14th April 1982. Los Angeles. California.
She stared at her reflection in the mirror as the young man fussed over her hair, meticulously making sure that every strand was fixed in place.
She smiled, inwardly, at the stark contrast of white conformity, she had given up on colouring it years ago, compared to the memory of the dark, rebellious locks of her youth.
"When did you become such an old girl?" She mused.
Her chocolate brown eyes still carried a sense of mischief and fire that belied her age. Older, wiser but still full of devilment none the less. She absent mindedly drew her thumb over the back of her wrinkled hand, the caramel of her skin making barely visible the spots of time.
Through the mirror, she caught the eye of the stylist. Breaking the comfortable silence,
"You remind me of someone."
"I'm honoured Ms Perez!" The flamboyant young man replied as he sprayed her hair with a flourish.
"Please, call me Santana. "
He nodded as he put the finishing touches to her coiffured chignon, reminiscent of her movie star days.
Lost in thought she barely heard the knock and the door open as a blond woman, with a clip board and a rather frazzled appearance, popped her head into the dressing room,
"We're ready in 5 Ms Perez. "
Tearing herself back, she nodded. Rising slowly, she used her hands to smooth over the elegant black Chanel dress; Coco had always been one of her favourites.
She glanced at her reflection one last time. Satisfied with her appearance she straightened her shoulders as best she could, reaching for her cane , as loath as she was to use it at 89 she was no longer as young as she used to be.
The stylist handed it to her. Clasping both hands to his chest. He murmured.
"Beautiful. As always. "
She smiled in reply as she made her way to the door. Her uneven fingers ghosting over the silver dolphin pendent hanging from the simple chain at her neck as she whispered,
"This is for you, Britt"
She could hear the muffled sounds of the studio through the walls and many doors that aligned the corridor as she followed the blond assistant down to the interview room.
She realised that she hadn't been listening when the woman stopped outside white double doors, announcing they where at interview room number 4.
The blond was staring at her, with a look of apprehension,
"I was saying, Diane will give a quick over view about the anniversary, introduce you, for those that may not know who you are."
The young stylist snorted, rolling his eyes.
The assistant glared at him, not impressed at being interrupted,
"Then she'll start the interview with some of the prearranged questions. Now it's not live so if it gets too much we can always take a break. Just say when, ok? "
Santana shot the stylist a smirk, missed by the blond who had already entered the room.
If only she knew!
Surveying the room she chuckled to herself as she took in all the people bustling about, heads bent, on some important mission. At least some things in show biz hadn't changed!
To the right, on a raised platform, centre stage, set up to look like a modern but classy living room, where two plush cream leather seats, set at an angle, either side of a glass coffee table. One of which was already occupied. Set back, there was, in the middle, on a stand, a small television and behind that a hanging, commemorating the anniversary, adorning the wall. To the left, she peered into what looked like a dark cavern to be met by an array of cameras, coloured lights blinking as the camera men and various members of the crew checked and rechecked the cables and connections. Spot lights hung from above, angled to illuminate everything on the stage perfectly.
It was a far cry from the days when she had first walked the boards, usually in a converted warehouse, picking her way through the skeletons of discarded scenery, to finally arrive on the make shift stage, that; back then, would constitute a set.
It had always looked more magical on film.
She closed her eyes as she breathed in the air surrounding her, waiting for the familiar smells, fresh paint and wood, mixed in with the buzz and electricity, the essence of the Moving Pictures, that would always fill her with an over bursting excitement before she went on to give a performance. She exhaled, it wasn't there.
Things where different now.
A tall, dark haired, man, dressed in a shirt and pressed slacks, was stood on the caverns floor, barking orders.
"Ms Perez is here." The assistant announced.
A hushed murmur rolled through the room as everyone briefly looked up, acknowledging her presence before resuming what they where doing.
The dark haired man replaced his stern expression with a charming smile as he approached her.
"Hi, I'm Max . I'm the director. Is a pleasure to finally meet you."
"It's a pleasure to be here." She replied.
"Well Ms Perez if you need anything just ask Nancy here. She'll take care of you" Waving in the direction of the blond assistant.
"If you'd like to take a seat then Diane can give you a quick run down and when your ready we can start."
Nancy, the assistant, guided her across the stage. Santana lowered herself gently into the seat opposite an immaculately dressed middle aged brunette, wearing a huge white mega watt smile, who leaned across the table, upsetting an army of make up artists in the process, offering her perfectly manicured hand.
"Hello, I'm Diane, we spoke earlier on the phone. Can I say? I've always been a huge fan of your work."
She took it in her own , shaking it firmly, with a genuine smile she replied,
And she meant it.
She was very familiar with Diane Krueger's work.
When Santana had first been approached, with the idea of possibly giving a interview, as with all other requests over the decades, she had point blank refused, until she had heard that the well established reporter would be the main overseer of the project.
She had always admired Diane's technique. Her ability to put the interviewee at ease was legendary, preferring to guide the flow of the interview, coaxing the answers she wanted, rather than being abrasive or over bearing. She was renowned for handling delicate subject matter with a certain grace and finesse.
Yes, Santana knew that Diane Krueger would be the perfect person for the tale she had to tell.
Letting go, she shifted back into the seat trying to make herself comfortable. Placing the cane down the side of the chair she demurely crossed her legs at the ankle. She watched as Max peered behind the camera then pulled back as he cast a critical eye.
"Make up!" He yelled.
Immediately she was surrounded by an array of make-up artists. There was a flurry of activity as they fluffed and dabbed at her wrinkled mocha face, with brushes and sponges, checking skin tone and covering the slight glare from the lights overhead.
Over whelmed with a sense of claustrophobia, her eyes flitted round the stage, her brief look of panic catching the attention of the young stylist who automatically started shooing away the offending intruders. The memories of once seeing similar mannerisms calmed her.
"Thank you," She breathed.
"Their like a pack of vultures, always hovering around,"
She stifled a laugh as she watched them, in their black attire, return to their circle, surrounding the reporter. They did resemble vultures.
"What's your name?" She asked
"Please would you stay? For the interview?"
She watched the excitement fill his eyes and the slight tinge of colour creep across his porcelain cheeks as he gushed,
"Of course, Ms Perez! For an icon such as yourself, anything,"
She heard the woman opposite her, give a slight cough. The flock of vultures having retreated.
"Ms Perez, may I call you Santana?"
"Of course, Diane!"
"Do you need anything Ms Perez?" Nancy asked.
"Just a glass of water would be fine thank you."
Nancy poured the glass of water over a generous amount of water and a slice of lemon, handing it to her. Santana took a sip. Turning her attention back to the expectant reporter as she placed the glass upon the table,
"I have to admit, I'm quite nervous. It seems I've been out of the game for quite some time."
"Well Santana, I'll let you in on a little secret. I'm nervous too, which I haven't been since I started my career. Interviewing one of the greats and being the first to do so in over 40 years can be a bit nerve wracking but shhh, don't tell anyone." She winked conspiratorially
Santana laughed, deeply. People looked over briefly, to see what had caused the sudden outburst, then turned back to what they where doing.
"You'll do fine. Just ignore the cameras and once we get started it will be like it's just you and me. We'll stick to what we discussed and maybe at the end tie it in, slightly, to your autobiography. I promise. I want to do this piece justice"
She appreciated Diane's warmth and assurance.
Another two more members of the crew approached to two women.
"Diane, Ms Perez, we just have to attach your mics "
A bearded man, who looked to be in his 20's, wearing jeans and a backwards baseball cap gently clipped the small mic to the rounded collar of her dress, affixing the battery pack beside her.
"We just need to test them. If you could just speak into it, please?"
" Testing. Testing. One. Two, "
Santana followed the reporters lead. She cleared her throat,
" Testing. Testing."
The crew member looked at Max who smiled and nodded.
"Right, people. Let's do this! Is everybody ready and in position?"
There was a rumble of agreement. Bryan gave her a thumbs up. The red light, to the side of the stage, turned green.
"Diane Krueger. Santana Perez. Titanic's 70th Anniversary interview. Take One."
Fleetingly bringing the dolphin to her lips, she steeled herself.