I Love You All Stop
The Word: Film
Pam crawled around on the carpet, searching for a one inch section of super 8 film lost in the shag. Crawling and crying. All the money she had in the world, ten thousand dollars, had paid for her admission to film school. “Do something you really want,” her grandmother had said. And she’d wanted to make films.
Growing up, she and her friends haunted the revival houses –the Bijou and the Vagabond, the Fox Venice. Now she’d spent ten thousand dollars, and garnered a place in the directors program at the most prestigious film school in America. How excited they all were, how envious. She couldn’t tell them how much she hated it.
In the first semester, they had to make five super 8 films. Most of her fellow students had already made twice that number, while she had never held a movie camera in her hands. What had she been thinking? All that talk, thousands of hours logged in dark art houses, but she had never once tried to make a film. And then her grandmother had given her this gift.
But it was no dream come true. It was Hatif in the equipment cage refusing to give decent equipment to girls. Argumentative crews and volunteer actors who walked off the set in mid-shoot. There was too much equipment, the hours were brutal, and the money poured out like blood from an arterial wound. While her fellow students screened bright, stylish films ready for festival airing, her own murky offerings were voted ‘intriguing’ at best, and more often ‘obscure’, and the splices came apart as they were being screened.
She woke each day exhausted, still in her clothes, and wept as she brushed her teeth, preparing for another 18 hour day. Her boyfriend moved out. “This is so fucked, Pammy. You’re losing it.,” How could Billy understand? He was a bass player in a punk band who worked as a substitute teacher. He had as much ambition as a pot of geraniums. He was a Lily of the Field, he didn’t toil, neither did he spin. Where Pam graduated summa cum laude from Berkeley and had never quit anything in her life.
Do something you really want…
Where was that goddamned clip? She’d just had it! She knew she had it somewhere.
How could she hate this so much, when people would kill for the chance to be in her shoes?
She gave up hunting, pressed her face into the dirty shag. This was only the first semester. She should just kill herself, She should have taken the ten grand and gone to England. She had an aunt there, her mother’s cousin Vi.
Aunt Vi, the family scandal for canceling her wedding back in the ‘Fifties.
“We’d all had our dresses made,” her grandmother said, sitting with Pam at her dressing table, Pam trying on her perfume, wearing her clip on pearl earrings. “People flying in, the Bel Air hotel booked, announcement in the Times. A very big deal. Three days before, she decided she didn’t want to go through with it. Eighteen years old. That girl had some kind of nerve. Three hundred guests. People were furious.”
She opened a small drawer under the mirror, pulled out a yellow paper, and unfolded it gently, handed it to her. Pam handled it gingerly, the telegram was soft, the creases fragile from being read and reread. Not marrying stop terrible mistake stop forgive me stop I love you all stop. “Some kind of nerve.” She sighed and refolded it, slipped it back in the drawer.
That was how you did it. Just like that.
(c) Janet Fitch 2010. All rights reserved.
Part of a weekly series of short short stories based on a writing exercise, The Word. “Inspired by a simple word, chosen at random, write a two-page double-spaced story, using the Word at least once.”
Next week’s word is: BOOK