The Other One sample

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Then

I can't eat oranges. No orange juice. No creamsicles. No zest shaved onto whatever else I'm eating. No mandarins or tangerines or tangelos, or any other variety of orange-ish citrus.

I can't even smell the blossoms on the breeze.

Orange scented kitchen cleaner makes me vomit. Literally. Hazel and Augustus might want my head for my use of literally. But I mean it. The literal heart of Jesus vomiting.

We had four fruit trees in our backyard when I was a kid. The yard was huge. Two levels. The second floor, as I always thought of it, was an expansive grass field with plum and apricot trees against the far fence. The lemon tree was tucked beside a tall pine tree my mom called a deodar. The orange tree was perched on the ledge of the low wall dividing the two levels, just across from my bedroom window, its branches reaching out toward the house in desperation.

That was where I found him.

His face was purple like a plum, the orange extension cord looped over an outstretched branch and around his neck. His fingers were curled into monstrous claws, clutching onto nothing. His eyes and lips were too large for his plum face.

I don't much care for plums anymore either.


Now

I am up so early, shuffling through my empty house with crust in my eyes and a hole in my chest. I fill the sink with warm water and scrub my face, erasing the mucus but not the ache. I dress quickly and leave, filled with an urgent need to be around other people. A desperate clawing need not to be alone.

My call time today is 5 am, so I can leave the set and get to class by noon. We filmed the first few seasons of "Turning Pages" in front of a live studio audience, but for the last six years, we've had a closed set. Six years. My breath hitches in my chest. I steady my gaze on the freeway in front of me, so I don't lose control of my car, and focus on thinking about how the show has changed. In those early days, it was a cheesy comedy show. I was just nine years old, chubby and nerdy. People wear those horrible glasses now as if it's cool.

The writing on the show was fundamentally good, with a lot of heart, and that's what kept people watching. As I got older, and more sarcastic, the show took a bit of a darker tone, too. The audience stuck with us, and I grew up with the world watching every week.

This ninth season will be my last. They are planning to run one more next year, without me, the inspiration for the show. The title character. Sort of. Maddie Turner. Turning Pages. I play a nerdy girl who reads all the time (myself). My tv brother, Dylan Porter, and sister, Samantha Rouse, are the cute and annoying foils. My tv parents, played by Sam Caldwell and Jenna Lucas, run a bookstore called "Page Turners." The Turners. Insert comedic rimshot here.

I think the title "Turning Pages" is meant to represent so much more than just books or the characters' names, though. It's about life moving forward, the way we move forward in a book. We turn the pages of our lives, and we can go back and re-read that page, but it is already written. We can't change it. We just have to keep reading. Or writing. Or we can throw the fucking book into a pit of fire like he did.

I slam the door of my Range Rover and try to push his purple face and clawed hands and bulging eyes out of my mind.

"Hey, doll," the hair and makeup tech says as I enter my trailer.

"Hey, Lou." I slump into the swivel chair in front of the mirror.

She fluffs her hands through my reddish brown hair. "Shall we go lavender today?"

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