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Read My Lips(13)

By:Daryl Banner

I have made a palace of stone,

a place of which to call my own.

Here is my bed

to lay down my head

and dream that I’m not alone.

For such a feat, what do I win?

The doors are deceivingly thin.

But I built the walls too high

nearly kissing the sky

so no one can find their way in.

There’s no staff to help with the messes.

There’s no guests to admire my dresses.

Dinners cook themselves

as I dust off my shelves

and watch as my lifetime progresses.

I’m an actress who shows no fear.

The bravest in my whole biosphere.

And by my painted skin

you see the people I’ve been

and the people I’ll never go near.

It’s work to perch atop this throne

made of credit cards and silicone.

Don’t dare give your heart

or you’ll fall right apart

right here in my palace of stone.

When I’ve finished, I imagine the room erupting into applause. I face the crowd and take it all in, rejoicing. I wonder if flowers are being thrown to the stage. I can smell them if I close my eyes.

There’s a noise from behind. I spin, alarmed by it.

He’s standing by the light rack, watching me. His eyes are fierce and focused, his lips parted slightly.

Oh shit. He heard everything.

“I-I’m sorry,” I murmur, my face flushing horribly. “I … I didn’t realize …”

His tight shirt hugs the two hills of his shoulders that lead up to his thick, muscular neck. His big pecs stare at me just as he does, and for a moment it’s like he’s some statue of a god. I bet his muscles feel like one too, firm and unbudgeable. I imagine the meaty sound his body would make as I tackle him, and the metallic racket of the lighting instruments as they bang together, disrupted by our crashing into them.

Wait. What the hell am I thinking?

“I’m s-sorry,” I repeat, ashamed, humiliated. All he does is stare at me. He doesn’t say a damn thing. “It … It wasn’t that bad, was it?”

His eyes bore into me, smoldering me, those deep, powerful eyes. He looks so dangerous … so tortured …

So sexy. My heart races. I can’t catch my breath.

“Oh,” I blurt, my voice shaking. “It was that bad. I’m not supposed to be here, am I? I’ll just … I’ll go.”

And that’s precisely what I do, tripping over my legs as I race down the steps. The noise of my feet slapping the tile of the lobby assaults my ears as I flee the theater.

“And this guy … caught you singing?”

I sigh and lean into the table, mortified, then nod sheepishly.

“There are some hot guys in our school,” admits Victoria, “but I don’t know which one caught you. If you’d tell me more, I might know his name. There’s Jerry, short for Jeremy. There’s Aaron. Ooh, or Ian …”

Truth is, I don’t want you to know who. “It’s okay. I just hope it doesn’t get me into trouble. I want to make a good first impression.”

“Yeah, save that for auditions Friday.” She winks and gives me a nudge. “Lighten up. It’ll be fine. Hey, I didn’t know you could sing.”

“I doubt I sang well. He just stared at me like I was an idiot and …” I can’t even finish, not wanting to relive it yet again. “I need to work on my audition pieces. I didn’t realize—”

“That auditions would be the very first week? Yep. We don’t mess around down here in Texas. I’m sure you’re used to that in New York City too, of course. Hey, we can help each other with our monologues! I could totally pick a brain like yours.” She nearly giggles with excitement. “I have a whole bookcase of marked-up scripts in my room. Hey, I bet you could even sing for one of your pieces. I think they’re allowing that, on account of the spring musical.”

I can’t stop picturing his face, the way he stared at me so intently after I’d finished. “We’d better get to class,” I say, noting the time on my phone.

“First day of crew! Did you see which one you got? They’re posted on the door of the rehearsal room.”

Twenty minutes later, we’ve moved from the food court to the School of Theatre, where I stumble as I scurry down the winding halls to the rehearsal room door. I search the list for my name.

My heart skips a beat.

I’d nearly forgotten which one I signed up for.

“Lighting crew?” Victoria questions, staring at me. “You picked … lighting crew? Mmm, honey, I hope you aren’t scared of heights.”

I bite the inside of my cheek and suck my tongue, staring at my name and reading it over and over and over again. My body trembles. My nerves tighten and my knees turn weak. I know exactly why I picked it.