of a sea of green. Once in the movie, the table would be transformed to be a hundred feet long with two score of place settings. But today, it was family sized with only three place settings.
She sat in place, touching the silverware and the table, and I noticed that she seemed on the verge of tears. I walked towards her, but she didn't seem to realize I was there. I cleared my throat and said, "Excuse me, Miss?"
Turning slowly towards me, I could see that her eyes were puffy and her cheeks were pale. She seemed a bit startled, but unlike the other actors and actresses she recognized me. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to disturb your set. I..." She turned away without finishing her thought.
She started to stand, but I placed a hand on her shoulder. "That's alright, Miss. You can sit there for a while, I have other things to get to. Besides, the director will probably make me change it when he gets here anyway."
She cracked a faint smile and said, "You don't have to call me 'Miss,' you make me feel like I'm on a plantation or something. Please just call me Lisa."
"Sorry Miss Lisa, it's just that so many of the actresses... Well, they don't like us getting uppity. Some of them even have it in their contracts, so I hear."
"And what have you heard about me?" she asked with a quirked eyebrow. She glanced at my work badge and added, "Sir Kent."
I took the mild rebuke with a shy grin. "Sorry Mi... Lisa. Force of habit." I thought for a moment about her question and said, "Mostly no one knows what to think. But I haven't heard a bad word from anyone yet." She thought about my answer, and I couldn't help blurting out, "by the way, I loved you in 'Sacristy!'"
"I didn't think anyone had actually seen that movie. How did you happen to see it?"
"Well, I am a big movie fan. I have been since I was little." I paused and added more softly, "They're magic."
Her eyes which had been clearing as our conversation distracted her, reverted into sadness. She picked up the spoon and held it between us. "This spoon is real, and I can use it to eat real food. In a few hours, I will move this spoon to my lips, and it will be just as empty as it is now. But when you watch this movie in the theater, the spoon will be full of eggs, or soup, or something no chef has ever imagined. That isn't magic, that's trickery." As she spoke her voice grew more caustic, and she emphasized her last point by slamming the spoon to the table.
"Then why do you make movies?" I blurted out.
Her face softened suddenly, as she realized how spiteful she must have sounded. Then she said, "because, I think they're magic too. I didn't mean to go off on you, it's just that everything on this movie is so fake. The director, the leading man, even the set is fake. I just needed to touch something real which is why I'm sitting here, at the one real thing around."
When filming resumed later that day, Lisa seemed transformed, although deep down I knew she was only acting. As I watched the filming and went about my work, I thought about our discussion. A part of me realized that there was more trickery than magic in movies, but I only had to look at Lisa to know that there was magic too.
* * *
Every day I arrived on the set before everyone else to get things ready. Most days Lisa would join me for a chat. She would touch my props to assure herself that something in the movie was real and I would pretend not to notice.
With only a few weeks left in the shooting, I realized how desperate Lisa was becoming. I caught her on the set before I arrived, and she was walking around touching things. Occasionally she would approach the green backdrop and reach out to touch it, before pulling her hand back in revulsion.
"Lisa?" I asked as I approached her.
She looked over her shoulder at me, and answered, "yes?" without evening seeing me.
I knew it was a bad idea, but I gently took her elbow, and lead her off the set. "Come with me," I said. I took her to my truck and got her seated before climbing in the driver's side. "There is something I want you to see."
She was in such a daze, that I don't think she realized what was going on. As we drove off the lot, she leaned her head against the window and looked up at the distant clouds. She didn't speak until I turned off the main roads and we started climbing into the hills. "Where are we going?" she asked softly, her eyes still on the sky.
"To a place where you might find solace."
I took her to a field that was a remote site for a movie I'd worked on. It was just over an hour's drive from the studio, but separated from Hollywood by the mountains and the rutted twisted road leading there.
I drove the truck off the road and into the field, listening to the long grass slap into the truck's grill. The field was dotted with wild flowers and I drove to a patch that was particularly dense with them. I put the truck into park, and shut off the engine. I only realized that Lisa had fallen asleep when I went to tell her we were here.
I climbed out, and walked around the back of the truck. I picked up a couple of packing blankets that I kept in the bed and walked off into the field. I found a spot where wild lavender grew, and threw down the blankets. The blankets crushed a small square of grass and flowers into a little bed. Satisfied with my handiwork, I retraced my path to the truck.
Lisa was still sleeping, even after I opened the passenger side door. I unfastened her seat belt and gently picked her up. She was much lighter than I had imagined, and I had no trouble carrying her to the blankets. Using as much care as I could, I lowered her to the blankets, folding an extra one over to make a pillow for her.
I lay down next to her and wondered if I were going to get fired for this. Eventually, I realized I might even get arrested for kidnapping. As I stared up at the fluffy clouds, and breathed the fragrant air, I didn't really care.
* * *
I was a bit startled to realize I'd fallen asleep. Guilty, I looked over to where I had left Lisa lying. Her eyes were watching the clouds drift in the sky, and I watched her nostrils flare as she breathed the fragrant lavender in deeply.
"How do you feel?" I asked.
"I feel wonderful! Where on earth are we? How did we get here?"
"So you're not mad?"
"Mad?" she asked softly, before turning to face me. "Oh, mad because you kidnapped me?"
I swallowed hard, wondering if she really meant it. "Yeah, because of that."
"No. This is wonderful. This is magic. Waking up here makes Hollywood feel like... Well, like another world."
We lay next to each other for a long time, just looking. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back to the heavens and let out a long sigh of contentment. She giggled and said, "they are probably out looking for us by now. They will probably think you drugged me and kidnapped me."
I felt a surge of panic at the thought. It only made matters worse that she was giggling. "Yeah, that's a really funny thought."
She slowly rolled towards me and threw a leg over me. She rolled a little more and was now lying on top of me looking down into my eyes. "Would you like to add rape to the list of charges?"
I felt every inch of her body as it covered mine. Her small firm breasts pressed into my chest, her long legs pressed against the outside of my legs, and the firm insistent pressure from her hips, rocking slightly against me. She was so light that I hardly noticed her weight, only the warmth of her body against me. This had to be a dream.
I lifted my head enough to kiss her. Our lips met and parted to allow our tongues to gently meet. Her mouth was warm and inviting, and I was soon pulling her head down closer to mine. At first her hands held her above me, pressing down gently on my shoulders. But as I drew her closer to me, her strength diminished and eventually her hands slid beneath me, pulling us together.
Our gentle kiss grew slowly warmer. My hands wandered down her body with one hand lingering on the small of her back. The other shyly crept from the her back up the gentle slope of her bottom. As it crested the gentle slope, I felt her hips begin to rock against me in earnest. Her tongue sought mine with greater hunger, pressing deeper into my mouth.
As one, our hands went from holding each other close, to working on removing our pants. At first we both reached for the other's clothing, but with frustrating results. Our kiss kept breaking as we tried to look at what we were trying to do. But our mouths couldn't bear being parted, and soon pulled us together again.
She moved her hands to her pants and pushed mine out of the way. It took her little work to get her jeans unbuttoned and to begin pressing them down over her hips. Her panties slid down her legs with her jeans, and with a few kicks and a little help from me, were soon in a pile.
She ground her bare sex against the front of my jeans and I felt more than heard a growl come slowly from her. Her small hands sought to open my pants, but she couldn't manage the button. She moaned in frustration as my hands cupped her soft bare ass. One finger slipped between her legs and I immediately felt her sex. My finger penetrated to the second knuckle without any resistance, just the feeling of intense heat and moisture.
Reluctantly, I pulled my finger from her sex, and reached down to undo my pants. I soon had them unfastened, but couldn't get them off while she was lying on top of me, even with all four of our hands trying to do just that.
Placing my hands on her back, I quickly rolled over on top of her, and lifted myself to my knees. I supported myself on one elbow and used the other hand to push down my pants. Lisa contributed with her hands, and then her feet to push them off my legs.
I was on my hands and knees over top of Lisa. My erection pointed down at her belly and a faint line of precum dripped down on her. She raised her hips to meet me, as I descended towards her. The head of my cock slipped easily into her entrance, and held there as I followed her hips back to the ground. I moved slowly lower, forcing more of myself into her.
We had stopped kissing to watch each other as our bodies merged. When I thought I could get no deeper inside of her, she wrapped her legs around mine and rolled her hips into me. I gasped, feeling the heat and moisture from her envelope me and pull me in. My arms shuddered with the ecstasy, and I was soon on my elbows, and thrusting myself into her again.
She wrapped her arms around me, and reached up to kiss me. She was hungry now and kissed me hard. Our teeth clashed briefly, but that only encouraged her to kiss me harder. I continued to thrust inside of her, as my tongue pushed into her mouth.
It didn't take long for me to feel her fingernails digging into my back. Her arms pulled tight against me as he legs wrapped around my back. She lifted herself off the ground to cling tightly to me as she came with a series of powerful shudders.
When she was through, she slowly lowered herself back to the blankets. I lay atop of her and held her as smaller shudders racked her body. When the shudders had mostly subsided, I began to thrust into her again. She reacted more calmly this time, but with just as much passion.
Her hands ran through my hair, and her hips rocked in time with my thrusts. Our kisses were sweeter with our lips pulling and teasing each other. We moved slowly, but I could felt tension building.
I felt the need to come growing inside of me. I could feel her need as well, her stomach grew ever more taut, and her legs holding me deeper inside of her as I continued to thrust. I was breathing so hard, that I could hardly maintain the kiss. I pressed my sweaty forehead against hers and let that contact be enough.
I picked up the pace of my thrusts. My hands pulled down on her shoulders to push her against my cock, even as my elbows struggled to support my weight above her. With a frantic push, I emptied my seed into her, pressing all of my weight into her. Her eyes shot wide open as I thrust into her again, draining more of myself into her. Her eyes fluttered and her hands scrambled uselessly against my back.
I collapsed on top of her, breathing heavily as my orgasm drained my strength. I felt as if I was crushing her beneath me but for long moments I was too exhausted to move. As my breathing began to calm, I moved to pull out to lie next to her. Her hands grabbed my bottom desperately, holding me in place as she sucked in great gasps of air through her teeth.
I placed my hand beneath her hips and held her in place. Gently and carefully we turned over, until she was the one lying breathless on top of me. I was still inside of her when my breathing returned to normal. I kissed her sweaty forehead and gave her a gentle hug. It was only then that I realized we were both still wearing our shirts.
We lay with our arms around each other for a long time. I could feel her heat beating, and realized that mine was beating in perfect harmony. But our magical encounter couldn't last forever. The air began to cool, and the shadows of the surrounding flowers soon covered our half-naked bodies. With a great sigh, we disengaged our bodies and gave each other a final kiss.
* * *
It was a long quiet drive back to the set. As the mountain had separated the field from Hollywood, it soon separated us from the field and the events that happened there.
We were a bit surprised to find that there was no scandal upon our return. People attributed her tardiness to nascent diva behavior, for those who even noticed. My absence was noticed by even fewer people that hers.
Lisa and I talked a few times after that on the set, but she never seemed to come by when others weren't around. She seemed to have gotten over her obsession with needing real things around her. On the last day of shooting, I took the spoon she had wielded and tied it with a green ribbon to a sprig of lavender. I left it anonymously in her trailer.
The movie ended up being a great success, and Lisa was soon an A-list celebrity. I see her all the time on the news, from charity events to awards shows. Some people think she has lost touch with what's real, but I know better, since her only diva demand is to have fresh lavender in her trailer.