Ilona zips me up into my dress for the Carson Awards as my hair and make- up is complete. I make my way over to the mirror and smile at myself. The dress is alternates navy sparkles and silk strips of fabric on a tight silhouette with a tulle train in the back of it. Little tulle flowers with rhinestones in the center rest on the bust line. The hairstylist pulled my hair in a sleek high ponytail and gave me a sophisticated dark blue smokey eye and a pale lip. The Carson Awards are awards held at the beginning of November that are pretty much a review on the TV shows wrapping up their fall season. "Pandora's Box" has eight nominations this year-- Felix for best actor, Erik for best actor in a drama, Primrose for best actress, Natasha for best actress in a drama, Drew for best director, best drama TV show, best TV show, /and/ me for best break- through actress! Ilona tried to make my dress extra spectacular for if I have to go on stage alone.
I giggle and pose in a million different ways in front of the mirror. "Ilona! I love it!" I cheer.
Ilona is already dolled up in her red gown and hardly looks pregnant in it. She glows with pride. "Thank you, Mabel! Quickly! Go show Charlie how you look before Nigel shoos you to the car!" Ilona encourages.
I nod and hurry out the door before slamming into someone in the hallway. I look up to see Felix clad in a clean pressed tuxedo. Both of our faces burn bright red in embarrassment. "Sorry about that. I'm just in a rush to find Charlie before we have to head out," I apologize avoiding eye contact.
"It's okay. It was more my fault. Mabel, are you feeling alright? You don't look so hot," Felix laughs pressing the back of his hand to my forehead.
I cough out a giggle. "I'm fine. Just... nervous. Really, /really/ nervous... I actually kinda feel like I'm going to throw up a little bit at the moment-" I begin mindlessly confessing.
"Okay, how about you sit down?" Felix recommends assisting me to sit down on one of the chairs set up in the ballroom where we were doing hair and make- up. I try to breath as normally as I can. "So, six years ago, I was in the same exact position you are. I was terrified, because I was also nominated for best break- out actor and everyone was saying that I would win. We were on the red carpet only twenty minutes before we had to go inside and I was doing pretty well. I was doing my last interview before we took a million more group pictures and head inside. One interviewer asked me about my nomination and I immediately lost it. I wrapped up the interview, told Drew I had to briefly go, then threw up in the closest bathroom," Felix recalls. I laugh hysterically with Felix. "When you're feeling terrified and you know you're going to be completely embarrassed, just remember you could have been your good friend Felix who had a video of him vomiting before the Carson Awards posted everywhere online."
I giggle and pull him into a hug. "Thank you, Felix," I whisper in his ear.
He squeezes me tighter. "Anytime my dear, Mabel. Anytime."
"And there's my beautiful Mabel!" I hear Drew cheer. Felix and I turn around to see Drew and Charlie coming towards us. "And there's my charming Felix. You're wearing your lucky big girl panties just for me, right Felix?" Drew jokes. The three of us laugh.
"Well, I figured I would be getting lucky tonight and I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of you again, Drew," Felix meekly replies. The three of us laugh even harder while Charlie stands awkwardly next to us.
"How are you feeling, Mabel?" Drew asks.
I sigh. "Nervous. Extremely nervous," I giggle.
"Don't worry. You could be Felix who had a video of him throwing up in a women's bathroom before the award show spiraling around the Internet," Drew mocks.
"Wait, it was a /women's/ bathroom?" I ask.
Felix nervously looks at the ground. "I purposely left out that part," Felix mumbles. I snort out snickers. "I WAS SICK AND IT WAS THE CLOSEST BATHROOM. It was either that or throw up on LL Cool J."
I cringe. "I think it would have been better if you threw up on LL Cool J."
"Yeah, looking back on it that would have been the better idea if I just went for LL Cool J," Felix agrees making the same scrunched face. "I can't get over how cute your nose looks when you crinkle it like that," Felix blurts out.
I blush and sway in flattery. "Well, Mabel you look very beautiful," Charlie butts in.
"Thank you, Charlie. Ilona designed it especially for me, because she's amazing like that," I inform him with a giggle continuing to swivel in my dress.
Everyone lightly laughs. "You gotta love Ilona," Felix states with a shrug.
"I feel like a princess in it!" I cheer impersonating Sydney.
"Wait, you aren't a princess already? I could have sworn be the number of times you yell at me a day I thought you /are/ a princess," Felix jokes. I smirk. Felix pulls at my cheek. "My little princess," He coos.
The three of us laugh. Charlie frowns. "Do you know what time you'll be home tonight?" Charlie blandly asks.
"Probably midnight. I don't feel like going to any of the after award parties tonight. Nigel already told me the entire cast is getting together tomorrow night, so it's not worth it," I shoo.
"Okay, see you tonight," Charlie says pecking me on the forehead.
Drew begins leading me and Felix out the door. "See you tonight! I love you!" I call.
"Love you!" He calls back.
We get out the hotel door. "Whoa, Mabel. That was a pretty intense PDA with Charlie back there. Do you mind toning it down a little bit next time?" Felix extremely sarcastically says.
I lightly shove him with a laugh. "Shut up," We both laugh together and slide into the limo.
- - -
We all sit anxiously for the bigger awards of the night. Natasha and Erik had already won the best actor and actress in a drama awards. Best break- out actor was presented to some guy on "Two Broke Girls" just added this season. Now they're finally to my category of best break- out actress then the best actor, actress, director, and TV show. Tina Fey appears on stage to present the best break- out actress awards and everyone in the cast immediately tenses up. All of our hands fumble together. All of our hands are clammy from the awards already presented to members of the cast. I squeeze Felix's and Erik's hands so tight my nails dig into their palms. Tina claps her hands together before she begins her speech.
"The best break- out actress award is presented to the next hot little thin thing that is going to replace me next year even though I'm obviously the hotter one," Tina jokes. "Anyway, here's the clip for the Best Break- Out Actress nominees," Tina cheers. The clip rolls and everyone laughs when my clip comes up with my line of me yelling to Felix's character. "What do you want me to do? Become Victoria Beckham? Because, 'if you wannabe my lover, you gotta get with my friends'." I sing- song. Even Tina laughs at that one. Tina holds the little blue envelope in front of her. "And the best break- out actress of 2012 is... Mabel Winter!"
I gasp and forget my own name for a second. Felix and Erik practically shove me out of my seat to stand up. Everyone in the audience claps and cheers as I walk down the aisle. I'm hardly holding it together by the time I get to the stage. I then hug Tina Fey. I repeat: I then hug TINA FEY and she whispers a quiet congratulations in my ear. She hands me the statue of a stone artistic structure, which is much heavier than it looks on a TV screen. I sob and fan myself as I make my way to the front of the microphone to begin my acceptance speech. The cheering and the clapping eventually dies down and millions of eyes across the nation fall on me.
"Wow, I just met Tina Fey," I start. The audience laughs. "I always dreamed about this day of me going on stage and accepting my award then making this big empower speech and instead I say, 'Wow, I just met Tina Fey'," I state to myself. The audience laughs again. "It's hard to believe only a few years ago I was sitting on my couch, supposed to be memorizing my drama class monologue, watching 'Pandora's Box'. I never actually imagined even being nominated for an award like this or going on such an amazing show like 'Pandora's Box' for that matter. For all of you kids sitting in a small town in the middle of nowhere, don't give up your dream, because one day you could be on this stage. I would really like to thank the man who discovered me Drew Bourbon, my amazing agent Nigel Wallis, the fabulous costume designer Ilona Corrigan, the entire crew, my dream co- workers Primrose Chang, Natasha la Flor, Erik Merving, Jack Watson, my family in Ohio who supported my dream... sometimes, and most of all my best friend of all- time Felix Knight! No matter what problem I had on the set or just needed someone to talk to Felix was right by my side. I love you all so much! Thank you!" I cheer dashing off the stage.
By the time I reach my seat they're already rolling the clip for the best actor award. Felix's clip pops up on screen of him saying, "I've never understood fun runs. I mean, I run at least five miles a day being chased by aliens and, I can tell you in full certainty, there's no FUN in running!" The audience laughs.
We all take hands as Steve Carell makes his way back in front of the podium. "The best actor of 2012, besides me, is... Felix Knight!" The audience roars in cheers.
Felix turns to me. "Did he just say my name?" He gasps.
"Yes! Go up!" I laugh.
Felix nods, now teary eyed. "Okay!" He agrees. The entire cast laughs as he runs up on stage. Everyone quiets down. "For those of you who are wondering, I just asked Mabel if they actually called my name I was in such shock," He informs everyone. We all laugh. "This is my sixth personal Carson award for 'Pandora's Box' and you never get over the shock of receiving the award, as you all can now tell. Don't worry I'm not going to throw up in a women's bathroom this year! I really want to thank Drew Bourbon who gave me my start and saw me as a person when everyone had given up on me eight years ago, the costume designer Ilona Corrigan, the entire crew, Primrose, Natasha, Nigel, Jack, Erik, every other cast member, and most importantly Mabel Winter. Honestly, you made the show a million times more enjoyable with the way you light up the entire room. I love you so much my insane ginger mess. You're one of the sweetest girls I know. I'm Harriet Tubman. I don't even know what I'm saying any more, but thank you all so much!" Felix quickly rattles off.
The awards went on and Primrose won the best actress of 2012 and they went on a short commercial break where the five of us all posed for a few pictures with our won awards. My personal favorites were the ones of me, Primrose, and Natasha posing as "Charlie's Angels" and me, Felix, and Erik recreating the- now iconic- picture of me in the middle of them pecking me on each cheek. We all hush when the awards begin broadcasting and Dick Wolf saunters onto the stage smiling wide. He stands at the podium for a few seconds until the cameras start rolling.
"Twenty two years ago, I premiered the first episode of 'Law & Order'. Now, twenty two years and so many spin- offs later, I'm presenting the Carson award for best director. Even if one is just nominated for this category, they should be proud of their accomplishments. Let's roll the clip," Dick sums up pointing to the big screen. They showed a series of snip- its from "Pandora's Box" and clip from an interview of Drew saying, "Working on 'Pandora's Box' is like sitting at the nerds' table at lunch. Everyone may be insane, but the people are really fun to be with!" The spotlight goes on Dick center stage. "And the winner for best director 2012 is... Drew Bourbon for 'Pandora's Box'!" Dick cheers. The entire cast cheers and screams and stomps their feet.
Drew glows as he makes his way on the stage. The crowd eventually calms down. "The last time I won this award was five years ago when 'Pandora's Box' was first premiered. This season I took a big risk in adding the beautiful Mabel Winter to the cast. As you all proved tonight, I made the right decision. Like I said in the video, working on 'Pandora's Box' is like sitting at the nerds's table, but I didn't get to mention another perk of the 'nerds' table'. Everyone is a misfit in their own way and, because of that, no one on the cast is afraid to express their true degenerate self! One day I'll have the girls running late for filming because they were all gossiping in the dressing rooms and the next I'll have the boys pants-ing each other in the middle of filming! I would especially like to thank the entire cast, crew, and dedicated viewers for letting my constant frustration be rewarded!" Drew laughs. Drew takes his seat next to us just before they announce the winner of best TV show. "I meant every word I said up there. I'm proud of all of you no matter what happens next."
We all awe and hold hands tightly. Alec Baldwin suddenly saunters onto stage. "Hello everyone... I'm Jack Donaghy," Alec starts. Felix and I almost start crying in excitement. "As future- head- of- Kable Town and Chairman of NBC, I have seen many TV shows. Who will win the best TV show? To all these actors it's like they're having a single drop of water dip on their forehead over and over again. Let's roll the tape," He almost whispers. The clip they chose for "Pandora's Box" was Jack running into the room after we defeated an entire army of aliens and exclaims, "Guys, I just heard of another alien sighting only four hours away! What are you laying around for?!" We all proceeded to groan and Erik whines, "Can't we get ice cream or something for once?" Alec Baldwin turns back to the podium. A timpani drum growls. "And the winner for best TV show of 2012 is... 'Pandora's Box'!"
All of us lose our breath in unison. We hold onto each other's hands tight in worry one of might faint in excitement. Everyone, including all the guys, are sobbing or crying by the time we reach the stage. Drew was sobbing in front of the podium. Everyone hugs and kisses each other while one- second- away- from- a- break- down Drew awaits the the crowd to die down. By the time the crowd is hushed, the cast along, with Nigel and Ilona, and I are all standing behind Drew holding each other around one another's waists. Somehow Primrose ended up wearing Erik's steam top hat.
"I didn't expect to have to top that last speech or cry for that matter," Drew laughs before choking up. "Seven years ago, I was at the book store with Felix to buy the sixth 'Harry Potter' book. While Felix was buying the books, I stumbled across a children's book about the Greek mythology story of Pandora's Box. That was how it all started. I never expected to have the pleasure of such a close knit and caring group of young men and ladies working with me," Drew breaks down a little more. "I'm so proud of them and the crew and the fans and everyone who helped me achieve my dream created out of boredom in a bookstore. I know this group that have on the stage with me will stay with me no matter what. Thank you, everyone!" Drew wraps up. By the time we get offstage, all of us are bawling in each other's arms. "We all need to have a heart to heart really quickly. You all don't mind if we miss Rihanna, right?" Drew asks.
"Drew, the original four Beatles could be performing right now and I wouldn't mind," Felix laughs.
We all lightly laugh and hurry into one of the side dressing rooms. Drew clears his throat. We all continue to hold hands tight. "The day Mabel joined us, I had noticed a growth on the side of my leg and didn't think much about it. The day after the premiere, I went to the doctor's office and they said not to worry about it. About a month ago I went back and they said it was possibly cancerous," Drew is cut off by Felix letting out a loud sob into his hands. I quickly pull Felix into my shoulder and nod to Drew to carry on. "I got it removed and sent it in for testing. All throughout the filming of the Christmas special, I was so worried about it being cancer. I'm really sorry I didn't tell any of you besides Nigel and Ilona about this. Every time I was going to tell you, one of you did something that changed my mind, because... because... I was worried what would happen if I wouldn't make it," Drew cries to break down for a few seconds. I'm surprised Felix was the only one who was full- on hysterically crying. Drew straightens up. "Sorry about that. I got a call from the doctor telling me that I'm safe and cancer free!"
"Oh thank God," Felix sighs. He looks up at me, red faced and puffy eyed, and tries to smile as best he can.
I giggle and wipe his cheek. "Everyone is fine, Felix. You don't have to wail any more," I joke. He chuckles.
We turn our attention Primrose. "Let's make a deal. Considering we were basically just considered the best TV show on air now. If any of us has a problem, let's talk to someone on the cast no matter how horrible the outcome can be," Primrose decides.
"For the Pandorica!" Jack cheers.
"For the Pandorica!" We all agree and break into laughs.
- - -
I hop out of the limo and wave goodbye to everyone inside. I skip up the stairs on cloud nine. We're all ecstatic for the headlines to read about "Pandora's Box" conquering all tomorrow with all the amazing pictures of the entire cast and their awards. I run inside and upstairs to my apartment. I bust open the door to find Charlie eating a bowl of popcorn on the living room sofa. I let out a loud woo holding up my new award once Charlie notices me. The reaction isn't nearly as close as I expected. Charlie simply smiles.
"Congrats, sweetie," He almost mumbles then turns back to the TV.
Even that doesn't bring me down. I place my award on the counter. "Did you watch the awards?" I anxiously ask plopping next to him.
"Yeah, they were good. Both of Drew's speeches were very touching," Charlie simply responds.
My smile hangs like a thread. "What did you think of my speech?"
Charlie shrugs. "It was really good, but it was missing something."
I tilt my head. "What did I miss? I tried to keep it short and sweet."
"It wasn't the actual speech. Let's think of the people you thanked: There was Drew, Nigel, Ilona, Primrose, Natasha, Erik, Jack, your family in Ohio, and- most of all- Felix who was always 'right by [your] side'. This is a toughy! I really can't put my finger on it!" Charlie overly sarcastically states going into the kitchen for another cup of coffee.
It suddenly hits me like a pile of bricks. "Oh my gosh, I completely forgot to mention you, Charlie!" I cry.
"Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner!" Charlie cruelly jokes.
I cover my mouth. "I'm so, so sorry! I was so overloaded with excitement I completely forgot! Can I make it up to you by only talking about you in my next speech?" I beg.
"Mabel, it's not the fact you forgot about me! It's the fact that you talked about Felix the way you should have been talking about me! As if that wasn't enough, Felix talked about you two as if you're in a relationship!" Charlie cries.
I feel my eyes watering up, but not in the happiness way I was crying a little more than an hour ago. "Charlie, there's nothing going on between Felix and I! How many times do I have to tell you that?!" I shriek.
"I have been in denial for so long that nothing's going on, but- after tonight- I don't think that I can trust you anymore, Mabel!" Charlie shouts back.
"You know what? I think /I've/ been in denial for too long that I even love you anymore!" I fire back. I immediately cover my mouth, wishing I could take that back. Both of us don't move.
Charlie's eyes widen. "You what?" He almost whispers.
"Charlie, I'm so sorry. I don't mean it, I swear," I squeak my voice shaking. The tears begin build up again.
Charlie quickly goes to the coat rack and tears off his coat. He then slides on his loafers. I'm paralyzed. "I'm done with you, Mabel. I'm fully and completely done! Don't even try taking me back at this point!"
I cry and trail after him. I try grabbing onto his arm. "Charlie, please stay! I swear I didn't mean a single thing I said! It just slipped out!" I continue to plead.
He shoves me off. "Mabel! Cut the cr*p! Once you met Nigel, you knew you were done with me! The minute you met Felix, you had replaced me! Don't try to defend yourself, because you know it's true!" Charlie fires. I hesitate. "That's what I thought. I'll be back Friday to pick up my things. Goodbye... Mabel," Charlie breathes as is my name had lost its luster. He hurries out the door.
"Charlie!" I call. "Charlie! Charlie come back!" He disappears around the corner. I slump into the door frame. "Charlie... come back," I cry like a little girl.
After a few minutes of crying in my doorway, I eventually find myself on the sofa crying some more. It all reminds me of my junior prom. At prom, I decided to have a little fun and grind on a couple of guys in my drama cast for fun-- considering I had don it at Sweet Sixteens Charlie had also attended and he didn't mind then. Junior prom didn't settle too well with him. We got into a huge fight after prom and I found myself laying in my bed crying in my prom dress with my make- up dripping down my face. That was our second worst fight Charlie/ only other fight Charlie and I ever got in. Even Ilona's supposed water proof make- up couldn't put up with my tears tonight. There's a knock at the door and my heart skips a beat. When I run over, though, it's Ilona changed into a pair of yoga pants and a t- shirt looking completely miserable.
"You forgot your clutch in the car," She meekly states holding out the navy rhinestone bag. We sign in unison when we look down at it. "Felix was unfortunate to run into Charlie on his way out. If it was possible for someone to b*tch slap a person with words, Charlie did a pretty damn good job doing that to Felix... You wanna talk? I can help you get cleaned up at least," Ilona offers.
I nod and lead her into my bedroom. Ilona pulls out a pair of yoga pants and a sweatshirt for me while I take off my make- up. She unzips the back of my dress and helps me get changed into my clean clothes. I sit on the bed and Ilona begins removing all the bobby pins and brushing my hair. "What did he do to Felix?" I croak.
Ilona sighs. "Felix was the one who noticed your clutch after we dropped Primrose and Natasha off. Since he's one of the closest with you, he offered to run it upstairs to your apartment. We all agreed and Felix hurried inside just as he saw Charlie coming out. Charlie began screaming at him asking him if he's happy for what he did, that you're single now so he can finally get what he wants, and all things along those lines. Felix began /crying/ in front of Charlie and begging for his forgiveness. It wasn't pretty, because Charlie thought Felix was faking it. It wasn't until Charlie realized that Felix was actually crying he apologized. Safe to say that I thought you would prefer talking to a girl rather than Drew or Nigel," Ilona attempts to joke with a light, airy laugh.
My expression doesn't change. "How's Felix doing?" I ask.
Ilona shrugs. "His night was a little overwhelming, he was over tired, he felt guilty for the break- up, and Charlie made him feel humiliated so he was just a bit hysterical. He may be really upset at the moment, but as soon as Drew gives him a soda or something he'll calm down. You twenty year olds think you're so grown up, but you're all exactly like little kids. It's no one's fault this break- up; your's and Charlie's time just came to an end," Ilona states. She begins tying my hair into a French braid. "How are you feeling about the whole thing, sweetie?"
I hesitate. "I don't know. I mean, I feel guilty that it's over between Charlie and I and Felix had all of Charlie's anger taken out on him, but I almost feel better about the whole thing. I would go to work then worry about what Charlie's doing, what Charlie's thinking, and if Charlie is still loving me. Now I feel almost at peace," I think out loud.
Ilona nods. "Mabel, I think is the first time you have thought for yourself. Everyone was always telling you go for Felix because he loves you and you thought stay with Charlie because he loves you. Now you've finally thought for yourself. I don't mean to be nosy, but what was the line you threw at him that broke the camel's back?" Ilona asks.
"It was something along the lines of, 'I might be in denial that I even love you anymore'," I sigh. "It's safe to say he didn't stay too long after that."
"Either way, I'm proud of you, Mabel. You've finally admitted the truth to yourself," Ilona wraps the hair tie at the end of my hair. "Now, I have a limo with a crying Felix, overtired husband, and an uncle being a father to a twenty five year old. Do you mind if I head out? Do you want me to spend the night? Do you want to spend the night at my house?" Ilona offers.
I giggle. "No, I think I can survive. Thanks for everything, though, Ilona."
"Trust me, hun. I'm going to be a mom for the second time, you're no problem. Call me or Nigel if you need anything. Got it?" Ilona double checks.
"Got it!" I agree.
"Now give me that big crinkle- nosed- Mabel smile!" Ilona requests. I smile wide. "You're adorable, sweetie! I'll see you tomorrow!"
"See you tomorrow!" I reply. I open up my phone to see my background of Erik, Felix, and I with our signature peck on each cheek pose; the way things are supposed to be.