She opened her eyes, grumbling at the sound of her alarm. She rolled over and pressed SNOOZE.
Damn. She reached for her alarm and turned off her 4:00 alarm. She fell onto her back, eyes closing. . .
. . . She sat up with a start, confused by the silence.
She climbed to her feet and headed to the bathroom. Getting ready at 5AM was tough, but the sleepiness wore off as she washed her face. Taia hesitated as she walked back to her room. What was she going to wear today?
The thought lingered on her mind and slowed her body to a stop. She stood in front of her laundry basket. It was full of clean clothes. Taia reached for a shirt and a pair of pants. Neither of them would fit her well. The jeans were cut in a way that sent one of the seams down her leg, not alongside it. The shirt was too wide at the bottom and flared out, making her look wider than she was. Taia sighed as she made up her mind on the garments.
Taia continued to get dressed, her mind jumping to different thoughts like a jack rabbit. I need to drink half of the water in my Brita before I leave. I should refill my pill case. Taia reached for her Mom’s teal jacket and tied it around her waist.
She turned to her book bag and her eyes scanned the room as she grabbed her leather bag. She counted the items and doublechecked her bag. Computer, wallet, phone, tazer-
She looked up at the bed and then down at her wallet. She reached inside her bag, grabbed her wallet, and flipped it open. Good. She had her bank card. She closed her wallet and put it back into her bag before she grabbed all of her missing items: ear rings, bracelet, computer cord-
By the time she finished packing, it was 5:42AM. They were going to be late.
Taia left her room and walked to the kitchen. She grabbed her Brita water bottle and swallowed a few long sips. The water chilled her system as it entered her stomach, waking her up from the inside. Alertness rolled over her and she headed to her mother’s room after tucking the Brita back into the refrigerator.
“Mom?” She opened the door.
“Turn on the light.
At the flip of the light switch, her mother sat up and rubbed her eyes. She lingered on the bed for a moment, swaying tiredly from side to side.
“What time is she coming?” Mom asked, rubbing her eyes harder.
“I don’t know.” Taia said, sliding her book bag off one shoulder. She squeezed her hand into her bag and grabbed her phone. 5:50AM.
Her mother grumbled and climbed off her bed.
Taia and her mother chatted aimlessly for about fifteen minutes. She enjoyed these conversations with her mother, as she hardly saw her after these talks. By the time Julia pulled up, she was feeling sleepy again. She bid her mother goodbye with a kiss on the cheek.
The ride to Savannah was warm and cozy. Taia had fallen asleep, worries on her mind. She sat up, groggy in the car. She had typed to her writing buddies on twitter a few minutes into the ride before she dozed off for a nap.
“I’ll see you at 6.” Taia said as she hopped out of the car.
Julia smiled and waved at Taia as she grabbed her things. “Okay!”
Taia closed the car door behind her and began the walk to the coffee shop. It was tucked off to the side, but conveniently placed by one of her home-away-from-home SCAD buildings.
She headed into the coffee shop and was greeted by the two workers. They stood side by side and greeted her with a joined, “Hey!”
“Hey!” Taia smiled back, her eyes drifting anxiously to the pastry case. She disliked how much she struggled to make eye contact with people, especially attractive people, on top of the two of them greeting her with warm smiles. She missed feeling invisible.
“Can I have, uh . . .” Taia looked back at the pastry case. “A horchata latte and the fig cream cheese kolache, please?”
“Of course, hon,” the pretty cashier said. After ringing her up, the cashier grabbed a clean plastic sheet and reached into the case.
Taia wandered over to the condiment bar, unsure what to do while she waited. She knew she was struggling with phone addiction, so she ignored the idea of pulling out her phone. She sighed at her innate awkwardness and crossed her arms, wishing she had something to do with her hands. When she remembered she had a stress ball in her book bag, it was too late.
“Horchata latte for Tammy!” The barista announced.
Taia walked to grab her drink. She reached for it with her dominant hand and the latte trembled as soon as her fingers wrapped around it. Taia steadied her shaky right hand with her left and mumbled a ‘thank you’ to the barista. She walked to the condiment bar and poured sugar straight into the drink.
I probably look hasty. She sighed to herself. Seasoning your meal before tasting it was considered an error in judgement (this was apparently how Walt Disney used to hire people. A rumor, anyway) but she knew how her drink tasted, having tried it for the first time officially a few weeks ago. She liked the taste of the cinnamon, but the espresso made it bitter. Hence the sugar.
She capped her drink, darted back to the counter to grab her kolache, and ducked out of the café.
Taia walked towards the SCAD building, feeling a prickle of anxiety make her body warm up. She presented her ID to the guard and mumbled another ‘thank you’ as she brushed past them. Her breathing quickened as she imagined her new destination, the reading room, filled with people. The glaring look on their faces as she opened the creaky door, feeling their judgement as it slammed behind her.
She swallowed hard and took a deep breath as she opened the door to the room.
There was no one inside.
Relief filled her system in a rush and she set her book bag on her usual desk. She had some homework to do and she wasn’t sure how much she would be able to get done in the few hours before class. She pulled out her bullet journal and her micron pen, hoping to get her mental gears turning. The least she could do was try to sort out her mind with a list. After staring at the blank task list, she decided to re-energize her sleepy brain with the latte and kolache. She had a terrible habit of neglecting her stomach, too busy trying to finish any task she set in front of herself.
She finished breakfast at 8AM. Her plan was forming. She closed out the youtube video and turned back to her bullet journal.
Writing them out is useless, her inner critic whispered. Taia frowned and tried to ignore the thought. She ran out of “energy spoons” quickly nowadays. This reflected in her bullet journal, as dots were left without checkmarks or Xs. She reviewed the last few days and wrote Xs over the dots. Frustration made her jaw clench as she looked back her to do list for today. She had to accomplish everything she wrote down. She had to show self-control.
Her first feature film script was driving her crazy.
She fumed in front of her computer, her eyes glossing over the poorly written scenes. She had to do more with less. She highlighted a scene, selected CUT, and she pasted it into another document. Her “cutout” document was getting big – she had no real intention to recycle the scenes she pasted into it, hence its growing size.
Taia’s eyes drifted over to her synopsis and the beat sheet for her 4th draft. She pulled up the files and reread them slowly, trying to find her way back to the story.
She looked over her script again, with narrowed eyes. The comments from her classmates had been eyeopening. Some had good points and others seemed nitpicky. She debated erasing the entire draft and starting over.
Taia glanced at the red X in the top right corner of her screen. She clicked out of her document and stood up to stretch. She had to stop looking at it.
She headed out of the door, disappointment in her work slumping her shoulders.
She leaned against the stall of the bathroom, her mental gears turning aggressively. She had no idea what to do with her script. Perhaps she should toss it and start over?
Taia crossed her arms, considering the idea. She couldn’t do it.
Taia pulled her feature film back up. She stared at the page count. 96. That was good. It used to be 114.
She knew that as long as she kept the audience engaged and emotionally-invested in the characters, they would sit until the film was over. Perhaps, this would only be possible for anyone’s first viewing of the film, but she knew she had to weave in little mysteries that could (hopefully) be caught in the second and third viewing.
She was saying too much and not showing enough. Taia checked the clock on her computer and bit her lip as the cursor roamed to the beginning of a short scene. She could make the next few minutes useful.
The scene only 4 lines of dialogue. The scene could be more useful if she added more to it or she could cut the entire scene out.
She sat there, filled with self doubt. Everyone else’s scripts read so easily. They conveyed so much emotion in one line. They made screenwriting look effortless . . .
Taia highlighted the scene and added it to her cutout document. Maybe the dialogue could be saved . . .
Her leg tapped urgently against the floor. She needed to go. Her growing paranoia of sweating and smelling like sweat made her impatient. She should have taken a moment to refresh herself before the class started at 2. She had to douse herself in perfume. She had to go right now-
This was the coldest classroom in the entire building. She shivered and took a break from taking notes. She glanced down at her hands and checked her nailbeds. Were they purple from lack of oxygen? She took a few deep breathes and watched the pink reappear in her nails. She had to remember to take her iron supplements in the morning. Did she need a stronger dose-
Taia refocused when the teacher cut off the lights to show another clip.
She sat down on the cement stairs, her eyes scanning the street for her ride.
What if Julia had an accident? What if she was sick? What if she had gone to the hospital and left Savannah early without telling her?
That’s unlikely, she told herself.
She checked her phone for new text messages.
There were none.
She had to relax.
Julia pulled up and smiled. “Hey.”
She looked fine. There hadn’t been an accident. No spontaneous hospital visit. Just stuck in traffic. The usual.
Taia beamed back and slid into the passenger seat. She set her book bag on the floor in front of her and pulled out her headphones. The ride back would feel shorter . . .
Taia entered her bedroom with a heavy sigh. She started stripping immediately, running to the shower. Dinner was going to be a bowl of ramen. She didn’t have the energy or the stomach space for anything heavier than that. Eating heavily before bed gave her nightmares and it made it harder for her to wake up in the morning.
She skipped her skincare routine, gradually losing more and more energy. She seasoned her ramen and hid a yawn with her fist. She looked outside the kitchen while the bowl spun in the microwave.
The Savannah air had smelled like burning leaves today. The sharp, crisp smell paired with the cool breeze made her feel nostalgic and envious. She wished she lived in Savannah again, just to have the option of walking downtown to Broughton Street.
She sighed when the microwave beeped, announcing her ramen was finished. She’d be back in the city soon.
She couldn’t sleep. Taia stared up at the ceiling.
Her feature film script needed more work. Her teacher commented that she was losing her way with the story, and he was right. She was. She kept going to the beginning, trying to make it just right. She couldn’t . . .
Taia rolled over and closed her eyes in the dark.
Maybe tomorrow . . .
Taia’s eyes opened and she sat up with a smile. She fumbled in the dark, reaching around for the notebook she kept by her bed. She scribbled the words in the dark, trusting that she was writing legibly.
The sound of her alarm was the last thing she wanted to hear in the morning. She must have missed her 4AM alarm . . .
. . . My idea! Taia sat up, tiredness forgotten for a moment.
She hopped off her bed and turned the lamp on. She grabbed the notebook and stared at the pages.
Her handwriting was legible. She managed to save the idea and better yet, the idea still made sense. She could still save her script.
Taia smiled as she headed to the bathroom.
Today is already going to be a better day than yesterday.