“Dad, let me come today.”
“No,” he said, sharply. “You missed yesterday, and that was enough. You should stay home, Amy and…”
“Work with an abacus and a pencil and paper?” I asked, unimpressed. “My computer won’t turn on, there’s no heat in the house, it’s Tuesday, so the library is closed, and I can’t even use my cell phone.” I knew I had a point, so I continued to talk. “So unless I can call into an online school and get all the information faxed over…without a fax machine…its better that I come with you. I can do homework on the school’s wireless, and work for half a day, make up the missing wages faster.”
“How are you feeling?” He gave me a long hard look, and I did my best to match it. I felt a bit tired from yesterday, but that was normal.
“Fine,” I replied. “It’ll only be for half a day. Adam said that I could have a few shifts a week any time. Anything is better than staying here, and the faster we get everything turned back on, the faster I can stay home and rest.”
Dad sighed, relenting. “Fine. But if you start to feel overtired at all, you’ll come back home right away, agreed?”
“Yep,” I shot upstairs, to grab my cell phone, charger and laptop, packing a bag with everything I thought I would need. Of course, I had no intention of doing homework, but I had to create the illusion of doing so. The senior theater class had rehearsal today, and I wanted to catch that. I could charge my phone at the school, keeping Sarah in the loop.
“Yes,” Dad was increasingly impatient and I knew that he wasn’t happy about the idea of me going to work with him. However, he couldn’t argue with my logic, and so off we went, arriving at the school only a few minutes before his shift was due to start.
“Back again?” Adam said, teasing as he saw me. I nodded, but Dad wasn’t in the mood for jokes.
“Clock her in for half a day please, Adam, nothing more.”
“Aye aye, Captain,” he said, making a face at me behind his back. I giggled, as I headed towards the changing room. “We’ve got more props to cook, Amy, come on over here.”
“Yep.” If there was one thing I was happy to do without protest, it was that. Adam led me to a corner, where there was a list of food props that the various shows needed. Everything from fake blood to turnip cake. As I was making them, I spent my time wondering what they were for, imagining the scenes and characters they could be useful to. The turnip cake, I imagined, was for a young girl, falling in love, and wanting to bake for her boyfriend. However, she didn’t have very much money, and so all she could make him was a turnip cake. The fake blood was for the knife slipping and cutting her hand off on stage, leading her to die a dramatic death, all for love.
I almost cut my own fingers off, imagining this scene, and it made me realize I wasn’t paying attention to my work at all.
“A permanent cake?” I looked at the next item on the list. “What’s that?”
“That’s a prop that is real, but has to last. Maybe a sugar glaze or something,” Dad said, looking over my shoulder from where he was preparing lunch for the students. “Those are for Beauty and the Beast next term, it’s a feast scene, so we have to get started now in order to have it ready in time.”
“Beauty and the Beast?” I asked. The audition suddenly came rushing back to my mind. “Is that what they are doing?”
“It’s a media stunt. Liam will play the lead, opposite a senior girl. Looks like he’s dying to get back into acting,” Dad rolled his eyes.
“Right,” I replied, looking at the list. There were several pages of what I thought were instructions, but were actually a list of props. “Wow, there’s a lot of food to cook. This will take me until next term for sure.”
“No, it will take us until next term,” he said. “You’ll be doing homework and preparing for college.”
“Right,” I mumbled, heading for the ingredients cupboard. Liam was playing Beast? That’d be interesting indeed. Especially the scene where the Beast becomes a prince. Despite his attitude, I couldn’t deny Liam was handsome, nor could I deny his talent. There was so much to learn from him, so much talent in just his little finger. Whoever got to play his Beauty would be a lucky girl indeed.
My luck, as small as it was, held out, when, the next day, Dad allowed me to go to work with him again, and again the day after. I was showing him I could do my school work, work, and even sneak off to a theater class or two, without issue. Every day, I checked my email, but found no audition results notice, so slowly, hope shrunk from my thoughts. I assumed if they couldn’t reach me through my cell phone, which had been suspended by the phone company, they would email, but there was nothing. And I knew that the first rule of acting was never to seem too eager, so I didn’t inquire. It was probably safe to assume that I wasn’t getting the part. I was, somehow, alright with this conclusion. The experience that I had gotten, the warm feeling of fulfillment when I stood in front of all those people, was enough to keep me afloat for years to come. It was a dream come true, to read those lines in front of a live audience—and with Liam, even though I didn’t admit it to anyone but myself.
I almost growled at the secretary as I came out to check on the status of our scholarship recipient. It was Friday, and we still hadn’t gotten in contact with her. Typical Porsche had left me unable to read her handwriting, and so Amy’s email address was illegible. The phone number was all we had, and it rang constantly, without a voicemail.
“I’m going to go down to the kitchens and get something to eat.” I said, as calmly as I could manage. “And then when I come back, we’ll contact the runner up.”
The secretary nodded, and I stalked off, pulling out my cell phone as I walked.
Any Idea who I should pick as a second choice? I texted Porsche, checking my watch. She had flown back to Russia for a charity ball. The ballet was supposed to be on break now, but occasionally, there was a gig or two she had to attend. The time difference said it was early evening, so she should be able to answer me.
Why??? She texted back, instantly. I thanked my stars that she was often glued to her phone. Looking down as I typed, I pushed open the doors to the kitchen. This was a modern mishap, something I guess I had to learn to deal with if I was going to live forever. I collided head on with somebody, who let out a startled yelp that was followed by a clatter of kitchenware.
“Sorry.” I said, barely looking up.
“No problem,” Amy replied, and I stood, shell-shocked, staring at her.
“Uh…huh.” Quickly, she glanced behind her, to her father, who was approaching.
“Headmaster. Is there something we can get you?”
“Yes!” I said, probably with a bit too much excitement. Both of them had mirror image expressions such that you could see the family resemblance. “Your daughter.”
“Amy tried out at our open auditions for the full scholarship. We selected her and have been trying to get in contact, but…”
Suddenly, without warning, the young girl pitched forward. My reflexes were faster than a human’s, and I spent many a night at parties catching those who couldn’t hold their liquor.
Deadweight was always heavier than it looked, and I decided that the easiest course of action was to ease onto the floor with her, her limp body already rejoining the world of the conscious.
There was commotion in the kitchen, as everyone rushed towards her, calling her name, trying to decide if they should call for an ambulance. Her father went tearing into the changing room, I assumed to find her bag of tricks. Even now, in my human form, I could tell this girl had something off about her.
Her eye lids fluttered and she came to staring straight up at me. She really was beautiful, when she wasn’t nervous, her face symmetrical and angular, her eyes piercing and huge, reminding me of a baby deer. Her lips were full and soft, and I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to kiss her.
“Are you alright?” I asked, softly, under the commotion, and she nodded, trying to make sense of her surroundings.
“Amy!” Her father came sliding back onto the scene, almost ripping her away from my arms. He shoved a white pill into her hand, and while she looked annoyed, she swallowed it, dry.
“Dad, I’m alright. I’m alright. I was just…surprised. Ladies used to swoon all the time in the middle ages,” she tried to smile, leaning half against her father and half against a table leg. “Am I really the one you chose?”
“What’s this about?” Her father demanded, looking at me as if I was the one who caused her to faint. Which, to be fair, I guess was true.
“Our open call for a full scholarship, room and board. Lots of girls tried out, but Amy was the one who showed the most promise.”
“Is this a joke?” His eyes narrowed. “Amy may be talented, but she has never had a formal education in theater.”
“All the more reason for her to go to a formal school for theater education,” I replied, raising an eyebrow. Behind me, a few of the chefs chuckled in spite of themselves. “All of her costs will be taken care of for the time she is educated with us. We’re prepared to start her as a junior if she goes back a grade or a senior if she wants to remain here just for the remainder of her education. You are homeschooled, Amy?”
“Yes,” she nodded, still in shock.
“Then we’ll have to give you a few tests to see where you are.”
“Amy is educated properly, I promise you,” her father said, and I shrugged.
“I didn’t say she wasn’t.” I began to realize how silly it was that we were having this entire conversation on the floor. Shifting slowly, I pushed myself up, reaching a hand to Amy, who took it. I pulled her up as well, while her father used the table for support. “Now, I came in here for some lunch.” I said, trying to brush off the dramatics of the situation. “And then, after that, if you wish, you two can meet me in my office and we can discuss the particulars, if you accept.”