A Farewell to Charms by Lindsey Leavitt
excerpt used with permission
The Royal Treatment by Lindsey Leavitt
Excerpt used with permission
The royal drama also kept me from stressing about the tryout. Okay, not true. I was beyond stressed. Now that I’d had so much practice “acting” as a princess, I secretly hoped I’d get a role. Nothing big—maybe a small speaking part. Before Façade, I’d never dared to believe my acting dream could be a reality. Anytime I’d tried out before, it was almost to prove to myself that I COULDN’T make it.
Now I knew anything was possible. Possible, but not guaranteed.
I tried to explain this to Kylee when she met me at my locker after school on Monday, but every time I opened my mouth, it sounded like a gurgle.
“You ready?” she asked.
I gurgled yes.
“Drink some of my water. You need to stop that weird moaning sound every time you talk.”
I took a swig of her water and cleared my throat. “It’s a gurgle.”
“I just can’t believe I’m doing this.” I drank some more water. “I’m going to pass out on the stage.”
“Maybe that’ll get you a part. Pretend like you’re falling asleep—that’s perfect for Midsummer’s Night Dream.” Kylee gently pushed me out the doors and into the front quad. Our steps fell into sync as we hit the sidewalk that separated the junior high from the high school. “Besides, you’ve done this before.”
“I’ve tried out for a play before, but I’ve never gotten a part. And those plays were not Shakespeare.”
Confession time: This probably makes me sound dumb, or just Not Deep, but I don’t like Shakespeare. Sure, the stories are great, but why keep it in weird words that everyone pretends to understand, but no on really does? I’m guessing I’m not alone in my feelings, but if you admit this, it’s like saying you don’t see the Emperor’s New Clothes. Loving Shakespeare makes you literary and artsy cool, two traits that are an edge in the performing arts world. Funky hats help, too—all the theater kids had them. I didn’t bring one, but I was wearing a SHAKESPERE ROCKETH shirt. At least that should earn me some street cred.
“Shakespeare is just like anything else with some thees and thines mixed in,” Kylee said.
“Don’t forget the aye and ere. Do you think people used to fall asleep in the middle of conversations?” I stopping walking when we rounded the corner. Sproutville High—ivy-draped red brick, built in the 1930’s and an easy double for an insane asylum—loomed before us. “I really can’t do this. Let’s just go home.”
“Nope. You’re doing this.” Kylee pulled me forward. “Here, tell me your monologue.”
“We weren’t supposed to prepare anything. The director tells us what we’re reading at the rehearsal.”
“Just say something.”
I delivered a line, one of my favorite from the second act.
“See?” Kylee beamed. “You’re going to get a part, I know it. The words make sense when you say them.”
“Whatever. Shakespeare probably rolls around in his grave every time I read.”
“Who made up that expression anyway? Why is rolling around in your grave bad? Maybe it means you’re a zombie or something. If your acting creates Shakespeare Zombie, I’d be all for that. Like, he could come on the stage during all his plays and be like… ‘Iambic pentameter… bad. Brains… good.’”
I scrunched up my nose. “You’ve been watching too many of those gross horror movies again.”
“Better that than your old Audrey whats-her-name movies.”
“What’s her name? What’s her name? Audrey Hepburn is only one of the greatest actresses to ever live on this planet. Or any planet. Oh my gosh, if I were in my grave right now, I would be rolling.”
“Doesn’t work if you’re still breathing. Then you’re buried alive and that’s just sad—”
“ROLLING!” I yelled. Kylee giggled.
I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere between June and now Kylee and I had reached that wonderful place as friends. The one where you know things about each other that no one else does. Even more, you accept them.
Like, Kylee’s so cultured, if she had MP she’d probably skip over Level One and settle right into Level Two at Facade. She moved to Sproutville a year ago from Seattle with her professional, smart, cool parents (they’re from India. My dad is from Idaho Falls. If there was a contest for coolness, her parents would get the Grand prize trophy and mine a nice participant ribbon). The Maliks take their daughter to exhibits and the symphony and poetry readings. But cute, clean-cut Kylee is also hard core into horror movies and gory video games. Isn’t that awesome? I love that about her.
We walked around the building, stopping at the theater entrance door. Kylee gave my hand a squeeze. “So I’m just going to run over to the band room to make sure that the woodwinds workshop I’m teaching next week is all set up.”
“And then I’ll be back in time to watch you try out.”
Kylee dropped my hand. I turned and stared at the doors.
“Desi!” she said. “Go in!”
The lobby air conditioning hit me with a blast. I folded my arms over my chest, perspiration forming despite the new chill. The sign on the theater door, DISTRICT PLAY TRYOUTS, made me sweat even more. Man, I wished they’d kept the junior high theater program. Now, on top of attempting all those thees and thines, I had to try out with teens old enough to drive.
Teens old enough to vote.
Old enough to grow Shakespeare-worthy beards.
A few frozen seconds later, I noticed Reed sitting at the table by the trophy case. His head was down, his pencil tapping to the music on his headphones. His black hair fell into his eyes, contrasting nicely with his tan skin. I dug a pen out of my backpack and signed the audition sheet in front of him. Had Kylee been there, the smile he flashed would have melted her into a pool of girlydom. Of course, I was immune to it. Pretty boy in Idaho doesn’t compare to kind, sweet prince in Europe.
Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt
Excerpt used with permission
When I got upstairs, the bathwater was close to overflowing. I turned off the faucet and stepped into the tub, making sure to keep my hands and newspaper dry.
Well, about ten seconds of heaven before I remembered why I needed to relax. I flipped to the personals first (hey, what did I have to lose at this point?), but all the self-titled Prince Charmings were divorced and fifty. Besides, I’d liked Hayden ever since he gave up his swing for me in fourth grade. Saw my need and chivalrously left. Granted, he ran over to the drinking fountain and wanted it back after, but that noble act proved to me he’s Paul Newman and more. And, Okay, his looks played a part. A tiny part.
I opened the next page to the classifieds. Ads looking for everything from models to receptionists to library janitors. Maybe I’d find an advertisement for a ridiculously tall fourteen-year-old girl with mascot experience. Maybe I could pick apples or pull things off people’s shelves.
One ad popped out. Among the tiny black and white posts, this one was written in green, loopy cursive and took up half a page. In fact, it was so blinding, I almost dropped the paper in the tub. What kind of ink had they used? For a second, I swore the words shimmered.
Princess for Hire
Do you have what it takes to be royalty? Wanted: teenage girl to serve as substitute princess. Must be willing to travel. Please call Meredith.
Perfect. The ad was far from specific, but I figured they wanted someone to dress up. Do some parties. Wave a wand and make little girls giggle. I could do that. A princess costume beats the heck out of rodent wear. And a poofy dress would cover up my bird legs. Show off my waist. Ooh, maybe I’d get a tiara and a wig. A blond bob like Marilyn Monroe! Then I wouldn’t care if Hayden Garrison saw me at work. In fact, I’d be ecstatic for Hayden to see me in that get up.
Plus, I’d always secretly had this thing for princesses. Think of it. Ordinary girls, like Cinderella, who have all these great qualities no one notices except the mice. Or Sleeping Beauty, who is fair and pure and doesn’t even know she’s a princess! Snow White—well, Snow White kind of confuses me actually—but even ol’ Snow is able to escape from laundry duty. Sure, the stories aren’t exactly feminist battle cries, but still it’s sweet how the prince just knows she’s the one. And after that, everything changes, everything is wonderful, and the girl goes from a nobody to the biggest somebody in the kingdom.
Who wouldn’t want that?
The fantasy was short-lived. The ad didn’t even have a contact number! All it said was “Please call Meredith.”
Why would they use such expensive ink and not even leave a number or last name?
“Hey, Meredith! Take this!” The newspaper fluttered as it sailed across the room. I slid under the bubbles, holding my breath until I couldn’t take it anymore.
When I sat up, head swimming, the bubbles floated around me. One bubble rose out of the bath toward the ceiling. It hung in the air and began to grow. I rubbed my eyes, thinking the bath soap had blurred my vision.
It hadn’t. The bubble was now the size of a watermelon and blooming by the second. I jumped out of the tub as the bubble neared the size of a yoga ball. Water sloshed onto the floor. My heart hammered.
Obviously, the groundhog costume fumes caused hallucinations. I wondered if my dad would count insanity as an excuse to quit. Probably not.
I wrapped myself in my towel and backed away from the soapy apparition. It filled the room until there wasn’t any room left. Then…
The bubble burst. Soap splattered the walls and foam covered my face. I fumbled for a hand towel, wiped off the suds, and screamed.
I was not alone in the bathroom.