The opening night for the play had arrived, and I arrived early to get a good seat. Sunny was one of the leads, and Val was both covering the play for the newspaper and acting in a supporting role. That’s to say, both of them were nervous for the first show, but I was beyond proud.
I found my seat and was met with a flurry of texts from the girls and Salem, my eyes hardly able to keep up with the new notifications. Val and Sunny were quieted with well wishes for their performances, but Salem wasn’t as easily shushed. He was assigned to take pictures for the article Val was writing for the newspaper, and I could see the shadow of his dark hair up by the stage, illuminated more by his phone screen than the lights.
Salem: Dude I don’t think I can do this I have such a horrible feeling
Me: Don’t worry, I can see Diantha so if anything happens I’m pretty sure she’ll handle it.
Diantha was a couple rows in front of me, bookended by Hayes and Chai. I thought about Mercedes for a moment, realizing she likely had to work tonight and would see the play some other time. It was a busy time of year at the plant nursery after all.
My phone buzzed again.
Salem: But what if something happens and it all gets pinned on me? I can’t get caught I just can’t
Me: Don’t worry Salem, it’s all going to go just fine, I can feel it.
I paused a moment, hearing a voice come over the speakers telling us to put our phones on airplane mode before the show begins.
Me: I can’t wait to see your pictures! You’re doing amazing!
I silenced my phone, put it on airplane mode, and tucked it away into my jacket, hoping my words of encouragement were enough to keep Salem grounded.
I turned off my cell phone and stuffed it into my bag, Chai and Hayes putting theirs in with mine. We got to school almost an hour before the show was supposed to start, in hopes we’d get the best seats possible. Looking around the theater, I realized we probably didn’t have to come as early as we did.
Chai was giving Hayes a crash course in the history behind the play. “You know it’s about one of the first spellcasters to work with someone with no magic right? Like, those two changed the spellcasting world forever.”
“I know that part, but like,” Hayes paused for a moment, staring idly at the closed curtain. “What did they do that was so earth shattering? That’s what I don’t know.”
Chai looked about ready to pick Hayes up and throw him at the stage for his historical ignorance. I smiled at her dramatized expressions and leaned back into my seat, my mind drifting to when I listened to one of the rehearsals through the doors, the faint memories of the actor’s voices echoing in my brain. Finally being able to see the result of their hours of work filled me with excitement.
I could see Salem up by the stage with his camera, in position to get a beautiful shot of the opening scene. His eyes jumped around nervously, as if there was someone in the audience ready to pounce on him the second he let down his guard. He looked up at the audience a moment and made eye contact with me, and in an instant I understood why he was so on edge.
Something didn’t feel right.
It was almost like when we were in the library, but nobody was being flung out of their chairs like the books off their shelves. Hayes’ and Chai’s voices were muffled in my ears as I spun around to look at the seats behind me. Ainsley caught my eye a couple rows back, looking just as worried as I did. Be careful he mouthed, the warning filling my brain like fog.
Then the house lights went down, and the curtains began to open. And the show began.
And the show was wonderful.