The play was Narnia.
Amanda had wanted to direct it since she was a high school theater student. Now, finally, the principal had approved it as the fall production. Auditions had taken place the first week of school and the play was cast. It was the second week of rehearsals and already she was convinced. The production would be everything she’d hoped.
It was the scene where the white witch takes Edmund through the forest, the Turkish Delight scene. The witch and her sidekick were on stage, pretending to be standing in a sleigh. Only Edmund was missing.
“So . . .” Loren Pace, the witch, glared at her sidekick. “Where’s Edmund?”
They were improvising, filling in until the kid playing Edmund remembered his cue. The sidekick was quirky. She scratched her head and did a sideways hop. “I don’t know where he is?”
“Well!” Loren fired the word like a canon. “Where’d you put him?”
At that moment, Edmund walked on and dusted off his pants. “I was caught . . . caught in a thicket.”
Amanda let the scene go without interrupting it. Live theater required adjusting to timing issues and covering for each other in situations like this. She was proud of them for pulling it off. “Continue,’ she was on her feet, waving her arms toward the stage. “Good cover, keep moving.”
She sat down and pulled her production schedule from the nearest drawer. It was the busiest fall since she’d been at Woodland High. Showcases for the students at two different assemblies, weekend acting workshops and enough rehearsals to have Narnia ready the first week of November.
No time for a weekend jaunt to Twin Rocks, not even if she was interested.
The kids kept running lines, kept moving through the play, but another scene came to mind. She and Josh at rehearsal all those long weeks the summer before their senior years in high school. Josh was Gaston, the boastful villager, and she was Beauty.
Acting uninterested in Josh was the toughest acting role she’d ever had. One afternoon they snuck off to the props room to find Gaston’s sword, and instead they started kissing. They didn’t stop until they heard someone cough a few feet away. It was the director.
“Beauty doesn’t fall for the beast.” She gave Amanda a stern look and pointed back toward the stage. “Let’s try to remember that.”
After the first performance, the entire cast went out for milkshakes. She and Josh found a bench and snuggled together. The moon had never been brighter.
“Can you feel it, Amanda?” He found her eyes and neither of them looked away.
She wondered if he could hear her heartbeat. “What?”
“Whatever this is . . . what’s happening between us. . .” a crooked grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. He shrugged. “I can’t stop thinking about you.”
She felt the same way, like she was the crazy person caught in the dessert, and he, the long cool drink. She couldn’t get enough of him. A cool breeze wafted up from the water and in the distance a foghorn sounded. She looked to the deepest parts of him. “I remember the first day I saw you.” A laugh tickled her throat. “I was twelve and I told my sister that one day . . .”
He ran his thumb along her hand. “One day what?”
“One day . . . I’d marry you.”
His eyes shone. He leaned in and kissed her forehead. “You know when I’m going to tell that story?”
“At our wedding reception.”
There was a loud sound and Amanda jumped in her seat. At the front of the room, one of the actors had a stick in his hand. He cleared his throat. “Ms. James, yes or no?”
Yes or no? Amanda stood, willing away the heat that filled her cheeks. “I’m sorry . . . I missed the question.”
The boy rolled his eyes. “Do you want the beavers upstage or downstage in the next scene? I think they should be upstage.”
Amanda had no idea. She grabbed the nearest script and gave it a quick once-over. “Yes,” she still wasn’t sure. “Upstage.”
Again she took her seat. Enough of the memories. So what if October 1st was coming up? Josh Nelson would’ve forgotten all about her by now, right? What they’d shared was . . .well, it was the sort of young love that people learn from. Not the kind that made two adults drop what they were doing and head for a covered footbridge on the coast of Oregon.
But what if it was? The possibility stayed with her, gracing the walls of her heart throughout the afternoon. Even while she was thinking about how little time she had before the show, she pulled the calendar near again. Then, just in case, she did something she’d been wanting to do all day.
She took a red pen and in the square marked October 1 she wrote this: