Cassandra Marshall - YA
All hope was lost. There was no escape.
I dangled perilously from the Cliffs of Broken Glass, my fingers barely grasping the edges.
“See what happens when you mess with me?” Captain Aragno said, pointing down at me and then thrusting his head back in laughter.
“Let’s see how you get out of this. Your precious Mikaehl can’t save you now! So long, Princessa!”
Aragno laughed again and stomped away. My eyes watched him as he strutted over to the nearby table, winking before taking a quiet drink from a large Nalgene bottle, the feathers in his hat blowing madly from the force of the wind machine beside him.
He was awful. Where did they find these lame villains?
Refocusing on the ledge, I started swinging my legs up, trying to get a foothold.
I remembered a training day from about a year ago, when my father took me to the Navy Seals training grounds in North Carolina and we worked on dangling techniques.
“Keep your arms slightly bent,” he said. “Try to pump if you can, keep that blood flowing. You don’t want to tire out your muscles too quickly.”
I had been hanging for nearly five minutes now, and my muscles were definitely tired. I swung again and again, barely missing my foothold.
“Need a break?” I heard a voice say from below me.
“No!” I yelled back, voice shaking with the effort.
Pull it together. Pull. It. Together.
I gave my legs another swing and finally found a foothold. I gripped the plastic and rubber grass for all it was worth, and heaved myself up and over the edge, where I landed with a thump in the dirt.
“Alright, Pom, you’re in.”
A girl dressed exactly the way I was approached me from the right. Her corset was just the tinniest bit tighter and her boobs popped out over the top the way I wish mine did.
“You could have been more graceful, you know. Everyone’s going to make fun of the way I did that. We’ll have to cut out all of your grunts too.”
I stare up at her and sighed. “Pomegranate, I—”
“Really,” she interrupted. “Get out of the frame.”
I groaned and rolled towards the cliff edge and looked at the drop.
Pom gave me a shove with her foot, catching me off guard. I fell.
Pom laughed as I soared down, trying to right myself. I barely managed to get my hands up and my knees in the right position before I slammed against the hard mats.
The air left my lungs for just a second and I sucked in a renewing breath before I lifted an arm to wave off the waiting medic. Tingles spread their way through my body before fading away.
Alison Arroway does not get hurt.
That’s what made me one of the best in the business. But no one knows my name, I’m just the stunt double for big names like Pomegranate Posy.
I laid on the mat and watched as Eric rode in on a white horse, his amour shining in the bright lights of the studio. The horse didn’t seem to like the feel of the fake cliff under his hooves and widened his eyes in terror. It didn’t really matter anyway, as soon as Eric jumped off the horse and wrapped his arms around Pom, pulling her up from where she clutched the edge of the cliff above me, a trainer crept up and led the horse away. That horse probably got paid as much as I did today.
“Oh Mikaehl, I was so scared! I wished and hoped for you and now here you are!”
“My dear Princessa! Have no fear! We are together now and you never have to worry again.”
All eyes in the studio focused on Eric and Pom’s faces as they leaned in for the kiss.
I couldn’t look. Instead, I watched the people around us, the men behind the cameras and holding boom mics, the makeup people waiting with palates for touch ups, the caterers wistfully looking in Eric’s direction and wishing they were in Pom’s shoes.
“And, CUT!” The director yelled. He rushed over to Pom and Eric and gushed about how well the scene turned out, how he could really feel the passion behind their words, how Pom really seemed to have struggled and how her sense of relief at being rescued by Eric was felt throughout the entire studio lot.
I rolled over and gagged. Pom couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag.
And Eric was just a pretty face. A pretty face I wouldn’t mind cuddling up to, but a pretty face nonetheless. He was always typecast into these white-knight prince roles.
No one seemed to notice that Princessa saved herself there, that all that grunting and pulling I did meant that the princess didn’t really need the prince to save the day after all. If he hadn’t shown up, she could have walked into the sunset on her own like a bad-ass.
Swarms of people gathered around Pom and dabbed her with swabs and handed her soft damp cloths and bottled water as the makeup and wardrobe teams did their best to clear off the dirt she picked up.
Most moviegoers don’t like to see dirty heroines.
Dirty was my job.
Finally, the director worked his way over to me and said, “Nice job, kid.” He motioned to his many assistants and one came running over with a packet. She thrust it into my hands and gazed adoringly at the director but he ignored her.
“That’s your ticket now, don’t lose it. The plane boards at 3:00 and you better be on it.” He turned away and walked over to the monitors to check the dailies.
I ripped open the packet and searched amongst the papers for the ticket, finally finding it wedged between a list of things to pack and a list of rules while on the island about what is and what is not acceptable to talk about to the press. I scanned the ticket, seeing my name and the date and the final destination: Portugal. There were stops in both NYC and London, but I didn’t really care. I’d been there loads of times. But Portugal! It was going to be awesome, a European vacation with a few rope swings and cliff dives and for three weeks!
I searched the ticket again and my smile faded. Row 32, seat B. Coach.
Not even a window seat.
I gathered up my things and swiped a towel from one of Pom’s crew. She scowled at me, but I didn’t care. I was sweaty and gross and my dad wouldn’t be here to pick me up for another hour or so. He was over in lot 12 filming a scene for Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest thriller.
I grabbed my bag and headed out, squinting at the bright light of the sun.
Through the gates, I saw throngs of people huddled around two forms:
Pom and Eric. They hugged one another and waved and even blew kisses towards the fans, each snapping away with a camera or a cell phone.
Pom stood in a dress of her signature shade of Pomegranate red with matching lipstick looking all dewey and refreshed. Eric wore a white polo and jeans. He seemed to sense me looking at him and turned in my direction, lowering his aviator sunglasses.