By Carrie Currie

Tears threatened to spill onto her cheeks. She took a deep breath. It doesn’t matter, she thought, I can do this. THEY don’t matter.

She closed her ears to the laughter and snide comments trying to bring her down. She slowly picked herself up off the stage floor and wiped her palms on the voluminous skirt that had tripped her.

“Are you okay?” The concerned drama teacher asked.

She nodded.

“Are you able to continue with your audition? Or do you need a few minutes?” He was getting ready to call another girl up to the stage.

She shook her head. “No, I can continue.” I can do this!

She turned to the lady playing the piano. Out of the entire theatre populated with drama students and wannabe thespians, only the adults running the program hadn’t laughed. The student body of this school sucked. She gave the signal and the lady began to play Cinderella at the Grave from Into the Woods, the musical the high school was putting on this spring.

She’d dressed the part for the audition. She wanted people to see her as Cinderella. She so desperately wanted this part, even though she’d never done anything like this before. She began to sing, softly at first, partly from raw nerves and partly because she felt the song called for reverence in the beginning. Then, she lost herself in her performance and singing.

She poured grief into the song. She knew the pain of missing a dead mother. She poured deep soul-wrenching longing into the song. She knew what it felt like to wish that life was different. That it was something more than it is. That was why she was throwing herself out of her comfort zone today.

Everyone at school knew her as the shy, clumsy, socially-awkward bookworm that was frequently the butt of mean girl jokes. She was an easy target. She dressed in second-hand clothes that didn’t necessarily flatter her. She got flustered when asked questions. She often tripped over nothing. Or other people’s feet. She blushed easily. Her face showed everything she felt. She hadn’t made any close friends in the 6 months she’d been attending this school. She really was an outsider, and, for some reason, it was entertaining to pick on her.

As the last note of the song faded away, silence wrapped around her. There was no laughing, jeering, or snide whispers. She straightened her back and lifted her head up as she met the eyes of her stunned audience. Yes! I can sing!

“Well done, Genny. Thank you. Parts will be posted outside the theatre tomorrow morning.”

She nodded and quietly left the stage. I did my best. Now, she could only hope that was good enough.

The next morning found herself jittery and anxious. She almost didn’t want to get the part. Would she be able to handle being in the spotlight like that? What if she forgot her lines? Or her natural clumsiness reared its ugly head when she was performing for a real audience?

Genny shook her head to banish self-doubt. You can do this. You’ll work hard. You’ll rehearse and practice. You’ll do fine. Providing she got the part.

She walked up to the bulletin board outside the school’s theatre, pushing her way through the excited students crowding it.

“You’re Cinderella.” Emily, a die-hard drama geek, congratulated Genny.

Genny smiled shyly as she confirmed her name was next to the lead part.

“Never would have guessed you could sing like that.” Emily continued. “You’ll be perfect.”

“Thanks!”

Genny glowed with self-satisfaction. Her life was about to be more. She’d known she could do it, and she did!

*****