performance package

8

Am really liking this 1971 Olds 442! She’s got a 350 horsepower 455 mated to a turbo 400 automatic transmission with a 3.23 rearend. She’s clothed in GM “Viking Blue”. Look at the options on the performance package on the bill of sale. I miss seeing those factory Olds rims. Nice touch with the drive-in speaker beside the car. Cool collection of 8-tracks, huh? I had Rod Stewart, Styx, Fleetwood Mac & Jefferson Airplane back in the day.

4

Willie Mae “Big Mamma” Thornton (December 11, 1926-July 25, 1984) -was an American rhythm-and-blues singer and songwriter. She was the first to record Leiber and Stoller’sHound Dog”, in 1952,[1] which became her biggest hit, staying seven weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B chart in 1953[2] and selling almost two million copies.[3] However, her success was overshadowed three years later, when Elvis Presley recorded his more popular rendition of “Hound Dog”.[4] Similarly, Thornton’s “Ball ‘n’ Chain” (written in 1961 but not released until 1968) had a bigger impact when performed and recorded by Janis Joplin in the late 1960s.

Thornton’s performances were characterized by her deep, powerful voice and strong sense of self. She tapped into a liberated black feminist persona, through which she freed herself from many of the expectations of musical, lyrical, and physical practice for black women.[5] She was given her nickname, “Big Mama,” by Frank Schiffman, the manager of Harlem’s Apollo Theater, because of her strong voice, size, and personality. Thornton used her voice to its full potential, once stating that she was louder than any microphone and didn’t want a microphone to ever be as loud as she was. She was known for her strong voice.[6] Joplin’s biographer Alice Echols said that Thornton could sing in a “pretty voice” but did not want to. Thornton said, “My singing comes from my experience.…My own experience. I never had no one teach me nothin’. I never went to school for music or nothin’. I taught myself to sing and to blow harmonica and even to play drums by watchin’ other people! I can’t read music, but I know what I’m singing! I don’t sing like nobody but myself.”[7]

Her style was heavily influenced by gospel music, which she grew up listening to at the home of a preacher, though her genre could be described as blues.[5] Thornton was quoted in a 1980 article in the New York TImes: “when I was comin’ up, listening to Bessie Smith and all, they sung from their heart and soul and expressed themselves. That’s why when I do a song by Jimmy Reed or somebody, I have my own way of singing it. Because I don’t want to be Jimmy Reed, I want to be me. I like to put myself into whatever I’m doin’ so I can feel it”.[8]

Thornton was famous for her transgressive gender expression. She often dressed as a man in her performances, wearing work shirts and slacks. She did not care about the opinions of others and “was openly gay and performed risque songs unabashedly.”[9] Improvisation was a notable part of her performance. She often entered call-and-response exchanges with her band, inserting confident and subversive remarks. Her play with gender and sexuality set the stage for later rock-and-roll artists’ plays with sexuality.[5]

Scholars such as Maureen Mahon have praised Thornton for subverting traditional roles of African-American women.[5] She added a female voice to a field that was dominated by white males, and her strong personality transgressed stereotypes of what an African-American woman should be. This transgression was an integral part of her performance and stage persona.[10] Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin admired her unique style of singing and incorporated elements of it in their own work. Her vocal sound and style of delivery are key parts of her style and are recognizable in Presley’s and Joplin’s work.[7]

Thornton’s birth certificate states that she was born in Ariton, Alabama,[11] but in an interview with Chris Strachwitz she claimed Montgomery, Alabama, as her birthplace, probably because Montgomery was better known than Ariton.[12] She was introduced to music in a Baptist church, where her father was a minister and her mother a singer. She and her six siblings began to sing at early ages.[13] Her mother died young, and Willlie Mae left school and got a job washing and cleaning spittoons in a local tavern. In 1940 she left home and, with the help of Diamond Teeth Mary, joined Sammy Greens Hot Harlem Revue and was soon billed as the “New Bessie Smith”.[12] Her musical education started in the church but continued through her observation of the rhythm-and-blues singers Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie, whom she deeply admired.[14]

Thornton’s career began to take off when she moved to Houston in 1948. “A new kind of popular blues was coming out of the clubs in Texas and Los Angeles, full of brass horns, jumpy rhythms, and wisecracking lyrics.”[15] She signed a recording contract with Peacock Records in 1951 and performed at the Apollo Theater in 1952. Also in 1952, she recorded “Hound Dog” while working with another Peacock artist, Johnny Otis. The songwriters, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller,[4] were present at the recording, with Leiber demonstrating the song in the vocal style they had envisioned.[16][17] The record was produced by Leiber and Stoller. Otis played drums after the original drummer was unable to play an adequate part. It was the first recording produced by Leiber and Stoller. The record went to number one on the R&B chart.[18] The record made her a star, but she saw little of the profits.[19] On Christmas Day 1954 in a Houston, Texas theatre she witnessed fellow performer Johnny Ace, also signed to Duke and Peacock record labels, accidentally shoot and kill himself while playing with a .22 pistol.[8] Thornton continued to record for Peacock until 1957 and performed in R&B package tours with Junior Parker and Esther Phillips. Thornton originally recorded her song “Ball ‘n’ Chain” for Bay-Tone Records in the early 1960s, “and though the label chose not to release the song…they did hold on to the copyright—which meant that Thornton missed out on the publishing royalties when Janis Joplin recorded the song later in the decade.”[14] 

As her career began to fade in the late 1950s and early 1960s,[1] she left Houston and relocated to the San Francisco Bay area, “playing clubs in San Francisco and L.A. and recording for a succession of labels”,[14] notably the Berkeley-based Arhoolie Records. In 1965, she toured with the American Folk Blues Festival in Europe,[20] where her success was notable “because very few female blues singers at that time had ever enjoyed success across the Atlantic.”[21] While in England that year, she recorded her first album for Arhoolie, Big Mama Thornton – In Europe. It featured backing by blues veterans Buddy Guy (guitar), Fred Below (drums), Eddie Boyd (keyboards), Jimmy Lee Robinson (bass), and Walter “Shakey” Horton (harmonica), except for three songs on which Fred McDowell provided acoustic slide guitar.

In 1966, Thornton recorded her second album for Arhoolie, Big Mama Thornton with the Muddy Waters Blues Band – 1966, with Muddy Waters (guitar), Sammy Lawhorn (guitar), James Cotton (harmonica), Otis Spann (piano), Luther Johnson (bass guitar), and Francis Clay (drums). She performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1966 and 1968. Her last album for Arhoolie, Ball n’ Chain, was released in 1968. It was made up of tracks from her two previous albums, plus her composition “Ball and Chain” and the standard “Wade in the Water”. A small combo including her frequent guitarist Edward “Bee” Houston provided backup for the two songs. Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company’s performance of “Ball 'n’ Chain” at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and the release of the song on their number one album Cheap Thrills renewed interest in Thornton’s career.[5]

By 1969, Thornton had signed with Mercury Records, which released her most successful album, Stronger Than Dirt, which reached number 198 in the Billboard Top 200 record chart. Thornton had now signed a contract with Pentagram Records and could finally fulfill one of her biggest dreams. A blues woman and the daughter of a preacher, Thornton loved the blues and what she called the “good singing” of gospel artists like the Dixie Hummingbirds and Mahalia Jackson. She had always wanted to record a gospel record, and with the album Saved (PE 10005), she achieved that longtime goal. The album includes the gospel classics “Oh, Happy Day,” “Down By The Riverside,” “Glory, Glory Hallelujah,” “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” “Lord Save Me,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “One More River” and “Go Down Moses”.[12]

By then the American blues revival had come to an end. While the original blues acts like Thornton mostly played smaller venues, younger people played their versions of blues in massive arenas for big money. Since the blues had seeped into other genres of music, the blues musician no longer needed impoverishment or geography for substantiation; the style was enough. While at home the offers became fewer and smaller, things changed for good in 1972, when Thornton was asked to rejoin the American Folk Blues Festival tour. She thought of Europe as a good place for her, and, with the lack of engagements in the United States, she agreed happily. The tour, beginning on March 2. brought Thornton to Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden, where it ended on March 27 in Stockholm. With her on the bill were Eddie Boyd, Big Joe Williams, Robert Pete Williams, T- Bone Walker, Paul Lenart, Hartley Severns, Edward Taylor and Vinton Johnson. As in 1965, they garnered recognition and respect from other musicians who wanted to see them.[12]

In the 1970s, years of heavy drinking began to damage Thornton’s health. She was in a serious auto accident but recovered to perform at the 1973 Newport Jazz Festival with Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson (a recording of this performance, The Blues—A Real Summit Meeting, was released by Buddha Records). Thornton’s last albums were Jail and Sassy Mama for Vanguard Records in 1975. Other songs from the recording session were released in 2000 on Big Mama Swings. Jail captured her performances during mid-1970s concerts at two prisons in the northwestern United States.[12] She was backed by a blues ensemble that featured sustained jams by George “Harmonica” Smith and included the guitarists Doug Macleod, Bee Houston and Steve Wachsman; the drummer Todd Nelson; the saxophonist Bill Potter; the bassist Bruce Sieverson; and the pianist J. D. Nicholson. She toured intensively through the United States and Canada, played at the Juneteenth Blues Fest in Houston and shared the bill with John Lee Hooker.[12] She performed at the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1979 and the Newport Jazz Festival in 1980. In the early 1970s, Thornton’s sexual proclivities became a question among blues fans.[15] Big Mama also performed in the “Blues Is a Woman” concert that year, alongside classic blues legend Sippie Wallace, sporting a man’s three-piece suit, straw hat, and gold watch. She sat at stage center and played pieces she wanted to play, which were not on the program.[22] Thornton took part in the Tribal Stomp at Monterey Fairgrounds, the Third Annual Sacramento Blues Festival, the Los Angeles Bicentennial Blues with BB King and Muddy Waters. She was a guest on an ABC-TV special hosted by the actor Hal Holbrook joined by Aretha Franklin and toured through the club scene. She was also part of the award-winning PBS television special Three Generations of the blues with Sippie Wallace and Jeannie Cheatham.[12]

Thornton was found dead at age 57 by medical personnel in a Los Angeles boarding house[23] on July 25, 1984. She died of heart and liver disorders due to her longstanding alcohol abuse. She had lost 255 pounds (116 kg) in a short time as a result of illness, her weight dropping from 350 to 95 pounds (159–43 kg).[14]

Literature: Spörke, Michael: Big Mama Thornton - The Life And Music. Jefferson: McFarland, 2014. ISBN 978-0-7864-7759-3 

During her career, Thornton was nominated for the Blues Music Awards six times.[5] In 1984, she was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. In addition to “Ball 'n’ Chain” and “They Call Me Big Mama,” Thornton wrote twenty other blues songs. Her “Ball 'n’ Chain” is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame list of the “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”.[18]

It wasn’t until Janis Joplin covered Thornton’s “Ball 'n’ Chain” that it became a huge hit. Thornton did not receive compensation for her song, but Joplin gave her the recognition she deserved by having Thornton open for her. Joplin found her singing voice through Thornton, who praised Joplin’s version of “Ball 'n’ Chain”, saying, “That girl feels like I do.”[24]

Thornton subsequently received greater recognition for her popular songs, but she is still underappreciated for her influence on the blues and soul music.[25] Thornton’s music was also influential in shaping American popular music. The lack of appreciation she received for “Hound Dog” and “Ball 'n’ Chain” as they became popular hits is representative of the lack of recognition she received during her career as a whole.[26]

Many critics argue that Thornton’s lack of recognition in the music industry is a reflection of an era of racial segregation in the United States, both physically and in the music industry.[5][26] Scholars suggest that Thornton’s lack of access to broader audiences (both white and black), may have been a barrier to her commercial success as both a vocalist and a composer.[5][26]

The first full-length biography of Thornton, Big Mama Thornton: The Life and Music, by Michael Spörke, was published in 2014.[12]

In 2004, the nonprofit Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, named for Thornton, was founded to offer a musical education to girls from ages eight to eighteen.[5]


Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Mama_Thornton

10

First Look: The NOT Mid-engined 2019 Corvette ZR1

Let’s get this out of the way, Chevy has made mid-engined Corvette concepts since 1964. Every year there is a new rumor about a mid-engined Vette that is ‘for sure’ in the works as a production model. Every year, it turns out to be bullshit. Automotive sites seem to love to run with this rumor repeatedly & every year, they just go back and delete the claimed year in the title of whatever fake Vette image someone found on Deviant art and submitted to them which they failed to source. Google search results still show the original title though. People don’t care to research anything. They just forget and move on to the next rumor. We work hard to verify rumors and avoid wasting your time if they are bullshit. 

There MAY be a mid-engined “Zora” Corvette in the works to be a production model. We don’t know. We can confirm that there are mid-engined Corvette test mules as we have personally witnessed 2 of them. We can also confirm that the 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 Covrettes will NOT have a mid-engined version in production. 

If you want to see the details on the 755 Horsepower, 210+ mph front-engined 2019 Corvette ZR1 coming next spring, check them out below. 

Keep reading

9

First Look: The Aston Martin Vulcan AMR Pro

Aston Martin’s wildest-ever car - the track-only Aston Martin Vulcan - has been taken to breathtaking new extremes with a performance upgrade package developed by AMR. Making its public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Aston Martin Vulcan AMR Pro sports extensive aerodynamic enhancements and shortened gearing to produce increased downforce, greater responsiveness and reduced lap times - improvements that underline its status as one of the world’s most extreme and exclusive track cars.

Built in a strictly limited run of just 24 cars and delivered to customers throughout 2016, the 820BHP Aston Martin Vulcan was conceived and engineered to deliver the excitement and exceed the performance of Aston Martin’s Le Mans-winning race cars. Over the last two years, Aston Martin Vulcan owners have received step-by-step driver training by Aston Martin’s expert team of instructors - among them Aston Martin Racing works driver and three-time Le Mans winner, Darren Turner. The Aston Martin Vulcan AMR Pro offers customers the chance to further develop their driving skills and enjoy an even more intense driving experience.

Keep reading

Pink Dolphin - Fionn Whitehead Fan Fiction (13500 words)

Everything is red. The sun looks bigger than it normally does, and it always sets the sky on fire. Dark shadows swim into unknown corners and the ocean is always pink, but Fionn can’t go home. Not until the plan falls into place. Fionn is not leaving this surreal pink film set until he’s honest with Alana, the mysterious artist girl with pale skin and hair like a flame. And Harry is there to make sure neither of his friends waste any more time pretending they aren’t in love.

13000+ words of pining, pet names, conceptual art and true friendship. Meet Me In The Hallway, a big plot twist, some long smut scenes*, and a love of nature. Harry is married to Louis, he’s acting with Fionn in an art film that his best friend Alana wrote and throughout the nervous giggles, there is a happy ending for everyone.

I put a stupid amount of time and effort into writing this so I no longer have any idea if it’s wonderful or terrible, and I’m pretty embarrassed about it, but please, please do read (It definitely gets sooo much better as it goes, I think Chapter 2 is my favourite)  This will hopefully be on Archive of our Own soon! 

Also, a WARNING to any of my friends reading this, parts of this are pretty explicit, sorry!!! Xx

PINK DOLPHIN

“She’s ridiculous!”

The words hiss from Fionns mouth before he realises he’s let them out. His eyes squint, following the droplets of water travelling down Alana’s body, as if her white skin is too bright for him. Her arms hang around Polly’s waist, their fingers linked loosely. They look like a renaissance mother and child.  

“She doesn’t like LA, you know?” A deep voice speaks and startles Fionn. He blinks himself back into consciousness and looks down to the left of him. Harry peers up at him with a smug smile, he looks more playful than normal. He knows.

“She doesn’t really like LA.” Harry repeats, following Fionn’s line of vision to the girl sitting across from them. The two boys are lying together lazily by the side of the outdoor pool, warm evening air sitting heavily above them, and the orange sun falling into the sea. Harry’s been anticipating this conversation for a while. A long while.

“No?” Fionn leans back. The weird pink cocktails reveal the interest in his face a lot more than he may allow if he were slightly more sober. Harry sits up, wrapping a sheer floral blouse round the butterfly tattooed on his chest. He’s prepared for this, and the time is now.

“Alana’s been here for months, Fionn, even before starting this weird film project with us. Yeah, she got that studio deal here, and she made good friends through work …she’s been preparing for this film a lot, she’s been writing and drawing as usual, but she can do all of that stuff at home just as easily. The weather is much nicer here, for sure. She likes the landscape and the wildlife but nobody, nobody loves Newcastle as much as Alana.”

Fionn accepts that this speech is going somewhere.

“Her mum’s there, up north. Her closest friends are there. And it’s not just that, Fi, if she’s not been here then she’s been in London. And the exact same goes for there too. She likes it of course, she’s always got plenty to do, but it’s just not her home.” Harry says. “And this has been going on for over a year.”

Harry looks at his friend and realises he still needs to be more obvious. “Alana is only in LA or London when you are in LA or London.”

Fionn pushes air from his nose in an almost violent sigh. He knew something was coming. Something was going to happen on this film set. Something beyond his control. Something more real than he could ignore. Not that he was even sure he wanted to ignore it anymore.

He lays further back on the strange pink sun lounger he’s melted himself onto, and he cradles his head theatrically. He absolutely knew it.

There was something about the light in Alana’s eyes which shone brighter when looking into his. There was something about the way sun fell on her red hair which made it glow golden, like leaves in autumn, like a colour Fionn had never seen before, and can now only associate with her. There was something about the way her presence in a room made itself known to Fionn before he even reached the doorway. There was a tenderness in Alana’s voice that sounded more intimate when she spoke to him. As if every word were plucked from a letter she’d written that no one else were allowed to read, and that, honestly, Fionn didn’t want anyone else to read.

Of course he knew it.

He was just terrified to admit it.

Harry’s hand gently holds Fionn’s knee. He can feel Harry’s silver rings cold against his skin. “I know her Fionn. She’s my best friend, and has been for years.” He gives Fionn’s knee a little squeeze. “I know how she loves.”

Harry slides his thumb over Fionn’s skin once more then takes his hand away. “Alana’s more vulnerable and shy than you’d think, but when she’s certain on something, she’s certain.” He continues. “She’s busy, her mind never stops, not for a second. She’s so impatient. But here she is, a year after meeting you… still there. Right fucking, there!” Harry nods his head to the other side of the pool for more affect, his brown hair swishing into his eyes, and Fionn allows himself to see her.

His green eyes lift to gaze through the glasses pushed up on his nose. He sees her bright floral dress hanging loose, hair clipped into a curl behind her ear, and a camera in her hands. Alana films her friends watching the peacock butterflies fly around lilac buddleia flowers with a smile on her face. Always a smile on her face.

“I don’t want her waiting forever Fionn, and I don’t think you do either.”

Fionn meets Harry’s eyes and smiles. Bless him. Bless him for doing this. He doesn’t deserve someone like Harry, or someone like Alana. “She’s so nice to everyone, Harry. I love the way that her eyebrows curve into the top of her nose. I love how she always asks questions, and how she’s always excited by everything… as if it’s all new. I’m just… fuck. I’m just a bit scared.” Fionn confesses. “Quite a lot scared.”

“That’s ok, Fionn. So is she. She’s terrified! And it is scary.” Harry says this calmly with all the wisdom of an old woman, but there is a glint of excitement in his eye. He loves drama. But Harry knows exactly what he’s talking about. “You don’t think I was scared when I told Louis how I felt about him when I was just 16? But look now, almost 8 years later, we’re married and he basically re-proposes to me again every month.”

The two of them laugh and Fionn realises he might be being over dramatic. Fionn is far from unlovable, he isn’t hopeless, and he isn’t even sure why or when he started to think he might have been. He isn’t too busy. Maybe he isn’t even too shy. He’s actually completely fine, and he does deserve this. He does want this. A lot.

Alana isn’t some ethereal princess or the most beautiful person in the world. She’s quite odd. Her face is both angular and soft at the same time. Pale but often with blushing cheeks. Thick eyebrows and thin hair. A bit funny looking if you really think about it, but just lovely. Pretty in the way which art is pretty. But she’s just another human. An incredibly lovely one, yes, but another human nonetheless, and Fionn is going to be honest with her, in whichever way he has to be.

“Thank you, Harry. Thank you so much for everything. You’re an absolute sweetheart and I’m very grateful for you.” Fionn grins and squeezes Harry’s chin, pressing into his dimples.

“Anytime, Finley, you handsome and wonderful man!” He grins back. “Count yourself lucky that I’m letting you both go, but I’ll be keeping watch.” He warns. “You two will be wonderful. Please just go for it, love.”

———————-

The film set they’re all working on is odd, of course it is though. The whole project is bizarre, but in the most excellent way. The buzz transcends the cast and crew, it seems that everyone is excited about this movie. Alana and her friend Polly had the idea. They shared a studio together in Newcastle and Alana had performed in several of Polly’s videos before. They describe this project as a film which isn’t so much a film, but more so a film about the idea of a film. And this idea for the film is discussed and questioned by the cast as it morphs and grows, but all in a poetic and romantic way. The owner of the idea narrates the film and explains which aspects are clear and which are undecided. The focus is on the atmosphere and the visuals more than the structure. A feeling more than a story.

Everyone involved received a pink envelope with a hand written letter inside, inviting them to collaborate in whichever way they wanted. The film is essentially an art piece and the actors are essentially performers. The package also included postcards of paintings which inspired the set, mainly David Hockney’s brightly coloured swimming pools, as well as notes and sketches from Alana and Polly themselves, referencing the ideas which fuelled their project, and offering some quotes from the narration.

Maybe sharing your thoughts is more revealing than sharing the work which the thoughts made. ….One loose, unresolved, foetal, dreamlike thought can inspire concrete ideas, or maybe just an idea can be enough in itself.”

“Art allows you to somehow make real the thoughts which would otherwise only exist as imagination.”

Initially Fionn found it a little hard to follow. Very arty. Maybe even a bit ‘Inception’. But there was something new about it, something honest and very compelling. Harry was all over it of course, and Fionn always likes a challenge. He’d started off in the theatre, doing plays about social media and queer rights. He did a TV show about a troubled boy with telekinetic abilities and then a film about a young war soldier trying to get home. That’s how he’d met Harry, through whom he’d then met Alana.

After months of them purposefully and in-purposefully bumping into each other in London and ultimately becoming somewhat close friends, neither Fionn nor Alana fully entered or fully left the other’s lives.

They both intend to fix that now.

————————

There is a definite colour scheme to the film set. Very warm and soft, but also quite sinister. All the furniture is clothed in fluffy fabrics of a deep orange, there is hot pink neon tube lighting drawing a continuous line over every corner, it’s always dark inside and most of the walls are painted in a glossy black or rich red. The sun looks bigger than it normally does and it always sets the sky on fire, black and red butterflies dance around the lush shrubs and the yellow flowers which are planted everywhere. The outdoor pool is made of shimmery bright pink tiles and seems to be the epicentre, when filming or not.

Fionn stretches his arms out and floats on his back, the water laps against his sides and briefly puddles in the dip of his chest, then runs down his body and back into the pool. He drops his head back so his dark hair soaks neatly away from his face and flicks out behind his ears.

“Harry said you don’t like LA?” Fionn questions Alana and playfully splashes a tiny bit of water over her lap. She is perched on the edge of the pool steps, her legs reaching into soft ripples as she twists them in the water, toes painted with a warm peach colour.

“I do.” She smiles, tucking her legs back up and rolling the hem of her striped trousers back down. “Just not as much as home.”

Fionn leaves the water to re-dress into a checked shirt and jeans. He sits by her side and looks at her. “Why have you spent so much time here then? Apart from the film, I mean…”

Alana thoughtfully scans over the water, the sunset is sinking into it and making everything a deeper pink. “The people.” She answers, her eyes smiling cheekily into his.

Surely that wasn’t too obvious? She wonders.

Fionn’s face creases into a smirk and Alana giggles. Good. ‘Just enough’ she thinks.

“I feel like wherever you are, if you have good friends around you, then you’ll be at your happiest.” Alana declares, and Fionn has to agree with her.

“Am I your good friend?” He asks, nudging her in the elbow. He’s feeling cheeky too, and confident.

“Of course, Fionn!” She answers.

No hesitation. Excellent.

“Great.” This is going well, he thinks. And he hears her voice again.

“You’re great. …You’re very cute. Very lovely.” Her cheeks sting a little but she’s seeing this through.

They both laugh and Fionn pretends to shh her. “Oh stop!” He dramatizes. “I think you’re…. I think you’re really wonderful, Alana. Honestly.”

Oh my gosh, he sounds sincere. Keep it together Alana, come on.

“Gee, thanks Fionn!!” She jokes and they laugh more than is necessary, for no particular reason, but they feel comfortable. It’s a nice, light, hopeful feeling. Finally! Something is beginning to happen between them that feels more like ‘something’. They move to lie back on a stretch of grass and watch the clouds darken to red. Alana announces coyly “I think you’re as nice as that sunset.” She’s joking. …maybe half joking.

Fionn barks a loud laugh which sort of pulses his body forward to hang over his knees, he almost surprises himself, it really wasn’t that funny. He looks up to see Alana pulling a mock-disgruntled expression. “Excuse me, Finley, I was being deadly serious, man!”

He chuckles, “I know, that’s why I’m laughing.”

They silently thank God that not many people are nearby, because they’re probably being outrageous. But that’s alright. “Oh, charming!” Her soft Geordie accent thickens slightly.

Fionn can’t help but blush at how endearing she is. “That would have sounded stupid coming from anyone else, but because it’s you, it was very sweet and kind.” He tells her. “Thank you, Alana.”

She can’t believe they’re just sitting there talking to each other. It’s the simplest thing in the world but her body tickles all over. “Good.” She teases him, springing up and jokingly running away. “…Because it’s the last compliment you’re getting, mate!”

She leaves him watching her scamper off, a stupid big grin on both their faces.

Maybe it starts here.

——————–

Their time spent together is fleeting, Fionn and Alana. But still often. They are both essentially at work. And they both work hard, everybody does. But luckily, because of the personal and creative nature of the project, it was encouraged from the outset that the actors spend all their time together and inhabit the film set as their home, making the whole video more collaborative. The cast is essentially friends of friends, so really, it’s just very social and enjoyable.

Alana and Polly and the rest of the team wanted the character interactions to be real and organic, hence their minimal script, and their emphasis on the actors trusting their instinct and taking more ownership. All the actors and crew started off watching films together which influenced Alana and Polly’s ideas, so they could get more of a collective understanding of the reference points, and of the style they were aiming for. There was a good week spent living on set discussing The Neon Demon, Submarine, High Rise, The Tree of Life, Amelie, and basically Wes Anderson and Stan Brakhage’s filmographies.

The camera crew are filming almost constantly, to capture the candid human interactions. Most of the film will be made in post-production, not necessarily with fancy editing, just piecing the right clips together once all the footage is there, instead of story boarding it all beforehand. The narration and spoken word will be the main thing, with only a few specific scenes being pre-planned. The film basically makes itself as it exists as a living organism.

The core of the whole piece is a poem Alana wrote. The entire film was imagined from it.

“I cannot make real the thoughts which I imagine, because an imagined thought is not clear.

The thought came to me like a dream.

It was pink.

I saw us by the pool,

Sunken in a foreign sunset,

Foggy and thick.

Warm colours.

Words seeping from our tongues like water and they all reflected in our eyes.

I think of you and see starlings murmorating over the sea,

And swallows flying home.

It is important to share a thought before it expires.”

 

This one poem is the only concrete scene in the film, everything else is woozy and unclear - like a thought or a dream. The scene is two people by the pool at sunset, talking. Yet there is no script for it. Polly wanted the actors to be free to feel the experience fully and to say what came to them naturally, and whatever they do, she’ll use. The actors for this scene are Fionn and Alana, playing Toby and Isla, and they film it tomorrow.

Them and the whole cast were prepped as much as they could be, and treated with nothing but kindness and inclusiveness by Polly and the team, and they were mostly guided to just enjoy themselves and go with it. As completely unusual and open ended as the brief is, Fionn and everyone else thought it sounded amazing. He knew it would be a pleasure to work with Harry again, and admittedly, Alana’s allure was as consuming as the atmosphere of the whole film.

*——————

It’s this allure which Fionn is trying his best to ignore as he makes steps back to his room, intent on rehearsing some more ideas for Toby, but then he sees her.

Fionn sees Alana from across the landing by the lift.

He sees her in a way he doesn’t feel he should see her.

He’s stood on the dark red carpet near the corner of the hotel corridor. A window in front of him. Night begins to fill the sky, but a warm orange glow burns from Alana’s room.

Fionn sees her and he can’t move. He should, but he can’t.

He must walk away now. What is he doing?

He sees her white skin, all of it. It shines against the dark red silk of the bed sheets.

It’s erotic. The lighting. The whole film set. Everything. Why do the lights have to be so warm? Why is the colour of everything so sexy? Why do shadows seep into every corner of wherever Alana is not? Why is Fionn thinking of the colour red when his heart begins to beat like bubbling acid, and his breath bleeds fast out of the cracks in his lips, and his chest rises and falls like waves? And he can’t move. He cannot move.

It’s like she’s a siren and he’s drowning in the Red Sea but her song keeps pulling him back, spluttering.

He shouldn’t look. What the fuck is he doing? It’s wrong. It’s unprofessional. It’s disrespectful. This is his friend. His friend’s friend. This is essentially his boss. It’s wrong. But she’s there, and it’s hot. It’s so hot in here. Fionn can’t think clearly.

Where is everyone else? Why when night falls, does everyone disappear, and why is it always just him and Alana left?

Why is it so hot?

What the hell is happening? How is he seeing this?

This!?

Walk away right now Fionn, stop it. Stop watching her.

But she’s still doing it. And he can’t move.

She’s there. Her bed is right next to the window. Why? It doesn’t matter. Maybe to feel the breeze rush in through the window in the hot mornings. Good. That makes sense. The morning. Her. In the morning. Waking up beside her. Skin. Warm, beneath the covers. Hot. Pale skin beneath pink silk covers.

Her skin.

All of it.

Stop it. Walk away.

It throbs. He feels it. Tight, hot, stiff. There, pressing against him. Hard.

She’s doing it by the window. Of course she is, her bed’s there. Fuck.

Walk away Fionn.

No. God no, oh God. Fuck.

Fucking hell.

He rushes nearer the window that he’s watching her from, he stands behind the curtain. Lays his hand over himself.

He breathes out.

She breathes out. She presses the side of her face into the hot pink cushion.

For God’s sake, what’s wrong with this place? Why is everything dark and pink? What the fuck do they expect to happen?

Don’t touch anymore. Just keep your hand there Fionn, breathe out. Walk away, this is wrong.

Oh, fuck no. God. Look at her! Look at her, fuck.

She’s… She’s actually… Oh my God he can’t believe this.

Her other hand runs up, from her thigh, across her abdomen. He feels it.

Fionn feels her hand across his own abdomen, just below the belly button. He can practically feel his hand on her, sweeping over her skin. Fingertips pressing into her flesh. God. No.

Fionn presses his own hand against his abdomen. He presses his other hand down on himself harder. He sighs out.

Her hand travels up over her stomach, to her breast.

Her face rolls upwards and she presses her head down into the pink pillows, her eyes closed tight.

No. God, no Fionn. Leave now. Fuck.

He sighs out loud and pushes himself away from the window, leaving the dark purple curtain gushing in his wake.

Fionn storms along the corridor. Furious. Strides up to his door and, God. No. Absolutely not.

Not a chance.

“Louis!!”

“Lou! Ahh ah …oh fuckkk”

No.

Please, no.

“Harry! Harry ohhhh, yeah”

“God! Ah ahh fuck, Harryyy”

Fucking hell no.

“Yes, God! Ahh ah yesss”

Do not fuck in the room next to me right now, Harry. For the love of God, no!

“Louis!! Louis! Ahh”

“Fuck, yess!”

No. Please. Not now.

Fionn hurls his own door open, tripping over his own feet, breathing heavily and shutting it firmly behind him.

For God’s sake.

What the hell?

He leans against his door, desperately, then he quickly pulls his shirt up over his head, his glasses come off with them and fly onto the floor. Fionn huffs loudly, flustered and cheeks burning. Furious. He storms towards the bathroom, kicking off his shoes on the way and pulling off his burgundy socks. Fucking burgundy, for God’s sake!

“Ah! Louis, fuck!”

“Fuck fuck fuck Harry, God!! Yes!”

Fionn yanks the bathroom light cord down and switches the shower on. While the water heats up he violently undoes his belt and pushes down his pants and trousers with almost laughable urgency.

This is fucking ridiculous.

He grips himself and leans back into the sink edge, his head falling back.

He’s already wet.

He spreads out pre-cum with a shaking thumb and runs his hand down himself smoothly.

He tugs back up, and sighs.

Fionn steps into the shower, warm water falling on him, he bows his head and pumps himself hard. He puffs out frustrated sighs and moans, almost whimpers.

Veins sting in Fionn’s arm and neck, his eyes screw shut, and the water collecting in his fringe gushes down onto his cock.

Fionn steady’s himself with one hand fanned out against the shower wall and lifts his head back to breathe out, as if exhaling cigarette smoke.

His arm moving fast and steady, he works himself beneath the water.

One leg is bent slightly, and the water keeps washing over Fionn’s skin. Droplets fly over his thighs with the force that his hand flies up and down.

Low groans escape from Harry’s mouth, muffled through the wall, but still loud.

“Harry, God. YES!” Louis’ voice is audible even over the rush of the shower. “So good, baby, ah!”

Fuck. God.

“Ah! Ah!” Fionn pants, sucking in a breath through gritted teeth. “God!”

“Louis!!! Ahh! Fuckkk”

God, no.

“Fuck.” Fuck, Harry, why now?

Why is everyone in this hotel fucking at the same time!??

Why are the walls so thin?

Fionn sees her again, seeping into his vision, Alana with legs stretched out across the bed cover, her hand moving fast. Red light swimming around her.

Fuck, God.

Her fingers pressed together, and rotating fast, between her legs. Her lips apart.

Oh God.

He could see Alana’s breath moving inside her body. Fuck.

Fuck, fuck, fuckkk

Harry moans loudly in the next room.

Alana’s legs drop against the red silk, a breath heaving out of her throat, she trusts up into the air.

“Ah!”

Louis pounds hard into Harry and quivers inside him. One hand clutches Harry’s waist and pulls him further back onto his own dick. Louis’ other hand squeezes hot cum out of Harry’s dick. Louis presses his forehead against Harry’s shoulder and blows a hot breath onto his skin. Harry moans, hanging his head, kneeling over the bed.

Fionn thrusts forward desperately into his fist. Sighing loud. His Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallows down his stunted breath. He pictures Alana, touching herself. He remembers Alana touching herself. She’s in this building right now, stretched out naked on a red satin bed. Fionn squeezes the end of his dick and shoots thick bouts of cum against the shower wall.

Some streams of cum run down over his thumb. He’s open mouthed and panting heavily. Fionn holds his hands into the stream of water and shuts his eyes. “Fuck.”

He leans his back heavily against the wet pink tiles, Fionn slicks all his hair back smoothly against his head, and breathes out an exhausted sigh. His cheeks are burning pink beneath his freckles, water trickles down his heaving chest. Fionn begins to rub shower gel into his hot skin, shaking his head and breathing out what could be deciphered as a small, pitiful laugh. “What the fuck, am I doing here?”

————————

CHAPTER 2

Morning sun brushes over Fionn’s face and buries itself into the folds of his dark orange duvet cover. It’s early. Too early. Fionn grumbles something into his pillow about mornings and how wrong they are, before distorted memories from the night before absorb into his conscious.

Oh dear.

Everything about this place is weird. Nothing’s quite normal, there is a familiarity to everything, a softness, a niceness, but it’s all sort of clouded with something quite impure and unsettling. Appealing at first and then uncertain. Darker. That is the point of the film, he supposes, but still. He feels it.

Fionn decides to forget last night. Or at least try to. He’s here. He’s here to work, and then he can leave. Just keep your head down, get the job done, and stay focused. Don’t think of Alana. Don’t think of her waking up this morning, don’t think of her going to sleep last night. Don’t think of her saying your name. Don’t picture what you saw. Don’t think of Harry either. Don’t think of Harry and Louis. Don’t get sucked in by the allure of this weird, pink, watery environment, or Alana’s weird allure either. Just don’t speak to her.

———————–

Several hours later, or maybe several years, Fionn is watching Alana surface from the pool. Midway through the day he decided it would actually be very rude to stop speaking to her. Unprofessional, even. She steps back into her clothes as Fionn playfully throws a towel over her head and greets her with a cheery hello.

She won’t know a thing, Fionn tells himself, just be normal. Be nice.

“Hi Dolphin!” she smiles, wriggling her painted toes into the plush of the orange towel. She places herself right by his side and says “Sorry to keep making you swim.”

But he just questions “Dolphin?” with a confused smile.

Alana deadpans a very serious yes. “You’re part dolphin now aren’t ya?”

Oh God no. What’s happening?

This wasn’t meant to happen.

“Alana get out of here right now. Did you just call me Dolphin??”

Does Fionn drop his head back in laughter, look down in embarrassment, crease his eyes shut to try and contain any reaction? A mixture of all three? He isn’t too sure. He just knows what this means. She isn’t referencing this film. Not the significance of the water metaphor in this film. No. This means Alana really did watch all of his and Harry’s Dunkirk interviews. This means she knows what a dork he is. Oh no.

“It makes absolute sense Fionn.” She’s still there. She’s still talking to him. Oh Jesus. “You can swim. You’re intelligent, and friendly, and cute, and fun. You sort of had a pod of other swimmers, you used to work on a ferry, and you’re a total doll! Fionn… dolphin… Dolfionn, it fits. It’s brilliant!”

Fionn’s definitely laughing now. He mockingly rests his fist against his hip and adopts a silly old man voice. “I’m part dolphin now. Ohh, dolphin eyy!” He jokes. “Why do I say these things on camera? Honestly!”

Through many giggles and words of encouragement and praise from Alana about how much her and the whole world enjoyed every single interview, Fionn realises if he is going to be named Dolphin, surely Alana must meet the same fate. “You need a name” he informs her.

Fuck it. Fuck everything. This whole film is ridiculous, everything that’s going on here is absurd. Probably some sort of social experiment. Forget what you told yourself this morning, Fionn, you’re here. She’s here. Just do it. Life brought you to this surreal pink world for a reason. For her. Right now feels like a good a time as any to reintroduce The Plan… if he could call it that.

“How about deer?” He suggests, with a smug grin.

The pace with which Alana’s face turns to meet his, suggests that The Plan may actually work.

He’d better keep going then.

“Or sun? Or maybe sunny? …Or yellow?”

‘I can’t bear this. He’s adorable.’ Alana thinks she’s not breathing. ‘He’s ridiculous!’ Her lips feel dry from smiling, like they’re sticking to her teeth. Her stomach feels heavily pregnant with butterflies and nerves and certainty.

“Deer like in Richmond Park?” She whispers, in awe.

“Yes. Deer like in Richmond Park.”

He remembers.

Fionn looks her straight back in the eye and smiles softly. Alana’s breath faults.

He remembers last June after the BBQ at Harry’s. The two of them walking through summer mist, the smell of damp earth, the rain shining silver on the path, as the sun broke from the clouds. Both unintentionally wearing the same yellow raincoat. They’d only just met and their sunlight coloured coats drew them together. The wild deer were reaching up to eat berries from the trees, and the blackbirds sang their final songs of the day. They’d walked Fionn’s dog until dusk guided them home. They may have even agreed to describe it as ‘idyllic.’

“That’s too much of an honour, Fionn. Deer are too good for anyone.”

She’s right though. They are. They’re the best creatures on the planet. Her absolute favourite.

“I knew you’d say that, Alana. …But I’ll think of something.” Fionn lays his hand on her shoulder, traces his fingers over the antlers of the deer tattoo inked onto her skin, then slowly slides his palm round to gently cup her neck. “Just you wait and see.”

This time it’s Fionn who runs off, leaving both him and Alana alone with the same stupid smiles.

*——————

The moon beams a pool of light into Harry’s hotel room.

Alana’s been with him for a little while since they finished filming in there. They’re lounging on his bed listening to Meet Me In The Hallway crackle on his baby pink vinyl player. Alana basically asked Harry to be involved in the film solely because he wrote that song. He’s been her best friend since they were children, when their families met on holiday in the Lake District. Harry’s a calming influence on her, and he fits the aesthetic of this film effortlessly, but that song, his whole album in fact, and all the photoshoots that came with it, inspired Alana as much as any painting or movie.

Alana is in some way attempting to create her own visual interpretation of Meet Me In The Hallway. The mistiness. The dreaminess; it’s both haunting and comforting. It sounds sort of like a memory. Neither completely sad nor completely happy, but there is emotion there, and it’s real. Even if you don’t know what it means, the honesty is pure. There is a history to it, and a presence. It’s sort of an in-between state, that for whatever reason, you’ve chosen to remain in. There is a neediness to it, but a neediness for something which has only just passed, and will probably come back. And this is basically how Alana wants hers and Polly’s film. …You can listen to that song in the bath, or in bed, she thinks. Or driving to the beach. Indoors by the fire, rain hitting against the window. Day or night. At home or on holiday. It has the right balance between being obvious and being vague, and it’s just nice. It’s lovely.

“I wish it lasted three hours, H” Alana ponders out loud, proudly finishing the last coat of clear glitter on Harry’s dark grey nails.

“What?” He replies. “Sex?”

Alana scowls at him and cuddles a fluffy pink cushion to her chest. “Noooo, you little scamp! I meant your beautiful song!” She exclaims and prods him in the dimple. “You’re too cute, Harry-bo.” She tells him, and it’s true. He could get away with anything. He usually does.

“Heeeeyy! I think you’re cute, Lala!” He grins. “Honestly though, you’re doing very well with this film and I’m proud of you.” He begins plaiting a small section of her hair, where she dip-dyed it yellow. “Whether you believe me or not, I think you’re pretty you know, for a lady.” They giggle together but she scrunches her face at him, dismissing the compliment. “You’re kind of like Perrie if she were ginger and in Warpaint instead of Little Mix.”

A wide grin lights Alana’s face. “Woah, that’s the absolute dream!!” She imagines. “Are you being extra nice, pet, because you want me to plait your hair too?”

Harry swings his legs clumsily off the bed and begins to put on his gold boots. “Nope. I’m being as nice as I always am, but I do need to meet Polly now for some late filming.” He explains this whilst dressing himself in a leather jacket and applying a touch of dark burgundy lipstick. “However…” he flutters his eyelashes flirtatiously “…I’m not the only boy in this corridor who thinks you’re pretty and cute.”

And with that outrageous remark, Harry skips away gleefully into the night, leaving Alana to whimper to herself in a mixture of joy and despair. Having a proper crush on someone is a horrendous ordeal. She decides this is a fact, as she tidies up hers and Harry’s nail polish and straightens the pink bed spread. She wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Her day today was an early one, she and some of the other girls drove along to record the sun rise over a lavender field, and they were mainly shooting offsite there, or during the journey. It was when Rea and Vissy lay together in the meadow that she realised perhaps she was trying to make every fantasy that Tim Walker’s photographs induced in her as a young girl come true. Either that or her genuine desire as an artist was to make an hour long glorified perfume advert.

Alana throws some pink and black cushions to the floor and sits herself down. Leaning her back against the far wall of Harry’s room, she reflects on her romantic predicament. Maybe it’s not even a predicament. Maybe it is actually hell. Or maybe she’s just overdramatic and everything is actually falling into place.

Alana never wants to be defined by another person. She doesn’t want to obsess over someone, the way that she has been. Certainly not this much, or for this long.

She has a lot to be grateful for in life, and a lot of things which bring her happiness. Alana doesn’t need a relationship, she just quite wants one. Someone to say goodnight to, to make a packed lunch for, to push the cuticles down on her nails, to clean her teeth with, to draw circles into their skin after sex, to know the mole on the right hand side of her back, to leave notes for.

She wants Fionn.

A part of her wishes she didn’t, but she really really does.

Alana’s ex broke her heart. It was complex but for years she thought she was safe with him, until he didn’t love her anymore. So she went home, she drew, she wrote, she danced, she let her friends and her mum look after her, and she walked as far into the ocean as she needed to rid herself of him. She turned her pain into art, and she got over it.

Alana made a promise after that, to live for herself until the time she met someone she didn’t need to question. She doesn’t know if that time is now or not, but she does know that when she thinks of that promise, she only thinks of Fionn.

All she ever really does is think of Fionn.

Always.

A noise through the wall wakes Alana to the realisation that Harry’s record has long stopped playing, and that she ought to descent to her own room to sleep. She’s packing the record into its sleeve and hears the muffled noise continue. These walls are so thin. They’re nicely painted, but so thin. Leaning down nearer the wall to clear the cushions, Alana hears a soft sort of grunt or moan.

With her ear pressed against the wall, the thought of sleep is in disregard. She hears it again, a deep, breathy sigh, and any thought of leaving this wall is now in complete disregard.

It’s unmistakeable.

Completely, universally, categorically, unmistakeable.

The sound of sex.

Haha! Wonderful. Alana does know she ought to leave though, these are her co-workers and friends, after all. Throwing the cushions back onto the bed, she lets herself wonder who it might be. If this is Harry’s room, then… no!

Fuck.

No!!

Absolutely no way.

She listens harder and yes, that is a man moaning… and yes, it sounds like he’s alone. But… that doesn’t mean it’s… but… Harry’s room is the end one, so… there isn’t really anyone else it could be… other than Fionn.

Oh my God.

I have to leave.

This is unprofessional, Alana. This is disrespectful. I have to…

Oh, fuck.

God, he’s really… right now. Right there!

He can’t be… but he is. Oh God.

Fuck, he’s swearing. That’s Fionn!

That’s Fionn pressed against the other side of this wall…

Right now!

Fuck, Alana. Don’t make a noise. Stop. Leave now and don’t you dare think about listening for a moment longer.

Do not touch yourself. Don’t do it.

She means to walk away but the sigh already leaves her mouth.

Alana asking herself why she’s making noises doesn’t make her any quieter, and it doesn’t make her leave any faster.

Stop it. Don’t.

Why is it so hot in here?

Why can I hear him? Like this? Right now?

Why is the wet nestling into my thigh?

She feels so much.

It’s too much.

Why does the movement behind the wall sound like its right behind her?

Fionn hits his fist against the wall.

Fuck.

No.

Alana moans. She doesn’t mean too. Fionn doesn’t mean too. It’s just so hot in there, and all the lightbulbs are red, and everything feels wet, and the air is thick, and the walls are pink and they’re so, so thin, and there’s only three more days left there on set, and Fionn groans louder just to be sure that he’s wrong.

Of course he’s wrong.

There is no girl on the other side of the wall.

He just wants there to be.

But there isn’t.

Alana’s hands don’t mean to travel up her thigh and lift her dress.

Alana’s voice doesn’t mean to call out when she holds herself against the wall and grinds into her hand.

She doesn’t mean to at all.

She wants to leave, but, well… no, she wants to stay.

What she wants is to tear down this wall that she’s pressed against, but she can’t do that.

All she can seem to do is reach her hand beneath her underwear, and feel the wet wrap round her skin, and drag her fingers up hard, and breathe out a loud sigh.

Fuck.

It can’t be.

Absolutely not.

Fionn slams his hand against the wall, and grips himself tighter and bites down hard on his lip.

How is she there?

If it even is her?

What the fuck is wrong with this building?

Why are the walls so thin?

Why does everyone fuck at the same time?

How the hell is this happening? Again??

How do two people find themselves fucking against each other in a weird pink and orange hotel with an entire wall of old bricks and missed opportunities and unspoken words between them?

Jesus Christ.

Fionn doesn’t press his mouth against the wall and breathe out Alana’s name deeply through his lips.

He surely did not just do that.

No.

He couldn’t have.

…But if he hadn’t… why would the girl behind the wall gasp like that?

Why would she moan so loudly in response?

What she actually means is to leave right now but instead Alana flings her body around desperately, her forehead meeting the wall, she moves her finger tips in tiny circles, pounding them hard into her clit.

There can be no going back now, it’s already gone this far.

Fionn has nothing to lose. Or maybe he has everything to lose. Or maybe he doesn’t care.

Not right now.

He thrusts so hard into his hand, his dick is inches away from grinding against the wall that his hand holds him against.

“Ah! Alanaa… fuck!”

Fuck.

He said her name.

He just said her fucking name!

God.

“Ah! A…lana …mmm yess!”

Fionn has literally just fucked himself against a wall, loudly moaning Alana’s name.

She grasps her hand against the other side of the same wall, to pull at nothing, her body flinches and jumps, she gasps for air and groans out.

There’s no point in being quiet now.

She means to say ‘fuck’ but it sort of sounds like ‘Fionn’.

“Yes! Alana. Fuck.”

He speaks to her from the other side. This is it.

“Fionn! Fionn! Ah, fucking God!!”

This cannot be happening.

They’re fucking each other and they can’t even see it or feel it.

Alana’s so close. Her fingers are slipping, she’s so wet. She throbs and pants, breathless and so close.

“Alana”

Fionn’s voice speaks to her through the wall. It sounds calm, deep. Firm, and definite.

Almost dominant.

“Cum for me.”

“Please.”

Alana breathes in sharply with a sudden moan. “Fuck!! Fuuuuck!”

Her head slowly stretches back to hang, facing the ceiling, as she feels the breath escaping her lungs, leaving her mouth in a soft sigh of his name. She cums with two fingers pressed hard against her clit, her hips thrusting forward in short, intense jolts. Her moan squeaks and she sighs heavily, breathing out a clear “Fiiiionn”

The two of them stand in the same position, their foreheads resting against the same spot on separate sides of the same wall.

They breathe in and out deeply as their heart rates regulate.

Fionn and Alana shakily tug their underwear back on and briefly let their eyes close.

After a little while of quiet, Alana asks “Should I say sorry?”

She doesn’t know neighbour sex etiquette, but surely that’s the polite thing to say when you masturbate against a wall with someone uninvited.

“No” Fionn laughs. “You really don’t need to say sorry. Not at all”

Phew.

“Do I need to say sorry?” He asks, suddenly sounding concerned. He rests his palm out against his side of the wall.

“No, Fionn. Never.” Alana sits back on the floor, and rests her head back. “Not for anything.”

She hears another mumbled laugh. “Good, because that was fun!”

Oh, man!

Alana chuckles to herself and calls back. “You’re amazing Fionn, really.”

“Wait until there isn’t a wall between us!” He knocks on it twice, leans back against it and laughs.

Oh my God.

“See you tomorrow, darling.” Alana says, standing up and neatening her dress. “I’d better go because this probably isn’t really ok.” She laughs sort of nervously and sweeps her fringe out of her eyes.

“Bye, deer.” Fionn smiles and pulls his t-shirt back on. “Goodnight, Alana”

“Goodnight” She says, and kisses her side of the wall. “Sweet dreams, Dolfionn.”

——————–

CHAPTER 3

Most of the visual content had been shot, there weren’t too many days left at all now. Harry and everyone else had basically done their bit. Everyone stayed from start to finish though, to boost morale and maintain the team effort, and because they were all still enjoying themselves. A lot of the bodies on set were simply required as extras now, there to be seen dancing and drifting through the background, in some sort of flamboyant garment.  

The only major part left was the pool scene with Fionn and Alana, well… with Toby and Isla, technically. The only clear thought in the film. Maybe the only clear thought in Fionn’s mind. …If he forgets about another night of questionable masturbation preferences, that is.

But he’s got to do it now. He has to. Time feels like it’s running out, but it also feels like it’s on his side, running towards him. Towards them. Fionn needs to see this through, somehow. Even if he’s cheating a little and doing it through his character, Toby, Fionn is finally going to do this. …The Plan.

Polly’s voice is calmly reassuring her friends to remember that they know what they’re doing and that she believes in them. “Anything that feels natural, yeah? Whatever you both do or say, it won’t be wrong.”

Would you say that about last night, Pol? Alana tells her brain to shut up. Get your head in the game, girl! This isn’t the time to make up rude jokes in your head.

Polly shuffles back, mostly out of view, and the camera men and women are situated comfortably far back. “We have all evening, guys, so take your time.” Everything feels as organic as a pink swimming pool surrounded by rhododendron bushes and orange beanbags can feel. …and if you ignore the night before.

Fionn lies across his chest with his face held in his hands and peers up at Alana through his clear framed glasses. He’s wearing a striped shirt beneath an old denim jacket and repeatedly telling himself not to blush. He draws a breath and feels a deep sickness in the pit of his stomach. But he’s a professional actor. He can do this. Well… he used to be professional.

Here it goes. The Scene, The Plan, whatever you want to call it.

“I think.”

Oh, he started too sure.

“…I don’t think.”

Alana sighs a soft laugh. “Good start, Toby”

“Stop it, Isla”

Toby sits up right, removes his glasses and crosses his legs. Isla watches him fondly.

Oh my gosh, she thinks to herself. Something’s definitely happening. Don’t think about last night. Because something is about to happen.

She chances a glance, both Isla and Alana.

Fuck. ..His jaw line.

Another glance. Oh God. Regulate your breathing, remember.

Her eyes travel from the low set of Fionn’s eyebrows, to the verdant green of his iris. Across the freckles on his cheeks, down the sharp line of his nose. The bump of his top lip, the mole on his chin. The prominence of his Adam’s apple, the ring pierced in his ear. There’s something about the angles of his face Alana feels she’ll never tire of admiring.

“I don’t think…”

Oh, shit. Listen.

He isn’t speaking through a wall anymore.

Listen to him, Isla. Listen to Toby.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody that I’ve been so intrigued by.”

Isla takes a breath, feels aware of every vein and pore in her body, keeps her mouth closed, and tells herself to listen.

“You’re sweet. And lovely, and really cool, and nice. And friendly. But. There’s more, like… to you, than that.”

Keep it together Fionn, you can do this. You’re only acting.

So why does this feel so important?

It’s not just the cameras, he can’t look at her. This is scarier than he thought, for both him and his character. Look at the pool, that’s a good idea.

“I mean, you’re… kind of like water. But… but, not. But maybe you are. I mean…”

Just go for it, Fi. He hears Harry’s voice in his head, encouraging him.

“You were born by the sea, Isla. You always say you like the ocean…”

He should not have said that. That’s too real. That’s Fionn and not Toby. That’s Alana and not Isla. It’s too far from the script. But there is no script. Oh Jesus, he’s going to be fired. He’ll never act again.

“I do.”

She whispers.

Alana. No… Isla.

“I do like the ocean.”

Toby looks at her, and there are lights reflecting in her eyes.

“I like dolphins.”

She did not just do that.

Fionn allows himself to laugh, surely Toby would laugh at that.

But he has more to say. Both Toby and Fionn. She deserves more …Isla and Alana.

“I think you’re great, Isla. I don’t really know what to say because you make me nervous. But in a nice way. But you make me comfortable, and happy too. And funny, maybe?”

“You’re really really funny.” She says.

Oh boy, there she is.

Keep going Toby.

“…And you’re encouraging, and kind. And your voice is like nothing I’ve heard, and you look…amazing. Just lovely. And you work hard, your mind… the way your mind works, and the ideas that are born inside it, astound me. And your eyes are so big and they’re like, green. But no…brown. Orange? Hazel. Yeah, hazel. A deep, enchanting hazel, and… and I’m saying this because. Erm, because… I should have said it sooner.”

Here we go.

“I should have said it last year when we walked in the park after it stopped raining, or when we made that salad together at Alex’s house.”

She’ll know exactly who he means.

“…Or at that gig, or when I saw you buying all those vegetables that time, or when you bumped into me at that café with my family, or maybe I should have just turned up at your door and declared it, or…”

Maybe Toby’s getting carried away, but its Art. Maybe this is what feels organic to him. Maybe this is what Isla wants to hear, maybe it is professional to use a live film set to confess your actual feelings for your co-star, and maybe, maybe he can’t stop… “Or maybe I should have written you a letter, or even sang you a song, or maybe even pressed orange roses through your letter box, but…

Fionn finally looks at her so that Toby isn’t declaring this to his hands and she’s… she’s not… crying? No. She’s smiling, but… well, kind of crying, and, both. Yes. She’s sort of smile crying into her hand, but it’s quite cute. Everything she does is cute.

“…I was scared.”

“For some weird reason I just felt scared, maybe that I would let you down, Isla, or simply that I liked you too much, or maybe not enough. Or that the timing was wrong, and we’d be too busy, but…I just always wanted more. And you were always there. Even when I didn’t think you would be. But I didn’t want to come to expect you, but you always seemed so happy to see me. You were so friendly and you kept saying nice things to me, and touching my arm. But, I know you do that to everyone…”

Keep going Fionn, it’s for the film. You’re a great actor.

“My dog likes you. And my sisters like you, and… and Alex said that you like me.”

There’s no way back now, just carry on.

“And… well, yeah. That was nice to hear. Everything said about you is nice to hear. Your voice, especially, is nice to hear. I just… I suppose that if there were ever a choice for you to be somewhere or to not be somewhere, and I suppose by ‘somewhere’ I mean with me, by my side, I’d much rather that you were. There. …By my side, I mean. Than not there.”

Fionn takes what feels like his first breath in several hours and what might actually be his first breath in several hours.

“I guess that’s the best I’ve got. For now, anyway.” He says. “But maybe I can work on it.” He’s not speaking to the crew, but still to Alana. Well, no. It’s Toby speaking to Isla.

He realises all the extras have gone inside, and the moon has replaced the sun, and the butterflies are sleeping and Alana, well… Isla, is wearing a loose red cardigan he never saw her put on. And she’s sitting right in front of him though he never noticed her move forward.

Somehow Alana is holding Fionn’s hand in hers, although he never felt her take it. He realises the cameras are still rolling, of course they are. And the set lights are still shining on the tears in Alana’s eyes and he wonders where she learnt to be such a good actress that she could just cry like that.

And then he hears her soft, angelic voice though he never saw her open her mouth, and he realises she’s talking to him.

“Of course I like you, Toby.” Isla breathes out. “I always have.”

She’s such a good actress.

Listen to her.

“You’re intelligent and creative. And you’re respectful about everything. The way you talk, about things, it’s so… earnest, and important. And I could listen to you, for ages. You speaking… you’re voice…I dunno. You’re just compassionate, and so endearing. And you’re so cool! God, you have no idea, but that just makes it better! You’re so humble and wonderful and your singing voice, Jesus Christ!! You’re sort of unbelievable. You’re sort of everything, but mostly, you’re just so nice, and you work hard. And you care about your family, and you’re really funny!”

Alana’s sort of exasperated, as if she’s only realising all of Fionn’s amazing qualities right now but she isn’t, she’s known the whole time she’s known him. She has to keep going though. Isla does.

“You make me care about things more. I learn things through you, you’re just great… I don’t, know… you’re really peaceful. It sounds silly but knowing that you exist, in my life, somehow, is just… really soothing, and reassuring. You’re a bit weird, you’ve got your quirks and everything, but so do I, and… I guess it doesn’t really matter.” She says. “I mean look at you! You’re lovely. So, so lovely. You’re just… real. There’s this grace and composure about you that I’ve never witnessed in anyone else.”

God, she’s good.

Fionn thinks he might see one of the camerawomen moving position and the sound technician move the mic, but all he’s looking at are Alana’s eyes on him, open wide and shining, staring into his.

Maybe the plan is working?

“Toby, I suppose I don’t really know all that much about you, but I don’t know if I need to, because I know enough to know that I feel something.”

Neither Toby nor Fionn know if the feel of lips blowing air against skin is the breeze or the feeling of two sets of knuckles folded together.

“I kept waiting for it to fizzle out, but it never did. I could never just appreciate you in moderation …I wanted more, too.” She speaks. And yes, maybe this is finally happening. And it doesn’t matter with whose voice she speaks, Isla’s or her own. “There were times I was unsure if I wanted you in reality, or if it were safer to enjoy the idea of you, but there was just something…” Alana moves their hands to rest in her lap, her heart crashing in her throat, and she speaks firmly, hopefully in Isla’s voice. “There is just something about you I never felt ready or able to leave behind. And I still don’t want to. I’ve always wanted you, and I still do.”

Fionn thinks he can hear plants rustling beneath a soft wind but he doesn’t know because neither he nor Toby would be listening to that. It’s not important. This is happening. He feels sick, in the most beautiful way.

“For a while, admittedly, I tried to pretend you were only a concept.” Isla pauses, her eyes switch between focusing on Toby’s and studying the stitching on his sleeve.

Just keep going, Alana. It’s for the film.

“I wish I could say I was an actress.” Isla’s free hand climbs Toby’s forearm and rests at his elbow. “…That there was a reason for all this.”

Oh Jesus. It’s for the Film, ok?

Fionn lifts his eyes from looking at Alana’s hand nestled in his, and meets her eyes. “You just had this grip on me.” Isla says, but it is Alana’s eyes that are still glossy. “…And whether either of us intended it to or not, your presence just somehow seeped into everything, and thoughts of you consumed me, but not even in a bad way! Just in a constant and certain way, and I… I made art about you.”

It’s too late now, she thinks. She’s said it.

“Everything I’ve done has sort of stemmed from initially thinking about you. All of this, in a weird and kind of unintentional way, it’s sort of all for you.”

Toby scans from Isla across to the plants which frame her; lavender, foxglove, fuscia. His eyes travel into the still water, decorated with petals and confetti and sequins, through all the other orange and lilac and yellow flowers in the far corner, up into the deep red and golden sunset which seeps into the sea, and then back to her. Gems glisten in her ears, glitter lines her eye lids. A peacock butterfly is tattooed onto her shoulder, and a pale pink flower is woven into her hair. She smiles the sweetest smile and her eyes are full of honesty. “You’re a bee.” He says.

They laugh …finally.

Fionn, Toby, Alana, Isla. It doesn’t matter. Their hands separate and they move to align their bodies side by side, legs stretched in front of them. “You wear yellow, you’re rare, and you like flowers. Everything surrounding you is pretty. You like the outdoors. You sort of fly around everywhere, pollinating everything, I’m not sure what with… but wherever you go, you leave a trace of something hopeful. What you give out is sort of necessary and appreciated. Your words, or art, or smile. I don’t know. But, it’s always nice to see you.” He says. “You’re a bee. …That can be your name. That’s what I’ll call you.”

————————–

CHAPTER 4

Morning sun rises slowly in a pale sky and shines weakly through the open window.

The eyes watching Alana are interrogative, in a caring way. Unflinching, deep with questions, but safe. Familiar. A silvery grey blue, with lashes painted black fluttering above them.

“Mornin’ Poll! How’re you feeling?” She asks her friend, it’s a genuine question but she anticipates it won’t be answered.

“Yesterday, Al.” Polly’s eyes widen. “Yesterday.”

“Yesterday was Tuesday.” Alana smiles around a spoonful of fruit salad, investigates a kiwi in her bowl with more interest than needed, and she absolutely doesn’t blush. Not at all. It might be sunburn.

“Alana, please!” Polly reaches across the pink breakfast table and holds onto Alana’s arm.

“I thought I was meant to be the actress round here!” But she can’t keep this up, Alana quickly retreats into shy grumbles and unsure whimpers and adolescent giggles and she cradles her knees to her chest. “Yesterday was amazing, if not maybe a little odd, I suppose? Quite intense. Very, very beautiful, but intense.” She admits, half smiling, half nervously puckering her lips.

“It was amazing, Alana! I could barely watch, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be there …I couldn’t breathe. I think Isaac the lighting guy was crying! We were all sweating afterwards, just looking at each other in silence. No one knew what to say.” Polly’s a little manic, it was obvious that she’d been holding this in all night. “Acting rarely creates that kind of atmosphere, Alana, I know Fionn’s amazing at his job, obviously, but there was tension. That was super intense!” She decides. “What you both said was personal and obviously, undoubtedly, completely real.”

Alana can only respond with a quiet ‘hmm.’ It’s all out there now, she guesses. Everything. Exposed, honest, said. Everything’s finally been said. Everything she thought and dreamt and wrote and hoped for all year has finally been said…Unless by some miracle all of the shots are unusable and they have to burn everything and no one will ever know a thing. Or maybe the sound is somehow so poor that they have to just make up some random subtitles, or add loads of effects, or maybe even play the speech backwards like in Twin Peaks. Maybe that would be better? Maybe she should suggest it?

“Alana, please.” Polly brings her back to earth. “Please don’t you dare get nervous and avoid him now. Things between you and him do not end with that scene, you know that, right?”

She’s right. God, of course she is. Alana reaches out to hold her friend’s hand and listen to her.

“Lana, you haven’t come this far to freak out about it now. You don’t actually have anything to be scared of anymore. It is quite clear that he feels the same. He is absolutely lovely and believe it or not, you are a catch.”

Alana laughs weakly and brings hers and Polly’s hands up to her mouth to press her lips nervously and tenderly into Polly’s fingers.

“Go and see him, petal. You’ve both done more than enough for this film and all of us can start packing stuff up.” Polly tells her. “Everything you have waited for is happening now. Go and see him. Today.”

Alana squeezes her friend’s hand and smiles at her. “Thank you, Pea. Thank you so much, for pulling me together!” She says. “I love you.” Alana stands to clear her dishes with a slightly wobbly hand, but a big smile on her face. “I’ll do it.”

——————————

There is a backless pink bench situated in a secluded corner of a small garden behind the pool. Bull rushes, flag irises and orange water flowers stand tall in a small turquoise pond dressed with layers of lily pads. A willow tree hangs its branches over the grass, the fine green leaves reflect in shards of mirror mosaicked into the pink wall at the back. White butterflies with orange tipped wings and painted-lady butterflies jitter around pink and yellow flower heads.

Fionn is sitting on the bench, cradling a bright pink mug and blowing lightly over the surface to cool down his morning coffee. A navy blue tee-shirt stretches over his chest, soft strands of brown hair curl messily over his forehead. Sunlight paints patches of white light over his face, and tangles into the hair on his legs. Despite not being a morning person, Fionn feels peaceful as he watches little bubbles travel up to the surface of the pond water, he sees them pop with a content smile on his face.

He feels a hand slowly stroke his back then tenderly smooth down his hair from the crown of his head to the nape of his neck.

Alana slides her hand down Fionn’s arm as she sits herself on the bench to face him. She folds her leg to rest her knee on Fionn’s thigh and she says a happy, shy good morning. Fionn places his hand gently on her leg and laughs out an equally shy greeting.

Fionn and Alana are both slow and quiet. As if they woke too early. They are not sleepy but the day is unfamiliarly new, it feels like the morning has paused so it can stretch out for longer than normal. The sun is awaiting their instruction before it rises higher in the sky.

Alana rests her head against Fionn’s shoulder and laughs out “I don’t know what to say!” She feels his two fingers and thumb slide to cup her chin and trace the edge of her jaw. Fionn sweeps his fingers up Alana’s face to push her hair behind her ear, so slowly and softly that his knuckles tickle her skin. She takes his hand in hers, looks at him and smiles. “Maybe we’ve already said everything.”

Fionn turns so each of his legs are on either side of the bench with Alana sat cross legged between them. Their hands hold each other’s thighs. He smiles softly. “Yeah, maybe we have said it all now.”

“Thank you for everything you said.” Alana speaks, earnestly. They sigh quietly through little smiles and slow blinks as they realise that they’ve finally sorted everything out. “Thank you, too.” Fionn says. Alana reaches her arms around Fionn’s neck to hug him and he holds her with his arms wrapped round her back.

Their faces nestle into each other’s necks, cheeks squished into tight smiles. Close, skin pressed inside folds and corners of skin. The morning, their skin pressed together in the morning. No walls between them. No water between them. No windows between them. No unspoken words between them. No cities between them. They’ve done it. They are here. Together.

Their hug loosens a little and they rest their cheeks together with their eyes closed. They stay like that for a while, or what feels like a while, or what feels like no time at all. Eyelids shut softly and they breathe in and out slowly, they rub their cheeks together ever so slightly, almost like deer. The tips of Fionn and Alana’s noses and lips brush over each other’s skin in the hazy yellow morning light. Fionn gently ghosts faint kisses along Alana’s jaw and onto her chin. They are gentle and slow. No rush. Just waking up. Alana leaves a trail of small kisses along Fionn’s neck and onto his face and up to his forehead.

Fionn kisses the end of Alana’s nose. “So we’re good?” She asks him with a smirk and locks her hands around the back of his neck. “We’re, like… friends…and stuff?” She laughs.

“Alana.” Fionn says her name seriously with a raised eyebrow. “Come on!” He smooths his palms over the back of her head and cups her face in his hands.

“Okay” She smiles. “More than friends, please?”

“That’s better.” Fionn nods. “More than friends.”

They’re still smiling even when they try not to. It’s in their eyes and their whole faces, their whole bodies. It could be embarrassing but they don’t care. It’s only the two of them anyway, and they’ve waited long enough. A year and a bit isn’t that long, really, but it felt like it.

“Are we…” Alana leans closer to Fionn to speak in his ear “…Together?” She asks him in a giggle, with a small knot in her stomach, and she takes his ear lobe into her mouth to suck in a little kiss. Fionn whispers into her ear, his lips touch her skin with every word. “I think… that we are together, Alana.” He kisses her cheek. “Yes.”

“Good!” She sighs. “That’s wonderful to hear.” She turns to smile against the corner of his lips. “Phew!”

“I’m so sorry it took me so long to tell you how I felt.” Fionn admits, linking their fingers together. And Alana replies, smoothing her hand over his. “Don’t be. You’re worth the wait, and I’m really sorry it took me such weird and dramatic methods to tell you how I felt.”

They laugh and Alana wraps her legs around Fionn’s waist, he holds his arms around the bottom of her back. They rest their foreheads together. They are comfortable and happy, but nerves still tickle them and shoot up inside their stomachs, like an itch. It’s comfortable but new at the same time. They are so close now, hugging and resting their heads together, but they itch, they both know it, silently. Slowly, with twitches in their bellies, Fionn and Alana lift their heads up, their chins meet gently, they tilt their heads slightly, slowly. They close their eyes, and they slowly press their lips together in a soft, gentle peck. They smile slightly then open their lips to slide between each other’s in another kiss. Their lips open and meet again, and again. Fionn and Alana share a slow, long kiss. She rubs her hand over Fionn’s hair where she lightly holds the back of his neck. He gently lays his hand on her jaw. Alana can feel the shape of Fionn’s top lip between hers. Their lips are warm together. Soft, and they move slowly. Continuously. Soft, wet and gentle. The very faint flavours of coffee and toothpaste mix and taste much better than they should. Sort of comforting. Sort of sweet, sort of funny. Nice. Their lips are close, always. Never leaving, never stopping. Keeping kissing. Sliding. Long, slow, deep, wet, soft kisses. Sentences of long kisses, punctuated with little kisses. A paragraph for a kiss. Their lips are pink and kissing makes them more pink. They kiss in the garden. They sit on the pink bench, in the little garden with the pink walls, by the turquoise pond with the pink lotus flowers, and they kiss. They finally kiss because they finally can.

They kiss every word they never said into each other’s lips. They kiss every word they did say to each other, by the pool at sunset last night. They kiss for every look they shared across every room they’ve been in. They kiss for every inch of distance they ever had between them. They kiss for every time they could have kissed sooner. They kiss for every person who told them to kiss sooner. They kiss for them kissing now. They kiss for them kissing again. They kiss for them finally getting it right. They kiss for the first time because it’s not the last time. They kiss till the sun rises higher in the sky and tells them the day has begun.

———————————————

CHAPTER 5

(Bonus chapter with plot twist)

September 2019

Fionn is at home, his dog Lewis curling up to his side, and Alana cuddling the other. Their limbs, dressed in comfy jeans and woollen autumn jumpers, tangle lazily on the sofa. Fionn looks up from reading and meets Alana with a wide and fond, if not slightly bemused, and maybe even teary-eyed smile. He places what he’s just read onto the table; a short story self-printed and hand bound in baby pink card, titled ‘Pink Dolphin’.

He chuckles and leans in to give Alana a lingering kiss. “Bless you” he tells her. “This is crazy, this story. It’s amazing! I can’t believe you did that, it’s so funny!” Fionn shakes his head with an amused smile. “Yeah, it’s maybe a tiny tiny bit strange, and it’s pretty hot!” He says. “But honestly… that’s maybe the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me.” Fionn smiles even wider and lays his hand across his heart. “Parts of that really, really got to me. That was so, so nice!”

Alana reaches out to take Fionn’s hand in hers and breathes out a dramatic sigh of relief. “Phewww, thank God!” She looks at him with wide, innocent eyes and a smile, as if she didn’t just share her dirty fanfiction with him. Fionn chuckles and pinches Alana’s nose. He runs his thumb over her cheek to show he’s just teasing. The pair of them nervously giggle. Even after almost 3 years together, they’re still as awkward with each other as they are comfortable.

Alana tucks her legs under Fionn’s and holds Lewis’ paw. “I never even planned for you to read it, you know! I was so embarrassed, I’m so sorry!” She laughs at herself, and at Fionn laughing at her. “I know I’m a bit of an idiot, I just really love you and you’re very inspiring!” Alana snorts a laugh at the facial expressions Fionn is pulling at her. “It’s all completely Harry and Louis’ fault anyway! They made me write it by planting the idea in my head! They’re out of control.”

“I’ll tell you one thing.” Fionn replies, wrapping one of Alana’s legs up in his arms and resting his face against her knee. “Fionn is right.” He points to the pink laminated document on the table and picks it up. “You are ridiculous!” He laughs, swatting at her with her own story. “All of you are absolutely, beautifully, stupidly, impossibly, ridiculously, ridiculous! I have no idea why I spend time with any of you.”

Alana stretches away from him, laughing. “I’m ridiculously in love with you!” She sings. “We all are, does that help!??”

“It only helps a tiny bit, you lunatic!” Fionn laughs, pulling his girlfriend back into his arms. “When Harry said he’d dared you to write fanfiction about us aaaaages ago, I certainly never expected you to have taken it this far, or gone to that much effort! It’s craaazy but it’s honestly brilliant though, and I’m very flattered …but don’t tell Harry that.”

“Ah thank God, though, honestly!” Alana sighs again, kissing Fionn’s knuckles. “I was so worried you’d be absolutely disgusted, and outraged, and confused, and just want to leave me immediately, and then be angry at Harry too!” She gushes, far too dramatically. “You know… Louis even tried to get me to post it online!! Can you believe him!?” She admits, her eyes wild with excitement and confession.

“I just wrote it cos it helped me to, like, deal with you.” She explains, a little more peacefully. “I didn’t wanna get obsessed or anything, or invest too much in our relationship too soon. I just wanted to be calm, and to enjoy fancying you, and happily take things slow, so transferring some emotion into this helped.” She admits. “I wrote it before we were properly together, and I know it sounds odd, and I know I’m really dramatic… but it just made sense to me, and it was fun! I tried to keep all this hidden for all these years, and I pretended that I never actually wrote any, just on the off chance you got mad at me or were, like, really disturbed.”

Fionn laughs loudly at how stressed Alana’s getting. She is so silly. He is actually really enjoying this. Seeing her freak out and feel awkward is pretty funny. It’s adorable, actually. “I’m not angry with you!” He has to save her at some point. “I’m actually really glad that you took Harry’s dare, or advice?, so seriously, and wrote such an amazing story and managed to hang onto it all this time!” Fionn moves to rest his chin on top of Alana’s head. “And it clearly worked, cos we’re all good.”

“You made us into art, Alana, and that is really sweet and a real privilege. You know I’d never judge you for doing something which helps or inspires you.” He says. “You knew that at some point I’d eventually reveal you to the world as the arty mad woman that I was somehow in love with, and I suppose if we do decide to share this beautiful, funny, wonderful, weird, sexy, and ridiculous story that you’ve created, then maybe that would be as good a way as any for us to ‘come out’.” He jokes with her and kisses her on the temple.

Alana giggles and combs her fingers through Fionn’s hair. “Yeah. We’re really private, Dolfionn, and we hope to ‘come out’ in a quiet and simple way…let’s definitely reveal this epic, dramatic, arty, cinematic, fantasy filth about us!” She plays along. “Sure! Maybe we should… Maybe it’s a brilliant idea! Maybe it would be funny?” She lays her head in Fionn’s lap and tickles Lewis under his ears.

Fionn rests his hand over Alana’s tummy. “Yeah, I definitely think so. Louis’ onto something… It would be silly and endearing, like us! But no… seriously, if we just stay calm, don’t make much fuss, and continue living our lives quietly like we always do…” He starts, “And I’ll keep mainly just talking about acting in any interviews, then everything will definitely be fine when people do know.” Alana has to agree with him. She meant it when she said Fionn was inspiring.

“I’m happy for people to know about us now, but we can definitely still be private.” He reassures them both. “We’re not giving Harry and Louis the satisfaction of sharing that story anyway!” Fionn laughs and slides his hand beneath Alana’s jumper, to slowly run his fingers over her warm skin. “What I’m most concerned with now, however…” He leans closer. “…is fucking you through a wall.” He teases but reaches further up under Alana’s top, and licks a stripe up her neck. “You wrote some incredibly sexy things and I was very impressed.”

Alana laughs and tugs at Fionn’s hair. She sits up to straddle him and leave wet, introductory kisses up Fionn’s neck. “So, just to completely clarify first, you’re absolutely sure that you’re definitely not annoyed or embarrassed that I wrote that??” She double checks, stroking the soft hair on Fionn’s arms beneath his jumper sleeves.

“You’re pretty difficult to be angry with, bee.” Fionn smiles and holds Alana’s hips beneath her jumper. “I’m maybe the tiniest bit surprised? If not just at how detailed it is, even though I really shouldn’t be because this is actually typical you… and its typical Harry and Louis! But honestly, love, no.” He answers. “I’m not annoyed with you at all. I absolutely love it, and I actually find the whole thing really cute!” He tells her. “I might be embarrassed if your story were shit, but luckily I’m quite a fan.” Fionn flirts and rests his head against Alana’s chest, kissing it through her clothes.

Alana cradles Fionn’s head in her arms. “I know I’m silly and weird, pet, but for what it’s worth, I meant the things that I wrote. Well… what Harry forced me to write!” She jokes but winds loving kisses into Fionn’s hair and down over his throat. “I meant it a lot, petal, the romantic bits as well as the naughty bits.”

“I know. I can tell that you did, bee, you don’t need to say sorry and I honestly do sincerely appreciate it.” Fionn says. “I appreciate yours and Harry’s unorthodox tactics to deal with your overwhelming love for me!” He jokes between tickles and cuddles and he playfully bites Alana’s shoulder. Lewis wakes up and happily scrambles off into the other room.

“For what it’s worth, Al, I would say everything to you that you wrote in that story, because it’s all completely true, and you deserve to hear it every day, and I’m really proud of you. And I really do love you. And I appreciate everything we have together.” He kisses her firmly and pulls her closer into his lap and against his body. “I love you so fucking much, you adorable weirdo.”

“I love you, Fionn.” Alana sighs out and holds his face tightly up to hers, stroking her thumbs over his cheeks. “I really really love you a lot. Thank you for everything. For putting up with me so well, and for always being so kind.” She kisses his lips. “And wonderful.” She kisses him again. “And pretty.” Another kiss. “And amazing.” Kiss. “And sweet.”

Fionn holds the back of her neck and they kiss quickly through deep breaths. Alana’s hands run down Fionn’s chest and he squeezes the backs of her thighs tightly, moving his hand up her back and into her hair. In the moments Fionn’s lips aren’t held between Alana’s he informs her “We’re reading the rude scenes aloud to each other while we have sex, you know.”

Alana sinks lower onto Fionn’s lap and hurriedly pulls off his jumper. “Yes! God, I know.”

2

The New Ford Mustang GT Hits 60 in Under 4 Seconds

Ford’s most advanced and powerful Mustang GT is also the fastest ever, achieving 0-to-60-mph in less than four seconds in Drag Strip mode.

The new Mustang is also faster than a $94,000 Porsche 911 Carrera, which Carl Widmann, Mustang chief engineer, attributes to five factors:

  • Improved horsepower and torque output of the redesigned 5.0-liter V8
  • Maximum acceleration of available Drag Strip mode
  • Quicker, smoother shifting of the 10-speed SelectShift transmission
  • Optimized traction courtesy of the available custom-designed Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tires on new Performance Pack

Typically, when you shift gears, you give up time,” said Widmann. “In Drag Strip mode, the engine torque doesn’t drop when you’re shifting. You get peak engine torque & horsepower straight through with the Ford-built 10-speed transmission.”

Keep reading

As Clark neared the end of recording, she turned some attention to the next phases—packaging, publicity, performance. She has observed that, when she makes the rounds to local media outlets or on cattle-call press junkets, she is repeatedly asked the same questions, many of them dumb ones. “You become a factory worker,” she said. “When you have to say something over and over, there’s a festering self-loathing. No better way to feel like a fraud.”

She’d made what she was calling an interview kit, a highly stylized short film, which consists of her answering typical questions. She sits in a chair with her legs crossed, in a short pink skirt and a semitransparent latex top before a Day-Glo green backdrop, with a camera and a sound crew of three female models in heels, dog collars, dominatrix hoods, and assless/chestless minidresses. A screen reads, “Insert light banter,” and then Clark reappears, saying, with a strained smile, “It’s good to see you again. Of course I remember you. Yah, good to see you. How’s—how’s your kid?”

There follows a series of questions and answers, with the former presented as text onscreen—generic placeholders:

Q. Insert question about the inspiration for this record.

A. I saw a woman alone in her car singing along to “Great Balls of Fire,” and I wanted to make a record that would prevent that from ever happening again.

Q. Insert question about how much of her work is autobiographical.

A. All of my work is autobiographical, both the factual elements of my life and the fictional ones.

Q. Insert question about being a woman in music.

A. What’s it like being a woman in music? … Very good question.

The camera cuts to her interlaced fingers. She wears paste-on fingernails, each with a letter. They spell out “F-U-C-K-O-F-F.”

There are more—What’s it like to play a show in heels? What are you reading? What album would you want on a desert island?—and her answers are mostly but not always sardonic. They were written by Brownstein. Clark shot another film, a kind of surreal press conference, with a similar deadpan gestalt and Day-Glo color scheme and trio of kinky models. In this version, in reply to the woman-in-music question, she performs a “Basic Instinct” uncrossing of her legs, as the camera zooms in on her crotch, accompanied by the echo of a drop of water in a cave.

8

The 2017 Lexus RC F is a Track-Tuned Road Scholar 

Track breeding meets road refinement with the Lexus RC F. This bold sports coupe looks like it could devour the road through its F-enhanced version of the Lexus spindle grille, and with a 467 horsepower, 5.0-liter V8, it possibly could.

For 2017, RC F handling performance is further refined with an all-new Linear Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). Also new, the RC F features Scout GPS Link. With the app on the driver’s paired phone, navigation maps and turn-by-turn directions appear on the vehicle’s central display screen.

Lexus developed the RC F to excel on the track as well as the road. Body rigidity, suspension, brakes, tires & all other systems were developed with the expectation that some owners would be taking their cars to track day events.

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4

2016 Cadillac ATS Coupe “Black Chrome”


Cadillac’s ATS and CTS sedans are in a sales slump, and they have been for quite a while now. Driving dynamics surely aren’t to blame—we’ve gone on record saying that the ATS handles better than the BMW 3-series, and the CTS Vsport is a three-time 10Best Cars winner—but maybe a little extra visual flair will help reverse the trend?

That’s the idea behind a new Black Chrome package offered on the CTS sedan and the ATS sedan and coupe. Like the nearly identical ATS Midnight Edition before it, the Black Chrome option is a cosmetic upgrade only; all performance upgrades are wisely left to the experts at Cadillac’s V division. The ATS gets the more comprehensive treatment, with black accents for the upper and lower grilles, the side-window moldings, and the rear fascia along with darkened 18-inch wheels, while the CTS makes do with darkened wheels and black chrome accents for the grille.

Costing $595 for the ATS coupe and $795 for the ATS sedan, the Black Chrome package is offered only with black, gray, red, or white exterior paint. It’s also limited to 2.0T and 3.6-liter cars in either the Luxury Collection or Performance Collection. The package costs a bit more for the CTS, at $1095 for Premium and Performance trims and $1295 for the Luxury trim, and the bigger sedan offers the package only for black, gray, and white cars. Like in the ATS, the CTS offers the Black Chrome package for 2.0T and 3.6-liter cars, so CTS Vsport buyers will have to pass.

This certainly isn’t the first time Cadillac has tried this strategy to increase interest in the ATS and CTS. The ATS also added a Crimson Sport special edition last year, while the high-performance ATS-V and CTS-V offered Crystal White Frost versions as exclusive, limited-run models.

What do you think about the changes?

6

New 1LE Packages Elevate Camaro Track Capabilities 

The Chevrolet Camaro 1LE performance package returns for 2017, poised to set new benchmarks for attainable track performance.

The package builds off the success of the previous-generation 1LE, offering increased handling and track performance. In response to customer demand, Chevrolet will offer two distinct 1LE packages, for both V6 and V8 models, each visually distinguished with a satin black hood, specific wheels and more.

For the first time, the 1LE package will be available on Camaro 1LT or 2LT coupes equipped with the 3.6L V6. Featuring more aggressive suspension tuning, standard Brembo brakes and Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, the LT 1LE delivers an estimated 0.97G in cornering grip. Available Recaro seats will keep you planted through the corners, and an available Performance Data Recorder will allow you to view and share your track experience.

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