Creative Writing

Set Life

Your life is a Netflix series, and everyone knew it. The love of your life plays the part of the love of your life. It’s not really her. It’s Hollywood. The series has a 7.5/10 approval rating. The entire human race was auditioned. Decisions were made soon afterwards. The cast are confident of success. With a budget like that, a talent pool like that, a story like that, anything is possible

The script is a balance between humor and tragedy. You hope for more humour than tragedy. But you suppose balance is important. The story revolves around your relationship with Clarissa, how it develops, how it becomes unworkable, how eventually it dies out, but how it stays alight in the subtlest of ways like hot embers. 

Today, filming begins with Clarissa drinking an iced latte on fourth street. It’s 9:11 AM, and this scene is set up for cinematic greatness. The bench on the opposite side of the road silhouettes in the rising sun. The implications are poetic. 

The audience recognises this bench from episode 2, the bench where you first met, laughing at a pigeon pecking an empty Snickers. It was so odd, it became funny. Touching. But funny. The audience enjoyed it. 

Remember the episode? 

“Name’s Tim,“ 

Beat.

“And you are?”, she smiled, and then she told you. 

Next episode, you proposed in the same spot.  

“Clarissa, babe, ever since I..” Etc. Etc. Etc. 

She cried. Happy tears of course. You cried too. And though it hadn’t rained that day, it hadn’t rained for months, a faint rainbow formed over the distant hills. The lighting would give the series better chances at the Primetime Emmy Awards. 

The next scene marks a shift in power dynamics. 

Before, you were in charge.

Now, she’s in charge. 

Before, she needed you

Now, you need her

“ That’s awful. I feel so bad”. 

The camera focuses on her fingers pinching a Dorito crisp. The crisp itself is hidden beneath a crimson dust, slightly staining her fingers. 

“Did you get to.. Or, did you..”

The crisp breaks. Clarissa squints her eyes. Until then, she performed quite well. But now the voice behind the phone hangs up. The scene is pretty much over. She’s failed. 

After filming, the crew has a party. But you aren’t invited. You aren’t even considered for an invitation. In the world of the Netflix series, Clarrisa – babe, cutie pops, silly sausage, luvey wuvy – drinks filter coffee and reads over her lines with a blue highlighter. She’s waiting for the next scene. You wonder how much they pay her, who’s her agent, what’s she really like? 

A comment reads : Clarissa is very good at showing the conflict with her character, between openly portraying one’s love and subverting it for fear of social embarrassment. This inner conflict eventually drives the play towards its tragic end.”

The comment receives 156402 thumbs up. You wonder if they’re right. You’re the obstacle, and Clarissa the protagonist. Her love is designed to show the audience the internal conflict within her character. 

This sounds complicated, tragic, mind blowing, but realistic. Some people say the series lacked a story. But you disagree. It’s about your life and your future. To them, it’s a Netflix series. But to you, it’s real. Real as the hairs on your chin, straight as a needle, unmovable. 

You wonder why they decided to cast you. Of all people, they chose you. You don’t even know your own lines. You improvise. Every day. Every line. Every action. You wonder if they improvise too. Of course they do. You can’t learn a lifetime’s worth of lines. you can’t learn the lines if the other actor doesn’t give you cues. Cues. 

You love cues! If this happens, then that happens. If you say that, then I say this. If the obstacle wins, then you win. 

Maybe it finds a way of taking over the world with subtlety and genuinity. Maybe you matter more than you think. Maybe that’s it. Maybe. 


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04/05/2021

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Sam Gordon Webb


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