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Silver Bells

Today is Weston Baker High School’s invitational dress rehearsal of Brandywine. The cast listens with tense anticipation as their director thanked the audience and introduced the play. I can hear her heels click off the stage we painted just yesterday. There’s a millisecond of silence and then soft music.

Jade, the female lead, is visibly nervous but we all know she’ll forget about being nervous and be amazing. I’m nervous too but I try to convert it to energy. Just forget about the audience and underwear, I tell myself. The curtain opens, the lights go up, and the music amplifies, washing over us. Once you get over your nerves, its easy to act. We’ve been practicing for eight months, its not the acting we’re worried about. It’s the audience.

“Lena, darling!” Andy, the male lead calls in a ridiculously aristocratic voice, entering from offstage, decked out in a hilariously accessorized tuxedo.

All of us onstage, the maids, immediately jump out of our lethargic poses and bustle around mock-productively. The audience is already laughing.

“You, there, servant!” Jade trills, walking onstage majestically, but managing to look silly in the process. “There is dust falling on my sleeve. Dust! This is unacceptable,” she mutters, looking around as I rush over with a feather duster and start brushing her off. She catches site of Andy and flits over to him, me following, still holding the duster.

“Good morning, sweeting,” she coos, fluttering her eyelashes at him and slapping me exaggeratedly across the face. I fall over backwards with a loud thud and shriek.

The audience laughs again.

The play passes without blunder. Well there were a few but we covered them well so no one should have noticed. After the production we change back into our normal clothes, wash off our stage makeup, and go back to our respective lives. I will take the bus back to my tiny apartment in DC. I transferred to Weston because the school in my district had a bad reputation. Lots of shooting, few graduates. All the other privileged kids who grew up in the safe, suburban, upper-middle-class environment of Weston will to the “impromptu” party at the Letterman Diner.

I don’t go because I wasn’t invited--I was. I don’t go because I can’t. My day care provider already made a generous exception when she reluctantly kept my daughter on weekends so I could be in the play. We’re getting to be friends but it was still really nice of her. When I pick up Macayla she’s in a surprisingly chatty mood, asking how the dress rehearsal went. Finally I get it.

“Would you like to see the play, Leigh?”

“Well…it would be nice for Mickey to see her mommy onstage/…”

I grin. “Sure…for Macayla. I’ll get you both tickets.”

“Just for me…I’ll hold her on my lap.”

“Okay,” I smile, and put Mickey in her coat, getting ready to go.

“So do you have plans tonight?” she asks, when I’m at the door.

“No. Why?”

“Well its your opening night!”

“Technically, that’s tomorrow.”

“Let’s celebrate anyhow!” she says, throwing on her coat. “I’m taking you out for Thai food.”

“No problem here,” I smile, settling Mickey on my hip. I guess we’re no longer getting to be friends--we are friends.

We leave her apartment and walk down the dirty streets in the dusk, by my mood is bright and happy. The play went well and I actually get to celebrate with friends.

However, her first words when we sit down aren’t very celebratory. “So tell me about your love life. I’m dying to know about Mickey’s dad.”

I glance at Macayla and stall, taking off her coat. Finally, I look back at Leigh and take a deep breath. “It’s kind of a long story.”
Student troll, funny school
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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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