We all know Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, where cross-dressing and confused twins abound. Here, Impact Arts’ resident creative writing genius Esther Kearney brings Viola and Sebastian into the twenty-first century.
She woke up on the yacht, feeling more than a little intoxicated and with no recollection of the past five hours. She tried to get to her feet but the whole world swung out of focus and she found herself back on the floor with something sharp digging into her side.
“What the -.” She said aloud, and after blindly fumbling in the darkness she clasped her hand around a phone glinting up at her in the moonlight.
It looked identical to her own through the haze of alcohol. She went to tuck it into her bra, stopping only when the screen lit up with the promise of an incoming message.
She failed to notice the distinctive red flame logo in the corner of the screen and was too preoccupied with whoever the messenger was, a smiling face glowing up from the small picture on the screen.
“Oh-liv-ee-ah” she tripped over the name like a toddler learning English for the first time.
Hiya, where’s this fancy new place you’re taking me then? x
She started typing back, sparking what would be the beginning of a chain of disastrous events defined by just one word…
Spoons? :)) xxx
The whole world faded away as she fell asleep to the lull of the current beneath her.
Viola sat down at the bar and surveyed the crowd for her date. It was a Friday night; the place was teeming with a mixture of young students drinking electric blue pitchers and with slightly older men and women enjoying a pub dinner.
She had been a little taken aback when Orlando had suggested the local Wetherspoon’s. Admittedly, she was glad of it now as it made the entire dating experience a lot less intimidating than if he had taken her to a five-star restaurant.
Her phone buzzed, she glanced down expecting it to be Orlando but instead it was a Tinder notification.
How peculiar. I thought I had hidden my profile last night.
She opened the message and her stomach sunk.
The previous night’s events came back to her in a flash and she realised that this wasn’t in fact her phone, but her brother Sebastian’s. She had accidentally arranged a date with a girl he had ‘Super Liked’ for this evening when drunk at her friend’s boat party.
Her brother was out of town on a business trip so she couldn’t exactly tell him what had happened. She also didn’t want to ruin his chances or stand the girl up especially as they had also arranged to meet here, at Spoons, ironically.
“Another cocktail, Fez” she said to the familiar bartender. As he walked away to make the drink she analysed the way he ran his hands through his hair and the swagger in his strides.
It was then that the idea clicked.
He was wearing a crisp blue jacket over his usual bartender attire. She checked the time and then her reflection in her phone. She had a short red pixie cut that could easily be classed as androgynous.
Me and Seb are twins after all, it would be easy to pass as him if I had some baggy clothes.
“And your jacket.” She demanded, cocking an eyebrow at his questioning glance.
“Is your date so vain that even you need to reflect his image?” he teased but nonetheless started shrugging it off and passed it to her across the bar.
She just grinned, sheepishly at first, which was soon replaced with a sly secrecy.
“You’ll see, I’m going to need you to cover for me tonight. Can I leave this in the changing room for now?” she replied, jumping off the stool and running behind the bar without waiting for his reply.
She was back at the bar when Orlando arrived. He stepped inside in his carefully tailored suit and his hands resting nonchalantly in his pockets with all eyes turned towards him.
His hair was blonde and carefully slicked back, he had cold blue eyes and a carefully trimmed goatee.
Viola’s heart fluttered as he walked towards her and then immediately sunk again when she saw him checking out the other women around him.
“Hey” he said, when his eyes finally rested on her. She adjusted her top a little and felt a sudden surge of anxiety rush through her as he gave her a once over.
They sat down and talked for a little while, the conversation felt stilted and he held her gaze for just a beat too long for it to be comfortable. The conversation turned to work and she asked him what he did for a living.
“Yeah I work in finance. I can’t help that I’m so great at my job, things just kind of come naturally to me,” he said with an arrogant droll. “Like I’m not bragging or anything, I’m seriously the most modest person ever, but I have been employee of the month for three times running. And I’ve only been working there for a week.”
She tuned him out after that and found her eyes getting heavy, only snapping out of it when she spotted Olivia walk in.
“Uh, I’m just going to go to the ladies’ room quickly.”
“Mind if I join you?” he asked in what she supposed he thought was a seductive tone. She laughed nervously and headed off trying not to cringe.
She ran behind the bar, glancing back to check that he hadn’t seen her, and quickly changed into the suit and removed her makeup. She caught her reflection in the mirror and was taken aback by how close she resembled her brother. After giving her hair a final ruffle, she strolled into the bar and approached Olivia.
She made eye contact with Fez and saw his eyes dart from Olivia to Orlando and back to her, his mouth forming a perfect “o” as he realised what was going on.
“Hi, sorry I’m late I got caught in traffic.” She coughed trying to make her voice sound deeper.
“I thought you didn’t drive” she replied in a cool, even tone.
Viola took in Olivia’s appearance, from the carefully winged eye liner to the figure hugging dress. Her palms got sweaty as she thought that she had been caught.
“Ha! You’re right I meant the train got delayed.” She laughed nervously.
“I’m only pulling your leg, it’s fine. Anyway, how’s your day been?”
Viola glanced behind her and saw Orlando chatting up one of the waitresses, who was batting her eyelashes like she was fanning a flame.
“Hold that thought… I’ll be right back.”
Visibly raging she hurriedly changed back into her original attire. She didn’t focus on the order of the garments she was throwing on as she stormed back out and confronted Orlando mid flirt.
“I did not come out to get deserted on a date mid-way!” She exclaimed, panting with anger.
The entire bar stared as she pointed accusingly at her date. Slowly, she turned around and made direct eye contact with Olivia.
You could cut the tension in the room with a cheese knife.
She looked down and realised that she was half in and half out of her two guises.
“Well, screw it. I’m out. You’re a fuck boy, and I’m not actually a guy,” she announced to the entire pub.
Grabbing her jacket, she walked out of the bar with as much sass as one could manage when being caught cross dressing.
There was a single clap behind her and someone whooped, she turned and glared at Fez silencing his applause.
She paced the street in search for a taxi, hugging herself as she blew out and watched as her breath froze and hung in the air. It was suspended, waiting patiently for something before dissipating into nothingness. Kind of like what she wanted to do at that moment in time.
Someone hesitantly tapped her shoulder, she turned and came face to face with Olivia.
Blushing bright red Viola went to apologise for the entire stint, of how she hadn’t meant to string her along and no, it hadn’t been a joke she just sincerely didn’t want to stand someone up all because of a drunken message.
But she didn’t get a chance to say any of that because in that moment Olivia leant forward, closing the gap between them and kissed her hard on the mouth.
“I always preferred Cesario anyway,” she teased softly, when they broke apart.
Grinning ear to ear, she was about to reply when her phone buzzed interrupting the moment.
I think we accidentally swapped phones, who’s Orlando and what does he want to make up to me?