6. The River Scene
Dierdre is walking down the moonlit path, her bare feet soft in the hard dirt. She shivers in the cool night breeze, her white nightgown flowing around her knees. She knows he’s out there somewhere, upon the grounds, perhaps waiting for her.
“No.” Anabelle said to herself, shaking her head and stopping midstep. Backtracking, she stood just beyond the garden archway and looked down the sunlit path that supposedly led to the stream.
“No.” She repeated to the rose bush standing sentinel next to the entrance way. “Too cheesy. She wants a river make out sesh, I’ll give her one.”
And so she started over.
Dierdre is walking down the sunlit path, her bare feet soft in the hard, warm dirt. Removing her gloves, she hangs them on a passing branch, ducking low to save her coiffed curls. She knows he’s down there, somewhere, perhaps waiting for her. If she could only find him, maybe she could explain. Maybe she could make things right again.
She came around a thicket and out into a meadow, and beyond the meadow, lay the stream. White puffy clouds drifted listlessly on the breeze and on the far horizon, dark thunderheads gathered, threatening rain, but for now, she turned her head up to the rare sun and breathed in the scent of the meadow.
Laughing, she took off at a dash, grabbing her petticoats and lifting them high into the air, she raced through the hip tall grass with wild abandon, desperate to seek the man she loved. Invigorated, she jumped the fallen log near the edge of the river, vaulted a small inlet and landed knee deep in a quickly sinking pit of bog scum that proceeded to devour her whole.
“Help!” She cried out, her voice echoing over the grass and clashing with the sound of the river. “Help!” She cried again, flapping her arms and struggling to remove herself before her bodice was ruined.
“Well stop flailing like a drunken sailor in a bathtub.” Came a deep voice from behind her. She squished and squelched and craned herself around and there, standing calmly among the grass, was her love.
“Get me out!” She cried. “Get me out, hurry.”
“You’ll have to take it off.” He said, coming round the side of the boggy pit and kneeling down to unclasp his boots.
“Take what off?” She demanded, shocked.
“Your dress lass, its weighing you down.” He answered matter of factly.
“Well, I say!” Dierdre cried scandalously. “If this is a ploy to get me down to my shift, I swear I’ll…”
“Well I can’t pull you out with that thing clinging like death around a plague grave. You’ll have to take it off.” He said bemusedly.
Scowling, Dierdre unbuttoned, unlaced, and unclasped until she was nothing but an ivory shift waist deep in mud. “Very good.” He said with a wolfish grin.
She sniffed, shivered, then held out her hands for him. Leveraging himself against the rocks, he took hold of her torso and yanked. There was a moment of relentless squelching that sounded something akin to a dying jellyfish, and neither parties truly believed the mud would relinquish her, then, with a great belching ball of gaseous sulfur, the ground gave way, and Dierdre came flying out like a dead fish onto the bank beside him.
Muck covered and shivering, they gaze into each others eyes, cue cheesy music, and suck face.
“There!” Anabelle said, finishing her last sentence with a bold period. Looking down at her journal, she fluttered her fingers in the cold stream (which really was more like a river anyway) and read over what she’d written.
Fairly satisfied with her work, she smiled to herself and shut the scene closed. Standing up from her nest of rocks on the stream bank, she pulled out her handy smoking tin, opened it up, plucked a handily rolled herbette, and produced her lighter. Feeling rather accomplished, she set all of her belongings in a neat, orderly pile by the bank, climbed up on some rocks to take in the view, and took a drag.
The feeling of a job well done had always given her the warm glow of satisfaction. That moment, perched above the stream and looking out over the rolling english countryside, she was experiencing the same sensations, as if she had just ran a marathon, not written a silly little scene.
But that was what life was like for Anabelle Greeves, who took each moment as they came. Which is why it was not such a shock when Prester Reeds came jogging up the creek bed, neon glow green shorts and tube socks vibrant in the pale sunlight. Nor was she all that surprised when he stopped mid jog, turned to her and said simply, “Been out for a jog,” before jogging toward the castle. She watched him as disappeared uphill and thought perhaps there was a reason he hadn’t been doing any films lately.
However, unshakable resolve aside, there were some people who just always seemed to take Anabelle off guard, and as she hummed to herself, smoking, hanging out over the current, one such of those people happened to come, singing and ranting to himself about “americans”, launching over the nearest rise and out onto a rock to the left of Anabelle, who startled, “Eeeeped!”, dropped her herbette, slipped on the rocks, and went over backwards into the stream.
Theo, who had just extracted himself from the ravenous clutches of Jennifer Starling and sought escape in a jaunt around his old hunting grounds, jumped from the top of the stream bed and out onto a waiting boulder.
Not seeing the woman perched atop a nearby rock until the last moment, he had previously been half singing an old Irish tune his mother favored, half ranting about “…americans who have no taste,” and in general, not paying attention, and was startled when she (who was, of course, none other than the writer, who else?) let out a frightened squeak, flailed her arms and went over backwards into the stream.
“Bloody hell!” He mumbled to himself as he scrambled over the rocks down current. Prepared to jump in and rescue her, he was saved from such endeavors by the shallows, which washed her up, sputtering, onto the pebbled shore.
“What is it with you and water?” He asked as he clambered down to the beach next to her.
“What is it with you and sneaking up on people?” She grunted, heaving herself unsteadily onto her feet. He reached out with an arm and righted her, and the wobbling ceased, but soon gave way to violent shivering.
“No one else ever falls over into bodies of water when I come around.” he added a little bemusedly, pulling off his sweater and wrapping it around her shoulders. He reflected he probably should have brought more with him. Sweaters, that is.
She tried to shrug away from his help, but he ended up tying the blue wool contraption round her as she began to stumble up over the rocks.
“There is a fountain off the west wing, do avoid it, will you?” He joked, finding himself smiling like a lunatic.
“Not funny!” She growled, batting his hand away as he offered her support up the slope. She began the climb viciously, ripping poor little rootlings from the soil, sending rocks flying, and then, half way up, she slipped in a pile of loose pebbles, and slid back down a few feet.
“Ow!” She howled maniacally, grunting and mucking about in the dirt, trying to find solid purchase on an ever loosening slope.
“Just stop, I’ll help you.” He said, bracing himself on a protruding root and pulling her to him. He got her standing again on relatively solid, flat ground, but as soon as he withdrew his arms from around her she toppled once more to the dirt. Wincing and taking sharp breaths between muttered curses, she cradled her ankle between her hands. “Let me carry you.” He offered, reaching down for her, but she snapped at his hands with her mouth.
“Don’t even think about it, buddy.” She growled, leveraging her weight against the root and pushing herself to her feet. One step was enough, and she was cursing loudly this time, her left leg held up off the ground, her body slack against the rocks. “Shit!” She spat, trying to limp up the slope.
“Oh let me carry you, you’ll never make it like this.” He scowled, taking her bodily into his arms and sweeping her legs up off the ground. She hollered a little, and adjusted her dripping wet body against his way too many times to call comfortable, but finally they were above the loose slope and onto the solid pathway.
Just when he thought they were home free, she started wriggling and protesting, “My journal! My journal! No, I’ve got to go back, put me down.” She jolted once, and he thought he might drop her anyway, so he settled her down onto the pathway, halfway into some grass.
“I’ll get it.” He said, a little out of breath.
“And my smoking tin!” She hollered after him as he trundled back down the path. He waved at her dismissively and disappeared over the rise and back down to the stream bank. Poking around the rocks, he finally found her belongings in the shade of a low lying ledge. Piled with obsessed neatness were a pair of flip flops, a black and white composition book, and a small altoids tin. Theo didn’t need to look inside the tin to know what it contained, he could smell it well enough.
As he walked he noticed a gap in the pages of the notebook where a fountain pen half stuck out. Curiosity overcoming him, he opened the notebook and read several paragraphs. Trying very hard not to laugh, he came into view of her huddled in the grass, and arched his brow questioningly as he approached her dripping, muddy, bedraggled form. “Cue cheesy music and go suck face?” He asked, partly amused, partly mortified that he was meant to be half of the suck face equation.
“She wanted a damn river make out scene.” Anabelle said defiantly, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Somehow I don’t think this is exactly what she had in mind.” He said, trying very hard not to laugh and handing her the notebook and the tin, stowing her sandals under his arm.
“How dare you read my journal, anyway.” Anabelle fumed.
Which seemed only to make Theo not-laugh all the harder as he bent to hoist her up. “On we go.” He informed her, cupping his arms around her back and under her legs.
“No way jose!” She jerked away and tried, once more, to push herself up.
“Not this time, princess, I am starting to tire.” He informed her, swooping her up and throwing her (very manly-like) over his shoulder like a fireman, gripping round her thighs, her head bouncing wildly down his back.
As they trundled upward, Anabelle tried not to stare at his notoriously good looking glutious maximus and imagined at any second, his lithe form was going to buckle under her weight.
Like a gladiator (haha glutious maximus!), Theo sprinted up the hill, and broke through the arbor at a strained gait, startling several of the company who sat out on a morning patio, (including but limited to: Karina, who flashed Anabelle a thumbs up that Anabelle was unfortunately, not physically able to see; Jennifer Starling, who looked extremely put out; a slightly sweaty, neon clad Prester Reeds who only looked confused; and Freeguyl, who looked drunk) and deposited a moaning Anabelle into a patio chair with a grunt.
“My god!” Mr. August called from the doorway. “What has happened?”
Anabelle would later reflect that Mr. August’s words had opened a flood gate, for everyone seemed to talk at once.
Theo looked at Jennifer and said, “She wrote your river scene.” Then turned to Freeguyl and started forward, “I’ve just got the new concept, get the crews here immediately, I will start tomorrow.”
Which led to Jennifer proclaiming loudly, “I need my makeup and hair twenty four hours in advance of filming!” At the same time Freeguyl began barking orders to invisible servants that truly weren’t there, and Mr. August rushed down the steps to tend to Anabelle, and Karina was shunting around Prester Reeds, asking if Anabelle was okay, and Prester Reeds was asking why no one brought him his breakfast.
Freeguyl, irritated with Prester Reeds incessant complaining, barked out at the neon green short wearing actor, who, startled, stumbled backward into Karina and took them both down to the ferns. Which sent Jennifer into a tizzy and Mr. August into a frantic yelling match with the irate producer.
When Mr. August trodded upon Anabelle’s ankle a little not so tenderly, Anabelle yelped, stood up like a lightning bolt, sucked in a huge breath, and bellowed, “Shut the fuck up! Everyone, jesus, take a breath.”
Theo, who was in deep conversation with Craegen, (who, like always, appeared out of nowhere) stopped short, Mr. August left off his apologizing, Jennifer Starling stood open mouthed and gaping, and Freeguyl sputtered to a close, and a ringing laughter sounded above them.
Everyone looked up at once to see Darren Dileero, positioned upon a high balcony, a video camera pointing directly at the action below.
“This is fun!” Dileero called out. “I’m thinking I may change my profession.” He said down at them, shouldering the camera and giving them a grin. When no one said anything, Dileero shrugged and called down, “I found this in my closet.” In the continuation of no one saying anything at all, Dileero laughed, shook his head and positioned the camera once more upon them. “Action!” He called out.
After a moment of everyone looking around to see if he was serious, they apparently decided at large that he was not, and went back to what they were doing.
Anabelle started limping around the fire pit, Theo went back to orating lists of to-dos, Karina started jostling Prester Reeds off her, muttering murderously, Mr. August was fawning over Anabelle, Darren was simply laughing, and Freeguyl went back to ordering people around, “Anabelle, get me a copy of that scene.” He barked out. “Mr. August, I’m afraid you will be intruded upon sooner than previously expected.”
Mr. August, who had reclaimed some sort of composure, nodded his assent. “Of course. Let the games begin.”
“Karina, try to be a writing assistant, and help Greeves get this shit done.” Freeguyl commanded, which only elicited more muttered curses, “Somebody find me Ulga!” He screeched above the din.
Darren kept laughing from above.