When I was thirteen years old, I tried to murder my “best friend”. Had killing her been my sole objective, I probably would’ve been successful. It would have done it nice and quick. No time wasted.
But, on that particular day, simply killing her wouldn’t suffice. She needed to suffer first. It was the only way to make things fair.
Josephine landed the lead role in another one of the high-paying commercials. The ones with really high budgets funded by big companies that would run them again and again – well beyond their contracted lifespan. These were the parts that everybody wanted. Every one of these that Josephine landed padded her bank account to higher heights, well beyond what a thirteen-year-old girl’s wealth should be.
Technically, the production staff hadn’t made their choice yet. But, it didn’t even matter. I already knew the answer.
Josephine went out there and dazzled them, just like she always did under the stage lights and in front of the camera. Her pearly white smile could light up the entire room with a surge of natural, vibrant energy. It’s a certain quality that you either have or you don’t. There is no replication.
And what would be left for me to do? First, I’d have to get over the crushing disappointment of losing the role to her yet again. That feeling of hope I had in the car, while my dad drove both of us to the studio, would fade and leave a deep burning anger in its place.
Then, I’d give her a hug one more time when we dropped her off. She lived right around the corner from us. She’d whisper to me how grateful she was to have me as a friend and how excited she was that I’d be there in one of the extra roles on set.
Perhaps worst of all, was the fact that if there was anyone with an inside edge, it was me. It was my dad, not hers, who worked in the industry. He was the one involved in big Hollywood Blockbusters and had connections to all sorts of directors, producers, and industry people in high places.
How is it that his daughter could never land the leads in big commercials? Maybe he’d overblown the power of his connections. More likely, however, I just simply wasn’t good enough.
I don’t consider myself to be a violent person. But that day she struck a nerve that was too raw. And it stung so much that I wasn’t thinking straight. That is if I was even thinking at all.
The folks behind the camera were yawning and checking their watches while I did a little jig and rehearsed the lines I’d known cold for almost a month. Just like so many other times before, they’d already decided Josephine was the one. My audition was nothing more than a formality.
I sat on a stool in one of the backstage dressing rooms. My hands shook as I rubbed them over my face, looking in the mirror. I was so sure that I was pretty — beautiful in fact. And I’d worked with an acting coach for years. I was good. I had everything you needed to make it the business. So many people had reinforced that impression by telling me the same thing over the years.
But so long as I was competing with my dear friend, Josephine, I was never going to get there. And if there was one thing I was sure of in the world, it’s that I wanted what she had. I wanted it badly. I’d been tucking myself into bed, dreaming of being on the big screen ever since I was a little girl.
So, what was it about Josephine that made her so special? And what was I going to have to do to change it?
I grabbed two things off the counter. My straightening iron, which had been plugged in for ten minutes, and a pair of really long and sharp scissors I found in one of the drawers. They were so old they looked like they’d started their rusting process more than twenty years ago.
Her beautiful face was my primary target. That blemish-free skin, seeming to be permanently sun-kissed, needed a little character. That would help level the playing field, even if it was just by a little bit.
She was looking intently in the mirror, cleaning the corners of her mouth when I pushed her dressing room door open. Whatever minute and certainly unimportant cleaning job she was performing, it had her full attention.
She didn’t notice me as I crept up behind her. I waved my fingers over the ends of the straightener just as my reflection started to show in the mirror. It was still so hot. It blistered my skin without even touching it.
Who knows what kind of mark it would have left on her face had she not turned just in time after I brought it down like a sword. I was aiming for her cheek. She managed to tip backwards on her chair and fall to the floor without me landing.
I was so committed to the attack that my middle portion slammed against the vacant stool. All my weight came down on my abdomen and the wind was knocked completely out of me.
I still wasn’t deterred.
She slid backwards on the floor, in total shock over what had just transpired. Her face telegraphed utter disbelief which turned to fear very quickly when she realized that it was who she thought was her best friend attacking her.
She kept sliding back until she hit the wall. She started shrieking in a high pitched tone that pierced my ears while I stumbled towards her. I dropped the straightener and pulled the scissors from my pocket.
She looked at dead at me, totally helpless when I stood over her. Then, her eyes dropped to the scissors, and she knew exactly what my intentions were. She screamed even louder. I heard heavy steps running down the hall towards us.
I’m not sure I was breathing. I definitely wasn’t thinking. I was possessed by a kind of dormant rage from deep inside that I didn’t even know existed. I remember bringing the scissors way above my head and bringing them down on her. I remember her letting out one last blood-curdling scream before the world disappeared.
Everything went black after that. It stayed that way for a long time.
When the world returned, I was leaning in one of the chairs in the front lobby. My dad sat next to me with his arm draped over my shoulder. A bunch of the crew members stood at a safe distance, watching me intently as I came back into reality. Even Josephine was there. She peered out from between the arms of the men acting as a barricade between me and her.
Of course, there was no wound. As far as I could see, there wasn’t the slightest trace of scratch on her. She was so perfect I couldn’t even harm her.
She looked back at me compassionately, like I was the one victimized. And why wouldn’t she? In her eyes, I was her oldest and truest friend.
Both a police cruiser and an ambulance showed up outside after a few minutes.
“Time to go,” my dad said and helped me to my feet. “Don’t worry dear, everything will be okay.”
He guided me out the main doors. He held my shoulders gently, but never released his grip.
“Feel better, Priscilla,” I heard Josephine call out from behind the human wall. “I’ll see you soon.”
That was the icing on the cake. Even after I tried to kill her, she was concerned about my well-being. She wasn’t just flawless on the outside. She was perfect on the inside as well.
I walked out of the studio that day fully intending to never audition for anything again. My passion in life was just hurting me too much.
For the next eight years, I held true to that course of action. Part of its execution involved avoiding Josephine at all costs. I made sure to cut off all communication and that chose a different high school than her the following year.
Petty as that may sound, it really did help me get over it. I started hanging out with new people and developing different interests. I wasn’t dealing with my jealousy being rubbed in my face at all times. As far as I’m concerned, by age twenty-one, I was an entirely different person. The little girl who grew up wanting to be an actress was all but dead and gone.
I was in the final year of my criminal psychology degree, fully intending to start law school at Stanford in the fall.
Life was good. But, as is always the case, there’s that lingering feeling that it can be made better. And an opportunity for improvement presented itself one weekend when I went home to visit my parents.
They put on a barbecue and invited over some of their friends. A lot of the ones my dad invited were the same industry guys who were at so many of my auditions growing up. I suppose they were quite impressed when they saw the young woman I’d grown into. One director was so moved that he invited me to come audition for a role in a movie he’d be doing the next year.
Instantaneously, the old flame was reignited. Once that happened, it couldn’t be extinguished. I couldn’t force myself to say no.
I spent two hours dolling myself up before heading to that audition. There was no point in my life that I was going to look any better than I did that day. It was coupled with a certain confidence I’d gained through academic success as well. On the drive over to the studio, I felt so sure I was finally going to land the part I wanted.
The sentiment didn’t subside from the start of the audition all the way until it ended. Everything went perfectly. My lines, my gestures, the facial expressions – I could feel the camera soaking them all up. The men in the background, the same ones denying me the roles growing up, whispered and nodded in approval.
They were going to give it to me. I could feel it.
But, as we’ve all experienced before, life finds a way of disappointing you. That day would be no exception. The name they called for the next audition ripped through me like a hurricane.
It was even worse when I saw her appear down the hallway from the dressing rooms. She had aged like the perfect delicate flower she always was. Her smile was even whiter and more genuine than I’d remembered. She was beyond delighted to see me. She embraced me and wouldn’t let go.
“It’s so nice to see you again, Priscilla,” she said. “Please tell me you’re getting back in the business. My, look how gorgeous you’ve become!”
She finally let go and stepped back. Her eyes widened in anticipation of a similar response.
She didn’t get it. I dropped my head and pushed past her. The pace of my heels hitting the floor kept getting faster until I reached my room.
I sat there in silence for a long time. I could hear laughter and occasional applause from the stage area down the hall. Something familiar came over me — just like it did that day nearly eight years before. It was the feeling of hope and excitement getting torn away from you by some divine force you can never overcome.
I turned the lights off, leaned back against the door, and slid down until I was seated on the floor. I fully expected to cry in the darkness for several hours or at least until they dragged me out.
But I didn’t. My response was something else entirely. And it’s something that only a person who’s ever truly wanted something with all their being will ever understand.
It’s a feeling you get when you’re so sure of what you want. You’d sell your soul to get it if it was a realistic option. It’s not something where any meagre substitute can suffice. No change in perspective is going to help you get over it.
I can never condone or defend what I did next. All I can do is try to explain to you how deep the roots of jealousy run when somebody so easily gets something you want so badly. It was just my pathetic attempt to scratch that horrible itch that’d bothered me in the background for so long.
I stood up and turned the light back on. I made my way over to the dressing station and rummaged through all the drawers. As luck would have it, I found a straight razor in a clear plastic case.
Heavy steps went passed my door and into the one next to me. Of course, she was in the dressing room right next to mine. She was probably just sitting on her stool, victorious and beautiful, just like she always was. Also, she was so terribly unaware of the dangers that lurked on the other side of the wall.
I pricked the razor against my finger and blood immediately started coming out. The thing was sharp, almost like it had never been used. I wondered how much blood was going to spew out of her throat when I jammed it in there as hard as I could.
I closed my eyes and passed for a while. The feeling didn’t pass. I tiptoed out of my room and to her door. I pressed my ear against it, trying to see if I could identify exactly what part of the room she was in.
It sounded like she was arguing with someone on the phone on the far side. Her voice was distressed and argumentative. It was the first time I’d ever heard her not sounding entirely composed.
“I don’t want to do this anymore!” she yelled.
Her footsteps raced towards the door and I had hardly enough time to get out of the way before she pushed it open.
Her face was all red and the area around her eyes was all puffy. She was wiping the side of her mouth as she pushed passed me, her shoulder knocking into mine. I grabbed her by the shirt and pulled her back towards me. I pressed my hand over her mouth and held it there.
She was so worked up over whatever argument she’d been involved in, it didn’t look like she even cared. I could have sworn I saw a fragment of relief on her face when I pulled the razor out.
I didn’t even know it was possible for her to show such vulnerability. I’d never even seen her remotely flustered before. Could the impossible really have happened? Had she faced rejection for the first time in her life? Was it finally my turn to get what I always wanted?
I suppose the moment I stuck the razor into her throat was the first time I really felt like her superior. I didn’t pull it out until after I ran horizontally across to her other ear.
Her screams were muffled by my hand and I could feel her tongue pushing against it. Her legs kicked wildly until stopping altogether. Her eyes, which were terrified and locked on mine for the encounter lost focus and seemed to be looking right through me.
I held her body away from me to avoid any blood getting on my clothing. When I was sure the job was done, I lay her body down gently on the floor. There was no need to damage the delicate flower.
I’ll always regret the enormous satisfaction I felt in the moments that followed. There was real bliss in there before I really had time to realize the consequence of my actions.
If only that feeling could have lasted forever.
I peeked inside the room. My dad stood at the opposite side, facing the far wall. His hands were busy near his mid-section and there was the metallic sound of a little zipper closing together.
He turned around and looked at me. For a moment he was shocked. Then, his composure returned. He gave me the reassuring smile that he’d given me so many times growing up. Especially after all the times Josephine had landed the role over me.
“Priscilla, what are you doing here?” he said.
“Why are you in Josephine’s room?”
He started to walk towards me. I felt my whole body start to tremble. He wrapped his arms around me and rubbed my back.
“Be still, dear. Why are you shaking? You’re not upset we’re giving the part to Josephine are you?”
“Do you love me, daddy?”
“Of course I do, sweetheart. We’ve always loved you. Just not in the same way we love Josephine.”