Excerpt from CANDY APPLE #18: LIFE,
As soon as the final bell rang, I hurried down to the basement level
to find Ms. Hedley and ask her about joining the school musical. Room
S12 was empty, but I could hear muffled voices coming from behind a set
of big wooden doors. I pushed my way through and found myself in the
auditorium. It was totally dark, except for a single wide spotlight that
shined on a group of kids sitting in a circle onstage.
Even though I wanted to run, I forced myself to walk
up slowly to the circle of kids. I loved the way the
wooden slats felt beneath my feet, and the way the
chairs in the auditorium disappeared in the spotlight’s
shadow. I could imagine an audience out there, watching
my every move.
Now that I’m back where I belong, everything’s
going to be fine, I told myself.
“You!” someone said angrily. It was chocolate
milk girl. Uh-oh.
“Look, I’m sorry,” I said quickly. “You
were gone before I explain that it wasn’t –“
“This is a private rehearsal, cast members only,” she
snapped. “Just in case you’ve suffered
some kind of mental meltdown, here’s a reminder:
The cast does not include you.”
I’d spent all day keeping my mouth shut, and
I was tired of it. The theater was my turf,
and I wasn’t afraid of looking dumb anymore.
“Maybe it didn’t include me,” I
retorted. “But lucky for you, it does now.”
The girl stood up. “I’m president of the
drama club, which means I’m in charge here, and
I say you have to go. Now.”
A middle-aged woman with long, flowing blond hair
and a loose purple shirtdress stood up and patted the
girl’s shoulder. “Actually, Maureen dear, I’m in
charge here. Although of course, when we speak of the
theater –“ She said it in a weird accent,
drawing the word out into three long syllables, like
thee-ate-or. “- only our feelings are
in charge. Isn’t that right, everyone?”
The other kids mumbled and nodded. I could tell they
were thinking exactly what I was: This woman was a
Still, she was a total flake who sounded like she
might be on my side.
The woman – I figured it was Ms. Hedley – turned
toward me. “Now, what is it I can do for you,
“Day,” I said. “Ruby Day. And you
want me in your cast.”
“Well, Ruby Day, I’m afraid you missed
the auditions –“
“I’m new,” I said confidently. Once
she heard me sing, she wouldn’t care whether
I’d missed the auditions or not. “I’ve
been on tour with international company of Bye Bye
I know it sounds like I was bragging, but up onstage,
it’s not called bragging – it’s called
getting the part.
Judging from the expressions on the other kids’ faces,
they didn’t quite see the difference.
The teacher’s hands fluttered to her heart. “Oh
my, a thespian!” She turned to the group of kids
and clapped loudly. “Cast members, a true thespian
walks among us!”
Whatever she was waiting for, it didn’t happen.
The kids just stared. Someone snickered.
“Tell me, Ruby Day, what kind of experience
do you have with our fair muse – by which I mean,” she
added in a stage whisper, “the theater.”
Lucky for me, I had a copy of my resume and headshot
right in my bag. Well, it wasn’t exactly luck – I
carry them with me everywhere. I handed them over to
Ms. Hedley, so she could see exactly why she needed
me in her show.
“Ms. Hedley, we already cast all the parts,” the
girl named Maureen complained. “There’s
no room left.”
“There’s always room for a true thespian,” Ms.
Hedley told her.
“But that’s not fair –“
“Maureen!” Ms. Hedley said it sweetly
and softly, but she got her point across. Maureen shut
her mouth. “Maureen’s right,” Ms.
Hedley continued. “We have cast all the parts
in Monster Mash: The Musical…”
A hollow spot opened up in my throat. I swallowed
“But given all your professional experience,
I’m sure we can make room for you.”
Something huge and heavy lifted off my shoulders.
I was going to be a star again, even if it meant performing
in this tiny auditorium, in this lame town, in this
amateur show. Even if it meant sharing the stage with
this girl Maureen. For the first time, I began to think
things would be okay.
Until Ms. Hedley said those four terrifying little
“Welcome to the chorus.”
From Juicy Gossip.Copyright © 2009 by Robin Wasserman. All