Character Sketch: from times before. #MercuryRetrograde

©1999-2016 Ka Malana

This one I could see myself revising, or considering an expanded story, developing it, adding details, connecting up loose ends, etc. At the very least, it’s nice for me to meet this character again. I remember being able to picture all of this very well when it was shown to me in my mind’s eye 17 years ago. What do you think?

By the age of six Lucas Walker was wearing his mother’s lipstick, dressing in her nylons, and playing in her high heels. As soon as Lucas heard his mother saying “goodbye” to the babysitter, Mrs. Milton, and the hallway smelled of freesia, Lucas was waiting to play with the bright colors in his mother’s dresser drawer.  And immediately after the old wooden front door closed, Mrs. Milton, the seventy-six year old, would resume her usual babysitting position on the rocking chair, with her knitting tools and drift into a heavy snore.

Lucas waited upstairs around the corner, next to his mother’s doorway.  After the door creaked shut, he would start rummaging though his mother’s drawers in near darkness, pulling out strings of old Mardi gras beads, watching the green in them glisten from the hallway night-light. Then he would flop around in her high-heels, dragging his ankles, and humming songs like a honeybee. After enough time had passed, little Lucas would figure that the old woman had fallen asleep, and he would put on his mother’s records, turn on the vanity light, and apply lipstick around his lips while puckering into the mirror.

Then, when Lucas was about fourteen years old, he would dress up, paint up his face, and sing and dance around while his friends toppled over in fits of laughter.  He usually did this right after school, and invited his friends over when his mother was still at work.  At school, everyone loved Lucas.  Wherever he was present, there was radiant charisma.  Especially after one of his school musical productions, when his charm was the most indispensable.  Friends and activity gathered around him, showering him with praise, as Lucas was cast as the main character of almost all productions.  His smile inexhaustibly stretched across his warm, reddened face and his eyes twinkled like something ethereal had touched him, while he breathed heavily, winded from the rush of the crowd and the performance.  He never seemed to recognize all the admiration of his peers, but no one ever minded.  His eyes were always clear and wet, glistening like gems, reflecting.  His dark, curled lashes haloed around his light eyes, as he looked at the people gathering around him, and looked high into the sky, beckoning something beyond.

Three years later, Lucas was in a club in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, playing pool with a couple of his friends and singing tunes.  He was halfway drunk but smiling modestly. A woman walked towards him from out of the shadows. She had come from behind the bar and had two glasses in her hand. She walked up to Lucas and didn’t say anything but extended the glass out to him, her fingers filled with rings.  She never took her eyes off of him, but just watched him take a sip.  Then she started, “Do you have an agent?”

“What, ” said Lucas.

“I mean, you just look as though you’d be making movies, and I have a boss that wants to know if you have an agent.”

“Nno, I’ve never had an agent–you think… I mean, you think I… look like I could be making films?”

“Yes, ” she said.

The woman introduced herself as Sandra and gave Lucas her business card.


Lucas Walker stared into the vanity mirror in his studio apartment.  His eyes were grey and swollen as he touched his face with his hand.  What he saw in the mirror was a fifty-five year old man, wrinkles gaining the best of him.  He envisioned the light from his mother’s vanity, in her room, brighter and better. He also envisioned his friend’s faces. He didn’t realize it then, but they really loved him.  Not like the people that rushed towards him whenever they recognized him on the streets, crowding his space and demanding his voice for their own advertisements.

Lucas had made one film in his life.  One that made him millions.  For two years afterward, his face was all over the newsstands.  Articles upon articles were written about Lucas Walker, “The Most Loved.” The epithet was branded upon him by his fans and followers: those that idolized and emulated him. This was a cage for him, this intense but short-lived popularity. So, there was within him a gradual change.

As he sat in front of the mirror and reminisced, he smiled and smiled. His grins becoming more profound as he traveled back in him through his history, recounting his joy that was so simple and satisfying. Little wrinkles formed at the corners of his eye lids while he smiled, until he realized, that he longed for it back, all the real things that existed: the friendship, the simple laughter, and people around him accepting him for who he was, loving him, and laughing with him.  His lids lowered slightly more, until his eyes became slits.  Then squinting, the rest of his face fell back to its former position, accepting of age. He smiled once more into the mirror, sighed, and switched off the light of the vanity.


22 thoughts on “Character Sketch: from times before. #MercuryRetrograde

  1. I enjoyed your story, Ka, and the poignant observation that fame bears a price which is rarely understood. In the past, and due to my business activities, I’ve met some internationally known celebrities and learned this from them first hand. Many think fame must always taste sweet, aspiring to it even, but the price is often being forced to live half one’s life in an imposed incognito, as if searching out the shadows to stand in, hoping not to be seen.

    1. Hi Hariod,
      Thank you for your response to this story, and for your sharing of your own experience. Poignant is a good way to describe the relative success that Lucas encountered. I wonder, for him, what it must have been like after he was able to reflect more and connect to those feelings that he so richly experienced during his life, but hadn’t connected with until his later years. We shall see if we check in with him, perhaps. I’m not sure what’s he’s up to these days, or if he is still around. Maybe he’s even making more movies, perhaps directing them now…
      Best wishes, Ka

  2. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature

    What a great story, Ka! In such few words, you told a whole life story. Really nice.

  3. Lovely writing, Ka. It was easy to connect with Lucas, and I was left with the feeling that he must have made a choice to make only one movie, and that from time to time maybe he looked back and wondered at what might have been… but was content with his choice to choose what mattered to him most. Beautifully told…


    1. Thank you, Michael. I am curious about Lucas’s choices, also about what happened to him as it seemed to have been a part of some journey he hadn’t quite planned out – or wasn’t entirely aware that he had planned out. I’m curious about what he did after he turned out the light and stepped away from the process of engaging entirely with his reflection. What a mystery…
      Happy weekend to you. Smiles, Ka

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