Miss Mallory had warned them to stay quiet backstage. Their voices echoed through the theater, and people would hear them in the audience.
So Tara stayed quiet. It was her first year, and her first performance, although she had a minor role, only a few speaking lines, she still treasured it deeply.
So she stayed quiet behind the dark curtains, not giving Blake, the highschooler who ran the curtains, or Delilah, a senior and head board member of the Rose Theater, a chance to ask her to quiet down. Silence was NOT the talkative fourteen-year-old girl's strong suit.
She was lucky her mother had found her a theater only a few months after moving to Greenfort, Alabama, and all the kids at the Rose Theater had all been kind and welcoming, despite what Holly, Tara's best friend from her old town in Maine said.
"Those theater kid's are gonna rip you to shreds, Tara!" Holly said the day of Tara's first rehearsal. "They're savage!"
"Oh no, and I'm a huge softie!" Tara said jokingly. "I'm in big trouble!" In truth she had been nervous, but she chatted everyone up and most of the kids had taken an instant liking to the girl.
Tara had recently befriended, Andrew, a funny, kind boy a year younger than she was. One of the shows main characters. And he got bored very easily. Tara stood huddled backstage during dress rehearsal in a small group with Andrew and two other girls named Lin and Maya, whispering, and discussing the other musical the theater was performing in two months.
"I'm not in the show," Andrew said. "But I love the music." It started with him singing a solo to himself. Then he began the main song of the musical in a light, soft whisper. Tara whispered a long, having a fun time with her new friends, and Lin joined in eventually.
That is, until Zoey, the choreographer of the show who was backstage, said, "Shhh,". And so they remained quiet, only whispering to each other occasionally for the rest of the show, or at least until they had to go on stage.
Miss Mallory gathered up her performers after they had run through the entire show and taken their bows. Miss Mallory was famous for her yelling and harsh criticisms, even once telling a group of elementary school children they sounded "Terrible! Just terrible!". They had sounded horrendous, but who says that to children?
Miss Mallory got halfway through her notes before declaring, "I heard singing from backstage! Why did I hear singing?"
Andrew and Tara exchanged a frightened glance. Lin and Maya drew in a breath. Not one of them was a rat.
But Zoey was. Not only that, an unfair, unjust, snitching rat. "It was that one girl..... that red head." she stated.
Tara froze with fear. She had dark, unmistakable red hair. Andrew and Maya both had almost black hair, and Lin's was raven black.
She stood up as Miss Mallory made eye contact with her. "Yes ma'am."
"Why were you singing?!" she shouted. Tara flinched. She was in deep trouble. She didn't want to take the fall alone.
But she wasn't a rat.
"Me and a few others..... were practicing quietly." she said, thinking that was a reasonable, slight stretch of the truth to soften the blow, as Tara herself was in the other performance.
Miss Mallory began shouting how loud everyone was and how things echoed, but Tara was embarrassed and hurt, so she unknowingly tuned Miss Mallory out and sat once the teacher's spiel was done. Miss Mallory ended with, "And don't think we don't know what's going on, cause I see everything!"
Not true, Tara thought. If it was, you would've known that Andrew started the singing! And, she thought, watching Miss Mallory move applaud Lin's singing and a boy named James' backstage work, You would've noticed me fix the lights, and you would've have noticed me helping Charlie-May with her microphone. Miss Mallory had finished, and Tara got up and quickly gathered her bags backstage, trying to escape before she began to cry.
Tara wanted to disappear. Everyone must hate her now! She wasn't going to talk anymore, or sing, for that matter. If she ever came back. She wanted to walk out that door and leave forever. She was forever going to be the motor-mouth, singing red head.
"Hey, don't worry." an older girl named Lucy said sweetly. "She yells that to everyone at some point. Right?"
"Oh, yeah. Girl, I've been yelled at so many times, I'm partially deaf in one ear!" Lucy's friend, Maddie groaned.
Lucy smiled and patted Tara on the shoulder. "Miss Mallory just thinks she has to yell, because asking nicely won't get her anywhere. So don't take it personally, okay?"
Tara felt her heart light up with joy. Not everyone hated her! Not too much at least.
"Thanks." Tara grinned at the two. "I really appreciate that." She strode, still rather quickly, outside, glancing around for her Mom's Nissan Truck.
"Hey! Tara." Andrew ran up to her. "Hey..... I'm sorry you got in trouble..... I can talk to Mallory, and clear up things, since it was my fault-"
"It's alright. There's no point in you getting yelled at too." Tara smiled. "It's already over with."
"I feel really bad though, and so does Lin." Andrew grimaced. "Can I make it up to you somehow?"
Tara let a tiny smile slip. It wasn't Andrew's fault that Zoey was apparently deaf and blind to everyone except her, so she couldn't be mad at Andrew. "Well, you could come to my birthday party in two weeks."
"Sure thing." Andrew said happily. "I'm just glad you didn't suggest like a foot massage or something."
"That would be weird, but don't give me any ideas."
"Right." Andrew laughed.
Tara's mom's car honked at her as it drove up.
"That's my ride." Tara said.
"Tara." Andrew said. Tara turned and glanced at him.
Andrew grin. "You sang really good backstage."
Tara smiled. "Thanks, Andrew."