by B. Lynn Goodwin
This is the day that could change my life.
I’ve been living in the shadow of my big brother, Brian Mason, all of my life, but in five more minutes, I’m going to audition for San Ramos High’s spring production of Oklahoma! I’m reading for Ado Annie, who sings and dances and flirts, but if I don’t get it, maybe I can play Gertie or Ellen or somebody else with lines.
Across the room, the ugly Senior Sofa is crammed with drama’s elite in skinny jeans and faux fur jackets. They’re hoping for leads too, and they’re seniors. Where does that leave a sophomore like me? I slide my hand into my backpack and pull out two red M&Ms. The chocolate melts on my tongue and soothes my stomach.
Jenn McCall, the best singer in the sophomore class, slips in next to me, drops her backpack on the floor, and says, “How’s your diet, Sandee?”
She has an angelic voice inside her sexy body, but sometimes she acts like a diva. I’m about to tell her my diet’s fine, but I never lie. Instead, I smile and say, “I gave it up. I’m a girl, not a stick.”
“Okay, forget your figure. What’s the chocolate doing to your vocal chords? You might as well wrap your instrument in cotton.”
I eat when I get nervous, and today I’m so nervous I grabbed a whole handful of M&Ms without even thinking.
Mrs. G, the drama teacher, taps the end of her pen on her notepad like it’s any ordinary day. “We’ll continue with solos for Ado Annie. Jenn McCall, you’re up,”
Jenn wears a red skirt, a black turtleneck, and leather boots that fit like gloves. She slinks up the stairs, smiles at Mrs. G, and says, “I’m ready.”
Mister Jackson pounds out the opening chords with his strong, dark fingers, and she sings, “I’m just a girl who cain’t say no.” I don’t believe she means it, and that’s pretty sad considering what a flirt she is.
Calm down and focus, I tell myself, just as Mrs. G says the words that could change my life, “Sandee Mason, you’re next.”
I race up the stairs with my blood pulsing in my ears. A voice that sounds like my brother Bri whispers, “Go for it, Sandee.” I want to turn around and look, but I know no one will be there.
Bri disappeared in Afghanistan seven months ago.
Excerpted from Talent, by B. Lynn Goodwin.
B. Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com. She’s written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing) and TALENT (Eternal Press). Her work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; The Sun; Good Housekeeping.com and elsewhere. She’s working on a memoir about getting married for the first time at 62.