Authors: Cheyanne Young
Copyright © 2014 Cheyanne Young
All rights reserved.
Interior Design by Angela McLaurin, Fictional Formats
Cover image from GoOnWrite.com
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems -except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews-without permission in writing from the author at [email protected]
This book is a work of fiction. The characters, events, and places portrayed in this book are products of the author’s imagination and are either fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
For Felicia Morgan, my partner in crime who did a lot of embarrassingly stupid things with me in theater arts class.
And in memory of the Caboodles that held not only our theater makeup, but all of our secrets.
“If you love and get hurt, love more.
If you love more and hurt more, love even more.
If you love even more and get hurt even more, love some more until it hurts no more
It’s two forty-five on the dot and my stomach is nestled firmly in my throat. Ms. Barlow sits in her director’s chair at the back of the theater arts classroom. She tells me to stand on the zebra print x made of tape in front of the white board, in the place she usually stands while she’s teaching class. Today is the first day I’ve seen the zebra print x. I wonder if that’s the same zebra print tape she took away from a freshman last week.
The classroom is abnormally dark with a single spotlight shining directly on my face. I wish I’d worn makeup. My nose is too oily, I just know it. Three stapled-together pages of Ms. Barlow’s original script shake in my hands as I stand, waiting for her signal to start.
She has a peacock feather tucked behind her ear and a pen in her hand as she scribbles something on her clipboard. Her bright orange hair is gray in the dark. I clear my throat.
“Yes Wren,” she says without taking her eyes off her clipboard. “You were auditioning for a minor role, but then you switched for the role of Gretchen? Am I reading your chicken scratch handwriting correctly?”
“Yes ma’am,” I say, wondering if I should tell her I signed up for auditions while writing on someone’s back in the hallway before class and that’s why my handwriting resembles chicken scratch. I wasn’t going to audition at all until Mom pointed out the requirements in The Art Institute of Lawson catalog places a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities. And if I’m going to be in a school play for the sole purpose of winning the affections of my dream college, I might as well do it right. Even if my best friend is also auditioning for the lead role.
Ms. Barlow stares at me over the rim of her purple teardrop glasses, appraising me as if she doesn’t see me in class every day.
“You do know Gretchen’s role includes a lot of kissing with the male costar?”
I didn’t know that, but I nod anyway. It’s too late to back out now. Plus I like kissing. I can handle kissing.
Ms. Barlow laces her fingers together and rests them in her lap on top of her clipboard. “You may begin.”
I swallow. The words on my paper blur into a mess of jumbled letters that form nonexistent words. Good thing I have it memorized. I crumple the papers and hold them in my clenched fist.
“Jeremy? Is that you?” I squint my eyes, which comes naturally with the blinding spotlight on me and take a step forward. “Jeremy, get down! What the hell are you thinkin’? Are you crazy?”
“Stop.” Ms. Barlow’s hand flies out. She tilts her head to glare at me over the rim of her glasses. “Why do you sound like a melodramatic southern belle?”
“Because my character lives in Alabama?”
She shakes her head. “No. Do it again.”
My heart pounds so hard it turns my chest into goo. “Jeremy! Get down! What the hell are you thinking—are you crazy?”
Ms. Barlow lowers her voice and assumes Jeremy’s lines. “What do you care?” she says with a snarl.
“Of course I care.” I clench my chest. “Jeremy, you can’t jump.”
“Give me three good reasons why I shouldn’t jump off this bridge and end my worthless life right now. Actually, just give me one.”
I heave a sigh, a big dramatic one like I’ve practiced in front of my mirror for the last two days. Unfortunately it comes out like I’m choking on my own spit. I ignore the teacher’s disappointed nod. “How about this one?” I say, tossing my hands up in surrender as I stare at the empty desk in front of me, pretending it’s Jeremy. “I’m in love with you.”
“You’re too fat,” Ms. Barlow says.
“Huh?” That isn’t the script.
She marks something on her clipboard and flips to the next page. “I’m sorry Wren. Despite your… attempted… acting, you know I’d love to give you the lead role but you’re just too fat.”
“I’m not fat,” I say confidently, because I know I’m not fat. Is she even allowed to say that to a teenage girl? Sure, I gained a few pounds over the summer but that hardly makes me fat. Plus, I’m on day twenty-six of the 20 Minute Abs DVD, and if I tighten my core I totally have a six pack under the inch or so of flab.
“Gretchen is five feet ten inches and a hundred and five pounds. She’s an aspiring model.”
“It doesn’t say that in the script.” I wag my papers at her.
Ms. Barlow’s short hair flies around her face as she whips her glasses to the top of her head. “That’s irrelevant. It says that in my mind and I am the writer and the director.”
I wish the lights were on so I could glare at her, and not just at the darkish blob I can see. I don’t stomp my foot on the floor, but I want to. “I’m telling Mom.”
She waves away my threat with a flourish of her hand. “Good. And while you’re at it, tell her to stop filling the house with ding-dongs and Twinkies. It’ll do you both a favor.”
Okay. This is about to blow up to epic-Barlow-like proportions if I don’t do something to scale it back. I smooth my hands over my shirt and stand straight. “You’re right, Aunt Barlow, I’m sorry. But I really want this part so if there’s anything I can do to make myself perfect for the role, please let me know.”
. Barlow while in school. I’m not your aunt right now, I’m your director.”
“Yes,” I say, humbling myself to her greatness, something she laps up like starved puppy. Ms. Barlow starred in Broadway plays in her younger years, before age and three divorces and heaps of melodrama took its toll and made her resemble a haggard man.
“Why do you even want this role? You watched me slave over this script all summer and you never cared.”
“I care,” I say. But she’s right. I don’t care about this stupid school play.
So even though I have no interest in a school play, probably because my mom, the failed actress, and my aunt, the failed Broadway star-turned-theater arts teacher shoved acting down my throat since I was in infancy, I am going to get this role. And then my picture will be put in the yearbook and The Art Institute of Lawson will be impressed and they will accept me and I’ll get an awesome job as an interior decorator.
That all starts with Wren Barlow playing the lead role in the Lawson High School play.
Ms. Barlow taps her foot on the footrest in her tall chair. She scribbles something on her clipboard that makes her nose crunch up like she’s smelled something bad. “Thanks for auditioning, Wren. Will you send in the next student?”