Authors: Julia DeVillers
“Ooopsie!” Sydney said. “Dropped my pom.”
“Ignore,” Emma said under her breath.
I couldn't help it. I gave the pom-pom a flying kick.
“Payton, you better hurry up or you're going to be late for Drama,” Sydney said, scooping up her pom-pom. “We're finding out the cast today! Oh, wait, you couldn't try out.”
Cashmere laughed. Erg.
“Hey, Cashmere,” Emma suddenly called out. “How come you didn't try out for Drama? Sydney tell you not to because she's afraid of competition?”
I had to give Emma credit. She was not backing down from Sydney. Unlike me, who was practically hiding in my locker.
“No,” Cashmere said. “Sydney told me not to becauseâwait, why couldn't I try out, Syd?”
“Oh, puh-lease, like you'd be competition,” Sydney said. “I mean, because you're so busy with your other . . . activities.”
“Oh, what are you involved in, Cashmere?” Emma asked.
“Well, we go to the mall Wednesdays and Fridays and . . .
um . . .,” Cashmere said, looking suspiciously at Sydney.
“Whatever,” Sydney said. “What
you wearing, Payton? I thought you were supposed to be the fashionable twin. Oh, that's right. You have to clean the basement.”
“Oh, look, I have a text!” Emma said, cutting her off.
“It's probably Ox,” I said.
Sydney's eyes narrowed.
“Come on, Cash,” Sydney said. “Let's go find out what part I have in the play.”
They trotted off down the hall.
“So who was the text really from?” I asked Emma.
“There was no text, genius. I was saving you. And then you had to go say that about Ox? I can't believe you said it might be Ox,” Emma said, and then groaned. “So embarrassing. And what if Sydney says something to him?”
I knew Emma felt like she was on shaky ground with Ox.
“Sorry,” I said. “I choked. But it got rid of Sydney, didn't it? It was the only thing I could think of to bother her.”
The bell rang.
“Okay, can't be late for mathletes!” Emma said. “See you on the late bus!”
I wished I could be late for Drama. In fact, I wished I didn't have to go at all. I went down the hall and stairs toward the auditorium.
I walked into the auditorium and went straight for the door leading under the stage before anyone could see me. I looked around. I decided to dust the shelves in the back first.
Wiping dirt off face. Realizing that wiping face with dusty hand only gets things dirtier.
Wipe dirty hands on shirt.
Whew. Once again, I thought of Cinderella in the ashes, dressed in rags.
“Payton,” someone called. It was Mrs. Burkle, the Drama teacher, sticking her face through the ceiling hole. “I forgot to tell you. The janitor is fumigating the storage room below, so you won't have to clean today.”
“Oh!” I said, and then coughed up some dust. “So should I just go home or what?”
“You may join the rest of the Drama group for the day,” Mrs. Burkle said.
Yay! I'd get to be a part of things! But, boo! I was covered in dirt and dressed in rags. I couldn't be seen like this.
“I can go to the library or something instead,” I suggested.
“No need. It will be short, anyway,” she went on. “We can't stay in the auditorium once the fumigation begins. I'll just announce the cast list and everyone can leave. Come join us.”
I was going to ask if I could go change and wash up first, but her face disappeared. So I climbed back upstairs and went out to the stage. I hoped nobody noticed me. I spotted Tess and quickly went over to the row she was sitting in.
“I'm so glad you're here,” Tess said.
“At least I can cheer you on,” I told her, scrunching down in my seat so nobody would see how gross I was.
“I'd be a lot more excited if you could have tried out, too,” Tess said.
“Yeah, you were really good at VOGS,” Nick said, turning around from the seat in front of me. “You were really comfortable talking to people.”
“Aw, thanks,” I said, sitting up straight. “Are you dying to know what part you got?”
“Actually, I'm tech manager,” he said. “I didn't try out for a part. I just want to do the lighting, special effects, all that stuff.”
“Oh, good luck with it,” I told him.
“No luck needed.” He smiled. “I was the only one who wanted the job.”
I remembered how good he was at the VOGScast. He'd be great at it. He turned back, facing ahead.
I smiled and smoothed my hair back. And my hair got stuck in a tangle, reminding me I was all dirty and gross and was supposed to be hiding from people. I scrunched back down in my seat.
Tess was looking around and nervously biting her nails.
“You're nervous?” I asked her.
“More nervous than the mathletes competition,” she said. “More nervous than the spelling bee. More nervous than the science fair. Isn't that silly? Jazmine would laugh if she could see me now.”
“No, it just means you must really want a part,” I said.
“What? I can't really hear you down there,” Tess said, and leaned over. “Why are you all crunched down?”
“Hello?” I pointed to myself. “I'm dirty and gross?”
“Oh, it's not like anyone would notice,” Tess said. Her cell rang and she answered it.
Suddenly, a pom-pom was being waved in my face.
“Ew! What are you wearing, Payton?” Sydney asked, learning across the aisle. “Yeesh. Even your twin sister dresses better than that! And is that dirt on your face?”
Figures Sydney would notice. I turned to see Tess's reaction, but she was turned the other way, talking on her phone.
“Are you even allowed to be here, Payton? Aren't you supposed to be in the dungeon?” Sydney slid into the seat in the front row right in front of us.
“Payton doesn't have to today!” Tess said, now off her phone call and turning back around.
“Oh, so your torture is to wait and hear everyone's name being called but yours.” Sydney sighed dramatically to me. “So harsh.”
“It is,” Tess agreed.
Tess was too nice to see that Sydney was rubbing it in on purpose. Sydney was too good at faking being nice.
“Excuse me, who are you?” Sydney asked Tess.
“I'm Tess,” Tess said, smiling.
“Tess is the one who did that great audition as Auntie Em,” I said. “With that boy Reilly. Remember?”
“Vaguely.” Sydney shrugged. Then she perked up. “Ooh! Look who's here! Our leading man!”
I looked over to see Reilly walking down the aisle. Tess and I both went,
. He was seriously cute.
“He's so hot.” Sydney sighed.
Sydney took a pom-pom and waved it over her head to catch Reilly's attention.
“Ooh!” she said. “He's coming over!”
Reilly sat down a few seats from Sydney next to some other boys.
“Reilly! Reilly! Are you dying to know what part you'll get?” Sydney called over to him.
“Sure. Dying,” he said. Then he wrapped his hands around his neck and acted out a dramatic death scene, collapsing on his chair. His friend next to him cracked up.
“You're such a good actor!” Sydney squealed. “I wish I could have tried out for a lead. But I can't, because I'm also a
Sydney shook her pom-pom.
“Mrs. Burkle said she'd let me try out for a smaller role, though.” She smiled at him.
“Cool.” He turned back to talk to his friend.
Sydney looked annoyed about losing his attention.
got to try out, though, right, Payton?” she said, aiming her annoyedness right at me.
“You may not realize this, but Payton is already sad about
that,” Tess said to Sydney. “You may not want to rub it in.”
Oh, Sydney realized it all right.
“Oh, look!” I interrupted loudly. “Mrs. Burkle is onstage with the cast list!”
Everyone turned their attention to the teacher onstage. She was carrying a clipboard. Suddenly the roomâincluding Sydneyâfell quiet.
“I'm happy to share the cast list with you,” Mrs. Burkle said. “This was a tough decision and remember that all of you are fabulous! Simply superb!”
I reached over and squeezed Tess's hand as Mrs. Burkle started announcing the cast. She read off Munchkins and Flying Monkeys.
“Glinda, the Good Witch will be played by Sydney Fish,” she said.
Sydney squealed and clapped. “I'm so thrilled and honored!”
Mrs. Burkle read out a bunch of names, and other people clapped and screamed.
“And The Scarecrow will be Reilly,” she said.
Reilly stood up and bowed as we applauded.
“And Dorothy will be . . . Tess Hartwick,” she announced.
“Oh my gosh!” Tess said. “Oh!”
“Congratulations!” I said, along with a bunch of other kids. Tess got the lead!
“You're going to be a great Dorothy,” I told her.
“If you didn't get a part and would like to join Nick on
tech crew, let me know,” Mrs. Burkle said. “Cast, please pick up your scripts on the way out so you can memorize your lines.”
Then she told us we had to leave the auditorium because the janitor was spraying it. She said we could go to the library or cafeteria until the late buses.
“We got killed with math homework, didn't we, Nick?” Tess asked. “I should probably go to the library.”
“Duh, we should go to the cafeteria! You have to be quiet in the library,” Sydney said.
Sydney was talking to us. Why was Sydney talking to us? Or sitting with us? Then I realized Sydney didn't have any friends at Drama.
“Let's hit the library,” Reilly was saying to his friend as they got up to leave.
“Or, the library's a good idea,” Sydney said, also hearing Reilly. “Let's go.”
We all walked in a big clump to the library. People were congratulating each other or cheering up people who didn't get a part. Some people came to talk to Nick about working on the tech crew. People congratulated Sydney and Tess. I walked quietly with them.
Tess, Nick, and I went over to a library table between the book stacks. Sure enough, Sydney came over to sit with us. She pulled up a chair between Nick and Tess.
“We should start memorizing our lines,” Sydney said, pulling out the script.
“Wow, Tess, you have a ton of lines,” I said, looking at her. “But with your brain you'll totally be able to memorize fast.”
“Tess is in all honors classes with my sister,” I said to Sydney. “She's supersmart.”
“Oh, you're a brainiac?” Sydney asked. “You don't look like one. Okay, so let's practice our lines. Here's the part where Glinda floats down in the bubble to see Dorothy. Nick, you'll make me a good bubble for my grand entrance, right?”
“I'm not sure I'm good enough to make a bubble,” Nick said. “Especially one that floats.”
“Oh, you'll figure it out.” Sydney dismissed him, like
“Okay, here's our scene. Payton, you can play the weird little Munchkins.”
“âAre you a good witch or a bad witch?'” Sydney said dramatically.
“Hold on,” Tess said, flipping her script open. “Okay, here's my line. âWho me? Why, I'm not a witch at all. I'm Dorothy Gale from Kansas.'”
She held her script open for me.
“âOoooh,'” I said, reading my Munchkin lines. “âEeeeh!'”
“Hey, are you guys practicing?” a deep voice asked us. “Can I join you?”
We all looked up and saw Reilly standing over us. He ran his hand through his brown hair and smiled with his perfectly white teeth.
Because he sat down in the chair next to me. I could almost touch his arm with my elbow.
“She”âSydney pointed to meâ“was just reading the Munchkin lines. Payton, too bad you have to be the janitor. You'd be a great little Munchkin.”
I turned red.
“There's a janitor in
The Wizard of Oz
?” Reilly looked confused.
“Hey!” Nick saved me. “Let's go to the place in the script where Reilly is. Scarecrow, right?”
“Yeah,” Reilly said. He flopped over like a scarecrow, and grinned.
I sneaked a look sideways at him. He was so cute. And he was sitting next to me!
“Oh, Glinda and The Scarecrow aren't in too many scenes together.” Sydney pouted.
Too bad, so sad.
“Reilly. Maybe we can practice our lines together,” Sydney said.
“That makes no sense, since, as you said, you guys are hardly in any scenes together,” Nick pointed out. “Tess and Reilly should practice together.”
“Oh, Tess won't need practice, since she's such a genius, like you said, Payton,” Sydney shot back. “I can read lines for someone else, too.”
The Tin Man? Since he's missing a heart?
“What?” Sydney looked at me.
Oh, crud. I said that out loud.
“She said The Tin Man, who is missing a heart,” Nick said. “Right, Payton?”
“Right,” I said weakly.
“So why didn't you try out for a part?” Reilly asked me.
Oh! Oh! Reilly was gazing at me with his blue eyes. His long eyelashes. And, ugh, asking me a question I
did not want to answer.
“I bet you would have been really good, Payton,” Reilly continued. “Since you were so good on the school news.”
I almost passed out right then and there. He knew who I was! He knew who I was!
I squeaked. “I mean, thanks.”