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Written for prompt 200 over at [livejournal.com profile] tamingthemuse.

It's about time I start posting the weekly stories here again, eh? I wrote this one pretty much off-the-cuff. I'm not planning to revisit it so I didn't bother to friends lock it. It was a slightly different narrative voice and story framing choice for me, kind of a fun experiment.


Shoot Notes (short story, 1771 words, first draft)


Day 1

I feel like death. No, worse. I feel like death chewed me up and spat me out again into the hot Arizona desert. Which is ironic because it was cold as ass today. The wind was cutting like a winter wind, with a kind of edge to it, even though it's almost summer here. But we got the first day of filming done and April didn't flip a bitch when she broke a nail so I guess I can't complain much overall.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Trying to get the last business of the day over with, I guess. Can't start skipping the details now, though, or they'll be lost forever. All right, here goes.

The details.

Picked Anugya up at six o'clock this morning. She was, amazingly, on time, though just barely. Had the camera and tripod ready to go. Drove across town to pick up April, who was waiting for us and said we were late. This would normally not piss me off, because Anugya usually holds us up a bit, but for once we were actually there EXACTLY when we said we'd be - guh, okay, enough bitching, more recounting.

The location is five hours out of town. Got to the bed and breakfast not long after eleven. Got settled. Anugya wanted to skip lunch and go straight to the site but April and I talked some sense into her. Was maybe half past noon before we pulled up to the old park.

We did the lakeside stuff today, as well as some general walking scenes that we shot from a couple of different angles so we could use them as separate places. Strange hearing the words come out of my mouth instead of just reverberating in my head. Guess I hadn't really thought about playing these characters before. Wasn't so strange to have them come out of April. I didn't think that I'd been writing them for her, but maybe I was tricking myself.

Oh yeah, the nail. In the tree scene, April has to lean against it while she's talking to Clarise - to me, I guess. She tripped over a root on one of the takes and smacked her hand against it and the nail on her right middle finger broke. When that happened I thought the whole rest of the day was going to be a wash, and it was still early too, but she didn't freak out. "I've had worse," she said, doing a Monty Python impression. She even laughed about it after. Maybe she's finally growing up a little. Too little, too late.

Getting maudlin now - I guess that's the important stuff anyway. Filmed until eight so we could get some more dusky light. Anugya's getting us Chinese now. April's sitting across from me on the hotel bed with her laptop, checking Facebook. Room full of quiet clicking.

Probably going to turn in soon.


Day 2

Mark got here this morning around nine. He came to the B&B but we were already at the site so he botched up a really great take by calling me on my cell. April was pissed, sort of at me, but when she found out it was Mark calling he got the full brunt of it. I kind of hoped that she wouldn't hate Mark, but I guess she's got some more growing to do before that'll happen.

The site - this old house, really beautiful. Not quite what I imagined but in a lot of ways it's even better. Anu's been playing with the script, and I'm trying really hard not to let it bug me. I didn't want to direct. I don't want to - but writing it and then acting in it is harder than I thought. April's so good, she brings something to the lines that even I didn't see the first time. Meanwhile I'm stuck in the voices I had in my head when I wrote it, voices that don't really feel like mine.

Anu thinks she's helping me by having Mark play Clarise's - my - lover. It's kind of nice, and kind of weird. Makes me feel like Clarise should be an extension of me, but she isn't. And Mark isn't anything like Chad but he plays him really well, and I feel like I'm drowning in much more interesting characters. Anu says I'm fine - I do trust her, she wouldn't have done it if she didn't think so. So I've got that to go on.

Hard day tomorrow - the breakdown. Really worried about this stuff. April's hardly in it at all tomorrow. We're going to try to get her scenes out of the way in the morning so she can go visit a friend in the afternoon. It's been a hard couple of days with her. I'm glad we're still in touch but I'm glad things aren't how they used to be with us. It's better this way.

Mark is making me stop now. I've been putting him off. I feel like I've wasted this entry on musings, but I can't bring myself to go through the blow-by-blow of the day.


Day 3

April walked off the shoot today. I don't know if she's coming back. I don't know if I want her back.

It has to do with Mark, I know it does. Ever since he got here she's been on edge, snapping at everything. This morning she didn't come down for breakfast. Said she had a headache. Anugya went up to check on her and she was on her laptop again. Anu called her out on trying to avoid us and they got into a huge argument. I thought she might walk out then but she just left in a huff saying that she was going to walk to the house - it was only a couple of miles away, so no big deal. I thought that might cool her off, and I guess I was right, because she was cool as a cucumber until lunch. Everybody was on egg shells because of it. Except for Mark, who was laughing and joking and pretending like everything was hunky dory.

She did one take on her last scene of the day. Anu was setting up for another shot and April just got up and walked out. Wouldn't say where she was going, how long she would be. She still hasn't come back and it's going on ten o'clock. I thought Anu was going to have a fit. Mark and I calmed her down, and we all got some lunch, a weird quiet lunch because we knew we needed to keep from bitching if we were going to get through the reset of the day.

Which was hell. The breakdown scenes... I knew they were coming, but even though I'd written them myself I didn't realize how hard they would be. Hard on every part of me. I feel like I'm worn out like an old rag.

April walking out might have helped some. It brought back a lot of things. I don't know if I could have screamed at Mark like that if I hadn't had that fueling me today. In the last scene before the light was fading and Anu called it a wrap, he was holding me to him and rocking me while I cried. My face was slick with sweat. We had to wait between takes for his shirt to dry. When he took my hands there was blood running down my palms from where I'd been digging in my fingernails. I remember doing it, and I sort of don't.

Anu and Mark both tell me I did really great work with the character today. But I really feel like I've lost her completely. I might as well change her name to mine. It would be more truthful.


Day 4

Still no April. Her things are still in the hotel; just her coat and purse are missing, and she had them with her when she walked off. Her phone is off. Anu and I have been wracking our brains to remember the name of the friend she said she was visiting. Mark is worried, but I know April. She did something like this before.

We were on vacation out of town, back when we lived in Tennessee. Had a huge fight. She left. For a day and a half I wandered around in that town like a ghost, wringing my wrists and wondering if I was supposed to call the police for something like that. And then she appeared again, all apologies, and I was so relieved that she was all right that I could only halfheartedly be mad at her. But it brewed in me. I thought about it a lot when I finally broke things off with her.

Anu didn't do any shooting today. I convinced her and Mark that there was no sense going to the police until tomorrow morning. If she deigns to grace us with her presence then we might even be able to salvage the filming. There aren't many absolutely necessary scenes left, and we can probably make up the difference in locations that are closer to home.

I don't know if I can forgive her for this one. It was one thing when it was working out a grievance toward me. But putting three peoples' lives on hold is a bit much, even for April. I've been through enough blood, sweat and hysterics in and out of real life for that woman.

Convinced Mark to take me out to this nice restaurant in town. Very tourist trappy, but it comes highly recommended. Hoping that April will be at the hotel patching things up with Anu when we get back.


Day 5

Went to the police with Anu this morning. They're going to ask some questions around where we were filming, see if anyone saw where she went that day. If there's no word by nightfall they're going to search the desert.

Anu went home at noon. Mark is driving me back home soon.


Day 6

Still no word.


Day 11

There was a report today from out of state that someone had seen a woman fitting April's description. She was at a convenience store buying tampons and bottled water and gas. She was tanned, and her hair was shorter, but the video taken by the security camera shows her gait and the way she stands when she's waiting in line. Someone was parked outside in a blue Kia - nobody could tell if it was a man or a woman, young or old.

I wish I knew what she was running away from. Probably, practically, she's running away from herself. From the bridges she slowly set to burning.

But my pride wants it to be me.
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