The Show Must Go On

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


A story my I made for school, the assignment was to write a story about someone who is the opposite of yourself.

Submitted: September 02, 2018

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Submitted: September 02, 2018

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Bleep, bleep bleep, I quickly slap my alarm into silence. Sunlight is filtering into my room through the small pinpricks in my curtains. I quickly roll out of bed, 5:00, Friday, today is the big day. I smile to myself. After doing stretches and a quick meditation, I get dressed. Before I turn out the door, I check my reflection in my mirror. Flaxen hair flawlessly pulled back into a high ponytail, check. I check my face for any disgusting blemishes, there are none. 
As I walk into the living room, my mother just walks into the house. My day was starting, and hers was ending. I smile, “Hi mom! Are you coming to the play today?” I ask even though I know the answer. Mom looks at me, her eyes had deep lines over them, her greying hair was in a frizzy uneven bun.
Mom merely replied, “Probably not, I’m tired, and work was hard today,” and walks off to her bedroom. I sigh, it's the same answer every time. I force myself to smile again, maybe this time it’ll be different. A small nagging voice in my brain shouts, don’t get your hopes up!
I open the fridge the last of my tiredness is washed away by the cold air that washes over my face. I force myself to eat a whole orange, each slice felt like playdough down my esophagus. I feel too excited to eat. 
 
As I wait outside for my bus my breath fogs in front of me like a cloud. Through the mist shrouding the street, I see an ugly middle school girl speed walk to her bus stop. I huff, I used to be like her ugly, fat, unpopular, and a nobody.
But now I was somebody. I’m popular, everybody adores me, and now I’m more beautiful than the girls in middle school who said those things. That satisfaction grew like a warm bubble in my chest, a bulwark against the cold and damp air. A few minutes later my bus lurched to a stop in front of me followed by the WHOOSH of hydraulics pushing the door open. I step in the cold air instantly being replaced with hot and damp air carrying the scent of caffeine, sweat, and a faint trace of weed. 
I walk down the aisle being greeted by several of my fellow students, “Hey Stephanie,” “Good luck today Stephanie!”, And “Morning, Stephanie!”. I smile at them as they say my name before settling down in the seat everybody knew was mine. I sling my bulging backpack onto the seat next to me, none of those hand-me-down textbooks will matter after tonight.
With almost reverent respect I pull out a stick stack of paper, stapled together the corners worn and soft from handling it so much. This is my future, not the stuff they teach us at class. I look proudly at my play, my play I wrote it. It’s not Shakespeare, old boring, and overused, and it’s mine. It’s better than Shakespeare or any of the greats. I’m directing and acting in it, and tonight important people are coming, not just people from the school board, people who can get me out of this town and into the spotlight I deserve! Nobody tries to talk to me while I read my parts in the script all the way to school. During all my classes I read the script under the table or hiding it in my book. After my first bell, I pulled one of my numerous aside friends.
“Hey, can I use your notes?” 
She nodded, “Of course, and good luck tonight.:”
I roll my eyes, “I don’t need luck, and saying that’s bad luck, idiot.” 
She pursed her lips in the sort of way that indicates thinking, but she didn’t do much of that, “Whoopsie. Um, break a leg.” 
I moved onto my next class seamlessly flowing into the flow of traffic in the halls. The rest of my classes, even physics, flew by. But at 3:20 when my last class was over the teacher pulled me aside to lecture about something like grades and work ethic, I wasn't listening. Besides my grades won't matter after tonight. What star has ever needed to know chemistry? 
 
  As soon as the teacher was done I rushed to the theater in my school, a measly building half the size of the gym. The stage barely elevated, it didn’t even come with its own chairs! The outrage was insufferable that the gymnasium where meat-heads ran about compared muscles and sweated. The theater was where real art, real talent was shown. Art and theater are where humanity has expressed the deepest depths of their soul, explored what it is to be human, where stories of hundreds of cultures have been immortalized.  It is where people could step into a living dream. And acting is the conduit for all of it. Tonight my talent will be, and I can finally get the limelight I deserve. 
I walked in, I was the only one there, of course, I was. The stage wasn’t going to be prepared for another hour. I huffed, “Of course leave all the work to me.” For the next hour I worked on making sure everything was where it should be, some people liked to hide back here during lunch to smoke. 
Slowly my stagehands trickled in to begin their prep, one whose name was Addison looked surprised to see me here, “Stephanie why are you here?”
Annoyance picked at me, “Why wouldn’t I be? You need me if anything goes wrong! And I want to be involved in everything. No matter how dull it is."
Addison arched an eyebrow and grit his teeth he looked like he was about to argue, but he just huffed, “Yeah sure.” 
As he walked away I rolled my eyes; he should be grateful most directors don’t give stagehands like him the time of day. Things went smoothly, well about as smooth as they could in a theater. With every minor hiccup, a misplaced wig, a missing scrip, or a blown out lightbulb added a water drop of stress to the dam in my mind that was already brimming. But no matter what I maintained an unflappable image of confidence and grace. 
When one of the new stagehands, who was also one of the most incompetent came up to me with a rat-chewed extension cord, I just forced a grin and said, "Get a new one, the show must go on." 
Into the second hour of preparation, I rounded up the other actors in the play to recite our lines. 
“But, why? What right do they have to-!” 
“No, no, no, NO!” I yelled abruptly cutting off the speaker. She was doing it all wrong! Did that idiot even pay attention to the dress rehearsal yesterday?! The girl looked thoroughly abashed and her face flushed. I sigh, “You do remember what I said to you, right?” 
The girl grimaced at the bite in my tone, “Yes.”
I folded my arms, “The act like it!”  In the corner of my eye, I saw the back door open, and Kaleb walk in. His inky black hair was briefly illuminated by the red light from the glowing exit sign above the door. I put my script down, “Someone read for me.” 
I walked over to him, careful not to trip over a wire. “Oh my, gosh I am SO stressed out!”
I say as I put my arms around his neck. Kaleb hugged me putting his arms low on my waist.
“I know, you’re working hard.” 
I rested my head on his chest, “I’m so glad you came, I swear I’m starting to get grey hairs! This is the single most stressful night of my whole damn life.” 
Kaleb replied, “Why wouldn’t I? This is important to you; I’m not like your stupid mom.” He grinned, “I brought you something to help with the stress.” He released his grip and ran a hand through my hair. With his other arm around my shoulder, we went to the farthest left part of the stage behind the backdrops. Out of his over-sized jacket he pulled out a long glass bottle. 
“One of the world’s finest stress relievers” He twisted the cork out. The sharp scent of alcohol filled our corner of the stage. I glance around to make sure no one could see us, I knew the smell wouldn’t carry far enough for people to get curious. I looked at the bottle hesitantly, it’s not like I haven’t had alcohol before, but nothing that smelled nearly as strong as whatever was in the bottle. 
Kaleb held the bottle closer to me, “C’mon Steph,’ you need to chill before the biggest night of your life.” I reached my hand out to take it, then retracted it. Kaleb rolled his eyes, “Steph’ it’s just a drink, not poison, don’t be lame.” 
I stared at the bottle. I'm more stressed than I ever have been, it felt like the stress was seeping into the cracks in my bones and prodding for weakness, one flubbed line, one forgotten acting queue and it felt like I would shatter along with my hopes and dreams of escaping the prison of a town I'm stuck in. 
I take the bottle, the drink slides like fire down my throat searing and burning, I don’t flinch because I’m not weak. Kaleb and I stay there we drink and talk. I talk about every empty seat with a paper taped to it labeled "For Parents" and how my father would push me into everything sports, ballet, and clubs. How he would actually come, but that there was always an empty seat next to him. Now, dad's never going to come ever again. I talk about how many all-nighters I pulled perfecting my play and then working until the bus came to finish my school work.
By the time I'm done rambling it's time for the first act. Kaleb kisses me for good luck then leaves. I stumble out of our hiding spot everything seems to have a fuzz to it. No big deal, the show must go on. 
My assistant director runs out, her frizzy hair seems extra curly, “Thank goodness Stephanie I was wondering where you went!” She started to ramble off on what I missed; I just nod and focus on standing straight. My actors and I gathered behind the red curtain that blocked us from the audience. The curtain seemed to wobble and sway. Everyone was going over their scrips in desperate last-second cramming, I look at mine, the words march like ants. 
People were giving me concerned looks, “I’m fine just stage fright, it gets everrryyyybody. As they saaaayyyyy," I pause to remember what the saying was, "the show must go on."
The curtain folds away, a red wave revealing my hard work. I’m greeted by a cacophony of clapping and cheering. Camera flashes blind me, they’re like a million starts blinking in the distance. I step forward it feels like the stage is trying to drag me down and coil me with the wires underneath. There’s a sudden hush the only noise being the thrumming in my skull, it’s like there’s a mad goose in there. The spotlights focus on me, I’m like a candle in the dark of the night, it’s my chance to shine. I’ve been working all year for this. I open my mouth to speak, the words get clogged in my throat all at the same time it feels like my brain floats out of my skull and my knee joints melt. There’s a shout I see the lights blur by. I'm a star indeed, but a falling star.
I crumple to the dirty stage floor, I can’t hear what people said, but I’m pretty sure they gasped or screamed. I try to stand, but my leg points didn't listen to my brain. One thought was screaming through my disoriented mind, the show must go on! 


© Copyright 2018 Lillian Ink. All rights reserved.

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