Lucy loves the cinema, where there are people on the screen pretending to be in a life that is not their own. She says that she’d love to jump into another’s life, just to see what it would be like to know that everything that’s happening isn’t real. Sometimes, if I close my eyes, I wish for the same thing, to live within a frame and to know that when I step out... life will be ordinary again.
Sometimes I even convince myself that all this – the steps that I’m taking, the movements I’m making – is a predetermined sort of dance. I can see in my head a reflection of what will be once the director shouts cut and the dance stops. I dream of that moment. That moment where I will stop living someone else’s life,
where the curtain will be called and I'll step out and she’ll be clapping because we’ve done a smashing job. She’ll be happy because she is the reason for this... this... I stop and scrunch up my nose. This what? I look blankly at the papers in my hand as if they offer the answer. The words are unclear to me, out of focus, as though I've been staring at a light for too long.
Just as I convince myself that this isn’t real, I look around. I see them. Them with their beady eyes pretending to be reading something but their stares are like needles, cutting into my soul. Their quiet whispers behind lifted hands don’t stop the words from reaching my ears. I want to scream, to pound my fists against the desk, tell them they are wrong.
Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.
I need to clear my head. I have to try and grab onto the edge of a thought and follow it but they feel like sand that keeps getting sucked away by the ever-demanding ocean. I close my eyes, trying to gather the thoughts that float around my
head like leaves drifting in the wind. Sometimes I can even reach out and touch her, and she’s so warm underneath my touch that I know everything will be okay.
I grab the stack of papers on my desk and order them alphabetically, depending on the last name of the person who gave it to me. It satisfies me as I align the stack with my quill. It makes me forget their stares because I don’t think I can face what they might mean.
It is so quiet here, so deathly quiet, even with the shuffling of papers and feet, the occasional cough and muted whisper. I sense this silence around me as if I am in a bubble that no-one else can penetrate. She wouldn’t like this setting. She’d never choose it, as the director, but rather she’d scoff and put a bomb in one of our desks just so that something thrilling would happen. But not this. Never this. This isn’t her choosing.
So what is it?
She says it with a mocking smile; her eyes laugh but I can see how her fingers twitch. I bite down lower on my lip and try to push her out of my mind, to push that away. It isn’t real.
I hold onto that thought as I glance up from my desk onto the floor of Nott and Crom’s Publishing House where the employees buzz around like flies, taking a large berth around my desk, their hands clutching onto their second cup of tea of the morning, their eyes poring over the Daily Prophet.
It is so regular. It’s vile just looking at them move when I feel like I’ve been run over by the Hogwarts Express if I so much as lift an arm. I wonder how the world can still go on.
“Are you all right, Miss Weasley?” My head snaps up to see Mr Nott stood in front of my desk. His black eyes seem like they can see right into my heart. He looks like a harmless older man but I always hate looking at his eyes. They have seen more than most would ever see in a lifetime. They speak of death and betrayal if I look into them long enough. They are the same eyes that Uncle Harry sometimes has, or Uncle George. I shudder and tug on the sleeve of my robe.
“I’m fine, of course I’m fine,” I say, my voice scratchy and hoarse. I try to smile, try to look more than the person I’ve always been. But I know what he sees. A Weasley. A broken thing. I wonder briefly if I've said the right lines for this film, if my claim will be believed because it is in the script. I try to push the thought away and tell myself there aren’t any lines. It sounds nice though and I look around briefly, wondering which desk Lucy would put the bomb in.
“You know, we would understand if you wanted to take some time-” he says as he clasps his beefy hands in front of him. He rolls on the balls of his feet as he trails off. I feel my mouth slacken and I shoot out of my chair. I can’t hear it. Not from another mouth. Just lies. I have to believe that those words that are like poison to my heart are nothing, simply nothing. Nothing, I repeat in my head. Time? Time for what? Taking time means that there is something wrong. One. Two. Three.
My breaths are coming again as I push away her blue, blue lips.
“I don’t know what you mean, I’m perfectly fine. Perfect,” I squeak and grab the top pages from my stack. I walk over to Kenneth Greene’s desk where he is leaning lazily back in his chair, holding a quill in his hand and another draft in front of him. I slam the one I've brought down hard on his desk. He always forgets to mark the commas. Always. I do it for him every time and Nott thinks Greene is an excellent editor. He isn’t. The only thing he excels at is ruining the most quills in a month.
“This needs to be redone,” I clip and walk back to my desk. Nott has already disappeared and I breathe exhale in relief. Greene just stares at me, startled, probably because I never ask him to redo anything. I just did it because I knew I could edit it right. It would be perfect. I shuffle the papers on my desk again, open another folder and put them into it before sliding it by the orange one which holds completed drafts. Green, orange, red, and yellow, they all mean something different. My perfect system.
I don’t look up again. But the buzz of the office keeps drilling into my ears and I try to block it out, try to stare at my desk and imagine myself somewhere else. Somehow though, that blue-lipped version of her keeps popping into my head like a jack-in-the-box that is wound again and again and again. I should be doing something, but my mind is muddled and I can’t seem to be able to focus on the work so instead I sit and absently twirl my quill around in my hand.
I wonder if something I'm not sure is true could actually make me feel so numb. When Lucy explains the cinema, she makes it sound magical, like it is part of another world where anything is possible. That you don’t have to look at who you actually are and can ignore all those ugly, mouldy spots and just be something else, like those spots didn’t even matter to begin with.
It sounds so surreal that I almost want to jump in with her, but I know I could never do it. It was far too dicey and I am Molly. I’m not someone who can, or even wants to, shed off her layers. I like layers and they aren’t so easy to strip away, even if I have the fancy. Which I don’t because when Lucy isn’t around, I realize that I’d hate to be in the cinema. I hate not knowing. Lucy never tells me how these actors know how to act like someone else, she just makes it sound like it is something they just do.
Eventually though, they have to step out and what would they step out to? What would I step out to? Anything? Anything but into this ocean that stretches out its greedy arms to me? Where is the end? The thought pierces my mind, swimming through the cracks in my brain and sliding behind my eyes. Blue lips. So, so blue like the colour of the blue, blue ocean. I slam my eyes shut. Go away, I mutter to myself. Go away
. I can hear the trill of her voice, rising in my head, slow and melodic at first until it moves toward a crescendo.
I anxiously gnaw on the end of my eagle quill and pull out the file with all the book drafts in it, flipping the pages just so I can feel the pages underneath my fingertips. This is real. Real.
is that her? I push it away, I can’t... I – One. Two. Three.
What is this, truly? I throw the quill away from me and ignore the looks of my co-workers and how Nott is slowly wandering back this way. I stand up and ignore the way it seems like spiders are crawling up my arms.
I don’t know what she was because I still feel her all around, I feel her as clearly as I feel the rain or the wind but... but – I close my eyes and ruffle my hair, a habit she did whenever she was nervous. I can only think of her film then. Bile rises up in my throat but I push it back. She would definitely have a character break down. Probably in the middle of the bomb crisis and she’d have that daft person just rock back and forth, but when a bomb goes off who is actually prepared for the after effects?
“Ah, there you are Molly,” A voice breaks through my thoughts. Their hands took my arms and led me away from Nott and the staring eyes of the people who call themselves my co-workers. I twist in their firm hold to see James grinning. He's always grinning. He drapes his arm around my shoulders and steers me towards the back door. For a moment, I let him lead because I can’t really get my head around why he’s here and what part he’s meant to play.
“What are you doing? I’m at work,” I finally say and try to struggle out of his in his hold. He simply beams down at me as if this is normal business and continues to guide me out.
“If you can’t pull a sickie now, when can you?” he says. “Anyway, I just finished a new project and you’re my family so you have to come see and say you love it and tell me it’s the most beautiful thing in the world.”
“Erm – ?” I say, glancing around hoping that Nott would to stop us and to tell me to get back to work. Molly doesn’t ever take sickies. My neck muscles tense as we walk right out the door without anyone stopping us or even seeming to care.
“Or,” he continues, ignoring my hesitation completely, “at the very least say it’s better than that shoddy Muggle picture where you don’t know if that damn woman’s smiling or frowning. Why they ogle that is beyond me, it’s so small and it doesn’t even move.” His face contorts in a look of physical pain before his lips twist back into his customary smirk. I’m trying to think if this is part of her script, but it must be, mustn’t it?
He continues chatting but I’m not really listening, I haven’t ever gotten on with James well because his mouth wags like a school girl.
“Oh, and we have to go Nan’s later, I think Albus is going to finally announce that he only has half a brain . It’s going to be pretty lame but I suppose I should puppet the supportive older brother thing,” he says offhandedly and with a roll of his eyes. He quickly charges into another topic about how he wants to bottle the essence of the Screech Owl’s wing because he likes how it shimmers in the evening before I can even think to reply. I partly think that that is the point but then this is James; he likes the sound of his own voice.
I don’t want to go. I don’t want to face my family and I don’t want to hear what they might say. It's Tuesday anyway and I never go out on Tuesdays. They all know that, they know.
I am not sure who I may see. Or, who I may not see,
the thought crosses my mind, unbidden.
I bite down on my lip to try to ignore the beating of my heart. I wish I could just drift back to my flat where there is silence and empty spaces and I don’t have to try to make sense of the things in my mind. But maybe – maybe if I do go – maybe she – she’d have to be there too, she has to be because if everyone is going then it’ll be like there is a gaping hole where her body is supposed to be. She wouldn’t like that.
I become calmer at the thought because it means it will all be cleared up tonight. She couldn’t play director when the family was meeting. She’d have to be tangible, as tangible as the night sky, as tangible as me and that’s what I want, it’s what I desperately needed. I sigh slightly and let myself by pulled away from work willingly as I feel the start of a small smile creep onto the corners of my lips. Tonight I know the shadows in my mind will be chased away.
Author's Note: Thank you for stoping by and reading this! I hope you enjoyed and if you have time, I'd love if you'd give me your thoughts on this chapter and where you think this story is going. One word of feedback can make the world of difference. Again, much thanks to PenguinWillReignSupreme for working with me as a beta and for her encouragement! Chapter image was made by charme.@ TDA.