Fallen Star > Preview


©2013, Allison Morse


. . .

Be methodical. Step-by-step, frame-by-frame. No living on the edge like Gloria, propelled by feelings, drama, illusion, the grande play. Stick to the facts. That’s what she was good at.

Except everything that was happening was dramatic. Kate looked around the small, almost rustic, guest house, which was perched on one of the most expensive cliffs in the world, where she worked with a cute, hunky guy.

Forcing discipline on her erratic thoughts, she concentrated on the task of cleaning the footage. And, for a while, she was able to focus. But by midafternoon the intrusive questions flooded her mind. So many choices—her mother’s, Lillain’s, even her own—had been made based on what they’d thought had led to Gloria’s death.

What if they were all wrong?

She stared at the black-and-white celluloid frame of her grandmother. Gloria’s head was tipped back, and a warm light illuminated her porcelain skin and her bright, wide eyes. Even though her grandmother was confined to this single image, Kate was struck by the mesmerizing allure of her face. It wasn’t simply that her features were beautiful; it was more than that. Gloria had an intensity of feeling that radiated from her, even in a picture almost thirty years old.

What would it be like to feel things so fully?

Kate peered at Dylan. His large hands meticulously laid out the fragile piece of film as if he were a surgeon in the middle of a life-threatening operation. Watching his attention to detail, his delicacy of touch, Kate’s breath deepened. He looked up, and as their gaze met, Kate felt her body flush.

She turned away and tried to concentrate on the footage. She reached for her cotton swab and magnifying glass on the table. At the touch of them, she had to jerk her hand away. They were blistering hot. The searing sensation shot up her arm, and flooded her body with an odd but reassuring warmth.  

In her mind’s eye the celluloid image of her grandmother began to grow. No longer in black and white, Kate saw a medley of rich reds and dark velvet greens that duplicated the faux grandeur of the Emperor Smythe’s set. She heard the faint rustling sounds of large cables brushing the floor and the quiet voices of crew members milling around in the background and she saw the day on the set through Gloria’s eyes.

Kate squinted at the bright lights aimed at her, bathing her in their glare while obscuring many of the faces of the people who stared back.

Whose faces?

She struggled to make out the features of the people moving in the darkness. Some she recognized. Winston walking in and out of shadows while talking to some man with a bushy black mustache, wearing coveralls. There were other discernible features of crew members busy setting up the next shot, but no one else she recognized until she spotted her mother as a child.

A weight pressed on Kate’s chest at the sight of Audrey, her expression dull, sitting alone upon a large metal case, her small legs extended from her white-and-navy polka dot skirt.

Her attention turned to a pool of darkness behind a discarded set. No form or silhouette was visible. Yet, she couldn’t look away. An emotion emanating from that spot drew her. As she walked toward the whirl of dark hunger, a wink of light, perhaps reflected from a watch or jewelry, sparked in the darkness.

She halted. Her heart raced as if she were a rabbit caught in the sights of a falcon. She shut her eyes and told herself what she was seeing was only a dream.

When she opened them, she was again sitting in the guest house. She swayed in her chair like she’d just gotten off a Tilt-a-Whirl. Grabbing the table, she braced herself until the dizzy sensation subsided.

Dylan stared at her, concern in his eyes. “Hey, are you all right?”

She turned away from his steady gaze. “Yeah, I’m fine,” she said.

Insane, but fine.