Chapter no 10 – ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌The Performance Space‌


Charlotte basically didn’t stop talking as we headed down to the second floor. She was describing the play they had put on last year, which was Oliver! She played Oliver even though she’s a girl. As she said this, she pushed open the double doors to a huge auditorium. At the other end of the room was a stage.

Charlotte started skipping toward the stage. Julian ran after her, and then turned around halfway down the aisle.

“Come on!” he said loudly, waving for me to follow him, which I did.

“There were like hundreds of people in the audience that night,” said Charlotte, and it took me a second to realize she was still talking about Oliver! “I was so, so nervous. I had so many lines, and I had all these songs to sing. It was so, so, so, so hard!” Although she was talking to me, she really didn’t look at me much. “On opening night, my parents were all the way in back of the auditorium, like where Jack is right now, but when the lights are off, you can’t really see that far back. So I was like, ‘Where are my parents? Where are my parents?’ And then Mr. Resnick, our theater-arts teacher last year—he said: ‘Charlotte, stop being such a diva!’ And I was like, ‘Okay!’ And then I spotted my parents and I was totally fine. I didn’t forget a single line.”

While she was talking, I noticed Julian staring at me out of the corner of his eye. This is something I see people do a lot with me. They think I don’t know they’re staring, but I can tell from the way their heads are tilted. I turned around to see where Jack had gone to. He had stayed in the back of the auditorium, like he was bored.

“We put on a play every year,” said Charlotte.

“I don’t think he’s going to want to be in the school play, Charlotte,” said Julian sarcastically.

“You can be in the play without actually being ‘in’ the play,” Charlotte answered, looking at me. “You can do the lighting. You can paint the backdrops.”

“Oh yeah, whoopee,” said Julian, twirling his finger in the air.

“But you don’t have to take the theater-arts elective if you don’t want to,” Charlotte said, shrugging. “There’s dance or chorus or band. There’s leadership.”

“Only dorks take leadership,” Julian interrupted.

“Julian, you’re being so obnoxious!” said Charlotte, which made Julian laugh.

“I’m taking the science elective,” I said. “Cool!” said Charlotte.

Julian looked directly at me. “The science elective is supposably the hardest elective of all,” he said. “No offense, but if you’ve never, ever been in a school before, why do you think you’re suddenly going to be smart enough to take the science elective? I mean, have you ever even studied science before? Like real science, not like the kind you do in kits?”

“Yeah.” I nodded.

“He was homeschooled, Julian!” said Charlotte.

“So teachers came to his house?” asked Julian, looking puzzled. “No, his mother taught him!” answered Charlotte.

“Is she a teacher?” Julian said.

“Is your mother a teacher?” Charlotte asked me. “No,” I said.

“So she’s not a real teacher!” said Julian, as if that proved his point. “That’s what I mean. How can someone who’s not a real teacher actually teach science?”

“I’m sure you’ll do fine,” said Charlotte, looking at me.

“Let’s just go to the library now,” Jack called out, sounding really bored.

“Why is your hair so long?” Julian said to me. He sounded like he was annoyed.

I didn’t know what to say, so I just shrugged. “Can I ask you a question?” he said.

I shrugged again. Didn’t he just ask me a question?

“What’s the deal with your face? I mean, were you in a fire or something?”

“Julian, that’s so rude!” said Charlotte.

“I’m not being rude,” said Julian, “I’m just asking a question. Mr.

Tushman said we could ask questions if we wanted to.”

“Not rude questions like that,” said Charlotte. “Besides, he was born like that. That’s what Mr. Tushman said. You just weren’t listening.”

“I was so listening!” said Julian. “I just thought maybe he was in a fire, too.”

“Geez, Julian,” said Jack. “Just shut up.” “You shut up!” Julian yelled.

“Come on, August,” said Jack. “Let’s just go to the library already.”

I walked toward Jack and followed him out of the auditorium. He held the double doors open for me, and as I passed by, he looked at me right in the face, kind of daring me to look back at him, which I did. Then I actually smiled. I don’t know. Sometimes when I have the feeling like I’m almost crying, it can turn into an almost-laughing feeling. And that must have been the feeling I was having then, because I smiled, almost like I was going to giggle. The thing is, because of the way my face is, people who don’t know me very well don’t always get that I’m smiling. My mouth doesn’t go up at the corners the way other people’s mouths do. It just goes straight across my face. But somehow Jack Will got that I had smiled at him. And he smiled back.

“Julian’s a jerk,” he whispered before Julian and Charlotte reached us. “But, dude, you’re gonna have to talk.” He said this seriously, like he was trying to help me. I nodded as Julian and Charlotte caught up to us. We were all quiet for a second, all of us just kind of nodding, looking at the floor. Then I looked up at Julian.

“The word’s ‘supposedly,’ by the way,” I said. “What are you talking about?”

“You said ‘supposably’ before,” I said. “I did not!”

“Yeah you did,” Charlotte nodded. “You said the science elective is

supposably really hard. I heard you.” “I absolutely did not,” he insisted.

“Whatever,” said Jack. “Let’s just go.”

“Yeah, let’s just go,” agreed Charlotte, following Jack down the stairs to the next floor. I started to follow her, but Julian cut right in front of me, which actually made me stumble backward.

“Oops, sorry about that!” said Julian.

But I could tell from the way he looked at me that he wasn’t really sorry at all.

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