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Read My Lips(9)

By:Daryl Banner

But try as I might, that damn dream of mine won’t resume where we left off.

I don’t understand what’s so special about one hot guy. Why am I finding myself so … obsessed with him? I’m on a campus full of countless good-looking guys. Engineers. Artists. Architects. Singers. Other actors. Why am I so focused on the one guy who wouldn’t bother to turn and acknowledge my existence, even when I was talking directly to him?

A half hour passes. I can’t seem to hear anything but the quiet turning of pages.

Another half hour, and that lamp seems brighter than the sun at noon, somehow blinding me through my clenched-shut eyelids. Or maybe it’s the actual sun.

When I give up and rise at half past eight, I feel like I got approximately zero hours of sleep. My head spins and a queasiness settles into my stomach. Why do I instantly want to blame mister hot-shit from the mixer for my lack of rest?

I help myself to a morning shower. Even with all the soap and the slipperiness and the assumption of privacy, I’m too distracted with what diseases my feet might be picking up to revive the morning’s dream. Mental note: purchase some flip-flops for the shower. I keep hitting my elbows against the wall every time I turn. The room steams up in a matter of five seconds.

I can’t even sing as I like to do in the shower, not when I know an entire hallway of boys and girls will hear me. I try to hum and even that miniscule hint of melody feels amplified to the point of vibrating the tiled walls. I feel utterly silenced when I want to sing.

Outside, the campus is alive with tons of bright-eyed students. I fall right in line, following the path to the School of Theatre Victoria showed me Saturday night, though it looks dramatically different in the day. The buildings look so much taller. There’s a glow to the Art building I didn’t notice in the darkness. When I pass the University Center, there’s a big band playing some tune I don’t recognize, but it’s catchy as hell. I start humming it as I move along, a smile finding my face at long last. Nothing eases me the way singing does. Look at me, I’m a college student, I realize, blending in with the crowd of others who head to their ten o’clock Monday classes.

This is what I’ve been missing.

Most of my Theatre courses don’t require books, so I just carry a small bag with my laptop dancing around inside. The School of Theatre is shockingly bright during the day, its front glass windows reflecting the sun and blinding me as I approach.

My first class of the day—a required course for all: Technical Theatre—is held in the main auditorium. Surprisingly, I spot Victoria right away in the seats. She notices me too, quickly beckoning me over.

“Where the hell did you go Saturday night?” she whispers when I take the seat next to her. “You just up and left! Then, you wouldn’t answer any of my knocking on your door all day …”

“I got tired,” I lie. My foot kicks into a red cup from Saturday that was left by the seat. “Yesterday, I was probably at the campus bookstore. Did you know that Klangburg University has its own clothing line?”

“Yeah, it’s called college merch. Every school’s got it. Do you know what crew you want, Des?”

I frown. “What do you mean?”

“Tech crew. That’s the point of this class. You get introduced to the five tech crews and get to pick which one you want to do for the semester. Or, rather, they assign you one based on your preference. If you get cast in a play, it counts for a tech credit. No, I haven’t been cast yet.” Victoria rolls her eyes, clearly holding back a flood of rants. “Are you all actress? Or do you ever get your hands dirty?”

That’d be Cece who is all actress and can’t even be bothered to move a damn curtain out of her way when she enters or exits the stage. “That’s what the stagehands are for,” she had the gall to say to me once.

And just before I answer Victoria, all of my composure is ruined in an instant.

I see him.

The tatted hottie from Saturday night’s mixer. The man who still hasn’t given me proper directions to the School of Sex. The nameless wonder from the wings with the body of a demigod.

I claw at my bag. I’ve never wanted someone so badly.

He saunters past carrying a Fresnel lantern by the handle, his bicep bulging in the effort as he crosses the stage. His shirt is tight. His jeans, loose and sexy. I’ve broken out in a sweat just watching him.


A smirk finds my lips. “Yeah,” I murmur back to her. “I get my hands dirty. Real, real dirty.”

Then a lean, bearded man who looks like a wizard in coveralls rises from the front row and faces the auditorium. “Good morning, you bunch of brats, you. I see a lot of new faces out there, so I’m going to assume that most of you are freshmen. Sure, a lot of you are probably hopeful actors, figuring you waltzed in here from a high school that kissed your butt every time you projected loud enough for someone beyond the front row to hear you. Loud voices earned you parts. Well, you’re in for a rude awakening.”