“I’m sorry babe. They wanted someone else.”
Someone else. Someone else. It’s always someone else, she thought. It’s always someone taller or someone shorter, someone packing Marilyn curves into tight, flouncy skirts or slipping their slim Audrey limbs into chic, black, size 0 trousers, someone with legs and thighs or perky breasts or raven hair like Ava and a pout like Hedy or anyone without the very things that she had. With her red hair and farm-fresh face, round and warm like an apple pie, it would never be her, and always be someone else. She watched her agent pace back and forth, trying to conjure up a career for her with each, worthless step. He was a good man, she knew, but even he wished that she were this elusive “someone” who was definitely not her.
“I’m tired, John,” said Dorothy, too numb even to pretend to care. She was 23, but life had already beaten her down. “Let me go home and try to shrug off this skin I’m in. Maybe I’ll get a job, then.”
She meant it as a joke, but not really. John didn’t laugh. He merely shrugged and nodded, his own exhaustion a monument to her quiet suffering. He bid her goodnight and sat at his desk, determined to find Dorothy the gig that would make the tears she lost every night worth it.
But Dorothy had her own ideas. She went home and went to bed and didn’t cry this time, a first in months. She awoke the next morning and dressed with care – a smart white skirt suit, flared at the knee, with a pair of orange kid gloves and a matching hat and handbag that she had bought at Bendel’s with her one and only paycheck from an Ivory Snow commercial. She ate more for breakfast than she had in three years – a crepe with fruit and coffee – then set off for the Empire State building.
She climbed the stairs until she reached the roof, then took in the views of New York City as it glowed under the light of dawn. The air was cool and cleansing, the sight religious. She breathed in the moment until her insides felt baptized, then leapt 86 stories to her release. Her body crashed into a shiny black limousine parked below as the city’s passerby’s screeched in terror. The metal curled around her body like a heavy blossom, its petals embracing her and never letting go.
It wasn’t until the next day that John learned about the fate of his client, after taking a late breakfast of the morning paper and a cigarette. His knees buckled when he recognized Dorothy embedded in the crushed hood, her face calm and relaxed, legs crossed at the ankle, clothes arranged neatly as if she had been laid there on purpose. She was resplendent in death, oddly serene, her figure accented by the curves in the dented hood.
He saw the headline – “A Fallen Angel! The Most Beautiful Suicide.” Her hat, the only luxury she could afford, sold out in every department store across the state, as did the white suit, an off the rack ensemble from Macy’s that had been on clearance when she first bought it. The orange kid gloves had to be duplicated (they’d been a gift from her mother a long time ago). But nothing could compare to the sudden burst of redheads in the city, who rushed to salons and requested the“Somber Scarlet,” wanting so desperately to become someone else.
Michael Mitchell has a B.A. in Film/TV Production from Loyola Marymount University, and is currently finishing his Master’s degree at USC’s MPW Writing program. He is obsessed with traveling, world history, tattoos, piercings, films and historical fiction