I drove along, lost, by the studio fence, 'til
a blonde girl yelled "Photoplay?" In her arms she bore
Some scripts. "For Miss Stanwyck? Right through this door."
"That's Barbara." She pointed. "Some folks call her Missy.
She's down-to-earth, sweet, and not a bit prissy."
I took off my hat and walked over to her.
She sat down and smiled like I already knew her.
"Well, where to start? When I was born, I was Ruby.
(If I only knew then what life planned to do to me!)
I grew up too quickly, an adult at four;
Mama was killed, then Pop bailed. We were poor.
My nine-year-old sister watched me and my brother.
When she started to work, we got foster mothers."
She paused, and I offered a Lucky, a light.
She thanked me and exhaled. "I worshiped Pearl White!
Dreamt only of stardom when I was fourteen.
I felt destined for show biz, the stage and the screen."
"By sixteen, I danced at The Strand and the Follies."
She smirked. "All those phonies, out getting their jollies."
"Those phonies?" I asked as I scribbled a note.
She nodded. "My focus was different: a meal, a coat,
and working my way up the ladder of fame.
After that came 'The Noose', where I got my new name."
With that, Barbara faltered. Her eyes glazed with tears.
"My goodness, I haven't thought about that in years.
That's where I met Rex. May his soul rest in peace."
She regained her composure. "Don't print that, if you please."
"I moved on to pictures from Burlesque, my last play,
I married a friend that I met there - Frank Fay.
That's ended now. Boy was that all a mistake.
But that's life; you move on. You don't get a retake."
"And that brings us to now and that brings us to here."
I could tell she was finished. She called past me. "Dear!"
The blonde girl came over. "Please get my script, Alice."
(I peeked at the title. It said "Stella Dallas".)
I stood up and offered my hand, and she took it.
"A pleasure," I told her, and meant it. She shook it
and smiled at me warmly as I strode away.
A day in my life, for her life in a day.