A short story written for the 'No Dialogue' competition, March 2021.
When Anna had been given the starring role in the end of year show it had come as a complete surprise. Not just to her, either; the entire year had the cast list all planned out, and she had been given a minor part. Stacy had always been given the main female role, there was no reason for this time to be different.
Convinced that there had been a mistake, Anna had questioned the director. There had been no mistake though, and the starring role had been hers. Initially, she had felt panic. There were so many lines to learn, so many moves; she would never be able to remember them all. The snide comments made by her classmates, some whispered, some said out loud, had not helped.
Every spare moment that she had, Anna rehearsed. Sometimes she just read over the pages of her lines, but if she was alone she would attempt to act them out. As she grew more confident, Anna found that she was happily anticipating the show. She would show all the doubters that she could do it.
At the final rehearsal, Anna had seen the looks. Some of her classmates were obviously impressed, while others, especially Stacy, scowled. Feeling all eyes on her, Anna began to forget words, and once she stumbled. Someone had tripped her, she knew that but she did not want to make a fuss. The confidence that she had managed to build dwindle away to nothing.
Anna could not sleep. The pleasant feeling of anticipation had turned into a deepening sense of dread. All the things that could potentially go wrong played out in her head. She went to school without breakfast, but even then she felt her stomach heaving. If she was sick she would not be able to take part but it was too late. Anna could not pull out on the day of the show; it would not have been fair on anyone.
The taunts and the teasing reached a new level during the lunch break and Anna retreated to the cloakroom. She could not have faced eating anyway. Whenever she tried to go over her lines the words would not come and Anna found herself breaking out in a cold sweat.
Her parents had assured her that not only would they be sitting as near to the front as they could get, but they would film the show too. Anna had stood there, opening and closing her mouth without telling them not to. The experience was going to be so embarrassing that the last thing she needed was to know her failure would be watched over and over again.
Getting ready back-stage, Anna had to rush several times to the cloakroom. She felt so nauseous; there was no way that she was going to be able to step out onto the stage. The chatter from the hall seemed to be getting louder and louder as more and more friends and family members of the cast poured in.
When there was just five minutes left before the curtain would rise, Anna tried to breathe slowly and deeply. Her palms felt clammy and her pulse rate was through the roof. Several of her classmates jostled her as they took up their positions.
And then it was time. The curtains lifted and a couple of the cast walked on stage. Anna listened, waiting for the words that would act as her cue. She almost walked out there too early, but then it was time.
Anna stepped on to the stage and it all came flooding back. All the words, all the moves; she forgot about the audience and lost herself in the role.