Alexis Davenport wants to go home. She hates her new school, her mother for moving her away from her friends, and her father for walking out.
To make matters worse, Alex is haunted by images of strange girls reflected in her mirror. It’s bad enough juggling homework, a relentless bully, boys, and a deadbeat dad; now, she must save the world from an evil presence hell-bent on changing the past – and our futures. Who knew her A+ in history was going to be this important?
The girls ate lunch as they watched the students read lines from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Alex wished she had the confidence to stand up there in front of complete strangers and perform. She had to admit that it looked like fun.
Alex and Jennifer began to lose interest in the tryouts and were whispering about the girl in the mirror when a sudden shouting from the stage made them jump.
“What do you mean, she isn’t here?” A tall thin man with a goatee stood with his hands on his hips, glaring at a girl standing in front of him.
“She said she didn’t want to do the play,” she whispered.
The man dramatically threw up his hands. “Well, that’s just great.” He stormed off the stage and passed by where Alex and Jennifer sat in stunned silence.
He stopped and spun toward the girls. “You. Come here.” He pointed to Alex and snapped his fingers.
Alex just sat there with her mouth open. Jennifer was shoving her to get out of the seat. “Stop that!” Alex hissed.
“He wants you to follow him!” Jennifer said.
“How do you know he wants me? He could just as easily meant you!”
“He pointed right at you, silly!”
The man reached the stage and when he saw Alex wasn’t behind him he shouted, “You there with the green shirt. Stage. Now.”
Alex wondered if he was going to berate her for talking during the tryouts. She was aware of all eyes on her as she walked slowly to the stage. God, I hope I don’t fall on my butt in front of everyone.
“Come. Stand right here.” The man pointed to the floor. When Alex was in position, he handed her a couple sheets of paper. “Let me set the mood. You are a servant of the fairy queen Titania. You are being asked to wait upon a man called Bottom.”
Alex couldn’t breathe. She backed away, shaking her head. “I can’t do this. I was only here to watch…”
“Nonsense.” The man took her by the elbow and moved her back into position. “You have the perfect coloring for the costume and since you are about the same size as the girl that was supposed to be wearing it, you are perfect to play the part of Mustardseed.”
The man clapped and the other students took their places. Alex was terrified. She wondered if she could make herself faint so that she could get out of having to do this.
“Start from the end of Act III. Places people!”
Oh God oh God oh God. Alex hoped someone would pinch her and she would wake up laying on her desk or something. She broke out into a cold sweat and felt rather certain that she was going to vomit.
“Okay, enter fairies!”
Three people flitted across the stage, their feet making tiny movements. They stopped in front of a girl who stood looking proud and haughty.
“We seem to be missing a fairy.” The man said.
“Oh, yes, sorry.” She walked across the stage.
“Oh for heaven’s sake!” The man threw down his papers and clomped up the stairs to the stage. “When you picture a delicate fairy moving, do you honestly picture it plodding along like this?” He imitated Alex’s ponderous movements across the stage, complete with hunched shoulders.
“I guess not,” Alex mumbled, shuffling her feet.
“Fairies are light as air and graceful.” He tiptoed across the stage, feet moving so quickly that Alex thought he would trip and fall on his face. His arms waved about, and he smiled as if perfectly happy and content with life.
“To act like a fairy you must become the fairy. Move like them, talk like them.” He clapped and the three students came to stand by Alex again, rolling their eyes at her as if she were the most thickheaded person on the planet.
“Let’s try this again. And let’s try to get it right this time people.”
This time when he clapped, Alex tried her very best to flit across stage like the other students, bending and moving her arms, like she was dancing across the stage. This is impossible! She came to a stop in front of a tall girl with fiery red hair.
One of the students next to her spoke. “Ready!”
The girl with the red hair glared hard at Alex. She looked at her paper, looking for her line. “And, ummm, I.”
The man groaned. “Take it again people.”
They had to do the scene at least a dozen times before the drama teacher was happy with it. Alex tried telling them she was obviously no good and they would have to find someone else, but the teacher insisted that she really was perfect for the part, she just needed to forget about being embarrassed or looking ridiculous in front of other people and get into character.
“When you pretend to be ‘cool’ in front of other people, are you not acting? You try to move a certain way and speak a certain way. This is no different. We even give you the lines to say. You just have to get into character and say them.” The man refused to take no for an answer and made them do the scene repeatedly. By about the eighth time through Alex forgot about the people watching and was actually beginning to let loose and have fun. When she spoke her lines, she remembered how well Veronica Franco’s voice had carried across the courtyard. Alex tried to emulate that and to speak loud and clear so her voice would carry to the back of the room.
Shay West was born in Longmont, CO and earned a doctorate degree in Human Medical Genetics from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical. Dr. West currently lives in Grand Junction, CO with her two cats. When not writing novels, she plays with plushie microbes and teaches biology classes at Colorado Mesa University. She is the author of the Portals of Destiny series and the Adventures of Alexis Davenport series. She has also been published in several anthologies: Battlespace (military scifi), Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior (fundraiser), and Ancient New (steampunk/fantasy).
You can find Dr. West and more of her work at Shay-West.com.
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