Stagecraft Chapter Ten
The RSVP card sat at the top of the stack. Wow. He’s coming? Has a director ever come to this before? We’ll see if he shows after the last few days of rehearsal. He’s not exactly Skylar’s favorite person right now.
* * *
“Very strong, Hannah,” Mr. Samuels had looked up from his sheet music. Skylar just stewed and drummed her manicured fingernails on the piano.
“Thanks,” Hannah smiled and stood up a little straighter, ready to run it again.
They sang the song two more times, the bridge four more times, the same three chords resolving the bridge at least ten more times. And every time Skylar just couldn’t hit the end note.
“Listen to Hannah do it,” Mr. Samuels nodded. “You can hit this note. It’s tough for you because you’re almost an alto. And this is a mezzo role. But you can hit it. Right, Hannah?”
Hannah looked around the room for the right words. What the hell am I supposed to say here? What response will keep me in good graces with Samuels and simultaneously keep me from Skylar’s wrath? Hannah nodded silently but basked in the praise. Rehearsals had been steadily improving for her. He’s finally seeing how hard I work. Maybe whatever flirtation Skylar has with Mr. Samuels is over. Or maybe it was all in my head.
She ignored the snide remark from Greg earlier in the day. “Well, of course he’s paying attention to you. He’s totally sleeping with your mom,” he’d laughed. Unlike Greg to be so cutting. Skylar probably fed him that one.
Skylar had enough of sitting through tedious runs of her songs and listening to the director compliment her understudy. “Too bad you didn’t hit the note at auditions,” she’d sighed. Her tone sounded genuine.
What a sociopath.
Mr. Samuels didn’t even catch it. “That’s right. This song is much harder than ‘Maybe This Time.’”
Skylar sneered, “Maybe next time indeed.” Why is she such a bitch? Does she have to possess everything?
“Let’s not be unkind,” Samuels turned to Skylar, “I know you’re frustrated with this song but there’s no need to take it out on Hannah. That’s not what leaders do.”
Skylar sucked her teeth. There was a pause that seemed to last ages.
Mr. Samuels faced Hannah again, “You know, I’ve got a few tickets to Cabaret tonight. The director is a dear friend. Why don’t you and your mother come with? I’d love to introduce you to Stella McKay. She’s just joined the cast as Sally. I think you’d enjoy it.”
Skylar looked at her phone again, “Mr. Samuels, it’s 4:45. Hannah has dance practice.”
Hannah gathered her things quickly, “Thank you for the invite. I’ll ask my mom.”
Mr. Samuels smiled and penciled a few more notes on his sheet music. When Hannah left the room, she heard whispering between them. She shook it off. It’s over. Whatever it was.
And it was probably nothing to begin with. Hannah chided herself—maybe she just read into all those exchanges and looks. He was dating her mother. Mr. Samuels was an adult and a teacher. And Skylar was a girl and student. Nothing was happening.
Tickets to Cabaret! Tonight. And Stella freakin’ McKay! Hannah nearly floated to Ms. Panzini’s dance studio downstairs.
* * *
Hannah brushed her fingers on the pile of RSVP cards. She wanted so badly to know if the Kelloggs and the Bartletts would come to the annual Easter Luncheon at the Clarke Mansion. It was an event started by Skylar’s mother. The property had the most exquisite view of the lake and by Easter, Westchester County had thawed enough to show the initial signs of spring. Small chartreuse buds adorned the large trees—trees that, once fully leaved, would block the view of the lake from the house. The grass was peppered with purple crocuses and the beginnings of daffodils. The forsythia was in its yellow majesty. Naked brown branches now filled with bright yellow petals. And the Clarkes had tons of forsythia. Skylar’s home showed such voracious signs of natural life that it almost made you forget the hard New York winter.
And you could see the property best from the grand dining room with its floor to ceiling windows. Skylar’s mother had an Easter luncheon to showcase the family’s “blessings.” Yes, they had the best property on the lake. Every year as Hannah sat through the luncheon—her whole family invited to witness the Clarke largesse (and celebrate the Resurrection, of course)—she imagined the other family events she’d have to endure. She was sure Mrs. Clarke planned this entire wing of the home—the enormous chef’s kitchen and breakfast room, the hotel-sized dining room, the adjoining butler’s pantry and wine storage, the large stone patio emitting from the back of the house—this part of their home would be the locale of engagement announcements, bridal showers, weddings, and baby showers for both daughters.
Skylar sat down at her desk, putting her body between Hannah and the cards.
“The usual suspects are coming,” she said flippantly and fastened her strappy heels.
“Mr. Samuels isn’t a usual suspect. I’m surprised you invited him,” Hannah remarked.
“Why? We always invite the director of the play. Besides, Mr. Samuels would be your mom’s plus one anyway. Since they are totally doing it,” she laughed. Hannah cringed. Not at the thought of her mother having sex. Well, yes at that too. But she cringed because once again Skylar inferred correctly about Hannah’s life, something that was usually right under Hannah’s pert nose.
Hannah didn’t recall the previous director ever being at the Easter luncheon. Boosters, yes. But Mr. Jacobsen? I’m not going to argue with her though. She stole once last look at Mr. Samuels’ RSVP card. Yes, he is really coming today.
“Still,” Hannah tried to come off indifferent, “he never leaves the city on the weekends. I’ll be surprised if he actually shows.”
“He texted me last night and said he wouldn’t miss it,” Skylar applied some lip gloss and smacked her lips loudly.
Hannah moved away from the mirror. He texts you? No, she’s lying. She made it up. Call her buff. Hannah steeled herself. What was Mr. Samuels doing texting a student?
As if on cue, Skylar baited her friend, “Do you want to see my phone?” She unlocked her iPhone and began to pull up her messages. “You don’t believe me, do you?”
Hannah stayed quiet.
“Well, don’t worry about it. I know what you think. And it’s not what you think.”
“What do I think?” Hannah stammered, and her façade cracked.
“That Mr. Samuels and I have a relationship that borders on inappropriate,” Skylar took off her robe revealing her curvy body. She walked into her closet and continued, “We have a connection, yes. But, Hannah, it’s a professional connection. It’s artistic.”
“He’s a teacher. You’re a student” I want to say so much more. Why can I never find the words when I need them? Hannah fiddled with her phone, a weak attempt at disinterest.
Suddenly, Greg burst in the room. Hands raised, head back, and hips jutted forward, he took a deep breath. “O.M.G.!”
Cynthia followed and shut the bedroom door.
“Greg! I’m changing!” Skylar scolded.
Greg wrinkled his face, “Oh, get over it, Skylar. Like I care about your huge boobs.” He sat down next to Hannah and put his long arm around her. Thank God Greg is here. I have no idea where that was going.
“So, bitches, I have gossip. Three golden nuggets of gossip. First is this: the word on the street is that Mr. Samuels is doing the nasty with drumroll please…a student!”
Hannah the lump rise in her throat immediately. Greg was such an ass sometimes. Did he actually forget that my mom and Samuels are an item? Or is he just borrowing a recipe from Skylar’s wicked spell book?
Cynthia noticed Hannah’s change in demeanor. But before she could comment, Greg squealed again, “And second piece of gossip is, drumroll, please…” This time he actually played the “drums” on his thighs, “The police think someone in the cast is responsible for Will’s death.”
“And Zoe’s coma,” Cynthia added.
“Yes, and Zoe,” Greg dismissed her.
Skylar stuck her head out of the closet, “What?!”
Does Skylar know this info? Is she hearing it for the first time?
“Well, Greg has deduced that the police think someone in the cast did it. He doesn’t know that for sure,” Cynthia rolled her eyes.
Skylar zipped her dress and walked purposefully to Greg, “Explain your theory. I talked to the police too. They don’t think shit about the cast. I could tell.”
Greg got up and Skylar sat next to Hannah.
“Yes, I deduced. But it’s watertight, people. The car had to be from someone in the neighborhood. And the police have started reexamining all the members of the cast. Ipso facto—someone in the cast did it.” Then with a flourish, “Was it you, Hannah?”
Hannah nearly jumped out of her seat. Her face turned white.
“Omg! Kidding!” Greg guffawed. But Cynthia noticed Hannah’s face. Come on. Pull it together, Hannah repeated to herself.
Skylar to the rescue, “It was probz Cynthia.”
Greg cracked up again. Cynthia turned bright red, “Don’t joke about this, guys. Someone is dead.”
Her face darkening, Skylar replied, “I know Will is dead. I was the one who dated him for almost two years. We talked about getting married.”
Greg glared at Cynthia, “Yeah, it was their 22-month anniversary when they broke up. I remember because it was my birthday too.”
Cynthia slouched into a chair. Hannah stepped in, “I think all Cynthia means is that what happened was awful and we shouldn’t be here laughing about it. Zoe is still in a coma.”
Cynthia smiled at Hannah, “And it’s just Greg’s theory.”
There was an awkward silence. Skylar stared at her phone. She played the part so well. Reminded of the love of her young life, Skylar would now hold everyone in quiet contempt while she grieved and looked at pictures of him on Instagram. The light from the screen caught her glittery eye shadow in such a beautiful way. It’s almost as if she had nothing to do with his death, Hannah thought. Then a scarier thought set in. Maybe she’s convinced herself that she didn’t kill Will. Maybe she’s convinced herself it’s all my fault. And if that’s the case, well then, Hannah had no chance with the police. If Skylar could persuade herself of her own innocence, she could surely prevail upon the police.
Now they all stared at their phones awkwardly.
Greg gasped, “Hold on people. Katie Greco is dead.”
A collective “What?!” rippled through the group.
Greg showed his screen. It was a Facebook page in memorial for Katie. “Well, either she’s dead or someone is playing a sick joke.” He scrolled and mumbled the posts aloud.
“Services were last week.”
“RIP Katie. You were the best actress.”
“So sad! I miss her so much.”
Greg looked up, “This is nuts. We just saw her camp.”
Now Cynthia had the page pulled up. One hand over her mouth, brow knitted, her thumb lightly passed over the screen. She wept softly, “Will and Zoe. And now Katie. They’re so young.”
“How did she die?” Skylar asked. Despite this shocking reveal, she continued flat ironing her hair.
Hannah had pulled up a news story on her phone. “It says here that Katie killed herself after she was bullied at school.” Skylar, I hope you didn’t have anything to do with this. A sense of comfort passed over Hannah. The news says the bullying happened at school. Katie went to school in New Canaan. That’s in Connecticut. So, Skylar wasn’t involved. Hannah remembered that afternoon at camp when Skylar asked for Hannah’s help. It made so much sense back then. Would still make sense to her now?
* * *
“Okay, so all you have to do is hang out in the bunk for a little while,” Skylar cooed.
“But what if one of the counselors comes by? What do I say?” Hannah fretted. Why was Skylar always putting me in these situations? I’m always covering for her.
Skylar huffed. Did she really have to explain this to Hannah again? The plan was a simple one. Skylar would get that necklace back from Katie Greco. Katie had been sour and acting out since Hannah got to camp. Katie owed Hannah an apology.
“One of the counselors will probably come by. Katie and I will be missing from rehearsal. But it’s not the first time, I’ve skipped out on rehearsal. I mean, it’s still summer camp, right? Just say you haven’t seen us. Besides, I’ll just be on the lake. When we’re alone, Katie will be more comfortable.”
Hannah nodded. She couldn’t actually vocalize a disagreement with Skylar. She never could.
“Okay, but don’t be too long. And don’t make a big deal about the necklace. She just needs to give it back. It’s all good.”
I do want that necklace back. I want it back badly. That little silver thread was a Christmas present. Skylar had bought it from Tiffany’s. Aquamarine. Hannah’s birthstone. Not quite as cheesy as a “Friends Forever” heart, but sentimental enough. And truth be told, Hannah was elated that Skylar was standing up for her.
“She stole from you. Even just for a prank. She needs to return the necklace. I’m going to make sure she does. But don’t worry, Hannah. It will all be fine.”
And then she just walked away. Didn’t even wait for a response. When Skylar Clarke made her mind up to do something, it was getting done. Hannah just dreaded Skylar’s methods.
Soon after, a counselor came to fetch Skylar and Katie for rehearsal. He was the new counselor. A Yale drama student. And he was gorgeous. His name was Josh but there was already another counselor named Josh at Camp in the Round. So, Greg dubbed new Josh “Hot Josh.”
Hot Josh took a look around the porch, “Oh, hey! Hannah, right? I’m looking for Katie and Skylar. They are supposed to be running lines for Antigone right now. And they’re like fifteen minutes late.”
Before he could finish, Hannah responded, “I haven’t seen them.”
The counselor was taken aback by Hannah’s tone. She waited anxiously for him to leave. But Hot Josh just stood there. Then he knocked on the door to the bunk, “Anyone in here? Katie? Skylar?” He opened the door, “I hope everyone is dressed.”
“There’s no one in there.”
Hot Josh looked at Hannah curiously then walked into the cabin.
Skylar shouldn’t be messing with Katie Greco. Even if it’s on my behalf. And I probably shouldn’t have made such a big deal about Hot Josh liking Katie. I mean, I thought he was looking at her and flirting with her a lot. But maybe he wasn’t. Maybe I didn’t see what I think I saw.
“Josh, I think I saw them walking to the lake. Maybe they went canoeing,” Hannah felt proud of herself. She’d obeyed the instincts that told her Skylar was about to do something awful. And she played it off perfectly. She didn’t rat on Skylar, but this will send Josh straight to the lake to save Katie from whatever Skylar was about to do.
“What? The lake? Nah, they wouldn’t be going there.”
Hannah replied curtly, “Why not?”
Hot Josh smiled, “I know you’re only here for a week. But there’s no way Katie Greco is going to the lake. I mean, maybe you saw Skylar going that way.”
Now Hannah was thoroughly confused. How can he be so sure? Maybe I was right. Maybe Hot Josh and Katie are hooking up.
“Katie would never go canoeing. She’s afraid of water. Can’t swim,” his tone was playful but patronizing.
A panic set in. That’s not what Skylar said. Hannah ran through the conversation from earlier that day in her head.
“I just want to talk to Katie alone.”
“She loves the lake.”
“It’s so peaceful out there.”
“I can smooth things over and get your necklace back at the same time.”
Hot Josh started trotting away, “Don’t worry about it, Hannah. They probably just skipped out on rehearsal. I’ll find them though.”
God, I hope you do.
* * *
Greg was still glued to his phone. “Aww, look. Hot Josh wrote the sweetest message,” he passed the device around. “Should I write something?” Then Greg looked at Skylar, “Are you okay? You haven’t said anything. You and Katie were tight. She was like “Hannah” before Hannah came along.”
Oh God. Shut up, Greg.
Cynthia assented, “Yeah, Sky. It’s okay to be upset.”
“I’m fine!” Skylar snapped then took a deep breath and laughed a little, “Jeez, you guys are worse than my therapist. You need to stop watching so much Dr. Phil, Cynthia.”
A knock at the door. Everyone collectively swiveled their heads toward the would-be intruder. Hannah waited for the “Miss Skylar” from behind the oak.
“What is it?” Skylar called.
The door cracked open. It’s not the maid. It’s Trina.
“Your father wants you to come downstairs.”
Skylar curled her lip, “I’ll be down when I’m done with my hair.”
“He said he’d like you down there as soon as possible. So…finish up, okay?”
A big sigh and then Skylar popped off the bed. She threw her phone down on the satin comforter. “If he wants to talk to me, he can come up here. I said I will be down when my hair is done, Trina.”
“Fine. Make sure you put a cardigan over that dress. You know what your father will say.”
And…fireworks. Greg, who was melting into Skylar’s couch cushions, sat up quickly. Hannah glanced at Cynthia. This is a relief. Thank God for Trina. And no more talk about Katie Greco or Will Bartlett or Zoe Kellogg.
Hannah braced herself. Ooh, will Trina get the full Skylar treatment? She held her breath. About halfway through the initial standoff, Hannah grabbed a pillow to her chest. The same way she would sit on countless nights when she and Skylar stayed up late watching episodes of American Horror Story. Terror and pleasure equally mixed.
“What did you just say to me?” Skylar began.
Trina stood straighter and walked a few steps into the queen’s quarters, “I said that dress is too revealing for the Easter luncheon. You know what your father will think. You know he will…”
“Think I look a lot like you? You’re right,” Skylar interrupted, “This house doesn’t need two women who dress inappropriately and prey on old rich men.” Her voice dripped with sarcasm, “The Easter luncheon certainly doesn’t need two women who, even with an American Express Black Card, can’t seem to pick out a classy outfit. What was I thinking? You’re right. You’ve got the trash thing down. I’ll change. Then we can both pretend like it’s completely fucking fine that my father married Diet J-Lo.”
Trina’s complexion reddened.
Almost forgetting himself, Greg whispered, “This is epic.” Cynthia shot him a look.
But all Trina said was “That’s completely uncalled for. I’m getting your father.” Then she marched to the door.
Just then, Hannah noticed a light and felt a vibration from Skylar’s phone. Only a few inches in front of her, she couldn’t ignore it. It was a text. From Aaron Samuels.
AS: Can’t make today. We need
The screen went dark. Across the room, Skylar’s face went dark too. This fight was far from over. Little did Hannah know how bad it would get.
“Go ahead, run to my dad. He’s already rescued you from your shit existence in the lesser boroughs. He will…”
Trina exploded. She closed the gap between her and Skylar, “That’s enough. I’ve tried so hard with you. But you’re a spoiled brat!”
Skylar fired back, “AT LEAST I ACTUALLY BELONG HERE! Have you looked in the mirror lately? You don’t fit in here. This is Whispering fucking Hills! Did you even know what the word ‘luncheon’ meant before my dad?”
And then came the slap. Trina’s right hand made contact with the side of Skylar’s contoured cheek. The world literally stopped. Skylar clutched her face in horror. Trina cowered backwards. Her expression terrified. Her new life was now in jeopardy. Cynthia ran to Skylar who melted crumbled into her arms. Greg, for once, was completely silent.
The phone vibrated again.
AS: Can’t make today. We need to stop this
Dark again. This what? Hannah didn’t even know where to look.
Brooks Clarke walked in the room. “Enough!” he bellowed as walked toward Skylar. She lifted her face to present the red hand mark on her cheek. Brooks turned to Trina and scowled.
“Everyone get out! Greg, Cynthia, Hannah—take Skylar downstairs. Get her some ice.”
Then to Trina, “Pack your things and go to your mother’s.”
The friends heard Trina stammer a response as they left. But Brooks was stone. Too many important people were coming to Clarke Mansion today. Traditions started by his first wife were never altered or abandoned. A slap wasn’t going to change all that.
* * *
Hannah sat next to her mother at the luncheon. Gillian was more distracted than usual. Hannah was accustomed to her mother dazzling at these events. Her charm and ease in conversation is why she was promoted to English Chairperson. But it seems like all Gillian could do this afternoon was steal looks at her phone.
But her daughter already knew why she was upset. Aaron Samuels wasn’t there. I know that he is a no-show. But does mom?
Across the table, Skylar glowed. Her older sister had finally arrived. Trina was gone for the day (guests were told she fell ill and was resting upstairs). Skylar could be engaging and sweet…when she was winning.
Gillian glanced at her phone once more and sighed.
“What’s wrong?” Hannah whispered.
“Oh nothing,” Gillian smiled widely. “Don’t worry.”
“Mom, you keep looking at your phone. Is everything okay?”
Gillian stuttered, “I—I just thought he’d be here by now. I hope everything was okay getting out of the city.”
“Did you text him?”
Gillian feigned disinterest, “No, I wouldn’t bother him like that.”
“Bother him?” Hannah checked the volume in her voice. A sudden rush of fury came over her. Those texts to Skylar. What a piece of shit. “Mom, you’re dating him. He said he’d be here. You have every right to ask where the hell he is.”
“Hannah!” her mother retorted then checked to see if anyone else noticed their side conversation.
“Just text him,” Hannah cajoled, momentarily reversing roles with her mother.
Well, thank God. Maybe this will all come to a head. Maybe mom will realize Aaron Samuels is a dog and dump him. Unreliable just like dad. Except dad wasn’t sleeping with teenagers. Hannah found herself deep in thought.
“How’s the soup, Hannah? You look like you hate it,” Greg snickered.
Shaking out of the daydream, Hannah laughed it off, “It’s good. Sorry. Was I making a face?”
Cynthia smiled, “You looked like you just tasted something rotten.”
“No, it’s great. Hey, did you start studying for Ms. Connors’ test on Ideal Gases?”
Ricky, who’d barely said anything, interrupted, “This soup is going to give me some ideal gas.”
“Ricky! Enough!” Gillian chastised and he sulked. The Clarke Mansion is the last place my brother wants to on a bright spring day.
Hannah leaned in toward her mother, “Well? What did he say?”
“He’s on Long Island. It’s his nephew’s bris this weekend. He says he totally goofed and mixed up the dates. He said his brother David would kill him if he missed it.”
Before she could stop herself, Hannah answered back, “Sounds like a lie.”
Her mother was silent. Gillian tightened her jaw. She knows something is up. I have to figure out a way to get mom to dump him. He doesn’t deserve her.
Hannah tried again, softer this time, “Mom, you should call him out. I mean he’s—”
“I’m not talking about it right now, Hannah.”
* * *
The hospital lights were assaulting. Hannah tried to focus on the tile floor instead. Why did I let her talk me into this? Why can she not be alone for even one night? Hannah thought of the pile of homework on her desk. I was just at her house for hours because of the luncheon.
Around 6 p.m., Skylar had called in hysterics. Her dad left abruptly after the luncheon, flying to Sun Valley for a few days.
“He said he needed to think in the quietude of the mountains. He said that even though Trina was wrong, I’m awful to her and I need to be held accountable,” she screamed into the receiver. “As if he can’t be around me for even a day! We were supposed to go see Wicked tomorrow and then pick up my Easter present in the Diamond District.”
Hannah rolled her eyes on the other end. How many times is Skylar going to see Wicked on Broadway? Still Hannah’s heart ached as Skylar recounted the afternoon. Skylar had that effect on everyone.
Trina had called her dad. “So many tears when your billionaire lifestyle hangs in the balance? What a gold digger!”
Brooks Clarke called for his private jet. “It’s just so typical of him. This is exactly what he did when my mom was mad. He just up and left. Went to Sun Valley or West Palm or London.”
And so, Skylar had a bright idea. “We should visit Zoe tonight. You’ve never been, and you need to go. It looks weird.”
What if I go to the hospital and see Zoe and can’t control my reaction? What if I’m overcome with grief? Won’t that look suspicious? But Hannah didn’t say that. She hung up the phone started to get ready. She’d barely said a word the entire conversation. When you deal with Hurricane Skylar, you just listen and obey. It’s the best policy. On the flip side, I got myself a front row ticket to Wicked and probably free lunch.
And that was how Hannah Cross came to visit Zoe Kellogg in the hospital.
The first time at least.
It was about 9 p.m. as they walked under the bright lights of the hospital. Lights that stayed bright no matter if it was 11 a.m. or 11 p.m. Lights so bright that Hannah felt naked, all her sins written on her body. Her eyes darted around—night nurses, carts that beeped and pumped, paintings with inspirational quotes.
“Hi Skylar,” a nurse said warmly.
“Hi Amy! Just popping in for a minute. I can’t let a holiday go without seeing her,” Skylar’s voice honeyed and warm.
How many times has this psycho been here? I thought she’d only come to the hospital once. Her ability to lie is terrifying. Yet Hannah felt impressed by it. She steeled herself and flashed Amy a smile too.
“Who’s your friend, Skylar? I don’t think I’ve seen you here before,” Amy asked.
Before Hannah could muster a response, Skylar broke in, “This is Hannah. Hannah and Will were really close. His locker was next to hers. I thought it would be good for Hannah to visit Zoe.”
Hannah piped up, “I just adored Zoe too.”
“Adore not adored,” Skylar admonished with a high pitch voice like she was addressing to a toddler. “We love Zoe. She’s going to wake up soon. We just know it.”
“Well, with friends like you, Zoe has a lot to live for.”
With that hefty dose of irony, the two made their way into Zoe’s room. The space looked more bedroom than hospital. So many artifacts from home and school. Hannah pictured Mrs. Kellogg pouring over message boards and websites for advice on how to get your comatose child to wake up and start living again.
Then she looked at Zoe. But no pang of guilt coursed through her heart. Hannah wondered a moment if she was truly the villain. Why don’t I feel like shit right now? She recalled the reading scenes from Macbeth last year in English class. She thought of Macbeth’s friend—the one he has assassinated. She thought of how Macbeth’s friend returns as a ghost. Here she is. Looking just like Banquo. A life-size reminder of my mistake.
Yet, Hannah’s reaction was nothing like the tragic hero. Upon closer inspection, Hannah began to realize why. This patient lying in the bed wasn’t Zoe at all. Her face and neck melded with the hospital bed. Her chest rose and fell with such subtlety you had to really pay attention to make sure she was breathing. This was half-dead Zoe. All at once, Hannah felt sadness for the young girl in the bed, disgust at the semi-grotesque scene, and relief that Zoe probably would never wake up.
And rehearsals are going so well. And Mr. Samuels had called her mom after the luncheon. He apologized profusely for having his dates mixed up. He wanted to make it up to Gillian. Could he take her and Hannah to see Cabaret this week? He knows Stella McKay. He’d love to introduce Hannah. He invited Hannah the other day but rehearsal ending up running late. He was sorry about that too.
Hannah thought of meeting Stella McKay. It’s going to be magical. Hannah’s number one Broadway woman crush since sixth grade. If Zoe were awake right now, she would have been invited to the show. And Zoe would have met Stella McKay.
Skylar stepped beside Hannah, placed a cold hand on her shoulder and whispered, “See? She’s never coming back.”
This moment is the closest we’ve ever been. Skylar and Hannah were connected, the most connected they’d ever been. Two conspirators breathing with one body that deep sigh of liberation from their sins.
* * *
Hannah gazed at her laptop later that night. An attempt at her Raisin in the Sun analysis essay. But sleep visited her too fast. The blinking cursor like a hypnotist’s pocket watch. Soon she was hunched over the desk and snoring.
It wasn’t Zoe that visited Hannah’s dreams but Katie. Visions of Katie Greco mixed with scenes from Macbeth. A psychedelic pixelated tableau: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth stood there with Katie and Hannah on the Clarke Theatre stage. Of course, Skylar was conspicuously absent. Excused from the scene. Macbeth’s neck was bloodied, his decapitated head reattached for the benefit of Hannah’s dream. He mostly stood there staring at the three other women.
Katie’s voice sounded distant, “She said she’d leave me out there. Out in the water if I didn’t give it back.” Katie’s hair was wet, her skin swampy, almost green.
Hannah looked at the necklace around her own neck—the one Katie had stolen—then she fixated on Lady Macbeth’s hands. The blood on them.
Katie spoke again, “But I asked her. I asked Skylar. ‘Why did you give me the necklace then?’ If it was such a big deal, why would Skylar give it to me?” She was crying now and looking at Hannah for answers. And Hannah felt the visceral choke that comes with dreams and silence.
“There’s some blood on your hands now, Hannah.” Lady Macbeth pointed slowly and stared with deep, starless eyes.
* * *
Startled awake, Hannah breathed fast and hard. It’s just a dream. She checked her hands. What am I doing? It’s just a dream. It’s only a dream. Skylar would never threaten to drown someone. She’s crazy but not stupid. Hannah shook her head lightly and gripped her desk. Wake up, Hannah.
The light from her laptop hurt her eyes. Her fingers found the keys and she searched for Katie’s memorial page on Facebook. She scrolled through dates and times for services, countless compliments and wails of grief. Do I write something? The guilt of Zoe and Will oozed into Hannah’s feelings about what to do for Katie. I had nothing to do with Katie.
She started to type.
I know I was only at camp for a week, but Katie was the sweetest girl. So welcoming and so talented. oxox #ripKatieGreco #missyou #tooyoung
Wow, that’s a complete lie. I mean, I didn’t want her to die but Katie was awful to me. Stole my necklace as a prank. Hannah thought of how Katie convinced other campers to call her ‘Hannah Banana.’ She thought for a moment on what she truly wanted to write. How she wanted to call everyone out for how fake they were being. But then she just deleted her words and kept scrolling.
A post with over fifty comments. Whoa, none of the other posts have any comments. This post talked about bullying at New Canaan High School.
It’s a real problem at NCHS. I hope now they will address it.
The comments were fiercely defensive of the high school. Hannah was surprised. There needs to be villain. Why not make it something big with no face? Like the high school? Seems like a big enough thing to blame for a student’s death. That’s what people do in these situations. They heap all the collective anger on the high school to alleviate the heartbreak of a life ended too soon.
Hannah leaned in and read some of the comments.
She was cyberbullied. It wasn’t kids from the high school.
Hmph. Cyberbullying can still be from your own school, genius.
everyone loved katie
I doubt it.
i’m not naming names but it wasn’t kids from NCHS. it was def those theatre kids she hung out with in the summer.
Skylar. I need to talk to her. What if she… No, she wouldn’t… Hannah wanted—no—she needed this to be false.
Yeah, not the school’s problem. Sure it’s a tragedy but maybe Katie just hid how sad she was. Maybe we didn’t know to help her.
After shutting her laptop, Hannah grabbed her cell and dialed Skylar. Please be awake. I need to hear that you had nothing to do with this.
Voicemail. Shit. Of course.
“Hey, it’s Hannah. We need to talk. Can we meet tomorrow somewhere? We need to talk privately, Sky. I don’t know if you’ve read some of these comments on Katie’s page but…”
An automatic female voice cut her off. “If you’re satisfied with your message…”
Hannah threw the phone on the bed.
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Copyright ©️ 2019 Kristin Sample All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written consent of the author.
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