I came to the set early today since they had just installed the new curtains. I wanted to get some practice drawing them back before I made a fool of myself in front of the entire cast.
They were big and heavy deep red velvet curtains. The kind you saw on in movies about the Ziegfeld Follies.
The pulley system was also brand new, but the weight of the curtain still made it difficult to pull. I jumped up high and grabbed on to the rope and let myself fall. That wasn’t as hard as I originally planned. Once the curtains stopped flowing I noticed the gap I had made was only a few yards. It would take at least four of these jumps to open the curtain fully. Maybe even five. I jumped up again and pulled down hard until my hands reached the floor. We’ll try four of these. I jumped up two more times and the curtain was fully open. I looked out into the empty audience chairs and up to the light and sound booth. No one was here yet.
I pulled the curtains closed, reached up and pulled down again to open them. I hear a deep voice from behind. “Should be a little less jerky.”
Startled, I jump up and pull the cord and behind the curtain stood a young man. “It’s my first time drawing these since they installed them.”
“I can tell.” He says with a big grin.
“You must be that college student they brought in to help with the sound.” I finish pulling the rope, with less of a jerk motion. Now self-conscious in front of the cute boy
“Skyler.” He held out his hand.
I took it and we shook. “Natalie. So if you go through those doors it leads out into the hallways, first classroom on the right you’ll find the director.”
“Great!” He walked out into the hallway and I turned back to the curtain rope. I jumped up and gracefully pulled down.
The next few weeks turned into a stressful blur. Opening night of the musical was fast approaching and it didn’t seem like anyone knew what they were doing. I also seemed to be developing a crush on Skyler even though it didn’t seem like he knew I existed past being his stage manager. My attempts at flirting were thwarted by my sense to do my job. A week before the show I came in again to practice with the curtains. Tonight was our first full dress rehearsal and I had a nervous tension that nothing would go right. Once again I leapt up as far as I could and lugged the heavy rope to the floor.
“Better.” I heard from behind the curtain in a now familiar voice.
“You ready?” Skyler stepped onto my side of the curtain.
“As ready as I think I can be.” I smiled, though there must have been some tension on my face.
“Everything will be okay.” He put his hand on my shoulder. I was instantly comforted even though this was the first time we had contact besides a hand shake. The director came in through the back doors and gave both of us a start.
“Ready, kids?” She walked across the stage and placed a chair on its marking tape.
“Skyler, you know after the intro where the spooky sounds come up? I didn’t hear them last night, any way you could turn them up a bit?” The director wasn’t even looking at us, she just kept shuffling set pieces to their proper spot.
“Sure thing, Dori.” Skyler headed towards the light and sound booth in the balcony of the audience. I began helping her with the set. The actors trickled down from their classes and began getting into their costumes.
The next night the cast and crew went to see a movie after a long day of double rehearsals. It was like a family bonding experience, a ritual held every year. This year’s movie choice was Big Hero 6.
I sat down next to my favorite crew member, a rookie freshman named Nick. We were talking about my time in theatre when I felt someone sit down in the empty aisle seat next to me.
“Hey Nat.” Skyler held out his popcorn bag to Nick and me.
“Oh hey there.” I smiled and grabbed a few pieces as Nick nudged me. He had figured out my feelings for Skyler almost instantly. He was convinced Skyler liked me too, but I was insistent that he still didn’t see past me being his stage manager. I blushed as the theater got dark, the movie was about to start.
The opening night of the show everyone was nervous, especially the director and me. I assured her that everything would go smoothly even though I was in knots myself. Before the show the cast and crew formed a circle for good lucks and any last notes the director had for their performances. Once we broke the circle Skyler came up to me and held out his fist. It took me a moment to realize what he wanted. I held out my own fist and bumped his.
“Balalalala.” We said in unison to imitate Baymax from Big Hero Six. I smiled.
“We got this.” He said as he ran up to the light and sound booth. I smiled again as I walked towards my spot at the curtain.
That night the whole show went smoothly. Every actor hit their cue, the crew moved the set around in darkness perfectly. The audience loved the performance and cheered us on even after I had closed the curtains. Another ritual was to do excited yells led by the seniors. We did it right there on stage, the seniors all gathered onto the highest part of the set. Even though Skyler had not gone to the school, I pulled him on to the plat with me and the rest of my upper classmates.
“Ahhh!” We chanted.
“Ahhh!” The younger ones cried back.
“Woooo.” We yelled, a bit louder.
“Woooo.” They called back.
“WOOOOOAHHH!” We yelled so loud, the audience could probably hear us.
“WOOOOOAHHH!” They screamed.
“YAAAAAYYY!” The seniors and the freshman all yelled together. Except for me. I was pulled down to the front part of the stage by my waist and before I could notice what was happening, my lips were locked with Skyler’s. Almost enveloped by the big red curtain.