By Novice © 2006
No one is in the halls. I can hear the secretary on the phone as I pass by the office. She's no one I know. The pictures of shows past line the walls. I follow the path towards the stage, push open the door. The stage is almost bare. There's just a couch, with some hideous print upholstery. I walk out, sit on it. I realize that it's the same couch that once had the moss green velveteen. It's the couch from "Blithe Spirit."
That was my last show. I run my hands along its frame. Jon and I snuck up into the prop loft two days after set strike with a bottle of wine. We sat on that green velveteen couch, drank, talked about all the shows we had done together, made out. We didn't have sex, and to this day, I wonder why not. It would have been a romantic story, an opportune time... but we drank the wine, kissed a lot, and then went back down.
I get up, move stage left. This is where my speech started in The Scottish Play. All the perfumes of India... I remember all of it. I had been a sophomore, and the Shakespearean roles usually only went to the Juniors and Seniors. Especially this one.
"One of Shakespeare's best parts for women," the director had said. She had been one of my dream roles, and I got her at nineteen. I got good reviews, too. The one from the "Boston Globe" is framed in my parent's guest room.
I move off the stage and into the makeup room. Flick on the lights. They've moved the photos around since I was last here. There are so many new photos, kids I don't recognize. I see myself in costume from "The Caucasian Chalk Circle." Junior Year. Jon is in the photo, too. So is Rachel Davidson. She was a senior then, and a year after she graduated, she had a part in an episode of "Dark Angel." That one episode was the only time I saw her after she graduated. I find another picture of the two of us, from The Scottish Play. We're sitting in folding chairs in the women's dressing room, half in our costumes. She's saying something that I'm laughing at. I heard she committed suicide a year ago.
Outside the door is the ladder to the prop loft. I go up. I find my parasol from "The Importance of Being Earnest," Rachel's mirror from "After The Fall." Jon's "Pirates of Penzance" knife. I was on the set crew for that one, and I was transfixed from my spot near the curtain pulleys whenever he was onstage. I hold onto that sword and remember when he came off after his song, Opening Night. He leaned in, kissed me and whispered, "Love you."
I hear something from below me. The door near the makeup room opens. Someone's climbing the ladder. A dark head pops up, and a face looks surprised to see me here. One of the current students. He has to be a freshman, he looks so young. Did I ever look as young as he does now?
"Oh! Um... hi," he says.
"Hi," I say.
I watch him for a second. His face makes me think he's not supposed to do what he is here to do.
"I used to go to school here," I explain. "I was in..."
I stop. This kid doesn't care about me; I'm so old next to him.
The kid comes up and days, "I'm just here to put something back."
He has a prop in his hand. It's another sword. He looks embarrassed.
"We did 'Romeo and Juliet' last semester, and this was mine," he explains. "They want us to do prop inventory before Spring Break, so I figured I should put it back."
I smile. He's having indelible memories made with every show. It's painful to let go of a role.
"I hated inventory," I say, "I usually got stuck doing costumes."
He smiles back, puts his sword in the box, and says, "Well... bye," before hurrying down the ladder.
"Bye," I say as I hear his footsteps race to the door, and out.
I look at Jon's knife. I get Rachel's mirror and put them both in my purse. I walk across those beloved floorboards, full of memories. I don't look at the pictures again. I don't look at the couch. I see no one I know on my way out.
Novice is an observer of human nature from Massachusetts. When she isn't writing, she sings to her kick ass baby.