Anyway, it's an excerpt from a WIP (work in progress) that has sat on the back burner for a while. I thought I had lost it or accidentally deleted it from my computer files. I was kind-of upset. Even though it's just a little bit of writing, it was one I didn't want to re-write. I liked it the way it was. I wanted it back!
And I found it! Turns out, it was on our desktop the whole time. I thought I'd share it with you even though it contains a few little spoilers.
The story is a modern retelling of The Phantom of the Opera. Emme is our main character (her name used to be Ellie, but I liked Emme better.) She's also recently been orphaned.
I sat on the edge of the stage and let my feet dangle into the orchestra pit. Disappointment clawed at me like a moody house cat no matter how hard I tried to beat it away. I should have been satisfied with the outcome of the audition. I was an understudy wasn’t I? That was better than no part at all…
I sighed and rubbed my eyes with the heel of my hands. Wanting the lead role in the play had felt easy and natural before the casting list went up. Now, it just felt wrong, like wanting to play Christine had become a sin. I was the cast-aside pair of shoes that had gone out of style last week. I was the dance partner picked as a last resort. I was that final clean shirt in the closet you only wore when every other garment you possessed smelled like armpits.
I sighed and looked over the empty seats of the auditorium. One day soon, those seats would be packed with people waiting to see the scenes on the stage. I wanted the spotlight on me. My parents might even be among them. I wanted them to hear my voice, see my face, feel the passion in my words. I wanted to show them that everything I had I owed to them. But no… I was good, but not good enough. Just an understudy. Just the stand-in for the real star of the show.
I got up and walked over to the piano on stage right. The music for Think of Me was sitting above the shining keys. I picked up the first sheet and looked at each note as it was marked on the page. Each quarter note and chord were laughing at me. Or, on my self-pity, I tried to imagine that they were. But the notes were too old of friends to mock my moment of defeat. Instead, they beckoned; beckoned like the Phantom to Christine when he begged her to sing for him.
I took the paper to center stage. The auditorium was still empty, there was no one to yank me off the stage by a long shepherd’s crook like they did in the cartoons. Even though I had the words to the song memorized, I looked down at the page and began to sing.
My voice began in a soft murmur, as though hiding behind the fence of my discouragement. As the crescendo built, however, I looked up from the paper and allowed my voice to rise, sending it over the rows, filling the auditorium, filling my head, and drowning my sadness. I imagined the orchestra playing below me, the lights shining in my eyes, blinding me to the identity of the faces filling the scores of seats in front of me. I imagined a balcony and statues all gilded gold, shining with prestige and mirroring the mystery and spirit of the Opera Populaire.
The words on the first page had long since run out, but still I sang. I didn’t hold back, didn’t worry if I missed a note or if my voice crackled on a key change. I just sang for no one but the empty chairs and the wish of my parents’ presence. When I finished on the final note, the silence that followed sounded more like the drone of lingering disapproval. The seats seemed to say, you’re still second best.
I shook my head, returned the sheet music to the piano, and bent to pick up my things. As I did so, I heard something that made me straighten up. I thought I was alone in the auditorium but someone else was here. I heard a voice from somewhere on the stage. I came to an awful consciousness of how loose my voice had been, how loud, how rampant.
“I said, you’re better than you think.”
I looked around, startled and embarrassed.
The voice laughed; a smooth, but deep and effortless cackle that sounded both disturbing and strangely appealing.
“I’m leaving now,” I said, swinging my bag over my shoulder and scurrying down the steps on stage right. I looked over my shoulder as I hurried through the door of the auditorium. The laughing had quieted and the stage was as still and empty as when I had ceased singing.
Picking this story up again. That's what I'm up to.