Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Seven Deadly Sins: Pride


The unthinkable has happened, and I have found myself writing again. I rediscovered an old project that I had abandoned over a year ago and jumped straight in. I found myself really enjoying it, despite the big workload that I have for university just now.
And for the first time I've decided to post it on here. I'm not sure if I will again, but I'm hoping this project will be made up of seven parts. I hope you enjoy reading it!






Pride

The large ballroom was like a hive - each table was filled with the glamorous and every now and then they floated from one table to another, like bees pollinating a garden. All the candlelit centrepieces made the large room glow with a warm light, along with the two big screens that flanked the stage at one end of the ballroom. Margot grabbed the passing waiter’s tails and he had the courtesy to ignore her hand brushing his ass as he bent over to hear her.

“Darling, could you bring me a Screwdriver?”

“Yes, Mrs Jones, right away.”

She nodded at him and he hurried way with his tray full of empty glasses. He wound his way through the many tables, putting every effort into not stepping on the train of a magnificent gown. Margot leant back in her chair and watched the others who were at her table. Most of them had never been to a night like this before - most of them, Margot noticed, probably weren’t even past thirty. Tadpoles in the very big acting pond. She remembered her first Academy Awards night - 1959 - the year that Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was robbed, and she got to meet Laurence Olivier. She remembered how her green dress had hugged her waist and made her feel like Elizabeth Taylor. That was ridiculous, of course, she was a nobody then. It wasn’t until later that she had become Margot Jones. 

“Your Screwdriver, Mrs. Jones.” the waiter almost seemed to purr as he set down her glass. She grazed his shoulder with her hand.

“Thank you, darling.” 

He didn’t reply and promptly went to another table, to serve the rest of the rich and famous. Margot picked up her drink and enjoyed the sharpness of the vodka and orange as she breathed it in. It stung a little and made her mouth water. She tried to bring it up slowly to her lips before taking a gulp. It burned its way down her throat and left a tingling sensation on her tongue. She felt immediate satisfaction from the alcohol entering her system and let it wash over her. She could feel her cheeks immediately start to glow and she enjoyed it. She was 70 - to have her skin glow set her apart from many her age, or even younger. The Screwdriver left a warm feeling in her stomach, but as she went to take another sip, she realised the glass was empty. She looked at it and all that was left was tiny pieces of orange pulp. The other people at her table were looking at her. She met their gazes and they became uncomfortable. One of the younger men sitting to her left leant forward.

“I’m sorry… Are you Margot Jones?”

She smiled graciously at him, knowing that her red lipstick really popped as she revealed her pearly white veneers.

“Yes, yes I am.”

“The Margot Jones?”

“Yes. The Margot Jones. One and only.”

He sat back and laughed to himself, “I never would have thought five years ago that I would be at the Oscars, sitting at the same table as Margot Jones. I’m Henry James.”

He extended his hand for a handshake, but Margot held out hers for a kiss.

“I assume, of course, that you did not write The Portrait of a Lady.” Margot said, meeting his eyes as they raised after kissing the back of her hand.

“No, Ma’am. You’re correct.” he smiled.

She smiled back at him, knowing how her eyes would twinkle in the candlelight. 

‘I’m always correct.”

They smiled at each other for a moment. He was really very handsome but a bit scruffy for Margot’s tastes. But he would do.

“Well, Henry James, are you going to buy me a drink?” 

Henry blushed, his neck going bright red, “Uh, yeah, sure. It is an open bar though, I won’t actually be paying for it.”

“I suppose that’s alright.”

Henry got a waiter over and ordered two drinks. Margot had known who Henry James was since she had sat down. He was part of a team up for Best Documentary Short. Not anybody really. Not compared to her at least. She was The Margot Jones, after all. She knew the others at the table too, even though they had pretended like she wasn’t there - there was Abby Hannah, Best Costume Design nominee and Antonio Germano, Best Film Editing winner. Everyone else had left to mingle. She didn’t care. Eventually, every person in the room would circle back to her, she knew it. She had been presented the Academy Honorary Award, for a lifetime of contributions to the film industry. It had only taken fifty years. The waiter returned and put down another Screwdriver. Margot raised her glass to him before he walked away. Everyone would circle round to her eventually. She took a large sip of her drink and once again enjoyed the burning sensation that it left behind. She began feeling a numbness in the very tips of her fingers. Henry James had a good knack for conversation - he was only interested in Margot Jones, which was the only thing Margot Jones wanted to talk about. The Screwdrivers came in a constant stream. As time wore on, only Henry James was left at the table.

‘Is that really what Egypt was like?” he asked her, his eyes wide.

“Of course, darling. It was glorious. My husband bought me a sapphire brooch that I still have.”

A chime-like laugh came from behind Margot and she noticed that Henry James’ gaze had wandered. She turned and saw a willowy figure talking to several different men. She was wearing a pale pink dress with a large skirt that stood out against the men’s black tuxedos. Henry James stared at her. Margot chuckled to herself - the skirt was really too big and pale pink was for children, not women. Especially not women who have won Best Actress. Margot’s dress was much classier. It draped across her chest, showing her shoulders but retaining her modesty. The gold colour of it complimented the highlights in her hair. It revealed her back and bronzed skin. 

“Do you know her, Mrs. Jones?” Henry James asked her.

“Oh, God, no.” Margot sniggered over the rim of her glass.

“Oh…” Henry James looked dejected, “Well I might try and introduce myself. It was lovely talking to you.”

He trotted away and Margot shook her head. He was a nobody at the feet of a woman who had everything. Margot wouldn’t have given him the time of day. He wandered straight up to this woman. To Margot’s surprise, the pale-pink goddess shook his hand and invited him to sit down at the nearest table with her. It seemed that Best Documentary Short Nominee meant more now than it used to.

“Margot, darling!” screeched a voice from behind her. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Sarah Lockwood was someone she no longer had the patience to put up with. She sat herself down in the empty seat next to Margot, being sure to fan out her red dress around the seat for maximum impact. Sarah Lockwood was just as old as she was - a bright red sweetheart neckline had no place anywhere near her.

“Oh, hello, Sarah. 

The sequins that peppered her dress caught Margot’s eye as they glinted in the light of the candles on the table. 

“Congratulations on the win, you must be very happy.”

Margot smiled widely at her, “Oh yes, it’s been a long time in coming.”

“Well, cheers to that.” Sarah lifted her glass of champagne and clinked it against Margot’s.

“We’ve been to a few of these now. But you never get tired of them. It’s a shame that Donald isn’t here any more though, the three of us used to really paint the town red.” Sarah giggled. Thinking about Donald made Margot ache inside. She took another drink.

“Oh, darling, they’re taking a group photo of all the winners over there.” Sarah pointed.

Margot’s head whipped round and she saw a group of around fifty people all gathered together on the other side of the room, holding gold statues - including the pale-pink goddess and Henry James. They were smiling and hugging one another, towards three men holding large cameras. The flashes set them all aglow. They looked radiant. Margot picked up her glass and finished what was left in one big gulp. Her head started to spin and she felt pleasantly light-headed. They would come back to her eventually. They would realise that she wasn’t in the pictures and hurry to rectify the mistake. She was The Margot Jones. 

“Oh, Margot, that’s a shame. Maybe you should go over with your statue? They could get a photo of you too?” Sarah asked, putting a hand on Margot’s shoulder. 

Margot looked round the table.

“I… I don’t know where I put it.”

Sarah frowned, “You mean your award? What do you mean you don’t know where you put it?”

“I can’t remember… I think it was… When…”

“Margot? Are you alright, darling? Are you drunk?”

Margot pushed herself up off her chair with as much gusto as her shaking arms would afford her. She swept her hair off her shoulder and set her eyes on the group of glowing winners. 

“Margot? Margot, I thought you were over this. A drunk is not attractive.”

Margot ignored Sarah and started taking steps to the group. She wound herself between the chairs and waiters, subtly swinging her hips back and forth. This was it, this was the revival. She would arrive among all these young ones and they would fall to her feet in awe. They would weep that they had missed out on having their photo taken with her. The cameras would flash and she would be radiant. Someone pushed their chair out in front of her and she swerved. Her heel caught on the bottom of her dress and she stumbled. A large pair of hands caught her arms and held her up. Her eyes struggled to focus on the ground and her head felt heavy.

“Okay, your night’s over, Ma’am.”

She eventually managed to make out a large man in a black tuxedo as he turned her around and towards the big doors. 

“Excuse me, nobody escorts Margot Jones from a building. I do not have a problem, I just need to have my photo taken.” Margot slurred, trying to pull away from the bouncer. He took no heed.

“Excuse me! Don’t you know who I am!”


She craned her head back around to the camera flashes and watched the slim, young Best Actress sweep her long hair off her shoulders. Henry James wound his arm around her waist and Margot heard her chime-like laugh again, just before the doors were closed and Margot was folded into her car.