Outside the front door, she took a deep breath and admired the beauty of the day. We walked on either side of her toward the open gates. The cab still waited. Below lay the city, stretching endlessly away; we saw it as from a plane coming in to land. She stopped, laying a hand on each of our arms.
“My, how it’s grown. When I first lived up here, it was like the beginning of the world. I woke up one morning, went on to my balcony and saw a deer drinking from my pool.” Then she laughed.
“How sentimental that sounds. One should never resent change. It’s a shock at first, of course. But then you realize it’s only a trick.”
The driver held the cab door open. She seemed not to notice this, nor Keelie’s desolation at the prospect of losing her. “When I was just starting to be an actress,” she said, still gazing at the city below, “I went to a teacher, a remarkable man who died years ago. He explained something that became the key for whatever I was able to do.” A quick glance at Keelie. “All words are lies, and anyone who speaks can’t help being a liar. That’s because when we find words to describe something, we turn it into something else. Speech wasn’t invented in order to communicate.” She shook her head, amused by the absurdity of the idea. “The intensity of the world was just too great to face in silence.”
“How could you use this idea,” I asked, “as an actress?”
“By not speaking. The only times I really liked myself on the screen was when I had a close-up but didn’t speak. What they call a reaction shot. I think I was rather good then. Nobody could be sure exactly what I meant, or what I was thinking. I was just myself.” She turned to Keelie.
“Whenever you saw me, I never spoke, did I?”
Keelie shook her head.
“But now I’ve been talking quite a lot. You’re probably seeing someone quite different.”
“No,” Keelie said quietly. “You’re the same.”
Thoughtful, Lora’s eyes rested on her a moment.
“And you’re almost . . .”
Gavin Lambert, “Lora Chase” (from “The Goodbye People”), New York, Simon and Schuster, 1971