Writing  by Pete Rosch

This piece was written based on the following writing prompt: Your main character is just about to get the thing they’ve wanted more than anything else in life when suddenly, they find out they have only 24 hours left to live. They have to make a choice: get the thing they want and die, or get the cure/antidote.

Cary Glant strode onto the set like he owned the studio. After all, he practically did own it. For the past five years, he’d been the studio’s biggest money maker. Cary had it all:  dark, brooding good looks that had women practically throwing themselves at his feet. Money, cars, houses, and private jets, he was a supreme Hollywood A-lister.

But upon reflection, which he didn’t often engage in, there was only one thing he didn’t have: an Oscar. That an actor like him, of such sublime talent, should not have a Best Actor Oscar, was a festering wound in his heart.

“Quiet on the set!” yelled his director, Georgio Ferragamo, who had three Oscars to his name already. It felt to Cary like every film Georgio made was a contender. That meant this role, as Dorothy in a remake of the Wizard of Oz, with an all-male cast and modernized to take place in a Wall Street bank, was his ticket to the red carpet.

“I’m ready for my close up!” said Cary, checking that his ruby sneakers were spotless. “Everyone, places!” yelled Georgio, “And roll!…and ACTION!”

Cary began to breakdance down the yellow brick bank teller’s line when his whole life crumbled to dust. A searing pain emanating from his chest had him gasping in agony. “Call 9-1-1!” he managed to get out before darkness mercifully descended.

Cary awoke to the sounds of heart monitors beeping. IV lines ran into his arms, and an oxygen mask obscured his vision of the room. “Cary, can you hear me?” he heard Georgio ask. Another voice, this one unfamiliar, said, “He may be discombobulated for awhile. His condition is dire.”

“What’s wrong with me?” whispered Cary. A white-jacketed doctor came into view. “You have Thespanemia,” said the doctor, shaking his head sadly, “It’s an extraordinarily serious disease that strikes down actors in their prime. Have you been extra emotive lately?”

“Yes,” whispered Cary, “I’m in the role of a lifetime.

“He’s a shoe-in for Best Actor!” interjected Georgio.

Once again, the doctor shook his head mournfully. “No more acting for you,” he said gently. “If I don’t get you to the special Thespanemia unit at the Mayo Clinic ASAP, you’ll be dead in 24 hours.”

“Noooooooo!” Cary whispered hoarsely, “I can’t leave now. We’re in the middle of shooting.”

“Yes, if he leaves now,” said Georgio, “I’ll have to use his understudy in the role, and bye bye Oscar.”

The doctor’s eyes filled with tears. “He’ll never act again, I’m afraid. They’ll have to surgically remove his talent or he’ll die.”

“What?!” yelled Georgio and Cary at the same time.

“Yes,” said the doctor gravely. “You need to decide right now: your talent or your life?”

That Oscar was so close that Cary could practically feel its glistening goldness in the palm of his hand. How many times had he written and rewritten his acceptance speech, hearing in his own mind himself utter those ultimate words, “I’d like to thank the Academy…”? No matter what, he’d never give up his talent!  Death held no fear for him!  He’d go down in a blaze of glory, earning immortality, as he squashed the memory of Judy Garland into oblivion.

“Take me home, Georgio,” he said firmly. “I need to die doing what I was born to do.”

Georgio and the doctor wept openly. “What a talent,” blubbed the doctor, “What a talent.”

“Cary, are you sure?” asked Georgio, blowing his nose loudly.

“I’m sure,” said Cary.

“Then we will make your final scene the greatest one anyone has seen in movie history! And give me your acceptance speech now, so I can accept the Oscar for you.”

“You’re a true friend, Georgio. Make sure you cry like a baby.”

“I’ll cry so hard my mascara will run like Niagara Falls.”

And so they headed back to the studio, where Cary gave the performance of a lifetime. It was not until he hit the final high C of “Somewhere over the rainbow lays 10 percent annual interest” that he succumbed. And Georgio, good friend that he was, did indeed accept his posthumous award, remembering to wear non-waterproof mascara.

Founders’ note: Not everyone is born with the ability to use their voice. Not everyone can easily communicate their thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams. On this page, we’re give nonspeaking people in our community the opportunity to be heard. The authors are students at Mouth to Hand Learning Center in Mount Kisco.

About this piece:

Having been unable to talk meaningfully my entire life, I have become very good at listening. Because it hurt so much to be misunderstood, I decided to make myself listen to and understand those around me. And because I listen so closely, I hear things others don’t. Now that I can talk, I find that I still hear more than most people. I’m an empath, like so many nonspeakers. It’s like we feel more than speaking people. I often wonder what the world would be like if we all took the time to listen.

Keith Makar is a student at M2H in Mount Kisco. He loves writing poetry more than anything. 

If you’d like to read more poetry by Keith and his peers, you can buy “SpellBound: The Voices of the Silent” here. (All profits from the book go to Mouth to Hand Parent Association, whose mission is to enrich the lives of their students, both socially and educationally.)  

This article was published in the January/February 2024 print edition of Connect to Northern Westchester.

Editor-in-Chief at Connect to Northern Westchester | Website | + posts

Gia Miller is an award-winning journalist and the editor-in-chief/co-publisher of Connect to Northern Westchester. She has a magazine journalism degree (yes, that's a real thing) from the University of Georgia and has written for countless national publications, ranging from SELF to The Washington Post. Gia desperately wishes schools still taught grammar. Also, she wants everyone to know they can delete the word "that" from about 90% of their sentences, and there's no such thing as "first annual." When she's not running her media empire, Gia enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, laughing at her crazy dog and listening to a good podcast. She thanks multiple alarms, fermented grapes and her amazing husband for helping her get through each day. Her love languages are food and humor.