31 | From Anastasia Claire To Whitney Winters
“I love those who can smile in trouble...”
- Leonardo da Vinci
“Hi, Findlay!” I shout, smiling at him as I enter the cafe. Findlay’s head shoots up at my voice and a wide, bright smile forms on his face.
“Well well, if it isn’t my favourite actress.” He greets, equally as happy to see me.
I roll my eyes at his words and chuckle lightly. “I’m the only actress you know.” I remind him.
He scoffs, knowing I'm right but not wanting to openly admit it. “Please, we have Hollywood superstars stopping in here all of the time.”
“Yeah, me.” I retort. “Can I have my usual drink please?”
After handing my money to him, he begins making my drink. I take a sip of it and immediately melt on the inside at the taste of it. Nobody can make this as good as Findlay. He has a rare talent.
“So Whitney, why are you back here again?” He asks me, casually leaning over the counter to talk to me better. One thing I really like about Findlay is that he doesn't treat me like a different person. To him, I'm just a regular eighteen-year-old girl who just so happens to be famous.
“Oh you know,” I start, tapping my fingers on the table mindlessly. “I was bored so I thought I’d take a two-hour drive up here to see your smiling face.”
Findlay shakes his head in disbelief. “This is the fifth time you’ve been here. Don’t you have revision to do? Finals is coming up right?”
At the mention of finals, my whole body slumps. All I have been doing recently is revising for my exams. The worst part is, I am terrible at revising. I get distracted so easily. Casey is getting fed up with reminding me to revise.
“Ugh, yeah I do,” I reply, huffing. “But I revise whilst driving up here.” At my answer, Findlay gives me a confused and slightly worried look. It takes me a few seconds to realize he thinks I revise whilst driving. Which I kind of do. “I made voice recordings of the things I have to learn so I play it whilst driving. Repeating the voice recording embeds the knowledge into my head.” It’s a good resource to use. You do begin to learn things like you learn songs.
“Sweet,” he says, meaning it. “I wish I came up with something like that when I was at school.” It turns out Findlay is a year older than me. After finishing high school last year, he went on a trip around America to ‘find himself’. Somehow, he ended up in this small town and got a job in this cafe. He’s trying to figure himself out whilst working here to pay the rent. Or at least, that’s what he’s told me. “So what are your plans for this summer? Now that you’re not working on your next film.”
It’s almost weird to think I’m not going to be in another film - for a while at least. The whole ordeal with Lulu happened five weeks ago and since then, I have felt amazing. Without her on my back, I feel so relaxed and at ease - well the best I can feel with the thought of exams lingering in the back of my head. I feel like an ordinary teenager with ordinary worries.
Callum returned to school a few weeks ago. At first, it was awkward interacting with him but after hanging out together in the library one evening, things are better. We are friendly and happy. Sometimes, when we end up standing too close together or gaze into each other’s eyes, we end up bursting into fits of laughter. It's good to joke about this.
Jason called me for the first time since he left my house five weeks ago. Our call lasted for five hours whilst we caught up with each other’s lives. He’s working on a new film and apparently, there’s this ‘super hot chick’ who hates him. His words, not mine. But for real, she’s caught his eye and possibly...his heart.
And finally, Brock and Hannah made up. It was a relief not just to Brock but to the entire group that they started talking to each other again like they used to. Lunchtimes were beginning to get unbearable...
And me? I’ve been enjoying life with Casey, Alan and my parents. Speaking of Casey and Alan, last night I set the two of them up on a date. Poor Casey hasn’t had a boyfriend since her first year in college and Alan is too intimidating for most girls. Plus, there was a lot of sexual tension between them. I hope it works out for them. They are both amazing people who deserve each other.
“I’m not sure Findlay. I don’t have that much planned. I’m guessing most of my time will be spent with my family and friends. You?” I tell him, realizing I had zoned out for a too long.
Findlay shrugs his shoulders and pours out my drink. “I was planning to go on another road trip with my friend but he bailed on me so now, I’m not sure.” He sighs. The look of utter sadness on his face breaks my heart.
I may not know Findlay very well but I from our short times together, I know that he’s an incredible person. He’s always smiling, saying something stupid and making me laugh. The guy, in my opinion, is amazing.
So when I ask him this question, spontaneously, I don’t regret it. It may be a long shot that he accepts but I know, that asking him wasn’t a mistake.
“How about I go with you?”
His whole body freezes for a second. A slither of doubt crosses my mind, momentarily. And then, to my utter relief, his whole face lights up with joy. The biggest smile ever stretches onto his face, his eyes practically glowing with happiness.
“Are you being serious right now?” He questions, loudly.
I nod my head, biting my lip. “I’m one hundred per cent certain.”
“Are you sure though?” He asks, eyeing me intensely. “We barely know each other and you said you wanted to spend time with your family.”
“I may not know you very well but I trust you. I want to go on an adventure.” I tell him, softly. “My family isn’t going anywhere, I’ll be able to see them when I get back.”
Findlay comes around from behind the counter to the public area and gives me a massive bear hug. His arms wrap tightly around my waist as he gives me a bone-crushing, thankful hug. I start to giggle when he lifts me off of my feet and repeats “thank you” over and over.
“This is the best day ever. Thank you so much, Whitney,” Findlay utters, grinning ear to ear. His joy is infectious I tell you because I can’t stop smiling either, feeling so happy. I’ve always wanted to go on a road trip but I’ve never really made a move to actually plan or go on one.
“You’re welcome,” I say in between my giggles. “This is going to be so much fun!” I add, earning a chuckle from him.
“You’re actually going to go on a road trip after graduation?” Hannah asks me on Monday, as we stroll through the halls of the school.
I nod my head and smile excitedly. After Findlay calmed down, he started to tell me his plans on where to go and what to do. Then, I went home and told everybody else. My parents were a bit reluctant to let me go at first but they relented when my brother reminded them I’m eighteen years old. Meaning, I'm old enough to make my own decisions. Casey was ecstatic for me and even Alan cracked a smile.
I couldn’t tell if he was happy for me or because he got laid...just kidding.
“That’s so adventurous. I swear, they should make a film about your life.” She gushes. “Oh my god! They should so make a film about you! It could be called From Anastasia Claire to Whitney Winters. Or does that sound more like a documentary? Does it matter? Aren’t they basically the same thing right? Why is this so con--”
“Hannah!” I cut her off from her rambling.
“Thanks,” she breathes gratefully, letting oxygen fill her lungs again. After she’s recovered, Hannah continues on a different path. “So what are your plans after this road trip? Are you going to find another agency?”
I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do. I haven’t applied to any colleges so I won’t be going there and I don’t know if I want to go back to acting yet. I’m still deciding.
“Not sure? That’s fine you know, I’m not sure what I want to do yet. I’m thinking of taking a gap year with Brock but my parents are fully against it.” She says, her voice tinged with sadness and longing.
I immediately come to stand directly in front of her; awkwardly usher us to the side so we aren’t in the way.
“Hannah, don’t let your parents stop you from doing whatever you want to do. Do you hear me? This is your life, not theirs. If you and Brock want to take a gap year--do it. Don’t stop. I learned a long time ago that life is too short to regret.” I advise, getting flashbacks about all of the things I regret.
My life was a big mess before. But now, things are beginning to look great.
Hannah gives me a small smile. “Sure.”
She’s afraid of her parents and the future. I understand. It’s frightening, not knowing what’s going to happen. But that’s a big part of life. And as scary as it is, it’s also thrilling.
And I live for the thrills.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter!! The next chapter will be the epilogue. I'm also planning to post a bonus chapter. I hope you stick around for that!