I hated dance.
I was soooo terrible at it!
And we had our recital right around the corner.
Everything was about it hit: dance recital, talent show, play. My parents were coming out to see everything too while they visited my grandpa. And then in a few days it’d be time to go home. NOOOOO!
“Okay, from the top!” Mr. Irvin said, walking toward the piano. One thing I did like about dance was the music. Not some canned stuff from an album, he’d choose just the right melody for whatever we were working on.
But everything went so fast, I could hardly keep up.
It seemed I was always a beat behind.
How did everyone remember all those hard steps?
There was no way I’d be ready by the time my parents came.
“Faster, people,” Mr. Irvin shouted. “Point those toes!”
Finally, the torture was over. I really definitely was never going to be a dancer. Singing, acting, and playing the piano were the only things I felt comfortable with. At least I found that out now. UGH!
When class was over, I was about to ask Kristie if she wanted to sit by me at lunch but then I spotted stupid Hunter waiting for her outside the door.
Geeze. It was like they were married or something. I vowed NEVER to let a boyfriend come between me and my bff. EVER!
She ran over to him like a trained dog. I barfed in my mouth a little.
Okay fine. I was a bit jealous. Could anyone blame me?
Before I could throw myself a righteous pity party (because, hello?, I deserved one), Jake asked, “You want to eat with us?”
“I heard they were catering pizza today! Yay!” Phoebe added.
I looked over at Jake and lifted the side of my mouth. I couldn’t be rude and would never tell him this but he wasn’t my bff. It was weird. We’d eat and talk about stuff we liked but I really didn’t know him at all. Every time I’d ask him about his life at home, he’d change the subject.
But what choice did I have but to hang out with them? Kristie didn’t remember I even existed. “Yeah, it’s supposed to be a ton of different kinds of pizza, but you know which one I like the best? Hawaiian!”
“Ewww…do NOT tell me you eat pineapple on marinara sauce. That’s just gross!” Phoebe scrunched her nose.
How did I know Phoebe would say that?
“I agree with you, Red,” Jake said. “Ham and pineapple tastes amazing.”
Was Jake trying to piss me off by kissing up?
After lunch, Phoebe had to meet up with her mom so Jake asked me if I wanted to play video games during our break. I shrugged not having anything better to do so we went up to his room.
Kristie and her dweebie boyfriend got there first.
So we hightailed it to my room. Fast.
Dang. Jake was so good at Blasting Cities IX.
“WTF, Jake. Let up on me, please!” I howled, hitting the bomb button a thousand times. But it wasn’t working.
“It’s doomsday, sweetheart. Read it and weep.”
While I was getting annihilated, I asked, “Are your parents coming out for the play, Jake?”
He shook his head. “Nope. Haven’t talked to my dad since I was a little kid and my mom hates this kind of stuff.”
Wow. That was like a hit from a torpedo on the game. I felt like an ass for even asking him. “Oh,” was all I could say.
“I mean, it’s not that bad,” he said, shrugging. “That’s just the way things are in my life.”
I stopped playing. I was losing anyway. “But if your mom hates the arts then how did you get the money to come here in the first place?”
“Oooh, heh heh…” he laughed then didn’t say anything for a while.
Finally, he added, “Um…I won it in a singing contest. Like Sims Idol only for kids. And local. You totally wouldn’t have heard about it.”
Before I could say anything back to him, I heard someone yelling in the hall. Jake and I looked at each other then sneaked out to peek.
“Uh oh,” I whispered.
“Yeah,” Jake agreed.
“Your acting today was the worst. How are you going to make your dream a reality when you won’t even try? And to think you can’t even make the wicked step sister seem evil. It’s just awful. You’d make a wonderful Truliet but you couldn’t even earn the part and now…oh my god, you’re just pathetic!” Phoebe’s mother was laying into her. I couldn’t believe it!
“We should probably get out of here, Red,” Jake whispered to me.
“Yeah, let’s go,” I said.
Phoebe’s mother was wrong. SHE was pathetic.
I felt sooooo badly for Phoebe, I thought about it all day. I mean, I didn’t really want to be Truliet. My heart of hearts loved playing evil characters. Since I totally wasn’t like that, it was fun. That’s what acting is all about. Right?
So the next night, I decided I’d give Mr. Graf reasons to recast. Phoebe would make a better Truliet. She was meant for the part. And I would totally rock the wicked step sister part. Phoebe’s mother was right. It was obvious her heart wasn’t into it.
Why these adults didn’t cast it that way was totally beyond me. It would just take a little convincing.
“Why…if it isn’t my Truliet! What makes you grace my evening, my dear?” Mr. Graf said in his dramatic way.
I swallowed. I had my plan all laid out in my head but nothing came out.
“You’re doing a swell job, my dear. If you’re worried about tomorrow’s dress rehearsal, there’s no need.”
“Look…no…that’s not it. I…uh…think Phoebe should do the part. She’s waaaaay prettier, and better at acting, and totally would kick ass…I mean butt doing it. So, please oh please oh please, Mr. Graf, can she do the part and I’ll be the wicked step sister?”
A slow smile spread on Mr. Graf’s face. Was he convinced?
Getting up from his chair, he came over and patted my shoulder. “There, there, my dear, it’s just a little stage fright. You’ll get over it. Once you get the dress rehearsal over with you’ll find the real thing isn’t much different.
“And you’re a born actress! Don’t ever let anyone make you think otherwise.” He flung his arms up. “When those stage lights go up. you won’t even see the audience and you’ll BECOME Truliet!”
Before I knew what was happening, I found myself ushered out of Mr. Graf’s office and back to the way things were. I was going to play Truliet, Phoebe would do a horrible Grizella, and her mom was going to be cruel to her afterwards.
I wished I knew how to fix it.