Elizabeth Taylor

We’re getting to the dregs of the vault.

I knew this would happen eventually. And yes, I am already planning what’s to come after this monthly short-story segment. There’s only so much past work I can share, and there are some things that I’ll never share. Thankfully (or not?) this story isn’t one of them.

So as we inch closer to the inevitable conclusion of this blog series, I present to you one of my failed attempts at writing comedy. Good thing I stuck to sci-fi and horror. I don’t think it’s bad, per say (although I am biased), however now that I am a more experienced writer, I know exactly what the flaws and weaknesses are. Despite that knowledge, I have still chosen to share this story with you. I must really love living dangerously.

Written for the ReedsyPrompts contest #47, my prompt was “You check the time. Perfect. As intended, you’ve arrived fashionably late.” If you know your Hollywood history, the title of this story should be a dead giveaway of what’s to come.

            Before you get out of the car, you look one last time into the rear-view mirror to check your eye makeup. Still good. You check your lips and verify that there’s no lipstick on your teeth. Also good. Once you’re out of the car, you do a once over to make sure your cosplay is costume contest worthy.

            So much hard work.  You almost miss when this used to be a simple film festival. Of course, people still dressed up a little during that first year. But when the film festival came back a second year, and then started turning into more of a convention by the third year… Well, this was the result.  Honestly, you’re a little surprised that something like this is going on ten years. But, then again, there’s a convention out there for almost everything these days.

            As you walk across the parking lot, you can’t help but smile as your cosplay billows in the wind.  You feel majestic. You are Cleopatra and you are fabulous. Maybe you even stand a chance at outshining Rina this year. That bitch.

            Just before you get to the door of the convention centre, you pull out your phone to check the time. Perfect. As intended, you’ve arrived fashionably late.  Time for your grand entrance.

            You speed through badge pick-up as no one else is in line, and then take your time making your way to the convention itself.  You pause just before the doors, then step through with a flourish and…

            “You have got to be kidding me,” you sigh, suddenly realizing the flaw in your plan.

            The convention is essentially dead.  There’s maybe a quarter of the amount of people you expected to see.  At least you spot one familiar face.

            “Hey! You’re here! Finally!”

            “Hi Jay,” you say half-heartedly.

            “You’re pretty late.  Bad traffic? Cosplay troubles?” Jay added knowingly.

            You can’t help but roll your eyes. This is Jay’s second year at this convention and they still haven’t seemed to clue in to how things run here.

            “No, I was intentionally late,” you say tensely, trying not to take out your frustration on Jay. “Looks like it was all for nothing though, cause everyone else is late too.”

            “Yeah I was wondering about that,” said Jay as they looked around the mostly empty room.  “I heard someone say the organizers aren’t even here yet.  That’s pretty wild, huh?”

            “I mean, it’s not entirely surprising. Wait, what time did you get here?”

            “Oh, early. I got here before the doors even opened.”

            “What? Jay! We talked about this. I told you not to come early this year.” You let out an exasperated groan, but Jay just laughs.

            “What? I like getting here early. Besides, the first film screening of the day was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and I didn’t want to miss it.”

            “Jay,” you sigh shaking your head. “Well, at least you nailed your cosplay this year. It’s so much better than last year.”

            “Thanks,” says Jay, beaming.

            “Um, I’m not sure who you are though…” you admit.  “Like, you’re gorgeous, I just can’t seem to place the character.”

            “Pearl Slaghoople from The Flintstones,” said Jay, striking a pose.

            You can’t help but laugh.

            “Yeah, I know,” chuckled Jay. “I’m no Cleopatra.”

            “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be mean.  Just, with all the Elizabeth Taylor movies you’ve seen – and you’ve seen more than me – I just find it funny that that’s what you’d go for.”

            Jay just shrugged. “Oh yeah, so why were you – and apparently everyone else – late?”

            “Because it’s an Elizabeth Taylor convention.”

            Jay shook their head. “Yeah, so wouldn’t you want to get here on time so you don’t miss anything? I mean, she’s your favourite actress, right?”

            “Yes but… Look, I’ve been coming to all of these conventions since this was just a film festival. The core group, those of us who have been doing this from the beginning, we used to show up on time for the film screenings. But then so many people kept coming that the organizers turned it into a convention. And once you have a convention, people start cosplaying.  And with everyone cosplaying Elizabeth Taylor… Well, you know how she was always notoriously late?”

            “Yeah,” scoffed Jay. “Everyone knows that. She was intentionally late to her own funeral.”

            “Exactly. So, those of us who were dressing up started showing up to the convention late.”

            “Oh! Ok, that makes sense.”

            “Only it’s gotten out of hand.”

            “I’ll say,” laughed Jay. “You were almost three hours late.”

            “Yeah, and last year it was two. Look, you know that bitch Rina?”

            “Who doesn’t?”

            “Well, over the years, she and I have kind of ended up… Well, she’s basically my nemesis at this point.”

            “So, I take it you’re trying to beat her by being the latest?”

            “Yeah. I was usually able to get here close to the same time as her, but last year she got here an hour after I did. So, this year, I came even later.”

            “And so did everyone else.”

            “Yeah. It’s like, once someone finds out that those of us from the film festival days show up late on purpose, then they start showing up late too. Only people who are pretty new to this show up early or on time.”

            “Like me.”

            “Like you.”

            “Don’t worry,” said Jay, “I won’t get involved in this whole one-upping thing.”

            “What do you mean?

            “I like getting here early. I don’t want to miss any of the movies or events. And it’s nice getting a head start on everything before it gets too crowded.”

            As much as you hate to admit defeat, you realize that Jay is probably right. “Maybe… Maybe next year I’ll try coming early with you. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to let Rina win for once. Besides, as long as my cosplay’s better than hers, that’s all that matters,” you joke. Although, if you’re being truly honest with yourself, you’re not joking.

            “That’s the spirit!”

            Just then, the doors open and there stands Rina. She too has decided to cosplay Cleopatra this year. You hear yourself grumble and begin to inspect her outfit from afar, trying to find fault with it. Anything that you can use to prove that you have the better cosplay. But then, your eyes reach her face, and what you see there is priceless. Rina has just had the same moment that you had earlier. She has just realized that even though she is well over three hours late to the Elizabeth Taylor convention, she is not the latest. She too has made her grand entrance to a mostly empty convention hall.

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