A Day For Rivalry, Infinity For Us
Sonia Vinys stands on the famous stage inside a theater at Lazarus Theatre of Performing Arts, in her casual attire, waiting for her instructor to talk about a new project that’s taken place in the 13th century. Her best friend, Esperanza Codova, also is waiting, as the two will soon find their roles in what will be one of the dramatic plays ever written.
It’s thirty after seven in the evening, and the girls still linger on the same spots, waiting as they watch other young actors practicing role-playing for their upcoming act in a few days. Sonia and Esperanza have a different act in which they must incorporate a particular accent, poses, and violence, all of which they have never done before throughout their three years of acting.
The stage lights begin to fill in the entire room with illumination, silence starts to overtake the atmosphere as more students leave for home, and Sonia and Esperanza sit across from one another, legs crossed without uttering a word.
It’s been past ten minutes when their instructor, Sean, appears from another room, walking hastily toward their direction with a clipboard in hand. He’s old, slim but healthy for his age, and always wears the same clothes everyday—a white sleeveless shirt and baggy pants. Once on the platform the man begins.
“Sorry I’m late, ladies,” he says, finally joining the duo on the polished, wooden floor. The girls look at him as he scans through a stock of papers. He begins talking about the purpose of the project as well as the lead characters. The introduction goes on for over half an hour.
“So, I have two lead roles; one—which is the major role—is the daughter of a monarch and the other one—a slave—is a personal servant of the daughter. The relationship between the two characters is dynamic—not to mention pretty much dramatic.”
Sonia and Esperanza are given additional copies of the script, go over it for couple of minutes, as advised by Sean, and begin choosing who’s playing who.
“I would like to be the daughter of the monarch,” Sonia finally says.
“No, I want to be her,” Esperanza protests. “She fits my description.”
The best friends are of the same age, though Sonia is three months older than Esperanza. Sonia is taller and active in sports, always takes interest in new projects, animals, and the opportunity to provide after-class sessions for new comers that are just entering into the acting business. Esperanza is shorter than Sonia, not always too outgoing and active as her co-star, and seems to only accept new projects whenever Sonia decides to take part in them. The girls have worked along side by side since they got admitted to Lazarus Theatre of Performing Arts in downtown Manhattan. However each were more attracted to the project not because of the other’s choosing, but because of personal gain—a better lead role that would grant the actor a bigger spotlight in the acting business.
“I’m sorry, Esperanza, I chose it first—I’m better suited for the role,” Sonia declares. Esperanza becomes uncomfortable by her claims, so her voice transitioned to a higher pitch, while Sean remains silent as to let the dispute reaching its own settlement.
“That’s not fare, Sonia! I hold a keen interest in the study of the Middle Ages, not you!”
“You liar!” Sonia strikes. A distasteful look on Esperanza begins to formulate clearly to the naked eye. “You never told me you had an interest in medieval period. In fact, you told me you hate it!”
“I’m not a liar! And don’t ever call me that!” Esperanza said with fierce eyes, becoming uneasy after having heard the word she never would’ve thought of hearing from her beloved friend.
“I’m telling you, Sean, I’m better than her in such lead roles,” Sonia says, as she looks at the instructor and back at her rival. “I’m taller and more adult-like than you are, Esperanza, and more importantly, you’re too skinny and short to be that much intimidating for an affluent character than a slave.” Sonia, continuing with the remarks of her best friend that seem to her as mismatching for the role, explicitly undermines her friend’s acting skills as to give all the more reasons for the role—even when they’re not entirely true.
Sean remains silent, still unable to conclude who’s more fitting for the role, since Sonia and Esperanza are the best actors for the project—though the dispute and remarks from Sonia are shocking that he tries not to accept what’s transpiring before his eyes. Sean thinks it’d be futile to carry out an audition since the two girls are somehow equally talented, and since time is short they’re suppose to begin practicing role-playing the following day.
“Are you saying that I’m skinny?” Esperanza continues, tears filling her eyes completely. “Are you saying that you’re better than me?” Sonia says nothing, nor does she look at her best friend in the eyes. Silence resurfaces, as the three are the only ones left inside the large room. Sonia feels a hint of remorse for having mentioned the stuff she would never say to Esperanza—she has not the slightest clue of how much she hurt her friend.
“Alright!” Sean speaks. “Sonia, you will play the daughter of the monarch, and Esperanza, you will be her personal servant. That’s final.” From there Sean goes over the prompts and what they should memorize for tomorrow’s rehearsal. It’s already past nine when the instructor leaves before the girls do.
Sonia and Esperanza usually dine out together at a nearby Italian restaurant before the clock would hit ten; they part ways as soon as they’re done eating. The only days the girls are only free from working are the weekends. On those days the girls would go out shopping, eating, and watch movies at any nearby theater they would come across.
As Sonia gathers her backpack and other belongings, she looks around but no sign of Esperanza. She’s alone, inside the theater, where everything is dimmed except the stage; all the lights radiate to where Sonia is standing, as if gaining the entire spotlight for herself.
She gets off the stage and, while dialing Esperanza’s cell phone number, looks around for her friend—yet no signs of her. She looks at her wristwatch. 9:33 pm. On the other end of the line she could only hear the ringing sound and, finally, a voicemail appears. This is Esperanza speaking. Unfortunately I won’t be taking your call, but please leave your name and message, I’ll get right back to you.
Sonia heads toward the theater’s emergency door that has a big red sign reading “EXIT.” She pushes the handle and feel the cool breeze passing her and into the interior theater.
She redials the number four more times, but no response comes alive. On the walkway of lower Manhattan Sonia gives up redialing and opts to eat dinner alone. It’s already past ten and the 17-year-old actor, sitting at a table in a corner closer to the window of the Italian restaurant, sips her root beer through a straw while playing the extras of her spaghetti and meatballs with a fork. She thought about what she’d said earlier—everything. She loves Esperanza ever so dearly, like she’s her own sister—she’s the only daughter.
Sonia could not fathom why the dispute came to existence between the them—worst yet, everything she’d said about Esperanza came out easily, as if her own will was just someone else’s tool to play with. She wishes she could give Esperanza the lead role as the daughter of the monarch, but of course, she always end up taking the lead role because of her versatility in acting—she never though she would compete against her best friend for a role, as the two have always agreed on the other person’s choosing for three years.
It’s 10:18 pm, and Sonia starts walking home, which is only 20 minutes of walk from the restaurant. The young teenager finally comes into a halt, standing before the entrance of Carnegie Hospital Center, where her aunt, Mary Vinys, is being hospitalized after finally being awake from a three-months coma following a car accident. Although her condition was later concluded as “stable,” her vocal chord got slightly damaged, therefore making it difficult for her to speak articulately, so she’s advised to whisper at least most of the time.
After succumbing to a coma Sonia though she couldn’t live without aunt Mary. She’s always been nice to her, supportive, and more parental than her own biological parents. Sonia’s parents are never at home due to busy schedules—she would be at home during which time her parents are already at work, and heads to the theater when her parents are at home.
The young actor advances her steps and heads home. After a quick shower she lies in bed, in her bathrobe, holding the script close to her. She goes over the script—it contains 15 parts—and memorizes only to part 8. Sonia becomes uncomfortable when she realizes that part 6 involves a violent confrontation between the monarch’s daughter and her servant, where she would need to push Esperanza to the ground as part of the play. Sonia thinks hard about it, but knows that even though acting isn’t realistic, it is up to the actor to make it appear more realistic and genuine as possible.
The young actor begins to feel fatigue overwhelming her consciousness, so she places the script on the bedside table, switches off the light, and readily drifts to sleep.
The next day, Friday, Sonia heads back to the theater, only to find Esperanza—in a servant-like costume with a large, red apron on top—standing on the stage as she looks through the script. Both have their eyes meet, though momentarily is it short-lived when Esperanza looks away. Sonia heads to backstage where she’d put on a costume.
Few moments later, Sonia, in a medieval-like attire of a mistress, joins Esperanza on-stage. Sean, in his usual outfit, pays close attention as the girls start part one of the play. The interaction between Sonia and Esperanza goes smoothly, but only becomes limited to time when they are near part 6.
Once in part 6, Sonia suddenly becomes furious and more authoritative-like, as is necessary for her role, as she’s about to push her best friend to the ground. Without simulating the magnitude of her force, Sonia pushes Esperanza not too aggressively, causing her to stumble few steps back and finally on the floor. Silence comes about, and Sonia, pausing for a moment, as she ought to say a line according to the script, looks at Esperanza. Her heartbeat races ever so violently. She suddenly notices rage by the look on Esperanza’s face. Esperanza quickly rises to her feet, sprints toward Sonia, and tackles her best friend. Both on the floor, Esperanza stays atop Sonia, and abruptly flings a jab at her. Two more, but before another one Sonia grabs and pulls her loose hair aside, giving her leverage over Esperanza. It’s too painful that Esperanza feels her scalp is being peeled off. Sonia screams at her best friend, “You bitch!”
The fight doesn’t last long when the instructor gets a hold of Sonia, while another assistant grapples Esperanza on the floor who’s about to strike back. Sonia feels tears covering her field of vision, but she still does see her best friend already crying, who momentarily asks to be let go and disappears into another room.
Sonia feels heartbroken—even more worse is receiving a week of suspension. “What a bummer,” the actor utters as she exits the building. On the early day of sunny Friday, Sonia couldn’t help but constantly wiping the drowning tears with her palm while walking on the street, minding not passersby. One stranger eventually asks her if she’s okay, but the actor ignores him and heads home.
On Saturday Sonia gets into a conversation with her parents, but ignoring them is an easy task, since it’s the first time she’s having a “child-parent” counsel. Though her parents stress her into apologizing to her best friend.
On Monday morning, Sonia calls Esperanza’s cell phone, but no response. She continues to do so throughout her free time, staying at home, bored. The more she redials the number the clearer it becomes for her to feel guilty and the need to fix her relationship with Esperanza.
The next day becomes the same. Esperanza chooses not to respond her best friend. Sonia has a tough time finding a way to apologize, to hug her again for a long time. On Thursday morning, Sonia’s parents urge her to visit aunt Mary. At one o’clock in the afternoon she goes to Carnegie Hospital Center. After a long wait in the waiting room, a nurse ushers Sonia to a room in which Mary is.
Mary does not feel Sonia’s presence for a moment until the nurse replaces her empty IV fluid with a new one. Sonia sits on a stool closer to her feeble aunt. Mary notices something different about her nephew judging by the look on Sonia’s face.
“A-are…you alright?” Mary whispers. Sonia nods. “You don’t have to lie.”
Sonia sighs. “I had a fight with Esperanza, my best friend.” Mary says nothing. “What can I do to rekindle what’s important to us?” Silence fills the atmosphere, though only for a moment.
“There’s…no need to,” Mary says. Sonia is perplexed for a while.
“Why?” she asks.
“Because…” Mary pauses, and then continues, “A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.” With that Sonia hugs her aunt, says that she’ll never stop praying for her wellness, and leaves the hospital with a decision in mind: to go meet Esperanza.
Sonia takes a cab to her best friend’s place. It’s 2:25pm when she’s already standing before the door of the apartment. Sonia gives three hard knocks, but no answer. Hands on the handle, she turns it and realizes the door’s unlocked. She enters the apartment, immediately smelling the aroma of strawberry—Esperanza’s favorite scent. She’s here, Sonia thinks.
Once in the living room, Sonia finds Esperanza dancing, in a white robe, with an outdated Walkman in hand. Esperanza looks in surprise, though a smile appears, as if relieved to see her best friend. She removes the earphones and asks how she got in.
“It’s unlocked,” Sonia says. But before Esperanza could say a word Sonia hurried toward her and pressed her lips against Esperanza’s, though she avoids her tongue from getting too caressing. Esperanza gently pushes Sonia away.
“What was that?” she asks.
“At the time of the Middle Ages, women kiss one another as an appreciation and a wish for eternal bliss.” Esperanza says nothing, knowing such act is seen as appropriate. “I love you, Esperanza, and I’m sorry for what happened between us.”
“Whoa, Sonia, I’m not a lesbian.”
“No you’re not, you silly girl,” Sonia laughs. “I mean I love our friendship; it means everything to me.” Esperanza smiles.
“I’m sorry too,” she says. The two hug each other for a long time. While hugging, Esperanza speaks. “Shall we role-playing our roles before we get back to work?”
“Here? Right now?” Sonia says.
“Uh-huh!” And so the two young actors begin.