Sarah was not entirely sure how she should feel about this.
It wasn't the guys hand on her thing that was just on the hem of her sundress. Yeah, she could deal with that. She was on a date with Steven, who was nice enough but a little handsy, especially for the surroundings. She could like handsy in the right circumstance. However, there were kids around. If his fingers went a slip beneath the hem she would probably say something.
No, what Sarah wasn't sure about was where she was - Universal Studios Hollywood. It was a theme park - that was certainly the right word for it, built into a movie studio, built into a mesa over the valley. Now, Sarah had been to many movie studios over the years, but she was specifically in the theme park zone of the park, with no way to cross the magical line into, well, her everyday.
Universal Studios was designed to show people that line - its entire themes were movies. Mostly Universal movies and a couple of others were all represented in a couple of rides that were basically themed to some movie property (and surprisingly few of them), shows where some movie property was demonstrated, like sound effects or animal training, with just a tad of education (not that the field necessarily required depth. When people used cowbells to make sound effects it wasn't incredibly deeper then that - other then it was a pain to time correctly), a couple of very small museum-like spaces where they showed actual bits of movie history (Sarah saw the letter where Groucho Marx actually said that he didn't want to be part of any club that would let him be a member[underlying premise of joke that most people didn't get: He was Jewish [[secret underlying premise: He already was a member of the West La Country Club and was feuding with them over how they ran there golf course[[[underlying premise to the underlying premise: Groucho was in real life an unhappy asshole]]] ]] ] )
And, yes, shops. Sarah had locked Steven arms around her like they had been dating for years - you could buy things that looked like movie props; toys of swords, of cream pies, hats, badges - the kind of stuff she made everyday and now was being sold for 10 bucks, made in china. She didn't quite know how she felt about that. Granted, this wasn't stuff that she had made, and except in the case of some of the really expensive stuff, was clearly toys pretending to be props (and in reality most props where toys pretending to be something else) but there was an air of turning what she had into the store.
Ehhh...it was a lot like Comic-Con with better display tables. This was magic with indifferent tourists...this was...
Well, time to take the studio tour.
Sarah had been here before. When she was 8 her father had taken her to Universal Studios Hollywood (there was a Universal Studios Florida, her home state, however she had never been). She had LOVED It. It would be simplistic to say her current life’s work had started here, but that was one of the things that led to it. She remembered the sets to all her favourite movies, the shark from Jaws that came out at her, King Kong attempting to attack her. It was a magical day, in her magical trip to Los Angeles. One of the best in her life.
It was wrong to expect it to be the same today. Just when she was moving to LA there was a fire in the studio that had destroyed the giant stuffed King Kong and a lot of the backlot. She had heard that Universal was planning to rebuild a lot of the sets they used to take you through, but they didn't seem in an incredible hurry to do so. They had largely replaced the tour guides with a video presentation, which was good in giving you a sense of history, but lost a little of the charm. They had taken out the Battlestar Galactica exhibit (which was for the original 1970s show - and last in to the time of the reboot. Tricia Helfer was nowhere in the new one). In general it seemed the fact that this was a working movie studio was less of the buzz here.
And for someone who had taken the ride once nearly 20 years ago she was some expert on it.
She sighed. She was with Steven, and this was nice. That was the thing about first dates. You’re with someone and the focus is on them - learning who they are what they are all about. Going to Universal Studios (which was his idea and a good one, she gave him that much) at least made the focus the parting of the Red Sea, and just being with someone. She liked being with someone. She nuzzled him and put her head into his shoulder.
They past a suburban street that had all the houses from sitcoms - The Munsters, Leave It To Beaver. It was fake of course, well all movies where fake, but she knew they wouldn't have built it all there, but it was good. She smiled and was happy. When she let herself go, when she let all of the crap of being a superhero, a single girl, a nerd with home homeowner dues...when all of it was gone she could be happy.
She liked being happy.
Sarah smiled brightly. Why do women do this? She stood on a ladder putting up wallpaper. It was silly in a way, she was working so hard to put little dragons and unicorns up on the wall of her children’s bedroom. By the time they would notice it, it would be time to put up some other wallpaper again - but ahh. it was cheery. She liked dragons and unicorns.
And she felt the baby kick.
Then the other.
She was nesting-building up her space for baby. She rubbed her stomach. She had always been a larger women - now she had twins inside of her. And she was larger, true. For most of her life one could have described her as being on the cusp of fat. Now she had crossed that line. However her boobs had also grown from D all the way to F, so who was to complain. Large to feed her children. Her joys. Little Dianna and Kara.
The wallpaper would take a little while to dry, and she was getting a little tired.
She went to the living room of their little bungalow. She looked out the window of the perfect Florida sun. She got a glass of lemonade and waited.
She thought of her husband. He was such a nice man. He would be home from his office job in a couple of hours. What would she serve him for dinner? Her mother always loved cooking ham hocks, potatoes, and peas. She would make that. She briefly thought she had missed but why? Her parents lived 10 miles away, and had done so for all her life, in Tallahassee.
The thought caused a weird sensation at the back of her neck. However, she ignored it.
She sighed and relaxed. She missed her husband, though he had been gone, what? 5 hours. She missed every second he was gone, every second she was apart from him. But it made her happy to know that he existed, that he was there and he was perfect - her perfect match.
She relaxed a bit.
She turned on the TV. They were playing the movie King Kong. It was a favourite of hers. She loved watching King Kong destroy the city - she sometimes wished she was that strong, that she was that mighty, that she could rampage through the city pounding her chest.
She would have beaten her chest but, well...babies.
The movie did, however, take a while to get going - a lot of stuff with a blatantly offensive Chinese cook... She had watched the 2005 movie once - and realized it took a long time to get going too - almost an hour. That was pretty bad. And once they got to the island there were native stereotypes that were a lot more offensive then the first movie. Ahh, well...
She liked movies. She remembered that she had wanted to get into them once long ago, before becoming a homemaker - but well, she would never be an actress - but she would be the best Sarah she could.
She smiled and felt alive. The babies kicked again. It was an odd sensation, and a perfect sensation, to be full of life - to be connected to things that were literally a part of her and yet separate. To be one, and many, to...be. Yes, this was the dream, this was how she wanted to be, and even if she wasn't rich or powerful, or special, then yes...just like this.
Sarah turned her head. There was a man in her house. She looked at the man wearing strange metal armor and a black cape. Somehow, she wasn't frightened though the man was strange and dressed like a nincompoop.
"THIS IS YOUR FANTASY? THIS IS WHAT YOU SECRETLY DREAM TO BE? LOOK AT YOU...YOU’RE BAREFOOT!"
Sarah looked down. She was not, in fact, wearing any shoes.
The metal figure did airquotes - which was very tricky in so much as he always yelled.
"I MAY BE A 'SUPERVILLIAN' AND 'HOMOSEXUAL'... 'DEPRAVED' AND 'DEVIANT'...BUT THIS IS JUST TOO HETRONORMATIVE. LOOSING TO YOU. AND PEOPLE SAY I AM CRAZY.'
“What do you want Deca?" asked Sarah. Huh? His name was Deca - she knew that.
"TO SEE YOU TICK I GUESS. IT TOOK A LOT OF DOING TO FIND YOUR MENTAL BRAINWAVES WHEN YOU’RE A SLEEP. SIX MILLION PEOPLE AND YOU’RE A NEEDLE IN IT...BUT THIS...WOW, JUST...WOW..."
"I'm happy here" said Sarah, not quite sure what she was saying. "Can't you let me be in peace? I am going to make my husband chicken and dumplings."
"I CAN'T KILL YOU IN YOUR DREAMS...THIS ISN'T INCEPTION, OR NIGHTMARE ON THE 13TH . BUT...WELL...I CAN HURT YOU. NO ONE LOVES YOU ‘MAZING GIRL. YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT UP IN YOUR HEAD. NO ONE LOVES ME EITHER SO DON'T SHOOT THAT IN MY FACE...BUT I DON'T CARE. NO ONE LOVES YOU, NOT REALLY. SURE WHEN I KILL YOU THERES GOING TO BE A BIG FUNNERAL AND THE PRESIDENT IS GOING TO SPEAK AND PEOPLE ARE GOING TO CRY...BUT NOT REALLY. NOT REALLY IN THE WAY YOU WANT IT. IF YOU DID YOU WOULDN"T MAKE THIS FAKE LITTLE MATCHSTICK WORLD. WHAT DOES YOUR HUSBAND LOOK LIKE?"
"Um," Sarah thought. "He’s...” And found couldn't describe him.
Deca giggled. Which was also hard to do for someone who always shouted. "BECUSE HE DOESN'T EXIST. YOU CAN'T EVEN IMAGINE HIS FACE. HE’S NOT REAL. NO HUMAN WOULD EVER TAKE YOU. YOU DANCE AROUND AND YOU PROBABLY FUCK AROUND BUT YOU KNOW DEEP IN YOUR HEART THAT YOUR POWERS HAVE ISOLATED YOU FROM ANY REAL CONTACT. YEAH, YOU’RE A FUCKING FATASS BUT SOME GUYS LIKE THAT...THAT’S NOT WHAT STOPING YOU. IT’S YOU. YOU’RE A MISERABLE MONSTER TRYING TO PRETEND YOU’RE SOME GOOD HEROIC FIGURE...BUT YOU’RE NOT REALLY ONE OF THEM. NEITHER AM I...BUT I, AT LEAST, HAVE THE GUTS TO ADMIT.”
Sarah paused a moment and looked at him. She couldn't feel her children inside her anymore – it wasn’t as if they were dead - but as if they were never there.....they were a gone. That’s what got to her. That’s what hurt.
"I try. I don't know...I...”
"OH GREAT. THAT MAKES YOU...”
Sarah looked at Deca for a second.
and then his face had dafodill petals around it.
"This is my dream isn't it? And I can do whatever I want?”
And Deca now was a four legged creature with a flag for a tale and a sausage for a nose.
"WAY TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT..."
"And you’re probably not real either. 99% of you just the part of my subconscious that wants to fuck up. Inception ain’t real. But...well, thank you. Without you in the back of my fucking head then I would be just like you. I will admit to be a creature of crippling self doubt...but, that’s what makes me ‘Mazing Girl,"
And she was wearing her costume.
And he was green - with polka dots.
"That makes me want to save the world, and be a heroine and tell kids to stay off drugs, despite the fact that I occasionally..."
And Sarah woke up. She looked up, and saw Stevens face.
He wasn't her husband.
That was her first thought, she thought perhaps one of the worst in her life. He was a perfectly nice guy really. Black, which she was kind of curious about - not about the giant penis rumours which she knew were a racist stereotype and which she had before and was no great trick...
But well he was perfectly nice guy. Handsy, but at least his hands were on her, and he seemed attentive and he had shared part of his hamburger with her, becuse the hamburger at universal studios was very good.
But he wasn't her husband, he wasn't.
"You dozed off there. I mean, this is very long...”
And all around them an avalanche went off - ice crystals fell on top of the tram car and it started to spin around in a giant vortex of destruction as the earth cracked and gored.
And Sarah grabbed him, and held him in mock terror at the fake movie magic, but with real desire to hold him, even though he wasn't her husband, and be with him. The thought filled her as he screamed in mock horror.
Movies, it had been observed, were dreams at 24 frames a second.
This was a soundstage from the seventies that had been poorly converted into a variation of a carnival attraction.
But it shared a dream quality with a sense of reality, and as she shared this moment with him, slightly groggy and unsure, she felt the magic: she dreamed she had a husband, that she had been together with him, that he had made her barefoot and pregnant in the most redneck part of Florida.
Wow...maybe Deca had been right. Maybe her dreams were pretty fucked up.
But she was Sarah Jennings, and she was 'Mazing Girl, and all the dreams and fantasies, hard work and reality, all of it - all of it had brought her here and she was happy.
So when she got home she gave Universal Studios a Yelp score of 5. Out of 5!!