The breakthrough Lisa had hoped for never came. Years later, when she thought she’d come to terms with her lack of success on the stage, she bumped into an old friend, Polly Audrey, from drama school who had gone on to become a mega star.
‘Hi,’ said Polly, ‘how extraordinary to run into you after all this time, have you got time to grab a coffee?’
Lisa was flattered, as everyone wanted a piece of Polly. ‘Yes, that would be great’ replied Lisa.
They found a coffee shop nearby and Polly automatically paid for their lattes. Most people wouldn’t recognise her in her casual clothes, with her baseball cap and sunglasses. It was in fact, Polly who had spotted Lisa first.
‘It’s so nice to meet someone from my past who knew me well back in the day, who has a shared history, yet doesn’t want a favour’, said Polly.
Lisa hadn’t had time to work out if she wanted a favour. ‘So how are you?’ Polly asked.
Lisa began to fill her in. Her marriage, her children, her job. But then she turned her attention to Polly, ‘You’ve done so well. I see you popping up on TV and in the West End all the time’.
‘Aah, that all comes at a price’, said Polly, mysteriously. ‘Such a loss of privacy and normal life’.
‘What do you mean, surely the world’s you oyster? I’ve always envied you your success’, ventured Lisa.
‘Well, I’m on my 3rd divorce and have no children, as that would have interfered with my career. My last husband was also my manager and has robbed me blind. My success has been a hollow victory, it’s attracted all the wrong kind of people into my life.’
Lisa thought back to the early auditions she’d been to, when she was in direct competition with Polly. They’d both graduated at the same time and had been level pegging, in terms of plum roles, when at drama school. She wondered what had happened afterwards, that Polly seemingly got the lucky breaks and she didn’t.
Polly volunteered the information ‘I did a lot of favours myself, to people I didn’t particularly like, in the beginning. You know, the casting couch.’
They promised to keep in touch, but Lisa knew they wouldn’t. This chance meeting was serendipitous. She didn’t want to get mixed up in Polly’s world. It all seemed quite sordid. There was nothing to envy. She began to feel grateful she’d never got her foot in the door.