By: Xanthe Kitses
View all Xanthe Kitses's works
Madilyn Webber was late. She was hurrying towards the auditorium as fast as she could, but she knew she wasn’t going to arrive on time. And, worst of all, it was all Mrs. Hastings’s fault.
Madilyn was sure Mrs. Hastings, the Math teacher, was out to ruin her. Madilyn had had amazing Math teachers, like Mr. Faulkner and Ms. Han. But she had never had as bad of a teacher as Mrs. Hastings.
Everything about her was completely evil, as far as Madilyn was concerned. The way her gray heels clicked on the linoleum floor of Woody Side Middle School; the way her lipsticked lips curled into an evil smile when she began a lesson; and also how her class was extremely boring. And even though Madilyn tried, she really did try, she always seemed to find a way to tune out the droning voice of her Math teacher.
And that’s how Madilyn had gotten in trouble this time.
“You need to start paying attention in my class, young lady!” Mrs. Hastings reprimanded Madilyn as the other students filed out of the classroom. “What were you doing while I was talking? Drawing? Did your dog eat your homework?”
Madilyn glanced over for a fraction of a second at Andy Morales, who was gathering his belongings two seats in front of where she and Mrs. Hastings were.
“I see,” Mrs. Hastings said, as Madilyn turned bright red. “This is a warning. Do ten extra problems tonight, page 121.” Madilyn picked up her Math workbook, said “Okay,” and then bolted.
Ahhhhh! That was so embarrassing, Madilyn thought. Andy had been her crush since the middle of sixth grade, when he picked up her jacket when it fell on the floor during gym class. She had noticed how cute he was for the first time, and was immediately obsessed with him. She was in love.
But she also knew she was late for drama club, and she had to get going. It was audition day, and she couldn’t be late.
Madilyn hurried to her locker. Run, run, run, she thought. She finally made it, shoved her Math workbook and notebook into it, and took off running towards the auditorium. Unfortunately, a teacher noticed her running.
“No running in the hallways!”
“Sorry!” Madilyn piped, breathless, as she slowed her pace. But as soon as the teacher was gone, she took off running again.
Madilyn ran down four flights of stairs to the auditorium, which was all the way down on the first level. “Why…. must…. there be…. four…. flights…. of stairs!” Madilyn panted as she arrived on the first floor. The school secretary, who was reading Vogue at the front desk, said “No running in the hallways,” in a dry tone, without looking up from her magazine.
Finally, Madilyn reached the doors to her school auditorium and pushed them open, panting and sweating. Inside, a dozen or so Drama Club students were either practicing their lines, pacing, or just sitting and chatting with friends who had been roped into coming with them. Madilyn joined them, sitting next to her friend, Ina.
“Where’s Ms. Snow?” Madilyn asked as she sat down.
“Somewhere. Not here,” Ina said, on her phone. She turned her phone off and looked to face Madilyn. “She’s late.”
“I thought I was late,” Madilyn said.
“You are,” Ina clarified, “but Ms. Snow is later.” As soon as those words exited Ina’s mouth, Christina Snow entered the auditorium. Everyone went silent.
“Settle down, settle down! I apologize for my lateness. As you know, this semester we are performing a remake of The Wizard of Oz”–the drama kids cheered in excitement–“So, of course, we need a cast. I hope all of you have your lines on hand, because auditions will be starting shortly. You will be called up to the stage in alphabetical order…”
Great. That meant Madilyn would be one of the last ones called up to audition. Stupid last name!
“… and with that, I hope you all do well. Now, the first student to audition is Steven Abax, Steven Abax…”
Steven, a scrawny boy in sixth grade, climbed up to the stage. “He-hello.”
Ms. Snow smiled. “Hello, Steven. Who are you trying out to be in our production of The Wizard of Oz?”
“The-the Wizard of Oz…”
“Perhaps you’d do better in the role of the Cowardly Lion?” Ms. Snow asked, but only a few people were surprised. Ms. Snow, as nice as she may seem, was known for handing out her honesty very early on.
Madilyn was able to tune out most of the auditions, but she was still feeling uncontrollably jittery with anticipation for her audition. She wanted to be Dorothy. Almost all the girls did, though, so there was a lot of competition. Even Ina wanted to be her, and if one of them got the part, then Madilyn didn’t know what that would do to their friendship. She liked to think that if Ina got the part she would be supportive and happy for her friend, but she wasn’t so sure.
Madilyn went over her lines again and again. “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…” she whispered softly, trying out different tones to see the best way to say her lines. She had spent the previous night going over her lines, pacing in circles, and rewatching bits of The Wizard of Oz. She had debated in the morning over whether or not to give herself pigtails, just like Dorothy in the movie, but after many failed attempts of creating perfectly even pigtails, she decided that it was fine without them. Madilyn had never been one to work with hair.
Madilyn looked around at her competition. Clumps of girls were sitting in the auditorium, waiting to audition, and most of them wanted to be Dorothy. Madilyn gulped. What if she wasn’t good enough? No, she thought. Dad wouldn’t want me to think that. He would want me to try my best. So Madilyn turned back to her lines and tried to use her time to focus on them.
One by one, students went up to audition for Ms. Snow. Until…
“Allison Wang!” Ms. Snow called up to the stage. A stunning eighth-grade girl with long, shiny black hair walked up to the stage. Madilyn straightened up. She was going to be next.
Allison’s performance was really, really good. She was auditioning to be Glinda, and her acting gave Glinda a more magical and enchanting feel, even a bit secretive, which somehow worked really well.
After Allison was done auditioning, Ms. Snow gave a call of “Madilyn Webber!” and Madilyn hopped up to the stage.
“Hi, Madilyn,” Ms. Snow said, shooting Madilyn with her sweet yet somehow poisonous smile.
“H-hi,” Madilyn stammered. There was a certain iciness in Ms. Snow’s eyes, like she couldn’t be trusted as a drama teacher. Madilyn gulped and prepared herself, trying not to think of what advice Ms. Snow might give her after her performance.
“What part are you auditioning for, Madilyn?”
“Okay. I will remind you of your lines. The singing part goes first. Your job is to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. The acting part comes next. For that, you will say the lines Dorothy says as she first walks into Oz. Good luck.” Ms. Snow shot her trademark smile again. “You may begin.”
Madilyn took a deep breath and glanced at her music sheets. Come on, she told herself, you can do this. “Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high…”
Madilyn sang the rest of the song in fear. Every time she tried to make a note come out of her mouth she quivered, unsure of herself and what lay before her. Finally, after what felt like ninety minutes, Madilyn finished the song.
Ms. Snow clapped. “Good job, Madilyn. Now for your lines…”
Madilyn was much more confident when it came to speaking lines. She hardly second-guessed herself before she spoke, and most of the time, she didn’t even need to look at her script. As far as Madilyn was concerned, she had nailed it with the acting part.
Ms. Snow seemed to agree with her. “Amazing job, Madilyn!” She marked a few notes on her clipboard and Madilyn exited the auditorium with Ina, who had stayed to watch Madilyn perform. As soon as they started walking, Madilyn spoke.
“Oh my god, I totally bombed the singing part!” she said.
“No, you didn’t,” Ina reassured her.
“You were perfect! Your lines, your singing- Oh my god, you’re going to get the part!” Madilyn said. Now that she had said it, she was absolutely sure about it. Ina was going to get to be Dorothy and Madilyn wasn’t.
Ina hesitated before speaking, like she was figuring out what she would say in order not to hurt Madilyn’s feelings. “You don’t know that,” she said finally. “Anyone could get the part.”
“I know that,” Madilyn said as they headed out of the school’s front doors with the rest of the after-school kids. “But you know Ms. Snow’s only going to cast the best. And you’re the best.”
Ina laughed. “Oh, how flattering. I’m blushing. But seriously, Madilyn, you did so well! Stop comparing yourself to others.”
They reached the avenue where the two of them would part to go to their houses.
“Okay, fine,” Madilyn said. “Well, I guess I’ll go left-”
“And I guess I’ll go right,” Ina said, finishing Madilyn’s sentence. “See you tomorrow!”
“See you tomorrow…” Madilyn said.
The rest of the walk home was filled with thoughts that made Madilyn positive Ina was much better at acting and singing than she was. To be honest, Madilyn had always been more into acting and improv than singing, but she wanted this part anyway. Some part of her may have even wanted it because it would’ve made her dad proud. But now’s not the time to talk about Madilyn’s father.
Madilyn let herself into her apartment, tossed her backpack into a chair, and collapsed down onto the couch. Her mom wasn’t home yet. Madilyn sighed. Might as well do those ten extra problems, she thought.
After thirty minutes of math homework, Madilyn finally gave up and moved onto the essay she was supposed to write for ELA. In Madilyn’s opinion, ELA was much easier (and funner) than math. Writing was sort of like acting, and because of that, Madilyn got mostly good scores on her ELA homework. She was able to finish her essay in twenty minutes.
After all her homework was done, Madilyn had nothing else to do. I’m going to keel over and die of boredom, Madilyn thought. Just as she thought that, bing!, Ina sent Madilyn a text.
You don’t need to worry! it said.
Madilyn smiled. She had a really good friend. Thanks. What are you doing? Madilyn typed back.
What do you think Andy is doing right now? Madilyn typed slowly.
You need to get over him! Ina typed back.
I know. But my love is forever, Madilyn said dramatically.
Madilyn giggled, and at the exact same time, her mom walked into their tiny apartment, home from work.
“Whose texts are you giggling at?” Mom asked, taking off her shoes in the foyer.
Madilyn sighed. “Just Ina’s, Mom.”
“Okay…” Mom said, eying her daughter suspiciously.
“Any news about Dad?” Madilyn asked.
“Nope,” Mom said, shaking her head. “So far he’s fine. And for that we can be grateful, honey.”
“Good,” Madilyn said. “Military service must be hard…” she mumbled under her breath.
“It is, sweetie,” Mom said, sitting next to Madilyn. “But Dad is working hard to protect the country. He’s doing a very honorable thing. Personally, I’m not too hot on the idea of him working in the army, of course, but who can stop him? He’s an adult, and he’s able to make his own choices. All you need to know is that he loves you, okay?”
Madilyn nodded. “I know. Oh! By the way, I had auditions today.”
Mom smiled. “You did? Why didn’t you tell me? How did it go?”
“Well, I was okay at the acting part, but I’m not so sure about my singing. Ms. Snow is probably going to cast Ina or some other girl,” Madilyn said, not holding anything back. She had noticed that ever since her dad had enlisted in the army that she had become much closer with her mom. She was now telling her things that she normally wouldn’t. Of course, Mom still didn’t know about Andy. That topic was too private.
“I’m sure you did fine,” Mom said. “And you shouldn’t hold such high standards for yourself. You can’t expect to get the leading role just like that.” Mom snapped her fingers.
“I know,” Madilyn said, but she didn’t believe it. She knew Mom was only saying it because she was, well, her mom.
“Good,” Mom said. “Now I’m going to make some dinner. Did you do your homework?”
“Okay, then you’re free to do whatever you want. Well, not whatever you want. But you know what I mean.”
Mom made some chili for dinner. Later, Madilyn went to bed, anxious for Friday to come so she could know who got the part of Dorothy.
Thursday became a game of jitters for the drama students. Most of the kids had resorted to biting their nails, or, if they were a girl, twirling their hair. Madilyn had tried not to give in to either of those things but was shocked when she found herself mindlessly rupturing her hair in the middle of Social Studies.
At lunch, Ina walked with Madilyn to their usual table with some of Ina’s friends from her dance lessons. In the middle of last year, Ina had picked up a few friends, and now they were regulars at Madilyn’s and Ina’s table. Madilyn tried not to be salty about it, but she couldn’t exactly say she was too happy about the situation.
“So,” Amber said to Ina and the other girls. Amber, a girl with perfect faded orange hair, so faded that it looked plum. “Justin and I are officially dating.”
“Really?” Ina said. “Since when?”
“Since yesterday night!” Amber said excitedly. “He called, and he asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend, and of course I said yes.”
“Well, it took him long enough!” Another girl, Aliya, said.
“Don’t be so hard on him, Li!” Amber giggled. “Madilyn, are you dating anyone?”
Madilyn’s attention was instantly brought back to the table. Amber and the other girls never asked Madilyn anything. “Um. No.”
“Not even…. Andy?” Amber said, and the other girls started laughing. Madilyn whipped her head around to face Ina and pulled her aside.
“You told them?” she hissed.
Ina looked mortified. “I’m sorry! I didn’t know you would get mad!”
“Why would you tell them that? I’m not even friends with them!”
Ina sighed. “Yes, you are.”
Madilyn was enraged. “No, you’re friends with them. I’m not.”
“What do you mean? We all sit together at lunch.”
“They don’t like me!”
“So try to be nicer.”
“You’re unbelievable,” Madilyn huffed. She grabbed her backpack and walked out of the lunchroom. She headed up the stairs to the bathroom, where she set down her bag, locked the stall door, shut the lid of the toilet seat, and sat on it.
How could Ina do that to her? That was confidential information, just between her and Ina. Madilyn felt like crying. She had been betrayed, and then embarrassed by people who weren’t even her friends. This sucked.
Ina didn’t come back for Madilyn, or try to find her, which made Madilyn feel even worse. She knew it wasn’t her fault, and that Ina had shared her private information with Amber and the other girls. Madilyn wasn’t going to try to talk to her unless Ina apologized. She knew that was petty, but how petty she was being wasn’t exactly on her mind at the moment.
The rest of the day was just a long haul for Madilyn. She avoided Ina in the halls, which she soon found out was not very fun. She hadn’t realized how dependent she had been on Ina. Functioning without her felt impossible, but Madilyn reminded herself that Ina deserved it. When the day ended, Madilyn walked home without Ina, even though her mom always told her that she had to walk home with at least one friend. Madilyn let herself into the apartment and started on her homework. Her phone was blowing up with text messages from Ina, but Madilyn just put it on silent. She didn’t want to hear what Ina had to say.
Mom came home late, as usual. She was too tired to cook, so they just ordered some Thai food from the place a few blocks away and picked it up.
“How was your day?” Mom asked at dinner.
“Fine,” Madilyn lied.
“Why are you so moody?” Mom was good at detecting emotions from the moment you spoke.
“No reason,” Madilyn said.
“Do you need anything?”
“Mom, no.” She really wasn’t in the mood for conversation now.
“Okay, but you shouldn’t be rude to me. I am your mother, Madilyn,” Mom warned.
After dinner, Madilyn shut herself in her room so her mom wouldn’t ask any more invasive questions. She knew was just being a concerned mom, but sometimes Madilyn needed a break. She needed her dad. But her dad was on the other side of the world, fighting wars. It had been a long time since she saw him.
Madilyn’s father told them one day in December. He was going to be in the Middle East. He was going to fight in the army.
Mom knew she had married a military man. But she still was scared when he broke the news. Madilyn couldn’t believe what she was hearing. This had happened before, but she was only five then. She didn’t really know the dangers of the army then.
“What? For how long?” Madilyn had asked.
“A year,” Dad said, his head hanging down.
“WHAT?! No! I can’t be without you for a year! And… and it’s dangerous! Daddy, don’t go!” she had pleaded, tears in her eyes.
Mom had patted her back in reassurance, but you could tell she was shocked too. “Dennis… A year… Are you sure?” she croaked, her voice cracking. She was trying to be strong for Madilyn, but it didn’t seem to be working.
“I’m so, so sorry Via. I know this is hard. But it’s the honorable thing to do, for the country.”
Since her dad had left for the Middle East, Madilyn had stayed up at night, worrying what would happen to her dad if he wasn’t careful. He had been gone since January, and it was October now. He had missed Madilyn’s birthday. He had missed so much.
And on that Thursday evening, Madilyn missed her dad. Her dad would’ve given her a hug. He wouldn’t have asked what was wrong, he would understand. Of course he would understand.
Friday started the same way as the rest of the days, except this time Madilyn was getting a relapse of the will-I-get-the-part jitters, time a hundred. She slowly ate her Wheat Chex, her blank eyes staring into nothing, like a zombie. Who was Dorothy? Madilyn had to be Dorothy. She needed to be Dorothy. Especially after her fight with Ina yesterday.
Madilyn left her apartment, scared at what she might find at school. As far as she was concerned, her future lay on a purple sheet of paper announcing who would play Dorothy in her middle school’s production of The Wizard of Oz.
Madilyn soon found herself at the double doors of Woody Side Middle School, shaking her out of her thoughts. This is it, she thought. All she needed to do was to walk to the auditorium, where she would find the cast list pinned on a corkboard. Madilyn shook herself awake. Other kids were filing inside the building. She knew if she waited any longer she would be late, and her school did not like lateness. So Madilyn stepped inside the building, put her backpack and jacket into her locker, and headed over to the auditorium.
Other drama kids were crowded around the corkboard, but it wasn’t so crowded that Madilyn was able to squeeze through and take a glance at the cast list. And-
Wizard of Oz Cast List
Dorothy: Ina Martinez
Scarecrow: Jordan Reid
Tin Man: Geoffrey Andersen
Cowardly Lion: Steven Abax
Wicked Witch of the West: Madilyn Webber
Glinda: Allison Wang
Madilyn couldn’t believe it. She looked away and blinked tears away from her eyes. Ina had gotten the part, just like Madilyn thought she would. And she had gotten the Wicked Witch of the West! Did that mean that Ms. Snow thought she was mean?
Madilyn walked away from the corkboard and headed over to homeroom. She couldn’t take it anymore. Her stupid not-friend had gotten the part she had wanted! And the worst part is that Madilyn knew she would have gotten the part. Because she knew Ina had worked day and night, reciting her lines, learning the notes to Somewhere Over the Rainbow. And Ina had really wanted the part, which was why she worked so hard. But Madilyn had also wanted it.
She still wasn’t talking to Ina at lunch, so she headed over to another table where she ate her lunch alone. Well, she was surrounded by a crowd of people. But she ate lunch alone.
Ina kept stealing glances at Madilyn, but Madilyn kept avoiding her looks . Madilyn wanted to scream, “There! You got the part! Are you happy now?” but if she did that, the teachers overseeing lunch would probably not react well.
The first rehearsal started today. Madilyn didn’t know what to expect. She hadn’t auditioned as the Wicked Witch of the West for a reason. She didn’t know the part at all. She wondered if she would have time to learn it. Madilyn was mulling over whether or not to resign as the Wicked Witch just to get out of it when she was snapped out of her trance- Literally.
One of the supervising teachers was snapping in Madilyn’s face. “Hey!” She yelled. “Lunch is over. Do you not see the lunchroom is empty? Look at the rules!” The teacher had a heavy Greek accent and jet black hair that whipped in every direction. Her name was Miss Anastasia. The teachers who supervised lunch were famous for being very mean and very strict. They each had a clipboard with the lunchroom rules clipped tightly onto it in bold print, all caps nonetheless, which Miss Anastasia had slapped down. The rules were: No sharing food. No moving to other tables after sitting down at one. No yelling. No running. And lastly, No staying in the lunchroom after lunch is over.
“See that? NO STAYING IN THE LUNCHROOM AFTER LUNCH IS OVER. Get out.”
Madilyn almost choked on her food. She ran to the trash can, breaking another rule, threw out her lunch, and ran out of the lunchroom.
“NO RUNNING IN THE LUNCHROOM!” Miss Anastasia called back.
All Madilyn cared about was not being late for her next class. It was last period, and she had Mrs. Hastings.
Madilyn burst into the classroom. Everyone was already in their seats, and Mrs. Hastings was already in the middle of the lesson. Dang it.
“Ms. Webber,” Mrs. Hastings said. Ina was staring at Madilyn, along with the rest of the class. “You’re late again.” There was a terrible silence in the room.
“I’m sorry. I was eating lunch and I didn’t notice anyone else leave-”
“Daydreaming again,” Mrs. Hastings said, turning to Madilyn.
“Sit down, Ms. Webber.”
“Okay.” Madilyn’s face flushed red, and she tried not to cry.
After the period had ended, Mrs. Hastings walked to Madilyn’s desk.
“Detention on Monday, directly after school ends until three P.M. I’m not giving you it today, but you will be required to bring this slip of paper home and have your mother sign it. I am very disappointed,” Mrs. Hastings said shortly, handing Madilyn a slip of paper. It explained Madilyn’s detention and had a little area where the “parent or guardian please sign here.” Madilyn felt her stomach lurch. Mom would not be happy.
Suddenly, Madilyn remembered something. “Mrs. Hastings, I have drama club on Mondays,” she said. Today was just a get-to-know-you thing, the first rehearsal of the year.
Mrs. Hastings’s eyes narrowed. “You will have to skip rehearsal, then. If you can’t pass math class then you have no business pursuing theatrical stunts.”
“But Mrs. Hastings, it’s going to be our first official play rehearsal!” Madilyn tried not to sound like she was whining, but she couldn’t help it.
“You have been late for my class more than a couple times this year!” Mrs. Hastings bellowed. “Missing a rehearsal should be easy for you.”
Madilyn felt her face fall. She knew there was no way getting out of it. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Hastings,” she mumbled, then ran out of the room. Her cheeks were burning and she felt like crying again. This was the worst.
At least Madilyn had rehearsal today. But she didn’t want to have to miss her second rehearsal.
“Hello drama club!” Ms. Snow said when everyone was gathered inside the drama room. “This is Woody Side’s Middle School’s fourth year in a row of drama club. As you know, our production this year is The Wizard of Oz, and this is our first rehearsal. Unlike drama meetings we had before, we will now begin to focus on working on our play. Each of you have a role, and if it is not the one you wanted, please don’t be mad at me. I’ve cast everyone where I think they would act best in. If you would like to drop out of the play you may do this now.” No one left, and Ms. Snow’s icy eyes melted. “Very well. We’re going to start by going around the room, stating your role in our production. Remind people of your name just in case anyone forgets. Jordan, you may go first.”
Jordan, a tall boy with a three-inch red afro, began to speak. “I’m Jordan, and I’m playing the Scarecrow,” he said.
“I’m Jane. I’m playing a Munchkin.”
“My name is Ebony, and I play the Wicked Witch of the East.”
“I’m Jacob. I play one of the Flying Monkeys.”
“My name is Ina, and I’m playing Dorothy.”
On and on, until it was Madilyn’s turn. “My name is Madilyn, and I’m playing the Wicked Witch of the West.” She hated saying that. She hated that she got the Wicked Witch when she never wanted the part. The Wicked Witch was mean, and the worst character in the whole entire play.
Once the introduction was over, Ms. Snow led the group in a posing activity.
“For this activity, you’re going to have to be very still. Has anyone here heard of a tableau?” Ms. Snow asked. “Yes, Ebony?”
“It’s when an actor stays in one pose,” Ebony stated.
“Ebony is correct. A tableau scene, or tableaux vivant, is when actors stay frozen in a spot in order to enhance the meaning of a production. If anyone here has ever seen a Broadway show, you would know that actors often do this at the beginning of a show. There can be props around the actors or they could be holding the props up with their still bodies. Tableaux vivants can be very powerful,” Ms. Snow explained.
“Today we are going to practice tableaux vivants. The beginning of the original Wizard of Oz does not have one, but our production is going to have a little twist on the original, and I thought the best way to emphasize that was a tableaux vivant.”
Madilyn was intrigued.
“Before we begin working on the actual vivant that I created, I was thinking that a few volunteers might want to try performing a tableaux,” Ms. Snow said, and several hands shot up at once, including Madilyn’s.
Ms. Snow laughed. “Okay, okay. We can take turns. Everyone who wants to will have a chance. How about we start with you, Prisha?”
Prisha, a skinny Indian girl with pink hair, stepped to the middle of the room. “What pose should I do?” she asked.
“Any one you want,” Ms. Snow said. Prisha took a minute to think and then posed with her arms bent like a robot.
“Perfect!” Ms. Snow said. “Now, someone else will step up to add to the tableaux vivant. Jordan, go!”
Jordan stepped up and posed in a dramatic death scene. “That’s amazing, Jordan,” Ms. Snow said, “but maybe try to bring in some elements of Prisha’s pose so it looks like you’re creating a tableaux vivant and not just two tableaux poses.”
Jordan adjusted himself so his arms were also bent and stood nearer to Prisha. “Perfect. Ina, you go now.”
Ina posed like she was hailing Prisha. Next, Allison posed as if she were mourning Jordan. On and on it went, until it looked like an actual scene. Madilyn had raised her hand every time but hadn’t gotten picked.
“Now before anyone complains that they didn’t have a chance to pose,” Ms. Snow said like she was reading Madilyn’s mind, “we’ll do another vivant with the rest of you. Everyone will get to participate.”
The next tableaux vivant began with a boy named Kenny. He posed as a ballerina in action. Kenny was always full of activity and didn’t mind doing what other kids called “girl’s stuff,” so Madilyn respected him. Some kids posed as ballerinas, while others posed as curtain holders or directors, but all the poses had a theatrical touch to them. Then, it was Madilyn’s turn.
Madilyn posed as a ballerina, and instantly regretted it. She had taken ballet classes from second to sixth grade and for a while she was really good at it. But she quit when fell out of interest with ballet over time. Since then, Madilyn had lost her flexibility bit by bit, and over the time span of a year she could no longer do ballet. It didn’t help that Madilyn had chosen to do a split. She thought she could do it. She thought her jeans would survive the harsh feat of doing a split in the drama room one year after she had quit ballet. But she was wrong. And as she heard her jeans rip, her face burned and she immediately tried to get up. But she couldn’t. She had tried to do a split and now she was stuck to the ground in eternal pain just after her pants had ripped. She wondered how big the rip was. Hopefully not too big.
Madilyn tried to yank herself up again. No luck. She tried a third time, and this time applied the pressure of her hands on the floor to bring her up, causing her to roll back into Kenny and all the other kids. The tableaux vivant was no more. Madilyn immediately leaped to the back of the room with her back completely against the wall, her mind racing with a million thoughts. She couldn’t cry. Don’t cry, she said, blinking away her tears for the third time that day. Ina quickly looked at Madilyn but looked away just as quickly after seeing the state she was in. It was humiliating.
Ms. Snow walked up to her, looking almost as embarrassed as Madilyn. “Um, honey, it’s probably best if you wash up in the bathroom. Do you have extra pants with you?”
Madilyn shook her head. “Okay. You can probably find one in your size in the lost and found, or if you’d rather leave early, that’s fine.” Ms. Snow said this all in the I’m-trying-to-calm-this-kid-down-but-I-secretly-don’t-know-how-to-handle-this-situation-because-my-education-major-didn’t-prepare-me-for-this voice teachers use when they see something embarrassing happening to their students. Madilyn nodded and promptly ran to the bathroom like her pants were on fire. They weren’t, they were just ripped.
Madilyn splashed some water on her face hoping it would help, but it did nothing but make her wet. She sat in a stall and cried. She wanted to become a bug. Bugs didn’t rip their pants trying to do the splits.
Even though it wasn’t the most concerning item on her list of Bad Things That Happened to Me Today, Madilyn couldn’t stop thinking about what Ms. Snow had meant when she said “you can probably find one in your size.” What was with the “probably”?! Madilyn definitely wasn’t the skinniest girl in her class, but she had always thought of herself as pretty average in size. Ms. Snow had now contributed in helping chip away that final little bit of self-esteem Madilyn had.
Eventually Madilyn got out of the stall and out of the stinky bathroom. She tried to keep her back against the wall when there were other kids or teachers around, but since it was after school the only people at school were the after school teachers and students and the admin. Madilyn got her stuff from her locker. She sent a quick text to Ina saying that if Ms. Snow wants to know where she is to say that she had gone home. Madilyn tied a sweater around her waist and left the school building. It was bad enough that she couldn’t have drama club on Monday, now she couldn’t do the second half of drama club. And she would have to tell her mom she had gotten detention. At least she had an hour and forty-five minutes until her mom was home.
Detention went almost as bad as the lecture Mom gave Madilyn when she found out her daughter had a detention. It was an hour and a half of doing math problems in silence with a bunch of slackers and delinquents who ranged from menacing to puny. When Madilyn came back she felt so worn out that she immediately collapsed on the couch. On Tuesday she had black circles under her eyes and couldn’t pay attention. The only class she put an iota of effort into was math class. She did not need another detention.
On Wednesday, Ina kept stealing little glances at Madilyn, and since Madilyn felt like being even meaner to everyone (why not?), Madilyn looked directly into Ina’s eyes and glared. But every time she did something like that to Ina, she felt a little pang in her stomach.
At last, Madilyn had drama club. That was her outlet, her “happy place” as Miss Bloom, the sugarly-sweet guidance counselor, would say. The next rehearsal she had everyone share embarrassing stories about themselves to make Madilyn feel better. Ebony one time threw up all over her crush, and Kenny once farted extremely loudly while taking a very important test in ELA, in a room where no one was talking and you could hear a pin drop. The stories didn’t really make Madilyn feel better, but she was grateful for the effort everyone put into making her feel less embarrassed, like she wasn’t the only one. She wasn’t the only one.
“Do any of you guys have a crush?” Ebony had asked after she told her story.
“Me,” said Kenny and Prisha. Madilyn hesitated. She didn’t really want people to know she liked Andy. Or anyone, for that matter.
But then again, Ebony and the other kids were being so nice. She had never talked to other kids about crushes before, unless it was with Ina.
“Me, too,” Madilyn said.
Ebony had a gleam in her eye. “Wow, okay. Three people. Everyone, tell me now!” Madilyn laughed.
“I really like Jordan,” Prisha said shyly.
“Oh my gosh, Prisha!” Ebony exclaimed happily. “Yes! Okay, Kenny next, then Madilyn.”
“I like Ryan. He’s in my biology class,” Kenny said, not-so shyly.
“Is he cute?” Ebony demanded. Again, Madilyn laughed. Ebony was always demanding things, but in a nice way, not like Ina’s friends.
“Well, duh, he’s cute, why else would I like him?” Kenny joked.
“Okay, okay, point. Madilyn, you?”
Madilyn went all in. No shyness now. “I’m crushing on Andy.”
“You mean that soccer boy?” Ebony asked. “He’s cute. You like them sporty.”
“No, I don’t!” Madilyn said, while her face turned a bright fuschia color. “Well, maybe sometimes.”
“You’re one of those boy-crazy girls, I can already tell,” Ebony said with a wave of her hand.
“Well, you’re right about that one!” Madlyn said cheesily, putting both of her hands up.
“GIRLS AND BOYS,” a voice boomed from behind them, even though there was only one boy. Precisely, Ms. Snow’s voice. “It is NOT time to be chit-chatting about silly topics such as crushes.” Madilyn’s face returned to fuschia. So she had heard.
“Get up, all of you. We’re beginning rehearsal.”
Ebony, Kenny, Prisha, and Madilyn quickly got up. They were in trouble.
Prisha began their apology. “We’re sorry, Miss, we were just talking, and-”
Ms. Snow held out her finger. It looked like it would be cold to touch. “Just shut up and act.”
Well, if that wasn’t the most theatrical insult Madilyn had heard Ms. Snow say in her two years of drama club at Woody Side Middle School. Well, there was that time when Ms. Snow had cursed at a sixth grader in Shakespearean, and Madilyn at the time had thought that was really funny. But this wasn’t funny.
“Madilyn, it’s your turn to be on stage. It’s the scene where we meet the Wicked Witch, so you need to make sure the audience gets the aura of the character. In other words, I need you to overact for a bit,” Ms. Snow said promptly.
Madilyn nodded. “Okay.” She grabbed her script and walked up to the stage, where Ina, the boy who played Toto, the Munchkins, and the girl who played the dead Wicked Witch of the East were. The girl who played the Wicked Witch of the East wouldn’t actually be crushed by a house, since there was no house set piece on stage. The lighting people were going to use special effects for the typhoon, and the girl would just fall to her feet in a dramatic way to show that a house had fallen on her. Though Ms. Snow said it was that way for theatrical purposes, everyone knew it was just because the school didn’t want the girl’s parents suing them for dropping a box dressed as a house on their daughter.
When it was her turn, Madilyn said, putting on her best Wicked Witch voice, “Who killed my sister? Who killed the Witch of the East? Was it you? Answer me!”
Ms. Snow interrupted the scene before Allison (Glinda) could say, “Leave her alone!” in a classy 1930’s voice.
“Perfect,” she said, giving a little silent clap of her hands. “But try to sound more sad about your sister’s death while also sounding like a Wicked Witch of the West.”
Madilyn nodded from the stage. Sound sad, but like a Wicked Witch. Sound like a sad Wicked Witch, she said in her head. Did Margaret Hamilton have such a hard time playing the Wicked Witch of the West, too?
“Who killed my sister?” Madilyn said sadly but also sharply. Increasing the hostility in her voice, she said, “Who killed the Wicked Witch of the East? Was it you?” she asked, looking at Ina. “Answer me!”
“Leave her alone!” Allison said, acting as Glinda.
“You stay out of this!” Madilyn said with a wave of her hand. She turned back to Ina, but then spaced out. She looked down at her script. “I’m looking for vengeance!” she said, reading from the script. “So it was you, was it? You killed her… didn’t you?”
Ina jumped back, but it was really Dorothy who had jumped. “No- no! It was an accident! I didn’t mean to kill anybody!”
After a moment of no dialogue, Ms. Snow said, “Perfectly normal to forget your lines. Ina, it’s ‘Really, I didn’t!’”
Ina nodded her head like Madilyn had done before. They continued the scene, all the way up to Madilyn’s favorite, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!”
Maybe it wasn’t so bad playing the Wicked Witch of the West.
To be Continued…