The words flowing from his poetic lips sounded so logical, like there could not possibly be any other reasoning. Talia’s grin never disappeared for long when she was around her crazy best friend. So, she grabbed a nearby advertisement for a failed Broadway show that she’d found caught in a crack of the sidewalk and saved for Richard. He loved things like that.
Back to back they stood and thrust their paper blades into the soft bellies of adversaries. Talia laughed and twirled, swinging wildly at the thin air. Richard echoed her movements, executing them with slightly more grace. Together they slaughtered the dark, threatening monsters of the unknown until they turned and found themselves face to face.
“My Galilea! I should have known you would betray me. How foolish of me to trust a woman,” Richard scoffed.
Talia’s mouth curved into a thin smirk and she swiftly knocked Richard’s poster board tube from his hand. He fell to his knees dramatically and begged, “Please, Lady Galilea, have mercy on my poor, helpless soul.”
Talia’s eyebrow lifted knowingly as she pressed her rolled up ad to Richard’s throat and turned his head from side to side, examining every aspect of his face. Tiny crow’s feet had already begun to crease the edges of his eyes and laugh lines made faint shadows across his youthful face, frozen in mock desperation.
“Lady Galilea,” he breathed, “I know your true identity.”
Chin tilted up towards the level of Talia’s eyes, Richard drew in a gasp and choked out, “Talia, Grand Princess of… Theolon.”
“Then I have no choice but to kill you,” Talia said airily, whipping her paper sword from his throat to prod him in the gut with it. Richard clutched at the roll of paper, pretending to struggle for breath as he fell to the uneven floorboards. Talia kneeled over him and watched his eyes shut, thinking that maybe Richard would make a better actor than a playwright. But just as soon as she felt she had defeated Rich and his silly ideas, he grabbed the very rapier he’d been stabbed with and poked it into Talia’s side.
She jumped in surprise and looked at Richard. He was lying calmly across the floor once more, still as death. She stared at him until his eyelashes fluttered and his warm brown eyes cast their stare on her once again. His eyes smiled. She exploded with laughter, falling back on the wood of the stage next to Richard. She beamed up at the cool, unused stage lights Richard couldn’t afford to run. He had spent his life savings on this theatre. It was his dream. He was convinced he just needed a bit of money to put into it.
Talia’s eyes glanced around the place: at the peeling angels on the ceiling, to the once-plush velvet seats that needed to be reupholstered, from corner to corner of the dark, quiet building. When she had absorbed the memory perfectly she turned back to Richard and caught him fingering a lock of her straight, thick hazelnut hair. He sighed.
“I suppose I’ll try writing a different play. Maybe something a little less Shakespearean. Ay? What do you think of that idea?”
Talia giggled, “I don’t know. Lady Galilea is sort of growing on me.”
Richard rolled his eyes and flopped onto his back, rising to a sitting position.
“Do you believe in me, Talia?”
“Yes,” she answered without hesitating. She’d grown so used to giving him that answer. Honesty was cruel.
“I’m going to do it. I’ll be famous some day. Just you wait, Lady Galilea,” Richard turned to face her and smiled, “Just you wait.”