by Luiza Sauma
Abigail wants to be a star. An immortal, followed everywhere by flickering cameras. That’s why she left London and moved to Los Angeles. That’s why everyone goes there.
It took six weeks for her savings to run out. After that, she crashed with Katie, an actress from Idaho who she’d met at Bar 25 in West Hollywood – a cramped black hole where underage girls and overage men mingled like scum in an old cup of coffee. Even smoking was allowed. Most nights, when Katie wasn’t waitressing, they stayed there until dawn, talking about the glittering future.
Until Katie got tired of it. They were in her studio flat: Abigail sprawled on the bed, watching TV, and Katie buttoning up her pink uniform.
“You can’t stay here every night,” said Katie.
“Why not?” said Abigail.
“It was meant to be a few days. It’s been a month.”
For a second, Abigail thought of home – mum, dad, her so-called friends, who never replied to her emails – and then she shook it out of her head.
“Where will I go?” she said.
“Get a job.”
“I don’t have the right visa.”
“Figure it out,” said Katie, and went to work.
On TV, a blond actress with a radiant smile was walking down a red carpet, her body hugged by a golden dress. Abigail imagined herself walking in her place.
“It’s such an honour,” she would say, arm in arm with her director.
All of her things fitted into one rucksack. At midnight, she packed and walked to Bar 25.
“Hey, beautiful girl,” said Jackie the barmaid, as she walked in. She said that to all the girls.
“Katie’s kicking me out,” said Abigail.
“Oh really?” said Jackie, leaning her bosom over the bar, where Joe – one of the regulars – was drinking by himself, dressed head to toe in black. Jackie opened a bottle of beer and handed it to Abigail. “On the house.”
“How can I make money?” said Abigail.
“I’ll get you a job,” said Joe. He leaned one of his plump, furry arms on the bar. “Won’t even need a visa.”
Abigail let Joe buy her a few more beers. She drank them quickly, while he told her about his industry contacts. She studied his unshaven face to see if he was lying. Probably. Later they were joined by two cheerful Danish girls who were about to travel across America. When Abigail told them she was sixteen, one of them said, “Where are your parents?”
“I know I’m going to make it,” she remembers saying, several times.
“I know it, honey,” said Jackie.
“Where you staying tonight?’ said Joe.
The sun was coming up over the Hollywood sign – they could see it through the small, unwashed window. The stars would soon be waking up.
Luiza Sauma is a Brazilian-born, British-bred writer and journalist. She has been published in Notes from the Underground, Untitled Books and Spilling Ink Review.