This is your first movie. And also your last.

An Exercise for the Actor: Look at yourself in the mirror. See yourself as if you are your character. Say your lines to yourself.

Do you believe it?

Every line you said to yourself in the mirror, practicing every expression. Every line you said to yourself, you said to the camera and now you are saying it to everyone in this theater on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Do you believe it?


You don’t believe in it, anymore, either.

Marilyn Monroe said acting was her religion, but it’s not yours. Maybe you thought about converting, maybe you took the classes and had the baptism by blonde and gave up your name because as your agent said, Lena Symanski is not the name of a star.

You see yourself up there on the screen, your face bigger than the home you grew up in. But it doesn’t feel like you, it feels like a charade.

Your husband squeezes your hand, he is proud of you. How hard you’ve worked. How far you have come. How hard you have pushed, since you pushed on your mother’s belly from the inside so they knew they had to get out of the country, and just in time. You are sunshine said mother, you are music, said father. No matter – at school they called you dirty and dumb and you those were the ones you believed. You had to prove them wrong. Pageants, singing contests and modeling and then all the way to Hollywood to show them. But seeing yourself on the screen now, you think you proved them right.

The telegram you sent home. Your big break – a small part playing Comptesse de Brissac in a huge picture with Brando! Your parents were so proud, they never stopped talking about it. And then you ended up on the cutting room floor, no credit, nothing at all. And at last, here you are, a star of a movie – and your parents don’t tell anyone because they are ashamed. Try explaining the movie business to parents! Try telling them you never show your breasts. They don’t watch this dreck. This was not how they raised you.

An Exercise for the Actor: Imagine a specific object. Imagine holding it in your hand. What does it feel like? What does it smell like? What does it taste like? What is an emotional memory you can tie to this object?

A simple gold band. It feels smooth. It smells like Chantilly perfume. It tastes like metal and salt.

The band isn’t your imagination in an object exercise. It sits on your left fourth finger. You twist it like a charm. You are still a newly-wed.

“Do you, Lena Symanski, take this man . . .”

“I do.” The magic words.

And you became someone else, with his name.

Do you believe it?

You do.

Why play-act at something that is now real? Your new life has just begun.

There is no room for her, here, anymore.

Lee Anna must die.

It is the perfect murder: clean, simple, victimless. All you have to do is walk away forever, from people who never loved you or really knew you in the first place.

You don’t even say goodbye.

You just slip your hand into his and go home.

Laura Lee Bahr is the screenwriter for the multi-award winning feature films Jesus Freak and the little Death. She is the author of the novels Haunt (winner of the Wonderland Book Award, Best Novel) and Long-Form Religious Porn, and the short-story collection Angel Meat (winner of the Wonderland Book Award, Best Collection). Laura's debut feature as writer/director, Boned, won “Best Micro-Budget Feature” at the Toronto Independent Film Festival and is currently distributed through Gravitas (available everywhere). She was the Spring 2018 writer-in-residence at the Kerouac house.