There was a certain way that the moonlight hit on the box of french fries that made Elinor want to eat every single one of them, but they were made of cardboard, and they were also part of a movie prop table. Therefore Elinor would be frowned upon if she ate even one of them. So she sat back down in her chair and looked up at the skylight in the roof, hence the moonlight. It was night time, obviously, and she was the only one backstage. Everyone else was still getting dressed. There was still some time to take a risk.
“I should just eat one of those french fries.” Elinor crossed her arms in front of her chest and leaned forward close to the prop table. She glanced around backstage and then, quicker than a middle aged mom on coupon IKEA night, snatched the french fries off the table and shoved them all down the front of her sweater. “Or more than one.” There was only one scene in the movie that even required the french fries, so would it really harm things if she took the whole box home? No, most likely not.
“Elinor!” Bridget Lomain stepped backstage to congratulate Elinor before heading back to her trailer. “You did a wonderful job out on set today, really.”
Elinor could feel the sharp edges of the cardboard pressing into her skin. She smiled tightly at Bridget. “Thanks, you too.” She shifted in her seat and then stood up abruptly. “I’d better be headed back to my trailer, actually. I have a bit of a headache.”
“Oh, sorry to hear that. See you tomorrow, I guess.”
“As usual, Bridget, as usual.” Elinor nodded to her co-star and ducked out of the building, feeling the weight of her stolen french fries in her sweater. She walked down the long trail to her temporary home and unlocked the door, looking forward to her snack. The trailer was messy but that was okay. It smelled like too much air freshener and too much perfume, but that was okay too. In fact, little bothered Elinor these days, which was why she was so alarmed when she was compelled to steal cardboard fast food from the prop table. She sat down at her table and placed the french fry box between the salt and pepper bottles.
“This is probably not a good idea.” Elinor thought to herself, but then the moonlight glinted in through her window and hit the french fries and a louder voice said, “EAT THE FRENCH FRIES NOW!” So she picked up one and twirled it around in her long fingers before popping it in her mouth and chewing. It tasted like cardboard left out in the rain. It tasted like cardboard left out in the rain and something else too… There was a mysterious, underlying quality to this delectable stolen object that made Elinor want to believe in magic again. Or maybe cardboard french fries cause heartburn. Either way, it was unsettling. Elinor ate another one. She looked out the window to make sure there were no paparazzi hiding in the bushes snapping photos of her midnight snack habits. There were none to be found so she sat down at the table and ate french fry after french fry until the whole box was empty but then Elinor went ahead and ate that too because why the heck should she stop at the fries?
At the end of the night meal, Elinor sat at her table and felt very dizzy; lightheaded and weak. She pushed up from the table and dragged herself to her bedroom, but she couldn’t shake away the thought that something other than being cardboard was wrong with what she had just consumed. Was it the fake yellow dye that was upsetting not just her stomach but her entire being? Why did she feel so… radioactive?
It was hard to fall asleep when you felt like your insides were dueling with glow in the dark lightsabers and marshmallow sticks, so Elinor stayed up in her bed, rolling and tossing, until almost three in the morning. By the time she did fall asleep, her head was so filled with dancing lights that she felt she could have swallowed eighteen lit firecrackers and felt less restless than she was already. Sadly, her sleep was as fitful as she had imagined it would be and when the alarm clock rang around eight in the morning, Elinor almost welcomed it. She was hoping so very much it had all been a dream.
What else wasn’t a dream was the way Elinor looked when she glanced groggily in the mirror that morning. She was glowing from top of her previously blonde head to tip of well manicured toe and this reveal was so alarming that Elinor screamed. She was electric, and not in the way the media had always prompted her to be.
“I’m blue…” Elinor wailed, falling back on the bed. “Why am I blue? I look like a SMURF! But not even the pretty smurf! Why?” She ran her hands through her navy hair and tears spilled from her aqua eyes. “I knew french fries were bad for you but I mean, BLUE?”
There was a knock on the door and Elinor jumped under the bed. No one could see her like this. This could not be happening. This could absolutely not get out. She stilled her breathing. The trailer door banged louder but Elinor stayed put. This was like a horror movie. She was blue and she was hiding under her bed in a rickety old trailer and someone was trying to bust down the door.
“Elinor!” It was Chet Tracie and he was bringing Elinor her breakfast smoothies like he always did because he was a sweet guy and also her off and on boyfriend so he out of all people could definitely not see blueberry incarnate Elinor. Oh wow. Out of all the smoothies she could love to drink, OF COURSE she loved blueberry smoothies the most. That was so fitting for this day, wasn’t it? Well, Elinor was hungry. And if there was anyone she could explain the dilemma to, it would be Chet. “Elinoooooor, are you in there?”
“Yes, Chet, give me a minute though!” Elinor jumped back out from under the bed and threw a robe over her pajamas; not that it helped her be less blue, but there was always an element of modesty, of course. She slunk to the bedroom door and creaked it open, peering at Chet to gauge what his reaction would be. “Hi there.”
Chet dropped the blueberry smoothie and took five and half steps back. “What the thunderturtles…? Elinor, is this a joke? Did you try to dye your hair? Did you…” Chet threw his hands up, “Eat too much blue food?”
“Not exactly, no.” Elinor shrugged. “You can’t be out here, though, someone may see me and call the police or the SyFy channel.” She pulled Chet into her bedroom and locked the door. He was going to have to sign papers swearing his secrecy to the topic at hand. (And feet, and legs, and stomach and everywhere else because she was so, so very completely blue.)
“Are you not worried someone may have seen me disappear into your trailer?” Chet shifted from foot to foot awkwardly and tried to look everywhere but his sometimes girlfriend’s blue face.
“Not really… I mean, what do they expect?”
“True, true. We are the most scandalous couple to grace People Magazine since Brangelina and Tomkat.”
“Just thinking of what our ship name is.”
Chet frowned. “Well, it would be like… Chelinor.”
Elinor shrugged. “Or Elinnet.”
They both agreed those names were terrible. Probably one of the many reasons their last dating phase had died out again.
“We should probably focus on the fact that you changed colors again.”
Indeed, Elinor had turned hot pink.
Chet nodded bravely. “Yes, Elinor. You are pink now.”
“I guess we could pass it off as a bad sunburn…?
Chet shook his head. “No, it hasn’t been higher than sixty degrees all week. That won’t work. And what if you change colors again? Then what? You can’t be on screen like this.”
Elinor’s pink blinked out and she turned a fire engine red. She was angry at the notion Chet had presented. What audacity!
“I think I’m changing colors with my emotions, Chet.”
The red simmered to a dull salmon color; the color of realization.
Elinor sighed. Why did she have to explain everything? “Blue because I was sad! I ate a lot of french fries last night and it upset my stomach and…”
Chet caught a salmon wrist of Elinor’s. “Hey,” his voice was soft, “You know eating french fries is not going to hurt you. We’ve been through this and I want you to eat healthier so please don’t get into this again.”
Elinor blinked. Then she started laughing. “OH WOW. If only you knew! These were not actual french fries!”
Chet patted her hand solemnly. “Were they low fat french fries?”
“Um, you could say that. They were prop french fries for the diner scene!”
“Elinor, those are made out of cardboard.”
“I know. I’m not an idiot. I was just compelled to eat them.”
Chet was used to Elinor doing things because she just was compelled to, so it wasn’t a shock to him. “Maybe you need to work on control management again? I’m not trying to pry with your life I just think that may be a good idea.”
Elinor buried her now orange face in her palms. “Not to you, Chet! To me! I’m floating.” That was true. Elinor was no longer sitting on the bed, but instead levitating about three inches above the mattress.
“You can fly?”
“I don’t know! I was just…”
“Compelled!” Chet stood up and pushed Elinor back down to the bed but she bobbed right back up to where she had been in the air. “I know!”
There was another knock on the trailer door. “Elinor? Chet? Are you guys in there?” Bridget Lomain, as always, was looking for a story to stick her nose in.
They looked at each other in panic. Chet pulled Elinor to his lap and anchored her by loping heavy arms around her back. “That should keep you on the ground for a minute.”
“Gee, thanks! I’m sure it’s so inconvenient for you.”
“Would’ve happened sooner or later.”
Elinor knew that much was true. “True, true.”
Bridget opened the door to the trailer. “Elinor? Chet?”
“Um, we’re a little busy right now, Bridget!”
Elinor was still lavender. She couldn’t let Bridget see her this way. “Busy…?”
“YES!” Chet yelled back. “So very busy!” He pulled Elinor closer to his chest and a single cardboard french fry fell out of her shirt. He whispered, “Is this an infamous cardboy french fry?”
“Yeah. Don’t eat it.”
Bridget was closer to the door. “Don’t eat what?”
“FRENCH FRIES, BRIDGET!”
Bridget backed up and stared at the door. “Is that a code word?”
Elinor got up and strode to the door to yell at her annoying co-star. “Look it up on Urban Dictionary or something! Leave us alone!”
“Fine, but if Chet is in there make sure you remind him we have dinner tonight! He promised!”
Bridget left the trailer and Elinor glared at Chet. Chet stared at her feet. They were green.
“Are you jealous?”
She floated three feet higher in the air and it was right in that moment when both Chet and Elinor found out another side effect of eating cardboard french fries.