Fiction Friday: The Bandbox Hat

The Bandbox Hat

Previously: SarahJane goes outside by the pool to think about leaving the show. Amanda, her nemesis, comes out also. They exchange a few words then Amanda gets in the water while SarahJane lies on a lounge chair. When it gets too quiet, SarahJane calls Amanda’s name. Amanda doesn’t answer. She’s face down in the water. SarahJane jumps in and calls for help.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

I splashed my way to Amanda, still yelling. Where was everyone? Didn’t someone monitor the cameras?

“Help!” The water filled my sleep pants, dragging me down. I kicked them off and in another stride reached her. Her arms floated at her sides. I turned her over. Her eyes stared, glassy and large.

“Amanda!” I shook her but she didn’t blink.

“What’s going on?” A production assistant jogged to the pool edge.

“She’s not breathing!” All the CPR instructions tumbled through my head but I couldn’t sort them into any order. Pinch her nose? Or breathe into her mouth.

“The medics are coming. Pull her to me.” The man leaned over, reaching out.

Basic lifesaving skills I learned in high school returned to my foggy brain. Grasping under Amanda’s shoulders, I tugged her to the PA who hauled her onto the pool deck. Thundering footsteps sounded as I clambered out behind her.

Two medics appeared with bags of gear. They knelt next to Amanda, calling her name. They worked quickly, palpating and looking in her eyes and throat, pulling out tubing and fastening them to oxygen containers and to a plastic mask that covered her nose and mouth.

After an agonizingly long minute her eyelids fluttered and she raised a trembling hand to feel the mask.

I hovered over the medic. The PA stood, arms crossed over his chest. “What’s the verdict?” he asked.

“Looks like she choked on something,” one of the medics said. “We’ll take her to the hospital and have her checked out.”

“Great.” He didn’t sound like he thought it was great at all. More like irritated.

I glared at him. “What, will this interrupt your plans for tomorrow’s date? What is it? More beach volleyball? Or maybe tango lessons?”

He didn’t flinch as he met my gaze. “Bowling, and yes, it does change things. She’s out, you’re in.” He turned on his heel and strode away.

“Why, you—”

Amanda sat up and ripped off the mask. “No!” she called to his retreating back. “I’ll be okay. I can bowl!”

The medic closest to me pressed her back onto the ground with a hand to her shoulder. Her look at me could have cut diamonds. “This is all your fault.”

I pointed at my chest. “ME? You’re the one who almost drowned!”

“I would have come to in a minute.” Her voice sounded subdued under the mask, but I still got the venom.

“Whatever.” I turned and shuffled away. My sleeping pants were in the bottom of the pool and I realized I stood in my panties and a camisole, shivering in the cool night air.

“Here.” The production assistant had returned. He handed me a terrycloth robe.

“Thank you.” It felt warm and blessedly dry on my goose-pimpled arms. I had one more reflexive shiver before my muscles relaxed. “What’s your name?” I’d seen him around, but until then he’d just been part of the crew.


“I’m SarahJane.” I stuck out my hand.

He smiled, and I found myself smiling back. He had warm brown eyes and when he grinned, they were framed by small crinkles. “Yes, I know. And I’m really sorry about your friend over there.”

“We’re not friends.” It was out before I could censor myself. “I mean, well, we’re not close, but I guess …”

He nodded. “I know. I’ve seen the footage. She hates you.”

I laughed. “I’m so glad you said that. I thought it was my imagination.”

“Nope, and sorry to say, you two have made for some of our best scenes.”

My mouth snapped shut for a moment. “So, I guess I’ll be seeing a lot of us on TV while someone says, ‘Next on Date My Son, Amanda and SarahJane battle it out for Austin’s heart. Does SarahJane break Amanda’s nose when they go after each other during an innocent game of beach volleyball? Stay tuned.’”

He chuckled. “Probably.”

I shivered again. “I should have known.”

“Let’s go inside. You really are going bowling tomorrow, so you should get to bed.” He moved to the French doors into the kitchen and held them open for me.

Once inside, he poured hot water from a kettle on the stove over a tea bag and handed me the cup. “Good thing I happened to be in production room and saw you yelling.”

“Isn’t someone watching all the time?” I asked. “I presumed everything is recorded.”

He nodded. “It is, but it’s not all watched at the same time. A couple of girls are having heart-to-hearts upstairs and that was more riveting than you two not speaking by the pool.”

I gestured with tea cup. “Well, thanks for this and the robe. Guess I better go look at what I have in the way of bowling clothes.”

“See you soon, SarahJane.”

I suddenly felt very warm and I had a feeling it had nothing to do with the terrycloth.


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