Glasha sat nervously in the reception area. She couldn’t believe she let Sreesha get her into this. Make him jealous, she said; make him wish he never left you! Sreesha’s solution to that? Sending a secret application for the latest reality TV show - Unlucky in Love. Glasha didn’t need a reminder of just how unlucky she was; the wounds were still fresh from her breakup with Urahg. Besides, she didn’t have time to date; she traveled for work and couldn’t even keep her houseplants alive…how was she expected to keep a relationship alive?
“I bet Vanya can keep her plants alive…” Glasha muttered to herself, apparently louder than intended, judging by the snort from the woman at the desk. Glasha scowled at her. Trying to calm herself, she took several deep breaths, and immediately regretted that as she started to feel light-headed. “You do NOT need to hyperventilate right now!”
A voice spoke from the doorway. “You must be Glasha! It’s so great to meet you!” the woman - Kellen, her name tag read - extended a hand and offered a warm smile. “You can follow me.”
Glasha trailed behind the woman, debating if she should turn and run for it. Maybe she could fake a stomach cramp. “Sure, no problem! I’m always happy to talk about…um, myself…” The moment she saw the cameras, she almost didn’t have to fake being ill.
Kellen smirked, “Well, that’s perfect. I like to keep things pretty informal; it takes the pressure off.” She gestured towards a large heart-shaped chair - was that red faux leather? “Is there anything I can get you before we start?”
Just as Glasha opened her mouth to respond, an intern sauntered into the room to arrange some cables and adjust the lighting. She eyed him, admiring his attributes. After a moment, Kellen cleared her throat, “Glasha?” she asked, following Glasha’s gaze, “Ah. Well, that’s not quite what I had in mind, but…I guess we are in the right place for that!” Kellen said with a wink.
Glasha didn’t realize she’d been staring and felt her cheeks warm. “What? Oh - ummm…sorry, what was the question again?”
Kellen chuckled. “Refreshments - is there anything I can get you? Coffee, tea? Cold shower?”
Glasha’s eyebrows shot up in surprise at the last suggestion. “Refreshments, right. Coffee would be great - lotsa cream, lotsa sugar.” She offered a shy smile to the intern. He disappeared then returned a few minutes later with the requested coffee. Glasha’s hand brushed his as she took the mug from him and he winked at her. Glasha flushed and she almost dropped the mug.
Kellen shook her head slightly. “Right then, let’s get started, shall we? I just have some general questions, and we’ll record our conversation. We’ll hand everything off to the producers, and you should hear from them within a couple weeks!” She seemed so excited to be inflicting this kind of terror on an innocent person.
“Great, let’s do it!” Glasha forced herself to say. The intern flipped on the lights, blinding Glasha and once again she almost spilled her coffee. She blinked a few times to regain her vision. Glasha heard a subtle “Oops,” from the intern’s direction.
Kellen sighed. “Are we rolling? Great. So, Glasha, the first set of questions is pretty standard, but I like to get them out of the way first. Tell us a little bit about yourself - name, age, generally where you’re from - that kind of thing.”
Glasha shifted nervously, the flesh of her thighs sticking to that horrible faux-leather chair. “Okay. Um…Hi, my name’s Glasha,” she said as she waved and realized she wasn’t looking at the camera - was she supposed to? “Um. I’m 30, and I live in the village of Gardeth.”
Once again, Kellen sighed. “You can look at me, that’s fine. Gardeth? That’s in the valley, right?”
“Yeah, it’s right by the Gardeth River which borders the valley. It’s a nice area. We get a lot of visitors on fishing holidays.” Glasha took a sip of her coffee, willing her heart to stop pounding.
“Have you lived there your whole life?” Kellen asked.
“No; I was born in Radgami and lived there as a child. I moved to Gardeth when I was in my 20s.”
Kellen nodded, as she glanced at her tablet. “Ah, I see. What do you do for a living?”
Glasha perked up at this question. “I am actually part of the local theater group! We travel around, putting on different performances. We’re also the house troupe at the Troubled Trunkfish. When I’m not performing and have some downtime, I’m at the bar slinging mead. Or getting into trouble with my best friend, Sreesha.”
“Tell me about the theater troupe! I bet it’s fascinating being able to travel and see so many new and exciting places!” Kellen seemed relieved that Glasha was relaxing a bit.
“It is! I love being able to visit so many different villages.”
“Have you met any notable people? I’m surprised you haven’t found a partner that way!” Kellen grinned slyly.
Glasha opened her mouth to respond, then faltered. “Um. I guess you could say that.” Crap…she didn’t want to go there. She didn’t think they’d talk about Urahg. Glasha wiped sweaty palms on her jeans.
“Oh. We don’t have to talk about that if you don’t want to.” Kellen reassured her, and tried to tamp down the intrigue at Glasha’s hesitation. She paused for a few seconds hoping Glasha would reconsider. It could make for some interesting drama in the show…
Glasha felt relief wash over her. “Thanks. The theater troupe is great - and you’re right, I’ve been able to see so many interesting places.” Glasha paused, “And yes, I’ve met some very lovely people. Very lovely…”
Glasha felt emotion thicken her words as Kellen’s gaze burned into her. She probably thinks it’d make great drama for the show… Glasha thought to herself. She stared blankly at Kellen.
Kellen sniffed. “Right. Uh, let’s see…have you always been interested in performing?”
Glasha whispered a silent prayer to the gods for the change in topics. “I enjoy making people happy and having a good time. When I was a child, I was always acting out stories with my friends. We’d put on puppet shows or recite tales we’d make up ourselves. It was fun.”
“How long have you been a part of the theater troupe?”
“It’s been several years now. I think I joined when I was 24,” Glasha marveled that the years had flown by. “I started out helping with costumes and such, until I could figure out what I wanted to do. I had to fill in one night for Tas - seven gods, what a disaster that was - but I loved it. I asked if I could have a spot in the show every so often, and here we are!”
Once again, Kellen perked up. “It was a disaster?! What happened? If you don’t mind talking about it…” Kellen looked like a kid who found the cookie jar when mother wasn’t looking.
Glasha chuckled nervously. “Oh, no problem. It’s…quite an embarrassing story, really. I was fairly new to the troupe, and wasn’t really aware of where we were performing. Tas, our usual opening performer, was violently ill with food poisoning and they asked if I’d open the show. This was the very first time I’ve ever performed in front of strangers, but I was confident! I was so excited, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do!” Glasha paused, “Do you know “The Canary Sings Free”? I downed a few ales before the lights went up, and I was feeling so sure of myself. I started with my back facing the crowd, kind of in the shadows for dramatic effect. As I got to the part where the prince realizes the princess isn’t quite as appreciative as he hoped and begins to attack him, I slowly turned and faced the audience…only to see the horrified faces of children staring back at me. I was so mortified. No one told me we were performing at Lady Marigold’s Dance Academy for her junior classes!”
Kellen bit the inside of her cheek to keep from exploding into laughter. “Oh…oh my. That would be quite…something. You…you really had no idea the audience would be children?!” Just outside the set, Glasha blushed as she heard the intern snorting with laughter. She glared in his general direction. Again.
“No. I mean, I don’t remember anyone saying anything about children being the primary audience. It’s possible I wasn’t paying much attention since I wasn’t really performing at the time, and just helping with costumes.”
Composing herself, Kellen asked earnestly, “What did you do? I would have ran off stage so quickly…”
Glasha nodded in agreement. “Well, I probably should have done that, but in my infinite wisdom I decided to finish the story. There may have been some children crying by the time I was done. Needless to say, it took me a while before I wanted to perform again.”
Kellen was speechless for a moment. “Wow. I’m sorry that happened to you, but…you have to admit, it’s pretty hilarious!”
Glasha looked at her flatly, “Yes. Hilarious.” She rolled her eyes as Kellen dabbed a tear from the corner of her eye.
Kellen recovered. “But you seem to have overcome that apprehension these days. I hear great things about your routine from folks who have watched the troupe perform. Do you have any shows coming up?”
“Yeah, I sulked for a few days, but decided to get on with life. Now I’m back to a semi-regular appearance in the shows. We do have a performance coming up next week - well, as long as we can get the shipment of glitter and fireworks through customs in time - you should totally come see it! I’ll put you on the list!”
“Fantastic! Oh, maybe add…” Kellen pointed towards the intern and winked.
Glasha glanced towards him and back at Kellen. “Really? You think…I mean. Sure, whatever.” Play it cool, dork.
Kellen grinned broadly, and said in a matter-of-fact tone “I mean, you are auditioning for Unlucky in Love, afterall. Think of this as your, I don’t know, meet cute.”
Glasha arched an eyebrow, “If it were that easy, I wouldn’t be here now, would I?”
Glasha peeled her legs from the sticky faux-leather; sweat was beginning to form behind her knees. “So, what other questions do you have for me? Surely no one will be that interested in my antics with the troupe…”
“Ah, yeah. Sorry. Hmm…let’s see…” Kellen tapped the tablet in her lap a couple times, “Ah! Tell me a bit about your family: Do you have any siblings? Any pets? Are you close to your family?”
“My family is pretty normal. I have parents, I have an older brother and a nephew, and I’m close to them all. No pets - or plants,“ Glasha mused, “no time for them when the troupe travels so much. They all still live in Radgami, and I see them a few times a month.”
“That’s great. Family is important.”
“They are. They’ve been really supportive of me, even if my mother didn’t completely agree with my joining the traveling troupe.” Glasha waved a dismissive hand. “She’s fine with it now.”
“Mothers can be that way sometimes. I am sure she’s very proud of you.” Kellen glanced at her watch. “OK - let’s take a 15 minute break; when we come back we can get to the “tea” as the kids say. They do still say that, right?”
Glasha laughed, nervously. What “tea” could she possibly mean? “Uh, yes? I think so.” Glasha said warily.
Glasha un-stuck herself from that dreadful chair to stretch her legs. On her way back from the washroom, she made a beeline to a table with some delicious-looking danishes from the local bakery. Glasha selected a cherry-filled frosted pastry and took a large bite.
“I saw they brought in some danishes - those looked amazing.” Kellen said, as she poured fresh coffee into her ‘Unlucky in Love’ branded mug. What was that, her 3rd cup? Glasha nodded silently as she shoved the last bit of pastry into her mouth. Not receiving a verbal response, Kellen looked up. “Ah, I see you found them. Are they as good as they look?”
“Uh, yeah. Sorry!” Glasha mumbled around a full mouth. They made their way back to the set, to that awful chair. Glasha’s nose crinkled as she wondered how often they sanitized it.
“No worries. OK - let’s get on with things.” Kellen scrolled through a few screens on the tablet. “As you know, you’re here to audition for ‘Unlucky in Love’. Before we continue, I want to make certain you want to move forward.” She gave Glasha a pointed look.
Glasha arched an eyebrow. “Why do I feel like you’re trying to talk me out of this?”
“Oh, no - I mean, I find it kind of interesting that you wanted to audition for this show. Being in the public eye as often as you are, I presumed you’d have no trouble finding a partner!” Kellen blurted before she could stop herself. “Sorry, I know you didn’t want to talk about it.”
Glasha drummed her fingers on her thigh. “OK, here’s your tea. I just ended a lengthy relationship. An engagement, actually. My friend mentioned coming on the show to get back at my fianc…my ex. I am not usually one to stoop to such petty measures, and I protested. She is not one to take no for an answer, especially when she thinks she’s being brilliant,” Glasha rolled her eyes, “and she apparently submitted the application without my knowledge.” She was surprised at how relieved she felt saying the words out loud. “I had no idea until I received the message inviting me to the audition…and, well…here I am.” Glasha waved her hand vaguely towards the studio.
Kellen nibbled on her bottom lip; she looked conflicted. “I see,” she sighed finally. “While I did find it odd, I was excited at the idea of a local ‘celebrity’ coming on the show. It would certainly boost our ratings.”
Glasha snorted at the use of the term ‘celebrity’ to describe her status. She merely performed with a traveling troupe, it’s not like she was anyone famous. “Yes, I can see where one may be delusional enough to think that I would boost anyone’s ratings…”
“Seriously though,” Kellen said, “you don’t have to do this. Besides, I am sure the filming schedule would interfere with the troupe.” She genuinely seemed a little disappointed.
Glasha considered her words. While she wasn’t against being in the public eye, she really didn’t want to do this. She was not one to seek retribution or revenge…even if they had been engaged for 3 years. “I really appreciate your understanding.” Glasha felt the dread release from her body.
Kellen nodded. “Thanks for taking time to stop in today. Feel free to grab some more coffee or danishes on your way out.” She stood, offering a hand to Glasha.
“The offer still stands about coming to a show,” Glasha said as she grasped Kellen’s hand, grimacing at how sweaty her own hand was. Glasha took a moment to compose herself. As she passed the refreshment table, she made eye contact with the intern. She smiled awkwardly. “I suppose you heard all that?” Glasha nodded towards the studio.
“Yeah, I did. I’m sorry about your, uh, break up.” he apologized. She noticed his green eyes for the first time. Quite nice eyes, with flecks of gold.
Glasha shrugged, “Thanks. I guess it just wasn’t meant to work out.” She did not want to get emotional while talking to him. “Oh, uh, what did you say your name was?”
The intern offered her a lopsided grin, “I didn’t. I’m Tovyn. Heh, I can’t believe I’m talking to a celebrity!”
Glasha snorted again at the use of that word. “Please, I am NOT a celebrity.”
“You’re so chill.” Tovyn shook his head. Was he nervous? Glasha eyed him curiously. “I didn’t think…nevermind.”
“It’s nothing. Really.” He picked up a stack of cups, almost knocking them off the table.
Glasha narrowed her eyes, “What?”
Tovyn sighed. “I’ve been to a couple of the shows at the Trunkfish; it was impressive how many people asked for your autograph or photo after the show. I just figured, I don’t know. I guess I thought you’d be shallow or self-absorbed. But you’re not. You’re…cool.” he said quietly, shrugging off the words.
Glasha smiled at him. “Well thanks! You know, I thought you looked sort of familiar, but I just assumed you’d been in the tavern before. Well, I mean, you were but not for a show.” Gods, why was she always so awkward?
Tovyn looked taken aback. “You remembered me?!” He looked like he wanted to say more, but stopped himself. She willed him to keep talking. “So…would you…” he pushed a hand through his hair. Glasha quirked an eyebrow at him.
“Well, I just thought…I mean, you are at an audition for Unlucky in Love, and I’d be a pretty poor intern if I didn’t try to get you a date.” Did he just wink? Yes, that was definitely a wink.
“Are…you flirting with me?”
She wasn’t in the market for a relationship right now. Not so soon after breaking up with Urahg. Was she? What if… No, she pushed that thought out of her mind. Dating someone else so soon would NOT make Urahg jealous. Would it? She wasn’t normally this petty, but it was 3 years and there was no warning. No indication he was unhappy with them. With her. No, she wouldn’t do it to make him jealous. Glasha stared at him blankly, “Maybe?”
That lopsided grin was back. “Um, it depends. Is it working?”