Home > Everything Leads to You(17)

Everything Leads to You(17)
Author: Nina LaCour

He does.

“Hey, is something wrong?”

I nod and I feel my eyes well up and I wish so much that they wouldn’t. But it’s Toby and I know that if anyone will understand it will be him.

“My sofa,” I start, and shake my head because I need to pull myself together.

He waits. If I could see his face better I know that I would see concern, and I hate that he is so far away, and I hate that Morgan is going on a date tonight, and I hate that Los Angeles is full of so many miles and so many bars and so many people for her to be with instead of me.

“Oh, man,” he says before I’ve had to explain. “They went with something else?”

“It’s terrible,” I say. “It’s modern. And gray.”

“But, Em, you love modern.”

“Not for this. It isn’t right.”

“Gray,” he says. “Okay. Could be worse. What about throwing some pillows on it?”

“No,” I say. “I don’t want to throw pillows on it. I understand this scene. I understand why it’s important and what it should feel like, and I know what should be in the shot to make it feel the way it’s supposed to. And I found it. I looked so hard. I found it.”

“You still have the rest of the room, right? That Neutral Milk Hotel poster? You still have that, right? And the trophies. Those are classic.”

“I don’t want you to try to make me feel better,” I tell him. “I just want you to listen.”

I can see people getting up from a table behind him, people everywhere, moving around in the dark.

“Toby,” I say. “I don’t know if I want to do The Agency anymore.”

“What? No, wait a second. You’re really bummed right now. I totally get that. But just let yourself feel like that for a while and then let it go. Do you know how many times I’ve found locations I’ve known were perfect only to have the location manager say he wants something different? It sucks. I know it does. But it’s the way it works.”

“It’s Ginger,” I say. “She tells me she trusts me and that I can do whatever I want, and then when I’m not even there, without even talking to me about it, she just makes this change and ruins everything.”

“Not everything.”

“I don’t want to keep working with her. I want to work for myself.”

Toby clears his throat. He leans back in his chair.

Finally, he says, “This is how it works. You bust your ass. Not everything goes your way, and then, after a while, you get to that point. You get to make your own decisions and people look to you for approval on their work.”

“Yeah,” I say. “I know.”

“You will move up in the studio,” he says. “I know you can do it. You just have to bite that tongue of yours and not let her see you so upset.”

“She already has.”

“Well, show her you’re over it.”

I nod.

“See this project through. See The Agency through. Then see where you are.”

“Okay,” I say, but my heart isn’t in it. There is this distance between us, and I can’t tell him everything I’m thinking, which is that I don’t know that I want to move up in the studio if working for the studio is going to be like this. If I can search for months and months in so many places, and then have all that work undone in a moment.

Charlotte appears by the driver’s side window.

“Charlotte’s escorting me off the lot,” I say.

“That bad?”

“Yeah,” Charlotte says, buckling her seat belt. “She told Ginger that she was ‘aware of their respective positions.’”

“Damn,” Toby says with a half smile, half grimace. “Go cheer her up, okay?”

“I’ll do my best,” Charlotte says.

~

As Charlotte drives us off the lot, she says, “I’m taking you to the canals.”

“That’s a good idea,” I tell her. “I love the canals.”

The canals are why Venice is called Venice, but not that many people know about them. Most people who don’t live here just head to Abbot Kinney for food and shopping, or the beach for the beach. But the canals are beautiful. They were designed by Abbot Kinney himself, and they are lined with houses, so when you walk along the canals, you’re basically walking through people’s front yards.

We park and cross over a footbridge and begin our mazelike stroll.

To our left is water; to our right are the illuminated living rooms and kitchens of the insanely wealthy and stylish.

“I couldn’t live here,” Charlotte says. “These people are so unselfconscious.”

That’s where Charlotte and I diverge, because I could totally live here. What’s the point of decorating your home if nobody gets to see it? But on a night like tonight I understand where Charlotte’s coming from, because I wish more than anything I could find someplace dark and quiet and away from civilization.

“Clyde f**king Jones,” I say.

“Yeah,” she says. “I’m so sorry I didn’t get to see the room the way you planned it.”

“I didn’t even get pictures!” I moan. “It looks so stupid with that couch.”

“It doesn’t look stupid—it’s a really nice couch—but it also doesn’t look like a cast-off piece of furniture.”

“No,” I say, “it doesn’t. It looks like a four-thousand-dollar Adrian Pearsall sofa, because that’s what it is. I thought this movie was supposed to be about a normal middle-class family.”

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