That late summer afternoon was one of many. We had so little time left before school began, and her father wanted us to conference his screenplay that day. I can remember Mary sitting on her bed, leaning against the wall, the pale skin of her face framed by her thick red hair. Her fair complexion and blazing mane give the impression that her family is Irish, but she is actually Italian. The dipping afternoon sun streamed through the open window into her eyes, and she squinted as she pushed her growing-out bangs back. She held the pages of her father's first screenplay up. "This is your copy, Megan. You should feel special: he made one just for you." I accepted it and we divvied up the parts. Well, to be accurate I should say that I claimed the ones that I wanted and she took what was left; she knows that it means more to be because I'm interested in acting.
She lowered her eyes to the page and informed me that it was my line first. I could see her eyeshadow, the same one she always wears: Cover Girl in Plum Fairy. Sometimes she wears too much and it looks like she has a black eye, but on that day it wasn't too bad.
Rocker her, cocker-spaniel, jumped onto the quilted bed. His bark is as sharp as the broken glass at the bottom of the lazy New Haven River, which is near the Deegan house. This time he's barking at me, because I am occupying his seat at the foot of Mary's bed. Rocky hasn't scared anyone much since he was sprayed by a skunk and had to have much of his fur cut off. He looks about as threatening as a baby grasshopper.
I heard a static crackling from under the bed. A voice broke through. "Hello, hello? Can anybody hear me? There's a fire, a big fire. It's-- it's--" I reached under the bed and turned the walkie-talkie off. Katie, Mary's ten-year-old sister, came stomping up the stairs and complained. Mary shut the door, revealing a homemade poster of her favorite celebrites, most of which are men aged forty-five or older. The most prevalent is Harrison Ford.
I met Mary Deegan for the first time during a summer play directed by Anne Gleason and Martha Chesley called "Heart to Heart". That is one of several times I have been on stage with Mary, although I know she would prefer to be directing rather than performing. Actually, Mary has little interest in theater. We went to a play this summer after I begged, cajoled, and pleaded for twenty minutes. She told me several times as we were waiting for it to begin that she hated plays, and why couldn't we have just gone to the movies? I had to say, "I told you so" when Mary admitted that she'd liked it. Her ambition is to be a Hollywood movie director. Her idol is Steven Spielberg.
Mary is either a really good or terribly bad person to go to the movies with, depending on how you feel about discussing them. She wants to analyze every detail, every line, every intake of breath. She also talks constantly throughout the movie, with comments like "The director should have cut the scene right there" and "What was he thinking? Ron Howard is a quack." She also forces you to stay through the entire ending credits, because she says that if she were in a movie, she would want people to stay and see her name. On the ride home she criticizes the directing, I criticize the acting, and her father, who thinks himself an expert, criticizes the writing.
As I write, I can hear the telephone ring, and I can hear her voice already. I know
it's her, calling to find out what's happened since I saw her in last period English. I pick
up the receiver and start another conversation with my best friend.