not a proper movie
In the summer before the crowning year of her secondary education, Charlotte finds herself hypothetically entangled with grand projects. Nothing involving ordinary stuff—i.e. extraordinary stuff—no, that would be too, too obvious (of course she’s already investigating the alleged werefox sightings happening around the golf club, but it’s just a pastime, really). What about a movie? A movie! She talks and talks, using terms which she discovered last night: cinéma vérité, Dutch angles, mumblecore! IDEAS! So many POSSIBILITIES! There’s a frenetic rhythm to her words, and there are so many moments when you just believe in Charlotte. Like, you can feel her weirdly enticing nonsense interweaving to your brain patterns and convincing you of the potential glory of the universe. And oh, sure, the glory is loud and occasionally annoying, but it's great, isn't it?
Sometimes even two young ladies who are much used to Lottie’s modus operandi can still fall to her—er—charms (not the right word), though their reaction certainly isn't about starry eyes and the firm belief that they're talking to a new Messiah. They just accept Lottie's idea with no qualms. Mildred adopts a practical angle, listing the special effects which they can achieve using her scientific knowledge. Shauna asks about the motivation of the non-existent characters and traces a chart outlining the monomyth. Kind of. There’s the call to adventure and then. . . something . . . ? She read about it a good while ago, sorry. Charlotte says that's okay, because their story will break conventions! She also tells them that everyone (?) is expecting her to deliver a certain kind of material. Suspense! Explosions! Twists! General grossness! I don’t wanna be predictable, je refuse, etc.
They talk about things they like, but mostly about things they hate: no love at first sight! No moral lessons! No talking animals! No, wait. Talking animals can be funny! Imagine Pepper talking. Just imagine. Wouldn’t you find that weeeeell funny? Mildred and Shauna still can’t really see the appeal, and Charlotte feels very betrayed.
The laptop is passed about, and in the end of the day the screenplay consists of a mostly blank page on Google Drive.
BY MILDRED HAVERSHAM, SHAUNA WICKLE AND CHARLOTTE GROTE
“Promising,” Mildred says.
“Let’s change change the font,” Shauna says. “Impact does have an overwhelming name."
Then Charlotte says in an unreliable melody that QUICK, QUICK, QUICK, give the laptop to her, the muse is talking.
BY MILDRED HAVERSHAM, SHAUNA WICKLE AND CHARLOTTE GROTE.
“Wow. Is your muse charging per word? I can chip in, you know.”
"Chill out, Mildew. I'm not finished."
BY MILDRED HAVERSHAM, SHAUNA WICKLE AND CHARLOTTE GROTE
There’s no movie.
not a proper conversation
Linton has a long history of teaching himself to be more observant. In an earlier, more innocent stage of life it consisted of repeatedly throwing questions at his father, then it quickly developed to spending hours on articles like 8 Tips To Get You Thinking More Like Holmes and then—well, let’s just say1 he has a lot of empirical experience (for further information consult: Baxter, Linton: Résumé. But, really, it would be more pleasing for everyone if you didn’t—it’s a forgotten .doc file, typed months ago in a sad attempt of playing the grown up. Under Special Skills, there are 3000 words about his first investigation, and there would have been many more if the computer hadn’t turned off due to a power outage due to a very aggressive giant robot. That had been a wicked case.)
Anyway, this is what he observes:
Charlotte Grotte is hiding in the bushes.
It’s a summer Saturday afternoon. He’s seventeen, he’s bored, and a dangerous idea is born right there in the park. He’s not sure if he’s ready to be responsible for it, and he already can see it crawling, putting a finger in a plug socket, trying to swallow something definitely unswallowable.
But he doesn’t care.
No, really, he doesn’t. It’s just a random, ridiculous thought and—
Sonny and Jack don't feel like hanging out. Lately, being with Colm means being with Colm & Claire, and fine, she’s not an awful person, but he’s never really in the mood of being third wheel to a thousand-year-old2 relationship (they know each other too well, it’s nauseating). His brothers are Useless As Usual, his father doesn’t need his help with the current cases, his mother doesn’t need his help (but would be grateful if he stopped sleeping so late. It isn't healthy!).
He takes the idea by the hand.
Yeah, yeah, Linton is about to ask Charlotte Grote for a mystery date. Whatever. Stranger things have happened (believe him. For more information, consult: etc)
He greets her, expecting some surprise, some concealing of activities, but there’s no gasping nor wide eyes. Charlotte responds in an excited manner. Too excited.
“My oh my, exactly who I was looking for!” She exclaims, and Linton quickly tries to recapitulate what he knows about clones. Not much. Damn.
“What are you doing?”
“Oh, what do you think? Ecotourism, of course!” That’s definitely more like her: he decides to drop his suspicions. And for not the first time, he wonders how she can simultaneously sound perfectly annoyed and amused and sure of herself.
“I honestly have no flipping idea.”
“Well, well, what can I say, yeah? This is me, all hidden facets! An enigma, really.”
He stares at the enigma standing up and getting out of the bushes. In a romance he would pick a leaf out of her hair, but there are way too many, and he isn't interested in touching her head, and he doesn't even know what happens in romances, and he doesn't care about romances, whatever.
"Tsk-tsk, and here I was thinking your sleuthing abilities were actually getting better. Soon you'll become the weakest link, and we'll have to kick you out of the team and produce a reality show to choose a new member."
"Not gonna happen3. Anyway, did you hear about the werefox?" He asks in a very, very casual manner.
“Cor, ob-vi-ous-ly. I’m a well-informed lady! Let's sit down and have a proper conversation!"
And while they share the nearest bench, Charlotte asks a truly terrifying question.
"So, do you know what is the deal with Mad Terry?"
"What? No deal. There's no deal. What are you talking about?"
"Linton, you're the kind of liar that taints the reputation of the good ones. Lying is serious, so take it SERIOUSLY. Convince me! LIE LIKE YOU MEAN IT."
"I don't—whatever. What was he doing?"
"Just looking more murderous than usual. I was trying to catch him in action but it got sort of boring after a while. But I know you've got some expertise. Do share."
"Oh. I thought it would be something much worse," he says, looking relieved for a brief moment before the renaissance of The Frown. "Listen, Charlotte, you don't want to get involved. I'm talking about dark stuff here, serious dark stuff. Ask Jack. No, ask Sonny. He's got a whole file on Terry, and it's not beautiful."
"Whoa, I have no idea how you can know me since before I got my period and think that telling me that wouldn't make me even more interested. Like. Literally no idea. It's truly amazing."
They bicker for a while; and maybe it's not quick or witty enough to be considered banter, but the conversation holds sufficient ridiculousness to attract some endeared looks from passersby. The prodigious investigators don't notice it. Later, they also wouldn't know to explain the mood change that made they talk in tones that seemed to evoke Sundance Festival's laurels, sad indie music and highly quotable coming of age novels.
It ends like this:
"I just don't wanna get bored this summer," she says. "Not bored, but boooreeed, and I'm afraid I will, and it's not really only about this summer, I guess? It's well existential! It's—I keep seeing analogies! Sometimes I feel like writing a poem. A poem. I swear."
They sit in silence for a while. Growing up is weird. He used to think being a fourteen-year-old had been his darkest hour, but then there are times like this. He wouldn't say Charlotte is sad, but Charlotte isn't happy, and he knows it has something something to do with being almost an adult. And he knows because he feels it as well, but he can't tell her any of that because it would be so ridiculous, and it would probably make her cackle. Then she'd get all self-conscious and she'd tell him they're having a proper bonding moment and ooooooh, she can feel the tears already coming and oh, he's making a girl cry, she would say with the driest eyes ever, and what would Mrs. Baxter think of that? And his mum has an astonishing inability of detecting sarcasm, so there's this huge possibility she would actually believe in Charlotte, and Charlotte would be kinda startled at that—but still totally unfazed, obviously—and would quickly add he was making her cry of joy or whatever.
“The werefox. We—you cold go there and look for it? Shauna said you girls were making a film? So, a monster movie with a minimal budget?” Jesus, what are these questions marks? Weyou? Weyou?
Luckily, Charlotte doesn’t seem to notice anything weird. Which totally shows she's the one who totally could become the weakest link! But he doesn't point that to her.
“Oh, Linton, it wouldn’t be that kind of film. But thanks! Anyway, the production has been postponed. Indefinitely. Writer’s block! Typical.”
“I have a two-hour recording of Pepper sleeping!”
It takes Linton a second to remember that Pepper is her dog. It’s kinda weird, knowing the name of Charlotte Grote’s dog, isn’t it? Because they aren’t really, really friends, right? Charlotte and him, not Pepper and him. Pepper and him aren’t really friends either. It would never work. Dogs are an eternal cause of worry.
it's not weird
and you ARE friends. we're all friends.
guys, we're talking about Potty Grote
wow, haven't heard that one in a while
it's not very nice.
anyway, why are you obsessing about lottie...?
and about pepper!
Chat is currently off. To chat with your friends, turn on chat.
not a proper party
After the third time the firefighters appear to make a very special presentation, there's the near certainty that this party is just not gonna be the wildest event Tackleford has ever seen.
"Your dad really knows his moves," Sonny tells Claire with a very genuine smile. She isn't even a little embarrassed about having her birthday often interrupted by men in red screaming "surprise!" and dancing the Foxtrot. And okay, everyone in that basement would agree that the dancing program has been a huge success—the proof is a very easily accessible statistic about the number of incidents involving firefighters committing arson (according to their point of view, there's not enough fire to be put out) (and they hate, hate fire, and they need to kill the fire) (the fire needs to be alive to be killed). The statistic about people getting seriously annoyed about flash mobs was another matter entirely.
They play spin the bottle ("so juvenile," Mildred says, but she joins them anyway). Jack and Shauna kiss for a minute too long, Sonny doesn't seem excited about the prospect of meeting Charlotte's lips and she feels deeply offended and he say he's sorry, it's not like that, it's just, um, weird? Probably not a good kiss. Linton wouldn't know, since he is too absorbed in thoughts about the ceiling. Then the bottle demands a brief physical bound between a redhead he's never seen in his life and him.
Claire asks him to go up and bring more snacks from the kitchen, and he asks why he is the chosen one but goes anyway—that's Linton for you. From the kitchen's window he sees firefighters doing pliés. Then there's a vigorous jab in his back and he turns around. It's the redheaded girl.
"You know, I've heard you've been looking for me," she says. "But you don't look excited at all."
Two minutes later:
"It was the werefox. I was kissing the werefox. She transformed right in front of me and escaped through the cat flap."
They barely look at him. Actually, it seems that during his brief absence everyone has found exciting conversation topics. Shauna and Jack are sharing an armchair, giggling and whispering, the rebirth of a classic romance happening before everyone's eyes.
"I. Was. Kissing. Th—"
"Yes, yes, we got it," Mildred says, rolling her eyes and doing that thing with her face that makes you want to apologize for your miserable existence. "Interspecies snogs are really not the groundbreaking concept you wanna believe they are, Linton."
"Remember when Jack kissed the manticore?" Shauna smiles fondly at the memory.
"Well, remind me to not kiss you, Linton," Charlotte says, lying on the floor with a plastic cup dangerously resting on her belly. "Do not want your brand new mystical herpes."
not a proper sleepover
Here’s the plan for the next hours:
- checking creepy articles on wikipedia
- trying to decide the first book for their book club (they have very conflicting opinions about what constitutes a good read)
Charlotte is the last to appear in Shauna's bedroom.
She tells them about some kind of sorrow.
At some point there's a group hug.
"It's just the summer melancholy," Mildred says like it's a 100% real condition.
"I'm not a melancholy person, Mildew. I can't be! Too boring!"
"See this as a new layer for your bright, super awesome personality," Shauna says.
At some point there's another group hug.
They talk a lot, and when they don't the silence is filled with love letters. They're thinking, hey, it would be so cool to be in a band with you, to be in a magical girl team with you. All these scenarios I have in my head, they would be pretty cool with you. Maybe they don't say it because they're old—maybe you just can't avoid feeling that you have to hide the truth, because the truth is silly, and maybe not even Charlotte Grote, creator of the motto If We Can't Be Little Any More, We Will Make Up For It By Being Louder, can go back to her earlier state. Or maybe they wouldn't have said it in any situation, not when they were eleven, not when they're ninety. Maybe not saying anything is okay when you know your friends are thinking the same thing as you.
They fall asleep without having done anything on their list.
1. Please imagine Linton smirking
2. Kind of a hyperbole. But really, Claire and Colm’s thing has been going on for a good while. They were never entertaining, not even when they started kind of going out-back then there was still this general Ugh Dating attitude going around. Mocking was completely acceptable and encouraged. Sadly, trying to sing about Colm and Little Claire sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g just made Colm give Linton a puzzled look. ‘We’ve kissed under a tree,” he said one time. Oh, the golden age of embarrassing Jack about him and Shauna!
3. Lottie is amused by his apparently random intense attitude. Not gonna happen, he says with all seriousness, like if there were huge, threatening queues of candidates for Tackleford's Next Sleuth already forming