Saturday 16 June 2018

'Wishes on Stars' by Annmarie Miles

The closing credits rolled; the theme tune opening with power chords that would bring a tear to a Guns’n’Roses fan. They watched as she wrote with furious haste.

She was the most feared movie critic in Hollywood. Her words determined whether your premiere was attended by a cast of Hollywood’s finest, or the cast of Star Trek.

Wishes Puddlestock!

The name struck fear in the heart of every movie producer, director and pretzel vendor.

The music ended, and house lights faded up. Most of the film critics were already sipping Mai Tais on 42nd street, but not Wishes. Hunched over her pad, she guarded her words as they poured onto the page like molasses on homemade ice cream.

“She's taking too long dammit.” Ralph Ecclestein paced. A long review from Wishes was bad. Her five-star reviews were always less than ten words.

“Someone remind me to call Leonard Nimoy's agent in the morning.”

“Booking him for the premiere again boss?” Ecclestein’s assistant ventured the question; but no coherent answer came. Just a series of grunts and muffled swears as Ecclestein continued doing laps of the viewing booth.

“She had her eyes closed for most of it, m-m-maybe that's a good sign?” The meek voice came from a dark corner of the room.

“What?” Ecclestein swung around. “Who the hell are you? What are you talking about? Who is this guy?”

“Boss! He's the new intern. What do you mean kid? What are you saying? Get over here!”

“Well … It's just … I noticed her close her eyes a lot. She was concentrating hard. Especially at that scene. You know, where the mafioso confesses his love for the gal who’s about to have her appendix taken out by the her father’s rival; the one pretending to be a surgeon?”

“That's the best scene of the whole damn movie!”

“Yeah, well her eyes were closed for most of it.”

“Dialogue!” Ecclestein punched the table. “Dammit! She was concentrating on dialogue.”

The discussion continued. Oblivious to it all, Wishes Puddlestock looked up and noticed the empty seats and blank screen. She put her pen down and took a deep breath. Moonlighting for Mills & Boon was taking its toll, but as usual she was able to complete a brand-new story in less than 120 minutes.

She’d already reworded the review she’d written for Ecclestein's previous movie. They were always the same anyway.

She put her pen and pad away and wondered if this should be her last review. Writing love stories was really all she ever wanted to do; maybe it was time to start doing it with the lights on. It felt like the right time to tell people that Wishes Puddlestock was putting down her pen and taking up … her other pen.

She headed for the door and waved at the viewing booth, stretching her fingers out to assure Ecclestein of his five stars. He didn’t see her, he was busy on the phone ordering flowers for George Takei.

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