February 1, 2008

Fiction Friday: singin' in the rain

This Week’s Theme: Your character was singing out loud in public but did not realize it.
I couldn't stop quivering each time I thought about seeing my name on that playbill. It was only college theater, but to be selected as the female lead! I couldn't wait to call Mom and Dad back home and let them know, but they were sure to be out to their Saturday night dinner.

Jimmy wanted to take me out to celebrate. He said we were going to do it in style, so I wanted to shower and get dolled up. Maybe wear that champagne colored dress I wore to Annie's wedding last June which Todd Flanders liked so much. He actually fell off the porch because he couldn't keep his eyes off me! That was exactly the reaction I wanted from Jimmy tonight, and in that dress and my heels I was sure to get it.

I slipped out of my dress and grabbed my bathrobe and towel, then sauntered down the hallway to the bathroom. Most of the other girls would be down in the living room or out at the library. This big university lifestyle with its big dorms had been difficult to get used to last year. For the really shy girls it was tough knowing that anyone could walk up those stairs and see you in your robe without makeup, or worse, with curlers! Sometimes even boys came up the stairs if they had permission from the dormitory mother.

But I didn't care, floating down the hall with my head in the clouds, my mind on opening night two months from now, on the adoring crowd cheering curtain calls and delivering roses backstage. In the bathroom, I chose the shower stall by the back because it always had the best pressure and hottest water, and I pulled the curtain shut behind me before disrobing.

Steam rose from the green tiles on the floor and the wall, and the hot water fell on me like a summer rainstorm. And I just couldn't help it. Lead in Singin' in the Rain! I was going to play Kathy Selden and have everyone fall in love with me! The water poured down on me, and the steam clouds filled my senses, and I closed my eyes and started in... what a wonderful feeling, I'm happy again! I'm laughin' at clouds, so dark up above! The sun't in my heart... oh yes, I was ready for love all right. Jimmy would be here soon.

I turned off the water but not my song, and I toweled off with the second verse, slipping my robe back on. With a stage flourish, I belted out, "And I'm ready for love!" as I yanked back the flimsy, vinyl curtain that smelled vaguely of mildew and bleach.

The bathroom was full of people--girls from the dormitory, boys from who knew where. There must have been a dozen people crammed into this little room, and all staring at me in my bathrobe with a shower cap blobbed on my head like a giant, melted marshmallow. And in front stood Jimmy, his arms crossed and an enormous, smug grin across his lips.

My summer shower turned into a thunder storm, and as the crowd in front of me broke into mixed applause and laughter, I quivered in rage. I felt tears coming to my eyes, but I didn't want them to think I was embarrassed for singing in front of them. Let them hear. It was a free performance for them. No, my tears were born from anger.

I could barely breathe as I watched Jimmy with his crocodile smile studying my reaction. So this was his doing, bringing all these people here. Most were my friends, but there were a couple of strangers there, too. I put ice into my glare as I stood there, exposed and ugly, wanting nothing but to get back to my room. Alone.

We stood there, face to face, with the jeering crowd behind Jimmy, for what seemed like for ever. Eventually, he said, "Come on, baby, don't be mad. I just wanted to give all your friends a chance to congratulate you before we went out!" He stepped toward me and opened his arms to welcome me in a hug, but I just glared back and didn't move. "Hey, baby! I just wanted tonight to be for us. I didn't want anyone else interrupting to congratulate you. Come on, baby. I did this for us." His smile changed a bit, and I watched his eyes change with his tactics. "I thought you'd like the attention. You're a star, after all!"

I yanked my shower cap off, letting my crinkled hair collapse around my shoulders. I shoved the cap into his chest, and as he grabbed it in surprise I pushed past him and elbowed my way through the crowd, which had now fallen into a sort of awkward hush. Let my gray clouds chase everyone from the place. I wasn't going anywhere tonight, not with Jimmy or anyone else.

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7 comments:

lissa said...

At least she still got the lead in the theater!

You seem quite adapted to writing from the female point of view especially with the details of makeup and curlers. Well done.

pia said...

You do write from a woman's POV very well.

Like the off handed way you mentioned that she was shy--and truly felt her humiliation

Maria said...

Wonder if her shower rendition sounded any good?

The Alchemist said...

Iliked your story and pia is right you do write from a womens point of view very well. I chose to write from a man's point of view even though the prompt pointed you towards a woman. I often thought that it would be a good exercise to have everyone write a story using their opposite gender as the protaganist. You would have to pick a topic where males and females are likely to have different perspectives.

M as in Mint said...

I liked the character sketches - be it your lead's or the small yet informing peek into her boy friend's character too..vivid picture of a whole gamut of emotions - happiness, anger, embarassment, love all in one short story. Power packed writing!

anthonynorth said...

You write very well. Some nice touches, too.

Jodi Cleghorn said...

Sorry for the late drop in.

Interesting the mention of different masks (the make up and curlers that women wear) and also the lack of privacy that exposes those without their masks.

I dont think that I would want anyone listening to me in the shower - let alone atribe of people.

Interesting reaction at the end - despite the obvious well meaning intentions of poor Jimmy. Perhaps all the sorts of dramatics expected of someone who got a lead in musical??