Time Capsule: “Curtain Call: Happiness Is…”

“Happiness is. . . Simple.”

Advertisements

Still on this road trip back to Louisiana Tech, and now I sit in Starbucks in Manchester, Tennessee. This time the store has been completely remodeled, and it’s just another sign to me that things are changing, continue to change, and will forever change.

(What’s that whole law of thermodynamics about nothing being created but only changing? I don’t know. I do art.)

One of my next destinations will be back to my alma mater, Bryan College, where I will get to visit my friend Alexis Landry, the newest edition to the Fine Arts faculty. Last night she cast her first show, The Matchmaker, and I cannot wait to see her in her element, directing the next generation.

STORY TIME:

My junior year of college, Alexis and I played Lucy and Linus Van Pelt in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. I got to share the stage with some of my all time favorite people. On the other hand, it was a show in which the music director made me cry. I was also struggling to find my character within the freedom given to me by my director. It was a show that challenged my voice range and my ability to carry a musical number on my own. It was also a disjointed concept musical.

But with great struggles come great lessons.

TIME CAPSULE:

“Happiness is. . . Making new friends. Dancing, anytime with anyone. Singing with people you love. Getting to share the stage with someone you love, even if it’s for the last time. Having everyone you love in the same room. Simple.

I’ve learned. . . Sometimes the people you work with are not going to be supportive [in the way you’d like them to be] because they want you to prove how good you can be and that you’ve got to work hard to see the reward at the end. So, take the phrase “It’s coming. . .” as a challenge to better yourself. Sometimes people close to you die, and sometimes you’re sick throughout show week, but the show must go on. Not everything is a [linear] story, meaning character might not develop and a tragic or happy ending may not occur in the end. Sometimes it’s the small things in life that mean the most.”

FLASH FORWARD:

In just a few days, I get to see Alexis Landry, to see the stage we got to share. And this time she’s the director, working with the next greats. And they’ll learn what happiness is from a woman who has had to learn what happiness is in just the same way.

This is a tribute to all the actors and actresses who have shared Rudd Auditorium and Brock Hall with me, to those who came before me, and to those who come after me.

Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 1.22.07 PM

Time Capsule: “Curtain Call: Happy Ending”

“Happy now and happy hence and happy ever after!”

Strangely enough, today I’m sitting in the library at Regent University. I say it’s strange because I don’t even go here. . . However, I considered attending this school four years ago when I visited Luke Fox and took a tour. Now, I’m staying with Luke again as I travel south back to Louisiana Tech.

The trek back to Tech will encompass a lot of visits with old friends that I haven’t seen in four years. And I’m sorry to say that it’s taken this long, but I’m also terribly glad that they’re all still a part of my life.

STORY TIME:

Once upon a time, I was in a show called Into the Woods. You might have heard of it. (Stephen Sondheim, anyone?) I played Rapunzel’s Prince, and it was a blast. That show, directed by Rachael Parker, was the show that inspired me, built within me an appreciation for ensemble, camaraderie, and collaboration, as well as preserved me throughout a summer in which I felt useless. I was jobless and spending a lot of hours alone outside of rehearsals.

I learned a lot about the struggles of being alone in the summer of 2013, but I quickly thereafter learned that no one is truly alone.

TIME CAPSULE:

“If I wasn’t at home or at the Manchester Arts Center, I was surely with the cast of Into the Woods. My world revolved around these people, and I grew to love each of them even more than I thought I could. I met so many new people because of this show, and it’s sad to see that it has ended and we’re all going our separate ways.

A few things I’ve learned from the show: People tend to believe in me, even when I don’t believe in myself, which is an amazing blessing. I have friends who will travel miles just to see me perform.”

FLASH FORWARD:

In a week, I will see my Sugah, my Rapunzel Kate and stay with our Baker Nick. These two have so much of my heart even after all this time. And so this is a tribute to them and the rest of the cast that I still adore.

Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 4.20.09 PM

Time Capsule: “Here I Go Again”

“People come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn.”

Life – is it just a never-ending circle, a constant-going repetition?

I’ve been living my life up here in Westport, just living my life. And tonight I decided to read through some of my old blog posts from the summer of 2012. It’s strange. That summer I had an internship through Millennium Repertory Company at the Manchester Arts Center. This summer I’m the Marketing Intern at Westport Country Playhouse. (Community to professional, and yet the feelings are just as inspirational – if not more so.)

STORY TIME:

In 2012 at this time, I was just finishing up with performances of Les Miserables. I was high on art and work. As the summer was closing, I was ready to leap into school and see where my second year of college would take me. I was hopeful and inspired.

I was so inspired that I was determined to do anything – learn more piano, aspire to set building and scenic design, reflect upon makeup and costume design, and so on… And strangely enough I lost all anxiety of performing. I didn’t know what any of it meant, but I was sure theatre was the life for me.

And who had inspired me the most? Emily Barnes.

TIME CAPSULE:

“The more time I spend working in the theatre, I realize that I really do look up to the older, more experienced members of the cast and crew. One person that I’ve really grown to appreciate is the stage manager. I just don’t know how a show could function without one. Ours especially – for Les Mis – Emily Barnes is hardworking, organized, and she’s dedicated. She understands the actors’ point of view, and she just wants things to go smoothly. I never thought I would be able to handle being a stage manager. Now, I’d love to try it. I’ve been so caught up in acting and dreaming of becoming a director and playwright. But the more I delve into theatre, the more I want to do.”

FLASH FORWARD:

Again, the more time I spend working at the Playhouse, the more hopeful I am about my future in the arts. I’m inspired to take chances and dream up ways that I can better market myself for future applications, because, yes, this is a business, but it’s still art. And there’s a life where I can have art and make a living. It’s just taking chances and making connections and trusting in that voice that guides us on our journeys.

I’ve been so encouraged by the staff of Westport Country Playhouse – their dedication and level-headedness and focus on the patrons. So, I’ll be going back to Louisiana Tech University – the same way I went back to Bryan College for my second year of undergrad – filled with hope and longing for my future artistic endeavors.

Funny enough, what started as an inkling toward stage management in 2012, will soon become a reality, as I go back to study under Ms. Cherrie Sciro this fall.

To quote Wicked: “People come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn.” And, boy, am I excited that I get to learn from those who have gone ahead of me.

Time Capsule: “Highway to Hell”

“Write… So as not to be dead.”

Where did it all start? It started with a typewriter. No, that’d be a lie. It started with those little sheets of paper back in kindergarten – the ones where you have to trace the letters in order to learn the alphabet, to gain hand-eye coordination so that some day you’re able to be read and understood.

That’s when my need for writing was born. And then came the typewriter. And then came the computer classes. And then the internet boomed.

So on and so forth. Thoughts form sound; sound transforms into images; and then I get to type them up, creating some sort of narrative – or non-narrative in some absurd cases.

Writing. To write. Right? Right. Write.

STORY TIME:

Tattoos – I love them. I have two myself, and I truly desire to get more in the near future. But the ones that fascinate me most on other people are the ones that contain a story, whether it be a drunken venture (or mistake), a commitment to a friend’s dare (or bet, in some cases), a hunger to make something special about yourself known, a monument to your belief system, and so on.

So, any chance I get, I ask people about their tattoos. It’s a great ice-breaker, and it never gets to be about the person doing the asking. You truly get to know a person from an image that stays with them for the rest of their lives.

FLASH FORWARD:

Last Sunday I was at a fine arts festival in downtown Westport, and I saw this text running up an older guy’s left arm: “Write… So As Not To Be Dead.”

It got me thinking about our need for self-expression, our need for self-containment and legacy. Why do we do what we do?

The guy tells me it’s a Ray Bradbury quote. I have no idea who that is, but this quote is pretty powerful and inspiring. What makes us tick? What keeps us going? What gives us life? What preserves us?

In some cases, it’s the art of writing. And that’s beautiful to me. Some people feel alive when they write. Like Ray Bradbury, I say, if it makes you feel alive, write.

TIME CAPSULE:

“Let me just preface this post with a statement: ‘I take full responsibility for the crash on Tuesday morning.’ It’s hard to admit that, in the emotional sense, because it puts so much pressure on my metaphorical shoulders yet takes so much off. It’s not hard at all to admit it, in another sense, just because I don’t like to lie. (I hate it. It’s a stupid thing. If you’ve caused something to happen, take credit.)

Now, it’s time for a story.

I was going about 50 miles per hour on a back road, all snazzed up to meet a friend. We were planning to spend the day together. (I was actually on my way to get a haircut before meeting her.) I decided I wanted to wear a new watch that morning… So, I put it on, and I told myself that I would set it to the correct time before getting on the road… But I didn’t.

I got about three miles away from my house, set the time on my watch, but the little clicker nob that starts the battery wouldn’t go in. I looked up at the road, and I was heading over a hill. (Keep in mind that you can’t see over the hill.) I looked down at my watch again, trying to start it. I glanced back over the steering wheel. I was over the hill, in someone else’s lane. And they were heading right for me. I pressed on the brakes. And we crashed.

Everything went black.

Everything went white.

I looked out my window. I saw it through the fuzz, but I knew that I had unlatched my seatbelt. I opened my door. I climbed out into the field and laid there. I was whispering, ‘Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God,’ while all of this was going on. All I could think was, Just breathe. I breathed in and out at 20 times the pace of a normal breathing rate.

A man stood above me. (Later, I found out that he was a mailman.) He told me to stay calm. Once I got my breath, I laughed, and, in my state of delirium induced by panic, I told him, ‘You know, when I was thirteen, I saw this coming.’ He ignored my claim of psychic-dom.

I stayed quiet as a hispanic woman came rushing by my left, jumping up and down for her life. Her hands were shaking so bad that she almost lost her cell phone. She screamed through her harsh breaths, ‘I can’t even dial!’ I wanted to turn to her all smug and smart alec, ‘9. 1. 1.’ But my calm was more prevalent. The blacks and whites were fading in and out of sight again.

Still lying in the field, I didn’t see the man that I had just hit, but I heard him explaining his story to the mailman, and the hispanic woman – his wife – said, ‘Just stop! He already said it was his fault.’ She was done with the phone call. I lifted myself up and looked at my right knee, ‘Well, that’s new.’ I laughed to myself as blood slithered all the way down to my socks. Because of the adrenaline rush I didn’t feel anything, but I laid back down, taking in the sun as if I were just tanning.

An old couple stopped by and asked if they could help. Another woman came from nowhere and told me to lie still. I turned my head toward the mailman and laughed, ‘You know, this is probably the most calm I’ve been all year.’ All stressors dissolved. There was only me and the glorious field. Everything faded to gray-blue.

Suddenly, I heard sirens in the distance. “Are the police for me?… Well, the ambulance,” I asked the mailman.

Then, there was a new lady over my head asking routine questions. She was nice. I asked for my phone. ‘Where is my phone?!’ She kept asking more serious questions. ‘Where is it?’ I felt for my pocket. ‘Oh! Haha! It’s been in my pocket all along.’

I called my mom while the lady continued asking me questions, ‘Are you allergic to anything?’

‘Wasps and zucchini,’ I said to her, ‘At least I think I’m allergic to zucchini because every time I eat zucchini bread my throat swells up.’

She chuckled, ‘I meant medically, but I promise I won’t feed you any zucchini.’

My hands started shaking, and I legitimately forgot how to hang up the phone. Somehow I figured its out, and then, I called my dad, which I didn’t want to do because he had just gone to sleep for night shift. I told him everything.

People were attaching a neck brace to my head, and then I was lifted onto a stretcher and stuffed in the back of an ambulance! Whoever the EMT was, he was nice, too. My blood pressure failed twice because I was shaking so bad, but I think they got it the third time.

I called West – the girl I was supposed to meet. (I think that went well. I don’t really remember anything other than the fact that the EMT thought she was my girlfriend.)

The left turns were bad on my knee on the way to the medical center. Everything was bad on my knee really. I told the EMT that I was prone to panic attacks – oversharing. Then, I had one. In the middle of it, I was explaining that it wasn’t their fault and that everything is complicated. Every question asked brought complications. (I’m surprised I didn’t die of a panic attack in the back of the ambulance.)

I imagined the way to the medical center the whole way. I knew right when we were turning into the ER. All I could think on the stretcher was, ‘What an interesting way to look at the world,’ as they got me out of the ambulance.

Everything was gray in the emergency room. I got asked the same questions again for a third time, so I was spitting out answers like a robot. Everything went fuzzy again until they gave me some pill… Then, I got to ride in a wheelchair. I got x-rayed and my breathing got hard… I almost puked on the nice x-ray lady, but I kept insisting, ‘I’m physically incapable of vomiting.’ (Who says that?) So, she got me a wet cloth to put on my forehead. I left never wanting to go back into the radiology department.

Back in my bed, I examined the weird room. I almost cried when I saw the poor woman beside me. Another woman in room five had fallen down in her kitchen that morning. I just wanted to help those people. In my mind, I wasn’t meant to be there. My dad arrived. I took a picture of my knee and posted it on Facebook, where my manager saw it via my friend Blair. (Today was supposed to be day one of my new job; I still showed up like a champ – on time.)

I got a tetanus shot. I got my knee cleaned by an Asian lady, and she informed me that there was a triangular piece of something in my knee where it had been stabbed through. She gave me seven stitches, and I left, limping.

My dad, stepmom, grandpa, and I went to check out my car, which was totally demolished. We cleaned almost everything out, and we’re still unsure about what stabbed a hole through my knee.

Apparently, I should have died, and I’ll always believe that for personal reasons. I don’t know why God decided to keep me alive. I’ll never know.

It wasn’t until later that I really took account of my injuries. My seat belt left marks across my stomach. Direct center of my chest was in major pain. My butt was in pain for some reason, too. I gained a watch-shaped cut on my left wrist. My left big toe was broken more than likely. It may have just been jammed. I had back aches. But hey, at least I’m still living.”

Time Capsule: “The Show Must Go On”

“Strange as this journey seems, it has its purpose despite my lack of foresight and knowledge of the end.”

Art. I live for art. I hope to make art. I crave an existence enveloped in art, and I am convinced that I was made to be a part of art. So, I create.

And recently I have been so blessed to delve into various platforms of art, to reflect upon my own words, the stories that have filled my heart, and I know that I am where I’m supposed to be despite the uncertainty of my future. But for now – for now I can trust I am where I’m supposed to be.

STORY TIME:

Years ago I took a chance to hop on the Theatre Train. And I do not regret it. I do not regret coming back to it after a two year hiatus. If anything, I am more convinced this is who I’m supposed to be. Last night, as I sat reflecting on my current circumstances, I became more grateful for my summer job, determined to overcome any opposition or discouragement, and hopeful that I can walk this journey to a great end.

My freshman year of college, at a time when my life choices were more influential to my future than I thought, my dad wrote me a letter. Attached to the letter was a photo of him at nineteen in Germany. On the back: “Follow your dreams.” And I think of these words almost every day.

FLASH FORWARD:

At that point in my life, I thought I would become a journalist, an English teacher, and a Director of a high school theatre. But those were someone else’s dreams. Without the words of my father, I would not have made the choices I have made in my life, some that may seem impossible to explain at times – graduating with a BS in Theatre Arts and a minor in Psychology, joining a ministry for a year where I worked as a farmer, and leaving Tennessee for Louisiana. These are just a few examples. But as strange as this journey seems, it has its purpose despite my lack of foresight and knowledge of the end.

I reflect upon the cheerful thoughts of a freshman Justin in 2012 who took the first steps in this direction.

TIME CAPSULE:

“I like where I am and who I am and who I see myself becoming. I like where God has taken me and where He is taking me.

Here I am a Theatre major with a Music minor, studying two things I never thought I’d be studying.

People always say, ‘I never saw myself being here five or ten years ago,’ and we shrug it off. But we never realize that it’s usually the case for most people, until it actually happens to us.

As most things go, Theatre is tougher than it seems, and I really like it when people who aren’t involved with Theatre say things like, ‘I can’t imagine all the work that goes into a show.’ It’s like they get it without getting it.

On the other hand, there are people who are completely ignorant and say, ‘That’s gay,’ or, ‘You have no future,’ or, ‘I bet I could do that. It’s so easy.’ To those people, I propose a challenge: I dare you to memorize a series of notes of five different versions of the same song, lyrics, dance steps, and blocking. Let’s not forget lines and being in front of people when anything could go wrong. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done with my life, but it’s also one of the hardest. Show people dedicate their lives, and I was recently told their souls, to the craft. It’s not a joke, and I would never treat it as such. (Although the soul thing was a joke, show business is not.)

Monday, I think, I had two hours of music practice, then three hours of dance practice. . . Dedication creates a great work ethic, I guess.”

Picture1
Costume & Makeup Class – Spring 2012

Time Capsule: “The Web of Dreams”

“Maybe real life is more magnificent than dream life.”

Following my last short story, I would like to share another one, inspired by the classics and a conversation with my high school best friend Lauren.

TIME CAPSULE:

Lauren Sage, since the age of four, had always dreamed in living color, for she was an avid reader. Throughout her time of experiencing dreams in living color, thirteen years to be exact, she had perfected the rare and mystifying art of lucid dreaming, which meant she could manipulate situations and take control of the dreams.

As a home-schooled student, she was determined, but she knew the ill side-effect of having too much time on her hands, which meant she spent hours in bed with book after book after book. Living alone with her grandmother, she had become so enveloped in the fictional fantasies of princesses and witchcraft that she had secluded herself from anyone, excepting her grandmother. The only trips she took to town were to the local bookstore, and she never went alone.

Grandmothers, as we all know, are sweet, caring figures – never villains or antagonists. So, Lauren’s grandmother had grown to understand Lauren’s strange, hobbit-like behavior. However, she still hoped, like all grandmothers, that her granddaughter would flourish and become a proud, confident, successful young woman. Little did Lauren or Grandma Sage know that Lauren was about to wake up from her thirteen years of slumber.

Lauren got out of bed just like every other day. She looked from book shelf to bookshelf to book stack to book heap. She made her way to the bathroom, thinking of the precious new worlds awaiting her at the bookstore. She took a quick shower and brushed her teeth. When she looked in the mirror, she didn’t exactly look at herself. She tried so hard to wish herself away, as sorrowful as that sounds.

She put on makeup and went to the kitchen, expecting Grandma Sage to have breakfast ready, except there was no sign that Grandma Sage had even gotten up yet. Lauren walked to her grandmother’s room, and the first thing she saw were the tissues scattered around the trash can beside the bed.

“Oh, Honey,” wheezed her grandmother. “I’m afraid I won’t make the trip to the bookstore today.”

Lauren was immediately flabbergasted, taken aback. “Grandma, but how am I to get new books? I’ve read all of last week’s at least twice.” Most grandchildren would care for their grandparents, right? Well, Lauren didn’t. Instead, she fidgeted at the idea of staying home and not acquiring new books. “I’ve never been there by myself, Grandma!”

“Honey,” Grandma Sage said after a near-wrenching cough, “You’re seventeen-years-old. Surely you can manage a short trip to the bookstore. Hmmm?”

Lauren fretted a bit. She opened her mouth in reply, closed it, fretted some more, and finally considered, “If Dorothy can get to the Emerald City in one piece, so can I.”

“Alright, Honey. Just don’t stop if you see a walking hay bell, a green old lady, or a talking lion. And I’m sure a rusted tin man can do no harm, as long as you leave him be.”

“Oh, Grandma, I’m sure they’d be just so gentle and sweet. To think, a green old lady.” Lauren winked at her grandmother.

“Off you go then,” Grandma Sage said with a flick of her wrist. “Don’t get in any trouble. I mean it.” She rolled back to bed, and Lauren went to find her grandmother’s purse so that she could be on her way.

Lauren didn’t pass any strange creatures from fiction on her way to the bookstore, but she did see the strange men and women from her own world. Does everyone always stare at everyone else? When she caught someone looking back at her, Lauren would throw them a nervous smile. Finally, she reached the bookstore, inhaling the aroma of unopened books as she walked in. She gave off a glow, and suddenly all the half smiles turned to gold. But she was entranced and walking blindly. A tall, dark, mysterious man in his early twenties bumped her shoulder.

His stack of books went tumbling to the ground. Lauren hesitated to help, but some human instinct, or another natural force, pressed at her to help him. She reached for a book, and as she handed it to him, she took in his figure. He had princely features, but there was something strangely modern and enticing about him, also. He looked as if he cared strongly about his body. He was a strange mixture of cleanliness and askew. In one way, Lauren could see that he cared about hygiene, for he was clean-shaven and not a hair was out of place.

But in another way, she could tell that he had a relaxed persona by his clothing – artsy. He was dark-haired and had a nice smile. Then, she looked into his deep, blue eyes. And they were looking back!

Lauren staggered and stumbled and blushed just as any other girl would if they were caught looking at someone in that manner. “I’m sorry!” She yelped.

But the fellow stood up slowly, and then he helped Lauren up to her own feet. “No, no, I’m sorry. It was my fault. You were just minding your own business. I should’ve been more careful.” She fell for his voice. Then, he turned as if to go to the counter but turned back, “What’s your name?”

Lauren gasped, blushing again, “Lauren Sage.”

“Cool. I’m Caspian.” He smiled.

When Lauren arrived home from the bookstore, she opened the front door and put her grandmother’s purse back where she found it. Instead of checking on Grandma Sage, she went straight to her room and started reading her first new book. Lauren had decided to spice up her reading by picking out a nonfiction book about deciphering dreams.

She spent hours upon hours in bed, but nonfiction never could tickle her fancy quite as well as fantasy. She read that dreams have a tendency to reflect real life, but Lauren laughed and thought about how her life was completely boring; her dreams were not. The book just made her tired. Lauren finally turned out the lights and went to sleep.

Lauren felt as if gravity was shifting around her, but soon she realized that she was falling. She started screaming, but no amount of screaming could save her now. She fell down the long rabbit hole a few more minutes. Then, she landed harshly in a heap on a yellow brick road in the middle of a forest. She looked all over herself. There were no injuries. Then, Lauren noticed that the colors of her dream were fading. They were turning to shades of gray. Lauren screamed just as she had when she was falling.

“Lauren! Lauren! Calm down!” She turned, and there he was running out from behind a graying tree – Caspian. Presently, she felt better.

“What’s happening?” She inquired. “I always dream in the most delightful colors. These grays can’t be from my imagination.” She lunged at him for comfort, but then she realized that they had only just met. She blushed an unusual shade of gray.

“Lauren, it’s going to be alright. Tonight you’re going to realize just how wonderful life can be.” Serenity flowed from his lips.

Embarrassed, she forced out, “What do you mean?”

Caspian smiled slyly. “As every hero has his journey, so must you.”

Lauren tried to understand, but he spoke with little sense. So, she made a face as to say, “Go on.”

“I’m your Dream Catcher. It’s a figment of one’s imagination that helps untangle the dreamer’s Web of Dreams. Only some remember their journey consciously after they finish the quest. I’m your guide, Lauren.”

“So, you mean to say that my dream going gray is a good thing? Or are you here to fix it?” Lauren still didn’t follow completely, but she tried to understand. “You’re the Cheshire Cat taking me to the Mad Hatter? You’re the Ghost of Christmas Present guiding me to become less of a Scrooge? You’re Jiminy Cricket here to be my conscience? You’re my Silver Shoes and Ruby Slippers about to…” She stopped.

“Lauren, we don’t have time. I’m sure you could list plenty more, but you must follow the not-so-yellow brick road.”

“Will the Wizard be at the end?” She jumped.

“No, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy the journey all the same.” He started walking.

Lauren and Caspian had been walking for at least two hours. They hadn’t seen any sign of life yet. Not one little squirrel was scurrying about. This frightened Lauren, but she kept quiet. They walked a little further, and the weather changed drastically. There was snow all over, but Lauren still felt warm. How can it be winter here and summer back there? This also frightened Lauren.

The only part of the ground that had no tell-tale sign of snow or ice was the brick road. Lauren took in the rest of the scenery. They were in Snow White’s forest, she realized.

“We’re coming to the end of the road. I’m sure you’ve noticed a few things on the journey,” Caspian said. “There is no wild life in the wood anymore. They’ve all been taken captive. And a certain portion of this world is locked in permanent winter.”

“I don’t think permanent winter could be so bad, but why have the animals been taken captive?” That’s such a strange idea.

“They were talking bad about Princess Misty Velvet. You need to know a little about the history of this place before we continue on. Years ago there were Seven Dwarf Kings, each to run his own country. All was well, the governments were manageable, and the animals loved their kings. Then, Misty showed up.

“Since this world is only inhabited by dwarves and animals now, Misty thought she was better than everyone else. She got a big head and used her bright smile and manipulative words to fool the kings into giving her their power. She now owns all of Dream Realm.” They came to the last of the brick road. “What do you see, Lauren?”

She looked all around her. “This is Snow White’s wood, but in place of her house is a grand castle. It’s truly beautiful with the snow. If only there were color…”

“Lauren, it was her wood. When Misty arrived, she killed Snow White. She actually dropped a house on her. She forced the dwarves to get rid of it and build a castle in its place.”

“That’s horrible! Surely she didn’t mean to kill Snow White.”

“Of course she didn’t mean to, but Misty got to thinking about it, about how Snow White was really her only threat in this realm. Misty, like I said earlier, got a big head. Everyone here calls her Nurell now, (It means “unpleasant to the ear” in Dwarf.) but she calls herself High Queen Velvet. She’s the reason the color is fading, she’s the reason there are no animals, and she’s the reason everything is going cold.”

“How can she do such a thing?!” Lauren was really worried now.

“She learned the art of magic from Snow White’s very own nemesis, and then she killed her and took the mirror.”

“We need to get into the castle. I need to see more!” Lauren exclaimed, half out of terror and half out of excitement.

Then, Lauren blinked. “We’re in her bedchamber,” said Caspian. Lauren looked around nervously. She scampered over to the mirror on the far side of the room, expecting to see her reflection. There was nothing. “No one can hear or see us,” Caspian explained.

“Aha! So, you are like the Ghost!” Then, the door clicked open, and Lauren jumped. She remembered that no one could see them and felt silly. She looked over at the figure and immediately thought that the woman was beautiful. She looked like Aphrodite incarnate. She had the most beautiful skin, and she was wearing the most eccentric purple gown. Purple?! She’s in color? “Caspian, why is she in living color?”

“That’s where it all went. She took it all for herself. She took the heat and the color of this world. Because of it, she doesn’t age, Lauren.”

Lauren tried to look past her goddess-like beauty and gasped as she realized that that could be her in a few years. “Is Nurell me?”

“Of course not. She’s everything you want to be.”

“But I don’t want to be hated!” Lauren was distraught.

Just then a female dwarf walked in carrying a tray with tea on it. “The guests have arrived, High Queen.”

“Ah, swell. Let them in to the dining hall.” Nurell spoke with the utmost kindness, yet she seemed so full of herself. “I’ll be down to meet them in thirty minutes or so.” Nurell picked up the freshly made tea from her bedside table and sipped it. It was the most polite-looking sip Lauren had ever seen. The dwarf is gone, so why is she keeping her composure? “There is a distinctly odd presence in here, isn’t there, Mirror?” She got up and walked to the mirror. She couldn’t possibly mean me and Caspian, Lauren thought.

“Only you are in my sight, High Queen.”There came a voice from the mirror. For some reason, Lauren expected a floating face. However, only Nurell’s face was reflected.

“Alright. I’ll trust you. Mirror, do you have any news for me?”

“Actually, High Queen, I do. The Dwarf Kings have been meeting in secret without you.”

“They’ve what?!” screamed Nurell. “They are not permitted to meet. How?! How can they possibly meet?!”

“I’m unsure, High Queen. They have some way of communicating without being in each other’s countries.” If a mirror could squirm, it would surely be this.

“Tell me what they’ve been speaking about! Or you’ll be shattered into a million pieces in seconds!” Nurell raised her arm. Her eyes were glowing but not with living color. Where did that wand come from?

“They discussed how to overthrow you!”The mirror was shaking, but he was safe for now because Nurell just laughed.

“Those insignificant beings have no power over me.” She turned toward the door to leave and raised her arm back over her head. Lightning shot from the wand, and the mirror was no more.

“What a horrible witch!” Lauren screamed. “He was just trying to help her.”

“Come on, Lauren. We have to witness the dinner.” Caspian pulled her toward the door.

The dining hall was massive. It could fit well over eight people, but only eight were there. Nurell sat at the head of the table, glowing. She hid the fact that she had killed an innocent mirror just minutes prior. The Seven Dwarf Kings satin their country’s appointed chair. Lauren saw the strangest names: Surkel, Nursha, Orazeel, Wastria, The Hetherlands, Ixico, and Great Trittan. The dwarves were quiet until Nurell spoke up. “So, I hear you’ve been planning my downfall.”She laughed to herself.

The dwarves, Lauren could see, were a little nervous. But Nurell went on. “You don’t seriously believe you can defeat me? Look at me. I have everything. I even own you and all of your countries. Your wives make nice maids, by the way.” She laughed some more. “I know all of your world’s magic and my own world’s magic. Plus, you’re all a little on the small side, don’t you think?”

The Dwarf King of Surkel had had enough. He stood up at once. “The size of the body has nothing to do with it! It’s the size of the heart that matters!”

Nurell sprang up from her seat, also, and slapped the Dwarf King so hard that he fell to the ground.“Bartholomew, do not speak out of turn!” She sat down gently and giggled.

Dwarf King Bartholomew had to pick himself up off the floor because the others were too terrified to help. He murmured something that sounded like, “And you have no heart.”

After the silent meal, the Kings and witch moved to the sitting room to partake in conversation. It was mostly just Nurell speaking again. But occasionally the Dwarf Kings would make comments about how things used to be before Nurell took control. They compared old times to new. Nurell loved to hear of their misery.

Nurell got up to start the fire once everything was quiet again. It crackled a bit, and Lauren noticed that as Nurell turned, the Dwarf King of Wastria whispered something into his pipe. The flames reached up like a hand and grabbed Nurell’s dress.

The flames had turned red at the touch of the dress! Nurell ran around screaming, “Fetch me a pail of water, maids!” The flames were creeping higher and higher toward Nurell’s face, and finally a maid ran in and tossed the water at her face. The Seven Dwarf Kings formed a circle around Nurell.

“What are they doing?” Lauren asked Caspian. Then, the dwarves started whistling a tune of ancient wizardry. Lauren felt an unexplainable force pulling her toward the circle.

“Go,” Caspian said. “It’s your chance to untangle your Web of Dreams. You know this tune, and they need your magic.”

Lauren walked to the circle, completing it. She whistled with the dwarves and watched everything unfold. Nurell literally started melting before Lauren’s eyes. All that was left, in the end, were the soggy ashes of the purple dress. Then, there was a flash of light, and color filled the room and, possibly, the rest of the world. Lauren looked outside, and the snow was melting.

Seven maids ran in, and each hugged a dwarf. They had been set free. “Now,” Bartholomew said, “it is our duty to set the animals free.” Off they went. Lauren ran to Caspian and hugged him. She reached for his hand to hold it, and she was immediately sent home.

Lauren woke up, looking for her grandmother. There Grandma Sage was lying in bed, still sick. “Oh, Grandma, I had the most extraordinary dream! A witch! I helped kill her, though, I did! Those poor dwarves…”

Grandma Sage smiled at her granddaughter. “I bet there were several colors, weren’t there?”

“No, Grandma,” Lauren almost cried. “There were no colors.” Then, she looked around. “As a matter of fact, there are more colors here.” Maybe real life is more magnificent than dream life. “There really is no place like home.” She sighed, just as she heard the phone ring. “I’ll be back, Grandma.”

She ran to pick up the phone. “Hello?”

“Is this Lauren Sage?” It was Caspian’s voice.

“Yes, this is she.”

“This is Caspian. I was wondering if you would want to go to the movies tonight.”

“Oh, yes!” She blushed. Then, she felt silly because she realized he couldn’t see her.

“Alright. Sounds cool. Meet me at the bookstore at six?”

“I’d love to.” She smiled.

“See you then.” Caspian hung up.

Time Capsule: “The Lone Student”

“Wouldn’t it suck to be trapped here forever?”

This summer, thus far, has been one of great relaxation and adventure. It’s been a summer of self-reevaluation, a summer of separation, and a summer of recharge. My journey has been quite strange, and, like I’ve probably said before, one of tearing and mending. Mistakes and lessons.

Lately, I’ve had to come to terms with a horrible, horrible choice I made. At the time, I didn’t know that it was so terrible. . .

In grief, I burned away much of my memories, and I continue to try to recover those little bits of me.

STORY TIME:

Last week I had lunch with the Artistic Director of Westport Country Playhouse, Mark Lamos. And he’s incredibly insightful. Having lunch with my coworkers and supervisors is one of many blessings of my internship. So, I’m taking advantage of hearing everyone’s stories while I can. I got to know a little bit more about Mark, and, in doing so, got to see a little more of what life can offer.

I got to ask him about his journey, how he became the Artistic Director. He talked about his unique journey – a blend of luck and talent. But the most important idea I could apply to my own place in life: not to limit myself to one title, one talent, not to box myself in and create limits for myself. And that is so incredible to me. He said that people my age tend to want to decide who they are too early. And that’s exactly what I’ve been attempting to do.

Burning away my art, my studies, my memories back in 2015 seemed to be a message to my future self: “You don’t need this anymore.” And my heart aches for that art again. (I don’t recommend burning away letters and lessons despite the therapeutic symbolism.)

Mark reminded me that I could be an actor, a director, a stage manager, a writer, a visual artist, a designer. I can be anything at any time I wish; I just need not to limit myself.

FLASH FORWARD:

In saying all this, let’s take a look at a short story I wrote in high school. It’s hard to believe it actually survived. Haha! Given the burning of the notebook, the loss of my flash drive, the frying of my hard drive, and the several moves throughout the years. . .

The short story was inspired by my dearest friend Blair; we’ve been friends since before elementary school. One day she turned to me in class and said, “Wouldn’t it suck to be trapped here forever?”

TIME CAPSULE:

Blair walked down the narrow hallway, looking in each room as she passed, but no one was there to comfort her. She’d been alone for about three months. It felt like three years. She peered into the glass of what used to be the principal’s office, fell to the ground, and wept.

She lost count of how many times she had walked past this very spot. What else could she do besides cry? The wretched school never presented her any escape. Every time she opened a door to the outside world she would end up back in the art room. Somehow she felt comfort in the little room with its never ending supply of paint, paper, and writing utensils, but she still needed one thing – human interaction.

Nothing was natural about being trapped in this school. She never slept nor ate, lacking the necessity. She just wandered the halls. When remembering the entrapment, a harsh pain stretched across her brow and blackened her vision. She could only remember her friends, her family, and the strange teachers. She clenched her fists together out of exhaustion and frustration, trying to remember the moment that changed her life.

Wiping away her tears, she stood up and walked through the school’s main entrance and was immediately transplanted in the art room. She went to her poetry notebook lying on the former art teacher’s desk. Emotions flowed from her brain and heart to her hands to form words on the empty page.

When she stopped writing, she looked up and stared at the wall for about an hour. She heard a noise outside the classroom and ran to the door. On the other side of the hall was the janitor’s office. She thought it was peculiar that that had been the only door ever closed in the school. The difference this time when she looked across the hall was a man standing and staring back at her.

Blair wanted to run at the stranger and give him a hug, but she pushed that thought away. How could she hug a part of her imagination? It’s true that she had hallucinated many times already. She didn’t like talking to the hallucinations. They terrified her, but this one seemed strangely different.

“Hello, Blair,” said the man. She gasped. He wore a stereotypical janitor suit, and his name tag had “Howard” stitched on it. “Um… Hello, Howard.” She stumbled on the words because she hadn’t spoken in so long.

“You’re not hallucinating. I assume you have been. They usually do. How long have you been trapped here?” The man was speaking so much faster than Blair could comprehend. He stared at her, and she realized he had just asked a question.

“I’ve been trapped here for years, about three,” she whispered. “What do you mean others?”

He stared at her for what seemed like a day, and then he spoke, “I hate this part of the job. It’s always a sad tale, teens ripped from their families and friends only to be trapped in school. It’s the worst kind of punishment.” He looked to be about twenty or twenty-five, but he spoke as if he had lived a hundred lifetimes.

He continued speaking, but this time it was to Blair, “You’re immortal. So am I, if you must know. I, or the school rather, acquires students, such as yourself, every couple of years. You all get pulled out of your time and preserved in this building. There’s only one way in and one way out. Your presence alone tells me that Katie found her freedom. The sad part is that she has to be placed in your time, not her own. She’s probably wandering the streets and seeing all the new buildings that weren’t around when she lived there, or here. It’s a little confusing to explain completely.”

Howard started walking down the hall toward the commons area. Blair, frazzled, chased after him. He eventually sat in a seat and beckoned Blair to sit in the one next to him. “This might be hard to explain. I’m only here when the school decides the student deserves a visitor. I’m as real as you are. I’m as trapped as you are. The only difference is you have the freedom to leave the art room when you want. I stay cooped up in that office for months.”

Blair opened her mouth to ask a question, but she didn’t know what she wanted to ask. With all the time she had, she could have thought of questions, but she never considered she would see another human being. Then the question came to her. “Why does the school push me back to the art room?” When did the school become a person?

“The art room is like the brain of the school. It feeds off the artistic energy of the student it traps,” Howard explained. “Have you ever noticed that there seems to be an infinite quantity of art supplies?”

“Well, yeah, but every art room seems like that to me.”

“The next chance you get try to destroy the art room.” Blair looked for a sign that Howard might have been joking, but his expression was as serious as it could be.

“Will that save me? Can I leave then?” She asked.

Howard made a noise that can only be described as a chuckle. “Don’t be so naïve. The school is more powerful than a mere art room.”

“Then why would you tell me to destroy it?” Blair was getting impatient.

“A few of the others did it, but when they left the room and came back, the room looked the same as it had before they destroyed it.”

“Well, now that you’ve told me, I’m not wasting my energy.” Blair was annoyed, so she stood up and walked to the gym. She could hear Howard’s footsteps as he followed behind her.

“Sorry, Miss, but I’m all you’ve got. So, you might as well tell me what you’re thinking.” It wasn’t a demand but a suggestion.

“Why should I? I’ve done well on my own.” She stopped to face him.

“I’m all you’ve got, and you’re all I’ve got. Plus, I know the way out of this place.” He had a point, Blair decided. Then she realized. If he’s so clever to find the way out, how come he hasn’t left yet? So, she asked as they walked through the gym doors.

He looked astonished at the question, but he finally started talking, slow as it was. “Blair… I’ve been trapped here my whole life. I- I was born here. My father was the janitor before I was and his father before him and so on. As long as there has been a school, there has been a janitor.

Blair had no idea. She was amazed by his honesty. “So, what happened to your dad?”

“To answer your question, I’ll tell you a story.” Blair waited as they walked to the bleachers. “My father had been the janitor for quite some time. He waited through six students until he met my mother. You see, she was a student like you. She was very artistic and beautiful. They fell in love and had me, but the day I turned twenty, their shackles were broken. They were set free, leaving me behind with the janitor duties.”

Blair’s jaw dropped to the floor. Then, she realized that it wasn’t his parents’ fault. The school did it to him.

“You shouldn’t feel sorry for me. It’s the only way for my family to escape this horrid building.”

She could see the sorrow in his eyes, but Blair needed to know more. “How do I get out of here if that’s the only way you can get out?”

“The school has a system of living worm holes. As you know, they usually lead to the art room, but if you’re lucky, you’ll find the way out. Depending on how long you’ve been here determines when you’ll be plopped back into the timeline.”

Blair was amazed at how casual he spoke of time travel. “So, you’ve told me options A and B. What’s option C?” Blair refused to leave him behind, but she didn’t want to get pregnant to save him.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, we’re in school right now. Maybe this is a test. It can’t be True or False. It has to be a multiple choice test. You’re just not familiar with option C.”

Howard got off the bleachers to get a basketball. “Want to play?”

“Um… Sure, but focus.”

“I’m still listening. Continue.”

“Okay, option C has to be hidden somewhere in this school. I’m not leaving you here.” She meant it.

“What’s your theory?”

Blair thought a bit about the human body. She thought about what Howard said about the school and how it’s an entity all its own. She considered that they needed to kill this entity to save themselves.

“How do we kill it?” Howard wondered. “It ‘healed’ the art room when the others tried.”

“I realize that, but maybe they had it wrong.” Blair started thinking. “You said that the school ‘fed off’ the art. Maybe that’s exactly what it does. That means the art room is the metaphorical stomach.”

“That may be the case, but what would be the brain?”

They both stopped and thought. “The office!”

Howard dropped the ball and hugged Blair. “You’re a genius, but how do we kill it?”

“Don’t you have tools? We could set fire to the place and destroy all of the desks, the walls, the files, everything.” Blair was getting as giddy as a nerd in a library and as crazy as a pyromaniac near a flame. Then, she thought, Howard doesn’t smell too bad for a janitor.

Then, Howard spoke, snapping her out of the reverie. “I do have tools. Let’s go to my office.” So, they walked to the janitor’s office. “What would you like? Hammer? Clamps to break the locks on the lockers?”

“Chainsaw?” Blair wasn’t joking one bit.

“There should be some in the shop.” They walked to the shop, Blair holding the huge hammer and Howard holding the clamps.

Blair’s heart was racing with excitement. “Let’s each get one. How will we take care of the fire, though?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll deal with that.”

So, Blair listened to him, and they strolled on their way to the big, bad Wizard of Oz, holding their instruments of destruction. Blair was getting home one way or another, and she hoped it would be this way. She worried that she would go down with the school. They got to the office, and the doors were open as usual.

Blair hoped the school didn’t know what was going on, but, like Howard said, she shouldn’t be so naïve. Her gut was telling her that something horrible lied ahead of them. However, they plugged in the saws and got to work tearing the desks apart. At the same time, Blair hammered on the filing cabinets and smashed the photos. Howard destroyed the chairs. He threw the computers to the ground, and Blair smashed them with her hammer.

If Blair had to describe the scene in two words, they would be “terrifyingly beautiful.” Just then, the saws shut off, as did the rest of the electronics, meaning no more light. Blair heard the click of a lighter as light came from her peripheral vision. She saw Howard’s strange smile as he lifted a paper to the flame. He threw it onto a pile of debris. Flames quickly devoured the office, making its way to Blair and Howard within seconds. The moment they decided to run, the door shut, locking them in. The school was fighting back.

The oxygen supply was shortening, and Howard crumbled to his knees. Blair’s eyes went huge as she fell to her knees as well. The fire was worse than any prick, bite, or sting she had ever dealt with. She thought the reason it hurt so bad was because she could feel Death calling her name. The temperature rose at least ten more degrees as she heard walls crumbling in the distance. A few more degrees and the school, Howard, and Blair met their end.

Blair opened her eyes. There were figures standing above her. Her sight slowly adjusted back to normal, and she saw her dad, little brother, grandma, and a lady in a nurse’s outfit.

“Honey, can you hear us?” Blair’s dad asked.

A weak sigh escaped her mouth. Then, she righted herself on the hospital bed and spoke as clearly as she could. “Did… I get… out?… I got out!” When she moved, a sharp pain shot through her back, covering every inch of her body, and she screamed. Her grandma sat down on the seat immediately beside her bed.

“Honey, you’re here,” her dad continued in a worried tone, “because you got in a wreck on the way to school.” He turned as a man walked in. “Here’s the young man that called the ambulance. Luke, this is my daughter Blair.”

Blair was so afraid and giddy all at the same time. Luke wasn’t Luke. He was Howard.