The Ghost of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

Submitted into Contest #123 in response to: Start your story looking down from a stage.... view prompt


Christmas LGBTQ+

Dev looked down from the stage into the wings at the stage manager, Alicia. He knew that as an actor, he was supposed to keep his attention focused on the scene happening before him onstage, but he was only a partygoer. “Being a true actor means being present in the scene” or the Stanislavski method or whatever the director had gone on about on the first day of rehearsal. It wasn’t that he hadn’t paid attention, it was just that this was his first time in a play. He worked at a copy center, for goodness sake. He didn’t know who Stanislavski was and was afraid to ask. He had decided to audition for the show spontaneously. One day, the director’s son Alan came in needing to make copies of the audition flyer. Dev had asked a few polite questions and the man had said the playhouse was always looking for help, onstage and off. He’d said that auditions would start in about two hours. Dev smiled and said maybe he’d check it out. “No, really, please come,” Alan said. Dev had always been a sucker for the low, conspiratorial tone of voice Alan used. Like it was a secret they were both in on. And his smile, well, it was enough to convince him. So he auditioned and it went well. He was cast. He quickly realized that Alan had only been doing his father a favor and wasn’t really involved with the show, but Dev had so much fun that he didn’t regret his choice for a second.

He loved playing Christmas Future and he even loved being part of the ensemble. He’d never had much of a singing voice, but he could get by well enough just matching whatever the person next to him was doing. For a non-musical where the characters just sang Christmas carols occasionally, it worked perfectly.

The production was exciting as well. Alan’s dad had done a fine job. It was true to Dickens, but it didn’t feel stale. Dev had always been fond of “A Christmas Carol,” ever since he saw the Muppet version as a toddler. His first crush had been on Scrooge’s nephew Fred. His second on the Ghost of Christmas Past. He had been a child, after all. He had even once bored his entire elementary school singing Belle’s melancholic song “When Love Is Gone.” That was the last time he’d sung on a stage until this year. And he’d added dancing this time. The choreographer was a wonderful woman. She’d studied dance in New York but was too short to live her dream and become a Rockette. When she met her husband, she decided to come back to Iowa to start her family. She started choreographing for the playhouse and had never stopped. Dev could listen to her stories for hours. But then again, he was enchanted by everyone working on the production. The stage crew had walked him through some of the specifics of being in a show that he was too afraid to ask the other actors. They’d even calmed him down with his opening night jitters. Jitters that had left him once the curtain came up.

He was glad he’d gotten over his nerves because his big scene was still coming. No one paid him the least bit of attention in the party scene. His sole line in the scene—“A dog?”—had long passed. And he wanted to make sure he didn’t miss his cue. He had to leave the party first so he could do a quick costume change and go below the stage to rise up and play the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Alicia nodded at him and he walked briskly offstage, tearing into a run once he was past the sightline of the audience. He tore off his pants, leaving them strewn on the side of backstage. Alicia was tasked with picking up his clothes after he dropped them so the backstage wasn’t hazarded by his discarded party costume. He had to go from onstage to under it in less than a minute, all while changing clothes. His shirt, he’d found, came off faster if he lifted it over his head rather than undoing all the buttons. Time was of the essence. The scene going on above him was written solely for this costume change.

He saw the assistant stage manager next to the lift that would take him back onstage. And, with a pang of horror, he saw that her hands were painfully empty.

“Where is my costume?” he whispered, terrified he already knew the answer.

“Gina has it,” she said, as if it were helpful.

“Where is Gina?” He was starting to sweat.

“Damn, I don’t know.” She spoke into her headset, “Where is Gina? She has Dev’s costume.” She looked at Dev, her face falling. “She forgot. She can’t get here in time, you have to go up without it.”

“Excuse me?” Dev asked, panicked. “I can’t play the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in my underwear! I don’t think it would make Dickens proud!”

“The only conversation you and I have ever had was about you wanting to make sure we had a different take on ‘A Christmas Carol’!” she hissed quickly.

“You have got to be kidding me.”

“Time to go!” she said, trying to push him onto the lift. She wasn’t very strong and he was very determined.

“Absolutely not,” Dev said, crossing his arms to show he meant business. “I refuse. I can’t!”

“Your funeral, sweetheart.” She sent up the lift without him.

As the lift went up, Dev’s heart sank.

Alan found him after the show. Dev knew he’d be there. Everyone said he always came to opening night. “You did great, Dev. I’m glad you decided to audition.”

“It was an unmitigated disaster!” Dev was inconsolable. He’d ruined the show and this town actually listened to their local theatre critic, who Dev knew was there tonight too.

Alan gave a somber smile. “It’s okay. Dickens did not rise up to smite you.”

“Not yet,” Dev muttered. Just then, he saw the director walking with the critic. He turned to all but bury his face in the wall.

“Absolutely brilliant,” he heard the critic say, “to have the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come played by a single spotlight.”

Dev turned, gobsmacked. His eyes met Alan’s and they both burst into fits of giggles.

December 09, 2021 19:31

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