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"House in LA" • Jungle (by Hannah Rose Roberts)

Two whole years on the rewrite

There’s a pothole on Sunset Boulevard I know better than my own family. Not all things can be fixed, but you can get used to anything.

Cut through the haze

We can make it here with careful regimens. Fifteen-dollar salads. Nine roommates. Three-hour workouts. Don’t shit where you self-tape. See the dream, become the dream. Insurance wouldn’t cover fillers anyway.

I feel alive in the sunlight

Comedy is much harder than drama, so few people understand that. I’m going method, always laughing. Enter BARTENDER, mid-30s, tattoos. Tell me I’m cute enough that this one is on the house. Enter DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE, mid-40s, pasty. Tell me your house has an extra key.

You be the sunshine and it’s all right

The Oscar goes to the 405 traffic in La La Land, the only consistent thing in this city. We’re all playing Peter in the first scene of Office Space, but I bring a little classic Prometheus to the role for gravity. Tell me why I still think making unprotected lefts will save me any time, all they do is make me more vulnerable. I hate when you act like you aren’t waiting on a callback just the same as me.

Eyes full of rain

A voice on the walkie keeps telling me to take a hard five. I’m switching channels, asking questions like: All I need is one commercial and I’m good ‘til next year, what’s so hard to understand? Why is the struggling actor trope a joke unless it happens in New York? Can we go to the beach after this and just look at each other, just appreciate the product?

Oh God, in the hope that you could heal my pain

Setting a meeting to define the relationship. Feels like the couch is still warm. More questions: Am I a featured extra or a co-star? If I contract as recurring, will you executive-produce me? Oh baby, do you mean it? Are there really mountain lions in these beautiful hills?

Ask me to stay, but you won’t say it like that

Missed call on my other phone. Don’t wait up, I’m hitting the break and you’re still in the same traffic. When I said we were friends I meant Runyon-Canyon-hike friends, charcoal-latte friends. Don’t try to ask more, it’s not cute. You can be my plus-one but not when I’m a plus-one, see the difference? I need to get to makeup.

Lost in a camera, the whole night changed

Cut. Last looks. Rolling, action. Cut. Back to one. More believable this time. Cut. Hold for unidentified guttural screaming. Cut. Reset. Hold for noise from the plane that could have taken us home. Now home is wherever the location scout tells me it is. 

All my fears are only real life

I can smile just like Mia Goth in Pearl now. I’ll show you at the wrap party, lean over the balcony. Leaning feels good, untouchable, leaning a little more feels even better. God what a beautiful view, how much did it cost?

Tell my friends I’m gonna be right there

Hannah Rose Roberts holds an MFA from the University of California, Riverside. The winner of the 2022 Master's Review Flash Fiction Contest, her work is forthcoming in Ploughshares, HAD, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles and social-medias @hanalyst.


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