Now they lived together and did odd jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes she got a commercial. He accepted an almost invisible role in a
single episode of something or other for network TV and died in the
opening scene. She barely saw his face, even when they brought him
back later as a body on a slab in the morgue. When they weren’t acting,
they temped, incognito, or waited tables, or cooked with a catering crew,
careful that the restaurant or gig wasn’t one likely to draw people from
the industry. They still collected residuals. They still had agents. But they
had effectively disappeared.
They were young enough that they could have made another life, but
tenaciously held on, to their hopes and ambitions, to their sense of their
own beauty, to their love for one another. When they were desperate they
sat together in bed watching their still only somewhat younger selves fall
in and out of and again in love. In the series they had played a brother
and sister, driven by sensual passion and abhorrence of incest—
vampires, metaphoric, not literal. They had played their scenes against the
real desire they felt for one another and resisted throughout the three
seasons of intermittent shooting, all the way to the finale, when he did
or didn’t die but either way irrevocably left her.
She had always let herself believe that his character lived, her only evidence the closing shot of the series and his presence beside her in the bed.
At last, at the end of shooting, they had surrendered to the thirst and
mystery of their bodies. On set, they had been naked together on several
occasions, enacting scenes of unrealizable fantasy, but now their bodies
were their own, no longer images, not for sale, and they were free. Still,
the traces of their several years of fictional life hung around them, like
a gauze, she thought, a silk. A spider’s web, he said. Or your hair. They
played their parts in bed together, uneasily, unhappily, until slowly, in
their bodies, they found themselves again and their fictional selves began at last to fade.
They did no work during that time, despite the concerns and pleas
and warnings of their agents.
“I have a history of stopping short,” Will said.
“You’re too young to have a history,” Ursula said.
“No, really,” he said. “In my senior year of high school I signed up
to do an independent project in place of taking three core classes, and
instead of doing the work I spent all my time with a girlfriend until the