Jared was standing by the sink in his kitchen, tilting his cereal bowl to the side just a smidgeon so his spoon had access to the remaining almond milk soaked nuggets of granola. A blueberry or two were hiding in there as well. He scooped them up and gobbled them down. As he devoured the last few bites he looked across the lawn at his privacy wall and wondered if it was time to have the ivy cut back again. The vines were pretty but they were destroying the stucco. Leaving mossy stains on his freshly painted compound. He didn’t really need the wall or the gates anymore but this is Los Angeles, and hiding behind tall gates is tradition.
Jared’s mental to-do list received another line item and he tossed his spoon in to the sink and drank the dredges from the bowl instead. Betrayed by his hands and their cumbersome movements, he felt like a child, but reminded himself he really has always been a messy eater. And that made him smile.
Mary, his wife, bounced in to the room then with a stack of papers in her hand.
“You’re cheating on me with a girl named AnnaLynn now.” she said devilishly as she thrust the papers in his hands “She’s a few sammies short of a picnic but you should be used to that, right?” Mary winked and trotted out of the room down the hall back towards her home office. He envied Mary’s energy. Wished she’d leave some of her get-up-and-go with him instead of sucking what remains of his own energy out of him every time she trotted in and out of the room. He braced himself on the kitchen counter. Too much pressure on his left knee for too long.
Jared’s an old man now (yes, it happened in spite of the running joke that it never would). Thick head of silver hair that’s long enough to tuck behind his ears but not long enough to make him look like an old fool. Salt and pepper beard like a sailor or a keeper at an old Irish Inn. Slight. Curved. Old. Every year of his age manifests in his back and his hands. His fingers curled. His wrists a permanent ache. His back bent.
Mary is considerably younger. So very sprite – she chases the kids. Entertains him. Keeps the Leto name alive. She’s a good woman. Young lady really. And he loves her dearly. But she’s young. He’s not. Thirteen years ago it seemed like a good idea. Now, well, she’s young and he’s not.
“AnnaLynn.” Jared said aloud in the empty kitchen. The name sounded familiar. More than likely he met a hundred AnnaLynn’s in his life time. He picked up the papers Mary had printed off for him and a little milk dripped from his chin on to the first page. He smeared the first few words as he blotted the droplet with a shaky hand but what lay beneath grabbed his attention right off, he remembered this one.
Lately, Mary’s been delighting herself, and him to some extent, with fan fiction written years ago. Titillating treasures from an era gone by. Dirty. Nasty even. But fun all the same. Fun now. Probably would have horrified him back then.
This one he remembers clearly. One of her first. This fanatical girl who used to tweet him so often he began to recognize her moods. A nuisance. A thorn in his side. From the last phase of the Echelon. Someone long gone from his life but not from this town. She’s quite well-known around here. He even read for her studio once. The part wasn’t right for him, or maybe she had no control over casting. He didn’t get cast. This script writer who forgot to delete her past; or better yet, chose not to delete her past was in his kitchen again. He remembered the round table interview after Variety ran the tease. She just shrugged her shoulders and said (he would never forget) “he could sing too.”
Jared wondered more about her now than the stories Mary printed. He wondered if the gents in her screenplays were him in any way. Not like a narcissist would, more like some sort of morbid curiosity. Is he still her muse?