The Red Windmill
Christopher James was backstage at the new playhouse when his cell phone rang. He had been dreading this call all day, to say the least about his situation. Since they had started rehearsing at the new playhouse Harry Z. Idler had donned "The Cherub Theatre"; the date of the opening night had changed numerous times. Now, it was only about three weeks away…the exact day of his wedding. The person on the other end of the call was no doubt Vanessa, returning the urgent call he had placed earlier that day.
The prospect of finishing the production in three weeks was impossible enough, but now there was also the conflict of his big day. He figured since Vanessa had picked three days for the wedding and booked the caterer on all three so Chris could pick it himself, she would have no problem moving it up a month to the last date on her list.
"That's your phone, I think." A member of the stage crew pointed out.
"Thanks." Chris said, although he knew it had been his phone that was ringing. As much as he didn't want to pick up, he didn't want the call to go into voicemail, otherwise he would never be able to get it again. Ever since Vanessa had bought him the best phone money could buy, he had been utterly afraid of it. The manual for the phone itself was over 100 pages long, and that was at least 50 too many.
"Hello?" He asked timidly, his heart pounding.
"Hey babe, it's me." Came Vanessa's shrill voice from the other end. From the sound of it, she was most likely at an expensive shopping boutique with her friends. This relieved him a bit; at least she was probably in a good mood from spending excessive amounts of money on whatever she wanted.
"Oh hi. I called before because I wanted to talk to you about the wedding date. I know you haven't sent out the invites yet, so I was wondering if you wouldn't mind changing the date to next month." He blurted it all out quickly, then instantly regretted it. He braced himself for the screaming, but it didn't come.
"Alright. Sounds fine." She sounded a bit upset, but Chris chose to ignore it.
"Thank you so much." He said, unable to hide his relief. "Do you want to come to the opening night of the show? It's on the date we had originally for the wedding. I promise you, it will be a night you'll never forget. I even got you a free ticket." He was beaming now. This was the first time in his life he was actually happy around her.
"I don't know." She didn't even sound skeptical. "Plays aren't my thing, you know?" His smile dropped a bit.
"I know, but I just thought since I wrote it…you might like to watch it or something." He heard her sigh.
"Do I have to?" She asked blatantly. He frowned.
"Well, no, of course you don't have to, I just thought…oh well, it doesn't matter. Talk to you later, ok?"
"Sure babe…I got us reservations for this real nice place in town so be home by eight ok?" Then she hung up. Chris closed his phone and shoved it back into his pocket, frustrated.
"Ok everyone, take a breather." Harry's voice carried through the whole theater and backstage. Within seconds Sarah was approaching him with a smile. One thing Chris had also noticed with the progression of the show was that he found himself steadily falling more and more in love with Sarah. He tried to stop himself, oh god did he try, but he just couldn't.
"Hey." He said softly, smiling at her. She coughed lightly and wiped her forehead. "Tough rehearsal?"
"Like you wouldn't imagine. I'm glad I got over that nasty flu in time, otherwise Harry would have needed to use an understudy!" She sat down on a bench nearby, beckoning Chris to sit beside her. "Oh god, am I tired." She murmured, resting her head on his shoulder. Chris shifted uncomfortably and cleared his throat. It wasn't every day he found a gorgeous hooker resting her head on him, much less a gorgeous hooker that he happened to be in love with.
With a tiny sigh, Sarah slid her head down into his lap and curled her legs up to meet her chest. Before he could stop himself, Chris found that his hand was calmly stroking her hair. For a split second, it seemed as if time itself had stopped. For just that moment, maybe it was just them…no Vanessa, no play…just the two of them, alone-but together.
Harry's booming voice broke Chris's fantasy with a painful blast.
"Alright everyone! Break's over!" Chris looked down at Sarah, expecting her to get up and walk away, but she didn't stir. He reached down and shook her lightly, but still nothing. Finally he simply lifted her up and brought her over to Harry, who was clad, instead of his usual pink Armani, in a large turban and a shimmering red robe, adorned with many gold trimmings and large jewelry.
"I think she's asleep Harry. Should I take her back to her room? She just got over a terrible flu, maybe its best if we just let her rest for now." Harry looked disappointed but waved him off with a flick of his wrist.
Chris walked to her room quickly, careful not to wake her up, although that didn't seem possible at the moment. When they reached her room, he put her carefully down on the bed, and sat next to her for a few minutes, just staring. His whole life he had never been in love, and now it was all going so fast, and so wrong. His life wasn't supposed to turn out this way, betrothed at a young age, but in love with a hooker he met at his bachelor party. This kind of stuff only happened in those frustrating comedies, or in overly dramatic soap operas. If there was one thing Chris didn't want his life to be, it was a soap opera.
He had been so wrapped up in thought he had lost track of time. It was now six and the rehearsal had probably ended already. He had been in Sarah's room with her for an hour and hadn't even realized it. Just as he was about to get up and leave, Sarah began to stir. He made his way back to the bed and watched her wake silently.
"Chris?" She asked when her eyes opened.
"Yeah. It's me." He mentally kicked himself for not coming up with a smoother line.
"Is rehearsal over?"
He looked at his watch again. "It just ended I think."
"Oh Shit…Harry's going to be so mad! I promised him I wouldn't do this again!"
Chris gave her a puzzled look. "Again?" She sighed.
"Lately I've been really tired. I guess its part of getting over the flu. A few days ago at rehearsal I just kind of fell asleep and Harry said if I did it again he would throw me out of the show. I mean, sure, Harry's really dramatic, but he'll still be really mad at me." She buried her face in her hands, sitting at the foot of the bed.
Chris put his arm around her shoulder impulsively and squeezed her shoulder. She looked up; her mascara smudged a bit. He began to laugh.
"What?" She asked softly. "What is it?"
"You've got…uh…" He chuckled, bringing his finger up to her face and rubbing lightly underneath her eyes. He showed her his finger, black with runny mascara.
"Oh crap. Raccoon eyes." She laughed a little, wiping her eyes vigorously.
"You're eyes will look worse if you keep doing that." He told her softly, tugging her hands away from her eyes and holding them on her lap. She stared at him, her eyes wide and smudged with black, still wet from old tears.
Chris leaned closer, his heart beating furiously, his brain reeling. He didn't know what he was doing, or what had possessed him to do it, but he was doing it anyway. Slowly, Sarah leaned into him and pressed her lips against his.
Chris had always been against infidelity, and had never in his life thought of being unfaithful to anyone, but suddenly something changed. As hard as he tried, he couldn't stop. And it almost didn't matter. After all, this was the woman he was in love with, so he saw nothing wrong.
Although old enough to know about life, he was too young for the real world, it seemed. Love, he believed, was the greatest thing on earth, and love could solve anything. T.J. had been right in saying Chris's naivete was painful.
As nervous and hesitant as he was, Chris managed to slide them both under the covers and completely forget about his dinner reservations…and everything else that had ever been on his mind.