Ryan Gosling stood in front of the mirror, shirt raised. The green room "Access Hollywood" provided him was softly lit, yet Ryan could still make out the pale, clammy pallor reflected back at him. His hands were shaking as they lifted his fashionable-yet-understated black T-shirt to his collarbone.
"Today," a thin, papery voice whispered.
Ryan dropped his shirt suddenly when a P.A. knocked at the door. "Five minutes to show time, Mr. Gosling," called out the pimply teen (Mike? Mitch?) who deferentially escorted Ryan from his limo to this wretched room.
"OK! Yes! Coming!" Ryan shouted, a little too loudly. He stared at his reflection in the mirror one final time. This would have to do ... maybe post-production would take care of the sweat, the bags under the eyes, the constant look of fear he had worn for the past three months.
"No," Ryan said quietly, looking away from the mirror, refusing to look down to the thing that lived beneath his shirt. "Not today."
It was show time.
After the segment, Ryan ran back to the green room and retched into the toilet violently. Another knock from the P.A. (Mark? Miles?): "Are you OK in there, Mr. Gosling?"
"I'm fine, go away!" Ryan shouted. He wiped his mouth and flushed the toilet, making sure the door was locked.
"You should have let her see me," said the small voice. "You should let everyone see me." Ryan ripped off his $200 pre-faded T-shirt and stared at the monster he created. His abdominal muscles glistened and rippled like a Greek god.
"That's better," said Ryan Gosling's stomach. "Much better. Look at how beautiful we are, Ryan. Look."
Ryan refused to look, but one of his hands brushed against the hard muscles of his abdomen. It was hot to the touch, and glowed with such unholy life that his hand immediately recoiled, balling into a fist. His abs laughed at him.
"We make a great pair, you and I," said the voice from his stomach, from his head, from everywhere. "I look so much better on you than I did on Ryan Reynolds. Aren't you glad that Reynolds offered to share that protein shake with you? The protein shake he stole from an old gypsy woman ... right after he ran over her."
Gosling closed his eyes, willing the voice to be quiet. He must be going insane. "Stupid, crazy," he muttered to himself, than realizing his words laughed maniacally. "You're not real! I am me! I control you! You're just my stupid six-pack!"
The abs clenched and unclenched one muscle at a time, as if to prove a point. "No, Ryan, it is I who control you. The whole world loves Ryan Gosling's abs now. You are nothing without me."
"That's not true! I had a career before you! I had 'The Notebook,' and 'Half Nelson.' People respected my work!"
"People respected you ... but now they love you. You are a star, Ryan. This is the price you must pay."
"No!" Ryan Gosling's eyes flew open as he smashed his fist into the bathroom mirror, the million falling shards reflecting his perfect, rock-hard stomach. "I will not be a slave to my beautiful body!"
It had gone on for far too long. Ryan went back to the main room, took out his razor and his shaving kit, and threw them into the trash.
"What are you doing?" screamed his super-hot, perfectly toned thorax. "Don't you dare!"
"Oh, won't I?" Ryan picked up a bag of complimentary potato chips, shoveling them into his mouth with great abandon. "I'm going to eat this entire bag of chips, and then maybe a hamburger or two," he said to his stomach, "and after that I'm going to grow my whole beard back."
Ryan Gosling's sculpted abs screamed in a voice not of this world. "You wouldn't dare bring back the beard! He was worse than us! You can't be famous with a neck beard, Ryan!"
"Just watch me," Ryan said, mouth full of chips. He smiled at himself for the first time in months. He could already see a little bit of sandy stubble forming on his cheeks. The longer strands on his chin caught the falling crumbs from the chips and held them for Ryan to find later, the way an old friend might. Ryan Gosling's beard had big plans for the two of them. Oh yes, it did.