Another audition, another day filled with smiling until her muscles ached. It was the same old same old, plodding along in an assembly line filled with blondes, each more perfect and dead-eyed than the last.
She was starting to forget why she'd wanted this at all, why she'd left Pasadena for the glittering city just 20 minutes but a whole world away.
She spent her days worrying about how many calories she'd consumed and how many she'd burned and if her hair needed highlighting and if her handbag was expensive enough and if she needed to buy that anti-aging serum everyone was raving about even though that tiny glass jar would cost more than her rent.
Her life was draining away before her eyes. She didn't know what was real anymore, whenever she looked in the mirror she looked just as blank as all the other mannequins she saw at every audition.
Her head and eyes were heavy by the time she got home and the sun was sinking into the canyon. She trudged across the parking lot, flip flop feet dragging across the hot asphalt. She knew tonight would be that kind of night – the kind where she had to drink herself into oblivion just to sleep.
She didn't notice the man sitting by her front door until she reached the bottom of the stairs leading up to her tiny apartment. He was sitting awkwardly in the cheap lawn chair she'd bought, doubtfully rubbing the edge of one of the leaves of her plastic plant between his fingertips.
Her first thought was "run", probably the knee-jerk reaction of most women when they see a strange man lurking by their door.
The guy was a little too tall, a little too skinny, and his head – well his head was a little too big but that was only because it was filled with his giant, beautiful brain.
So, of course, her second thought was…Sheldon. And it was cotton candy and lemonade and fresh air and the sun's warmth on her skin. It was home.
She must have said his name aloud because he stood suddenly, eyes wide until they fixed on her, and then he smiled. It wasn't his scary smile. In fact, if she didn't know him she wouldn't have recognized it as a smile at all. But it softened his alien eyes and smoothed out the hard, sharp angles of his face.
And all at once it hit her – an overwhelming wave of emotion that had her taking the rickety stairs two at a time, running to him like Bo Derek in "10" even though he'd never be that guy rushing to meet her with arms spread wide. But he did stand still and allow her to wrap herself around him and bury her face in the crook of his sweet, soapy smelling neck.
And okay, maybe she cried a little and maybe it really disturbed him but they still ended up inside and she still watched fondly as he tested every chair in her living room before finally deciding to remain standing.
She watched him talk, his lips pulled tight over his teeth in a thin white line, and she knew he was nervous, knew that his palms must be sweaty.
Her heart ached and swelled as she listened to his characteristically convoluted tale of taking the Gold Line, each bus more perilous and swarming with bacteria than the last. He didn't belong here in this awful, fake town. Hell, she was 99% positive that the palm trees on Hollywood Boulevard were made out of plastic.
So when he asked her to come home, in that mangled, over-complicated, sheepish way of his, she knew she'd been waiting to hear those words for months – waiting for him for months.
If he was any other guy, any other guy in the world, she would have planted a kiss on him that he'd never forget.
But he was Sheldon, sweet Sheldon. And he'd come for her and saved her from herself, just in the nick of time, because somehow he'd known…somehow.
So instead, she let him school her on the most efficient way to pack up all her useless shit and then she made him help her carry it all down to her car even though he sagged and struggled under just the weight of her makeup case.
She felt like dancing, felt like spinning around until she was dizzy, but she just climbed behind the wheel and grinned like a maniac all the way home – all the way back to Pasadena.
And as those fake plastic trees faded from her rear view, the sound of him complaining about her service engine light was music to her ears. It was real. It was home.