"Dare," I said, and the next thing I knew it was opening night.
As I sat backstage waiting for my cue, I was suddenly bombarded by the smell of green-apple. It smells like rancid cider. Off to my right, a girl was feverishly gnawing on one of those caramel apple suckers. With her naturally frizzy moss brown hair teased into a rat's nest and her bizzare stage makeup, she strongly resembled a rabid dog. It was truely fascinating to watch - like, catching abit of the nature channel.
Notice the average nervous thespian in its natural habitat I think, my subconcious giving me its best announcer voice. I chuckle to myself and the girl seems to suddenly notice my existence. She gives me a toothy grin - highlighting the bits of caramel wedged between her front teeth.
"Want one?" She asks. I shake my head and smile polietly. She pulls another sucker out of her bra and thrusts it towards me. I fight a grimace. "They help with the nerves."
I glance down at her leg, bouncing up and down a million miles an hour. It makes an annoying taptaptap as if she's impersonating a woodpecker. I can't tell if it's from the sugar, the nerves, or some highly unstable combination of the two. Somehow, I didn't see how the sucker 'helped with her nerves', but, being the unfortunately polite kid I am, I take the offered sucker. Her hands are sticky and clammy. Oh, joy.
"Thanks," I say, doing my best to keep the disgust out of my voice as I pocket the unnervingly warm candy.
"No problem," She says.
She reaches back into the chasm of her cleavage to pull out another sucker. I look away. I'm half expecting her to inform me of the candy shop she's shoved down her shirt.
Before I could be forced to into awkward conversation, this guy blows past us like he was the Flash, or something. I glance over at the green-apple girl. She's begun her rampage on her next sucker victim. I give her some lame excuse that didn't even sound partially believable to my own ears and leave her to her sugar induced hyperactivity.
I follow the soundd of heavy breathing to a backroom with loads of cords snaking across the ground. Pacing a rift in the concrete was a guy muttering to himself, looking startlingly like a schizophrenic. I fight the urge to slowly back out of the room.
"Are you...okay?" I ask, albeit awkwardly.
He looks up at me in surprise and promptly falls over one of the viney electrical cords. He must have been too engrossed in his mumblings to realize that I followed him. He's blushing like mad as he pulls himself up. I see that his hands are quivering; trembling like a scared Chihuahua. Now that I think about it, he looks like one too. Especially his ears. Sticking out of his head in a way that's impossible to ignore, his ears are so massive that they'd make Dumbo proud.
"I'm..." He trails off.
"Nervous?" I prompt.
He nods. I feel kind of bad for the guy, who doesn't even have a weird stick way of coping with the nerves like green-apple girl. Speaking of... I pull the sucker out of my pocket and twirl the stick between my fingers. It's still a bit sticky and uncomfortably warm, but I make my way over to Chihuahua boy and offer it to him. He had dropped his head in his hands. He's clearly trying, and failing, to control his nerves. I end up prodding his coffee colored curls with the moist sucker until he looks up.
"Here," I said, giving him the sucker from green-apple girl's boob-trench. "It helps with the nerves."
I watch him unwrap it and allow myself to back out of the room as green-apple begins to, once again, burn the inside of my nostrils.
"Yeah," I said.
I left him to his mutterings.
I'm walking back to the wings when I collide with another guy. He's taller than Chihuahua boy, and less...trembly, I suppose. He's dressed in all grey and smells heavily of chalk and sharpies. Must be from his costume. He'd been standing so still, I actually think I mistook him as a statue.
He turns around from where he was peeking through the curtains and faces me, looking utterly gobsmacked. After a pause, I realize that it's not an ugly shade of that makeup stuff that's giving his face that greyish pallor. The moment I realize this is also the moment he feints.
It's not like it is in the movies. It's not graceful. Not by a long shot, and it looks like it hurts like hell. His eyes, a decent colour somewhere between green and blue, roll back in his head. His eyelashes flutter, his breath catches in his throat, and suddenly he's falling - stiff as a board; like a domino, not a snowflake. He tumbles through the red velvet curtains, hitting the wooden stage with an ear splitting crack. Behind the curtain, the audience falls to a near deafening silence, then a wave of hushed wispers. On stage, the living statue groans.
Quickly, I take hold of the unconcious guy's ankle and drag him off stage. Instantly he's swarmed by cast and crew. He's the one camper who forgot their insect repellent and everyone else is a blood-thirsty Minnesotan mosquito. Someone off to my right grumbles, "Not another one," under their breath.
"Ohmygod," Some girl's voice makes me want to clap my hands over my ears. Or her mouth... "Is he alright? His he okay? Ohmygod. Ohmygod!"
"Cissy, he's fine," Some guy shout at her. "Honestly, do something helpful and stay out of the way."
I quirk a smile at that.
The crowd begins to diminish, and I announce that I'm getting the living statue some water. Nobody seems to care, and I'm fine with that. This theater stuff never was my forte.
There's a flock of girls huddled out by the restrooms, and I cast them a curious eye. There's a haze of hairspray and nailpolish remover stench hanging over the croup coupled by some new perfume that had been trending. I think I have Bieber to thank for that perfume. I'd rather smell like vinegar, to tell you the truth. I backpedal, and I'm about to escape unnoticed by the flock when I hear a noise that makes me visibly cringe.
"It's Ryssa," A slope-nosed freckle-faced redhead replies to my unasked question. She looks nice enough, but the way her friends are giving me an x-ray scan with their eyes is making me uncomfortable. "Marissa Stanton."
I blink. "You know her?"
"Why don't you help her?"
"She's throwing up."
Apparently that was explanation enough for the flock. They bobbleheaded simultaneously behind her. I sighed. This was, once again, one of those times where I was too polite for my own good. Seriously. If I had just went on with my business, I'd be safe from all the potentially mentally scarring events that take place in the next few minutes.
Alas, I'm a good kid at heart, so I say, "Do you want me to talk to her?"
I received another chorused bobblehead answer. Great.
I barely crack the door open before I'm hit with the smell. Imagine rotting food and acid. I immediately double over, slap a hand over my mouth, and retch. I've always had a rather strong sense of smell, and it's been something I've been greatful for. That is, up until I enter the ladies room.
The smell of vomit hangs in the air much like the velvet curtain the living statue fell through. I push myself through it. I feel as if I'm wading through a swamp. My stomach's still trying to empty itself. It's gotten to the point that a dull ache had begun just above my belly button. The back of my throat burns as if someone thoroghly rubbed it down with sandpaper.
"Hello?" I say. Breathe in through your mouth, out through your nose, I chant to myself. "Marissa? Ryssa?"
At first I think she's long gone. Then, a move ment catches my eye. A ruby red slipper is sticking out of the third stall. I resist the urge to hum, "ding dong the witch is dead". I move to stand at her stall.
"Are you..." I trail off.
It's pretty evident that Marissa Stanton is not alright. Her face is gaunt, with dried tear tracks down her cheeks and racoon mascara. In one hand she's holding back her stringy blonde hair. The other is wrapped around the nozzle of an empty bottle. It's not one of those cool coke bottles, and I'm pretty sure the main ingredient is much more illegal than caffine. Concidering the fact it's being consumed by a highschool student. Add to the mix an open bottle of anti-depressants that have been kicked aside by her sparkily red shoes, and it's evident that she's undeniably, irrefutable beyond not alright.
She tips her head back and brings the bottle to her lips, smiling maniaclly when there's not a drop left to drink.
"Theater," She says, her voice a whisper and a whine. "Make me very nervous."
She's down for the count after that statement.
Now, I'm like green-apple girl, gnawing on my lower lip as I wait for her chest to rise and fall. I'm Chihuahua boy; trembling, shaking, quivering, when it doesn't. I'm the living statue; frozen on the spot, unable to move.
I am Marissa Stanton and theater makes me very nervous.