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Behind the Silver Screen

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"Um, listen, Brady-"
"Brady, about tomorrow-"
"I really need to talk to you." Mack's every attempt to talk to Brady crashed and burned. He's like a puppy. A golden retriever. Resigned, Mack leaned against the door to watch the boys watch Wet Side Story, again. It had been fun the first time, cute the second, but after that, the movie had gotten old real fast. The sexism grated on her nerves, and it was just another campy knock-off of Romeo and Juliet. But since she was dating and living with Wet Side Story's biggest fans, Mack came up with her own way of dealing with the monotony. During the fifth watch, she decided that Lela would absolutely have fallen in love with Giggles instead, resulting in a steamy and secretive affair, the height of which would be a shared kiss behind one of those plastic palm trees.
She needed to tell him about the girls' school, but Brady was just so cute watching that stupid musical. They were having their favorite, only, and often repeated argument when she heard the knock on the door. Mack kept arguing as she crossed the room, "They sing in the ocean and never spit out water." Her brain was thinking up other ways to highlight how stupid the singing was when her aunt opened the door. Fantastic. This is going to go over so well.

"Mack, what does she mean, you're leaving tomorrow?" Brady demanded, confused and slightly angry that she held something out on him. Aunt Antoinette wasn't making anything easier, being her usual, slightly snobbish self. She had already given Mack and her grandpa a timetable, and had penciled in bonding time for that weekend. Mack saw pictures of her once- her mom and aunt hugging in their matching bikinis, sticking out their tongues and crossing eyes. It was bizarre to think that girl turned into this stiff woman.


Mack kept that image in her head when she got ready for bed. Two girls, being silly with sand stuck to their still-wet skin. It looked like the picture of her and Brady on her phone- he had bunny ears behind her head, and she was pretending to eat his face. Her mom, being just as silly as she was. Her mom, who went to the same school as Antoinette, the same school she was about to go to. No Brady, no ocean, no Grandpa. Still. . . new memories. New people. Doing what Mom wanted for me. Mack lay down on the bed, wrapping herself tight with the quilt. She held tight to that last one- she could really make her mom proud. And maybe after, she could go to the same college as Brady, and make up for lost time. Of course, two years is a long time- he might meet somebody. She kicked the sheet off, trying to get comfortable and grinned. Two years in a girls' school. I could meet somebody too.


Not so long ago, she had been the only out kid at school. Mack explained her sexuality so often to so many girls that she had gotten used to the rebuffs. "Ewww, but I changed in front of you!" Like anybody would willingly look at you naked, Lacy. "Wait- do you like, like me? Like, like me?" To that one, Mack could just laugh and shake her head. It wasn't a looks thing, really, or that she'd fall for ever girl she ever met. They had to be. . . different. Like sunglasses girl. That subtle flirtation went on for a few months, glances and "hanging out", trying to decide if they'd actually become girlfriends or just hover in the weird loop they got stuck in. It fell apart, after the butterflies faded and both girls got bored. Maybe another girl, another place, and Mack could have her first real girlfriend. 500 girls, at least one's gotta be into surfer girls.


She rolled over onto her side, snatching her phone and flipping through the pics again. Brady, Brady, Brady and her, Brady, sunset, Brady and her kissing in front of the sunset, Brady. He was a wonderful guy, and he never said the stupid shit other guys had said- that she was just a lezzie, that they'd "turn her straight," that she'd cheat on them. Unlike those jerks, Brady had been worth her time. His only real fault was his puppy-like good cheer. It was difficult to get him to stay on the same topic for more than ten minutes. She completely adored him. They had only been together a short time, but there was as much promise in this relationship as a summer sunrise. And she was about to take a jet away from it. To Connecticut. Unless she got lucky in the land of love, it was more snow and less sun for her. Mack turned the phone screen-down on her nightstand and rolled back over, burying her face in the pillow. I have to leave him, so I can be what Mom wanted. She flopped onto her back. Why can't this be easy? Mack tossed and turned, watching the sunrise paint her walls in soft light. She packed slowly, turning over the memories in her hands as she shoved them into the trunk. They felt too heavy, and Mack couldn’t shake the dread growing in her stomach. It all went away at the sight of the surfboard.


Every step towards the beach felt like a step away from the broken heart of last night. Watching the waves, Mack felt the fizz of excitement and nerves. The waves were high, but it was nothing she couldn't handle. Feeling Brady's warmth beside her, though, now what was a wash of emotion she wasn't sure she could handle. There were a lot things Mack wanted to say- "I'm sorry, I'm just really confused over this whole future thing" being the biggest, but the easiest thing to say was, "watch this."
Paddling out, everything else in the world faded away. The buzz of voices on the beach were drowned by water, the worry about school and Brady and that whole tangled heap dissolved in the salt water as it crashed over her face. If this is the last time I surf, then I better make it great. It felt fantastic. Mack felt more control over her body and board than she ever had before, like maybe she needed these waves and the pressure of her future to make her surf this well. Mack was always good, but right now, she felt like maybe she was the best around, and nothing could bring her down from her saltwater cloud. There was a shrill whistle, a red flag- these waves were getting dangerous, but Mack knew that she could handle them. One last one- just one, and then I'll go in, get on a plane and leave this feeling here. Brady's shout interrupted her thought process.
"Mack, don't do it!"
"I have to!" She paddled off, knowing this would be her only chance to surf a wave like this one, massive and foreboding but somehow, it felt like a solution. When she touched those sands again, maybe she'd have more of a clue about what her future should be. It was a rush she had never felt before, but it crashed down when she did, wiping out hard. The cold water held her tight, but warm arms helped her find the surface.


Mack coughed out the sea water, and started telling off Brady as soon as she could breathe. In the back of her head, small things were starting to seem a bit... out of place. The water was too warm, too calm, the sky too blue- where did the storm go? It was like the world shifted when she was underwater, and briefly, Mack wondered if she had smacked her head on her board- but no, it didn't hurt at all. It didn't take long after reaching the beach to notice a few more things that just didn't belong in her world.


"Brady. . . what?" Sneaking up behind a boat, Mack stared at the frolicking teenagers. She knew none of them, everybody had perfect hair, and was that a backing track. Mack turned to Brady, wondering if he was seeing the same thing, or if she was hallucinating. Brady was staring at the choreographed dancing like this was the best dream he ever had. Mack looked back at the beach, where all the kids had begun singing in perfect harmony. "Maybe we're dead." Mack realized she was starting to panic, her voice squeaking. "We've died and ended up in a musical!" Brady just shook his head, wordless. Cautiously, he stood up, gently grabbing Mack's hand and leading her closer to the spectacle. Mack ducked behind a surfboard, pulling Brady beside her. The music was starting to sound eerily familiar. A glance at Brady revealed that he knew every single word.

"Mack, we're in the movie."
"What movie?" Brady was losing that look of confusion, his face slowly lighting up.
"My movie! Wet Side Story!"
"What!? How!? Why!?" Mack felt herself squawk, but really, this wasn't the time to be perfectly calm and open to absurd possibilities like being in a campy musical from the 1960's.
"All viable questions!" Mack could feel Brady start to bounce.
"What do we do?"
"Have fun!" Brady bounced off, and the second he started dancing, Mack knew that someone had been dancing an awful lot in his bedroom over the years. She ran over to him, ready to drag him off to have a serious discussion about how they'd get out, and instead got a bucket of water dumped on her. Trying to run away from this whole mess and regroup, Mack realized that no matter how much she tried to run and avoid the hordes, she just ran into the dancing more. It was a maze of perfectly coiffed barbies holding shiny surfboards, and it wouldn't end until all everybody lay dramatically on the sand.


Before she had a whole breath of calm, Mack was accosted by an excited Brady in full puppy mode. It was hard to hate the huge grin on his face as he exclaimed, "It's fantastic!" For a second, Mack began to wonder if this might not be so bad. If Brady knew the movie so well, he could probably keep them safe, right? Of course, he immediately got an entire room of territorial surfers glaring at them for using the wrong slang. So maybe surviving until they could get out of this silly movie really would be a challenge.