Cleo woke up, fully expecting her husband to be on his side of the bed, and fully expecting to try for a baby again, but he wasn’t there next to her. His side of the bed was empty. The morning sunlight seeped through the creaks in the blinds, helping Cleo grow more consciously awake. Since she had nothing better to do, even though she didn’t completely feel like it, she thanked the Lord for one more day on the earth to do His will and to win more lost souls.
In the restroom, brushing her teeth, the Spirit of the Lord asked her, “Are you ready?”
In her head, she reached to keep the channel of dialogue open: For what, Lord?
Without saying anything back, Cleo recalled her conversations with Bianca about making films together. Even lately, when she would vidchat with Bianca online, Bianca would vaguely hint about making a movie with Cleo. Bianca was already famous and it was hard not to envy her or covet her life. Cleo loved owning a salon, but lately she felt God leading her in a different direction. Yesterday, a lady came in offering to buy the salon from Cleo, willing to pay three times the actual worth of the salon, and Cleo hadn’t even officially decided to sell the place yet. Rafa and her only talked about it briefly a few months ago. If she did get pregnant any time soon, she wanted to stay home to absorb every incredible moment of being a mom, while she had the chance.
Living in Atlanta, Georgia, the film industry thrived better than in Hollywood. The day they moved here, no lie, Rafa annoyingly encouraged Cleo to get an agent to pick her up and give acting a real chance. Within a week, Cleo got T.J. Lavender, the best local agent in the area, to represent her. For the last year, Cleo had been an equity actress in regional theatre. Over the past few months, Cleo had gotten film auditions and roles offered to her, but she didn’t have peace about accepting the roles. A few weeks ago, T.J. told Cleo if she didn’t land a role soon he was dropping her. Utterly discouraged and contemplating giving up acting, Rafa pulled her out of her pity party with the word of God, and immediately led her in prayer. As they prayed for an amazing role in a Christian Film that Glorifies God, the Peace of God swept over Cleo like river water rushing downstream.
Three days ago, Cleo auditioned for a film at Tyler Perry’s Studios about the woman who made abortion possible in America. Cleo could tell by the look on the casting director’s face, she wasn’t getting the role. Last night, she told Bianca about her disappointment and she just encouraged her to keep going. In due season, she would land a role. But Cleo’s tired of waiting, she wanted something to HAPPEN NOW, especially since time on earth was winding down. Was it selfish of her wanting more time on the planet? Granted, she wanted Jesus to come back, she just wanted to enjoy life for as long as she could.
As predicted, Rafa sat on the back porch swing, reading the bible spending time with God. Still in his pajamas, bundled up in his fluffy robe wearing his Star Wars slippers. Cleo watched for a few moments. She figured he’d been out there two hours already, she wondered how much longer he’d be. She admired him for going out on that porch nearly every day. Rain, shine, snow, or wind, nothing stood between him and his alone time with God.
The attic was Cleo’s place to meet face to face with God. Rafa set up the area with surround sound, equipped the room with a desk, a couch, a comfy recliner, and a plushy bean bag under the window overlooking the entire neighborhood. An expensive rug, imported from India, almost as huge as the attic space, sprawled out on the cherry wood floor−the furniture various shades of gray, white, Baltic green, and lilac. In a sense, it was Cleo’s woman cave, because if she wanted alone time this was where she went, but it was a great place for being alone with God too.
Listening to Bianca’s Worship Band, Desert Streams, not even two verses into chapter six in Luke’s Gospel, the house announced, “Call from T.J. Lavender, Cleo’s Agent.”
Taking a deep breath, bracing for the worst, Cleo told the house to connect the call to her cellphone.
“Hey T.J.,” Cleo greeted trying to sound pleasant even though she was already disappointed.
“Are you ready?” He said.
“For what?” Cleo wondered, so far, this conversation felt like De jà vu.
“You didn’t get the role you auditioned for, but you did get a role… I’m just not sure you want it?”
“Well, is there a sex scene in the movie?” Cleo asked.
“No… not really…”
“Is it super Anti-Christ?”
“Not sure what that means, but probably not because it’s about the Gospel or something.”
“Okay,” feeling peace about saying yes, Cleo said, “I’m not going to be picky. I’m in regardless of what you’re about to tell me. What’s the role?”
“You’ll be playing Becky, a college student getting an abortion and Jane Roe holds your hand through the process. They say you’re needed for like a few days. You start next Thursday. I’ll message you details, I’ll email you the contract, and congratulations, you get to work with Bianca Monica.”
“She’s playing Norma McCorvey?” Cleo couldn’t see how that would possibly work.
“No, she’s directing it, and she co-wrote the screenplay. I’d share this joyous moment with you longer, but I have an important meeting to get to, talk to you later.” He hung up.
Cleo jumped out of the lilac bean bag causing her bible to thump on the floor and hurried to brag about the news to her husband. His time with God could wait!
Cleo told the truth, making sure Bianca Monica didn’t seem like some Adam Sandler giving his friends handouts to highlight moments of fame. Cleo earned that first role fair and square, to her knowledge.
Cleo: When Bianca found out I auditioned, via one of our regular talks over vidchat, suddenly I got a call the next day that I had the part. To this day she will not clarify if I have her to thank or not, she always says it was a God thing.
Blu: It was so because of her! Probably… who knows? Back on topic now… So, in “Blue Mountain”, your character Sky is dating the devil? For sure sounds interesting!
Cleo gasps bearing her grin. She clears the confusion−
Cleo: That’s so not what the movie is about… Well, I guess it kinda is but there so much more to it than that.
Blu: Please then, inform!
Trying not to titter due to her edgy nerves, she elaborates−
Cleo: “Blue Mountain” was inspired by C.S. Lewis’s many works but essentially it is an adaptation of “The Screwtape Letters”, but with a twist. Sky Watch is the daughter of well-known Reverend Adam Watch. She dates this guy, Marius Tape, who unbeknownst to her is the nephew of Satan’s lead tempter, Screwtape, who is assigned to break Adam’s faith and drag him over to the dark side. In a sense, Sky was meant to be a pawn in the devil’s game, but everything backfires when Marius falls in love with Sky, and he contemplates leaving the dark side to join the light. If I say anymore, I’m afraid I’ll say too much.
Wondering, he asks−
Blu: Chris plays Adam Watch. You’re Sky… Scarlett plays mommy. Mr. Pickering plays Screwtape and newbie, Jon Keats, plays Marius, correct?
She sigh-laughs as she exhales−
Holding his knees, sitting at the edge of the sofa, Blu says straight into the cameras−
Blu: We all know Chris is pretty outspoken about his faith. As is Bianca, but where do you stand in your faith? Are you big on blabbing about it all the time or do you keep your faith pretty personal? And to be clear, you are a Christian, right?
Cleo barely got any sleep last night. Super tired, she wasn’t ready to work at the movie theater until concession close. After working yesterday morning at the Family Fun Park, then going to church, and sleeping for like four hours… Cleo wanted to just do nothing but exist today, especially since from last Thursday to this one, she had worked eight days straight again, and in a couple of weeks, school was going to begin.
In the bathroom, finishing up her hair, she heard someone call out her name, “Cleo…” She opened the door and peaked outside the bathroom but there was no one around. Except for her brother, no one was home right now. She figured she was tired and played it off like it was nothing.
“Cleo,” again the voiced called out to her.
She opened the door and yelled at Josiah to cut it out.
Josiah hollered, “What?” back playing the part of an innocent, confused bystander.
“Stop playing games with me!” Cleo hissed, slamming the bathroom door shut.
Then Cleo received a text from Bianca, who was on vacation with her mom. This week they were in Michigan visiting her uncle.
Bianca ’s message read: Prayed for you today… And I think I’m supposed to tell you stop doing your hair and listen? Have a blessed day in Jesus’ Name!
Cleo’s heart nearly burst out of her chest cavity and into the sink. How did Bianca know she was doing her hair, even if Josiah somehow contacted her, how did he know she was in the bathroom doing her hair, and why would Bianca want to prank her like this?
“Cleo, I AM…” Other than giving an obvious Moses reference, Cleo realized it was God speaking to her.
“Is that really you?” Cleo asked aloud.
“Yes…” He answered.
“I’m talking to God… in the bathroom…” Tempted to feel insane, but too overwhelmed by happy amazement, Cleo found her heart in a state of complete joy and crazy gratitude. No words could put the entirety of her thankfulness into words. And Cleo couldn’t believe Bianca was right… His voice isn’t loud, it’s sort of restful, and high above her thoughts, yet intimate like straight from her heart. All she’s done is been in the word 11 straight days, morning and night, praying to hear God’s voice, here on the 16th of July, she finally heard His voice. What does He have to say?
“You have twenty minutes, go to room, and read Exodus, Chapter 3…” The Lord said to her.
“Then what?” Cleo wondered, still talking to him aloud.
“I promise I won’t consume anything with my fire but your heart…” The Lord teased, yet very serious with her.
Cleo laughed getting the joke, because she did think He might set something on fire without burning it to really bring Exodus alive, but what she truly wanted was to be legit for God. No more half in, half out… but all in! Bianca was right, God’s sense of humor is hilarious and totally not offensive, and just amazing! God’s the best☺ She immediately obeyed His directions. And after just twenty minutes with God, with Him showing her the word through His eyes, Cleo stepped out of her room fully realizing (without completely knowing-it) she was the Righteousness of Christ!
Cleo defends her faith−
Cleo: Oh, I can be bold for Jesus, but um, I only do it when I’m guided by the Holy Spirit. I mean, most of the time I’m really quiet unless I’m around people I know really well. Then I’m a Mega Jesus Freak because we all are! Do I cower and pretend to agree with people I don’t, no… I don’t. I freely share my opinion when asked… Well, I try to wait until I’m asked… And I believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit and you can get to know God through one way and that’s through Jesus the Messiah.
The audience gives her a huge round of applause.
Blu: You know, I’m more spiritual than religious but I’m looking forward to this film and gosh, I love Bianca!
Looking at the cameras−
Blu: The movie comes out this Friday, or if you’re cheap like I am, wait until next Tuesday and download it for a day and watch it! Stay logged on while we take a quick break to sit through lame ads that help pay for this show, followed by a trailer for “Blue Mountain”, when we come back, more about Cleo’s real-life role as a mom and we’ll have a surprise for Cleo no one will want to miss!
Cleo wonders what the surprise is… Maybe Bianca made time for an interview today. Or Chris dropped in… Her mind ponders the possibilities. She wants to ask Blu, but he’s busy yelling at people to get him a cappuccino before the show comes back on.
With nothing to do, she stands up to get some relief from discomfort. As she twists side to side, stretching herself out, she hears the Spirit of the Lord speak to her heart. Very clearly, the Lord says to let the past go, forgive, and press forward in love. If Cleo didn’t stand in front of a crowd currently, she would be down on her knees in prayer asking what the Lord met, but hoping He will say more, she just peacefully sits back down. Disappointment reigns over her soul, because the Lord chose to say nothing more.
The producer gave Blu the cue to go back live on stream, right after he finishes his tiny shot of hot caffeine.
*Edited by Kristen Wenneborg