“It’s a wine you won’t join me in my box of shame,” she slurred, and then giggled. “Wait . . . I mean . . . what?”
I shook my head and rolled my eyes, shifting my weight as her toe caught a crack in the sidewalk and she lurched forward.
“Well,” I shook the now almost empty wine box. Its contents sloshed pathetically, echoing against the sides of the cardboard. “Not much left to enjoy . . .”
She hiccupped in response. Some mentor–twice my age but a complete a lightweight. I groaned a little as her body sagged heavily against mine.
“One hundred twenty pounds, my ass,” I mumbled, remembering my glance at her resume. Luckily, she was blissfully oblivious to my annoyed tone.
“It’s ok,” she hissed, patting my cheek with her crinkled hand, “I know you’ll take care of me, sweet girl.”
“Uh-huh,” I said, glancing at my watch. Her stage career may have been over, but mine was starting in the morning. I stopped walking and lowered her onto a bench. She sank onto it, leaning her head back, and I prayed she would pass out. No such luck.
“Can’t fire me . . . mentally unstable?” Her voice rose. “Who would say that?” she demanded. “Who?”
I shrugged and stepped back, observing my mentor of ten years. She had once been so elegant, the reason I chose this cast in the first place. A fireball in the spotlight, she never missed a beat and stole the show from everyone else on stage. She got all the recognition, all the awards, and no one else stood a chance. Such a powerful, easy-to-end career. All it took was a rumor whispered to the right the people, by her trusted mentee.
“I don’t need them.” Her eyes filled with tears and they spilled down her cheeks, leaving trails of mascara that seeped into the deep cracks in her skin. Makeup could only cover so much.
I cringed as she leaned toward me. She was going to take my hand, but this was where I would take my leave. I moved to step back, but suddenly her aim was swift and sure, and her hand shot forward, wrapping around my wrist. The other followed suit, and there was a glint of silver under the streetlight and a sharp pain in my stomach.
She stood up and pulled me down, my knees buckling, a wicked smile on her wrinkled lips. She lifted a high-heeled foot and pressed my shoulder down. My balance gave way, and my face hit the concrete.
She let out a small cackle as my vision blurred.
“Mentally unstable, my ass.”