Something’s Fishy with this Play – Part I

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Noelle Buehrer

Ah, January. The time to get used to a new year and go back to school. Unless you’re a theatre kid like me, in which case it’s all of the above plus auditions for the school musical. This year we’re doing a musical written by my mom called “Dangerous”. My best friend Stephanie got the lead role, Monica. I got a much smaller role (that doesn’t even have lines), but I’m still happy. Every role is important in theatre. A little over a month had gone by and rehearsals were going great. Stephanie had all her lines memorized, I was given the chance to choreograph an entire dance (which was highly successful). Mr. Mills, the theatre director, was giving the whole cast compliments left and right. Everything was perfect until Stephanie asked to talk with me the night before dress rehearsal.
“Hey, Valentina?” Stephanie said over the phone. She rarely used my full name, so this was serious.
“Yeah?” I responded.
“C-Could you come over for a bit?”
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“I just- I need to talk to you in person.”
“Okay, I’ll be right over.” I rushed down the stairs and asked, “Hey, Mom, can I go to Stephanie’s for a bit?”
“Why? What does she need at eight PM on the night before dress rehearsal?” she interrogated.
“I don’t know. She just wanted me to come over. She sounded scared.”
“Oh, alright. But be back by nine thirty.”
“I will. Thanks Mom! Bye!” I sped out the door, grabbed my bike from the storage garage, and pedaled down the street through the early February snow remnants. I arrived at Stephanie’s house four minutes later.
“Steph?! I called as I walked through the door, which was always unlocked when someone was home.
“Val!” I heard Stephanie call as she bounded down the stairs, “Thank God you’re here. Can we talk?”
“Well I don’t think I came over to play Mario Kart.”
“Very funny. Let’s go to my room.” I followed Stephanie up the stairs and into her room. We sat down on her bed and stared at each other in silence for a moment.
“Okay, now onto why I called you over,” Stephanie declared as she stood up and broke the silence, “I’ve been having this- this really strange dream lately.”
“Steph, people dream all the time. Why is this one so special?”
“Well it’s not just a dream. It’s so vivid and- and detailed. And I’ve been having it ever since I got the part of Monica.”
“That probably doesn’t mean anything.”
“Did I also mention I’ve been lucid dreaming?”
“Okay, go on.”
“So, the night after I got the part of Monica is when it started. In the dream, I wake up, ready for the play and I see this living catfish standing in the middle of my room-”
“So you were catfished?” I giggled
“Val! Not the time!”
“Sorry. Continue.”
“Anyway, there’s a catfish standing in the middle of my room. But not like a normal catfish-”
“Oh, double catfished.”
“Val!”
“Sorry!”
“Anyway, not a normal catfish. It’s like, greenish orange. And bigger-than-human-sized. And standing on its tail. Wait, forget some of that. It looked more like a catfish costume made of plaster. It was also wearing my costume for the play. What happens next varies each time I have the dream, but the most common is that I leave my body somehow and become a ghost or something. I end up going to the dress rehearsal and seeing the fake fish play my part. After the dress rehearsal Mr. Mills tells the fake fish fish dressed as me that it did a great job, with no acknowledging the plaster fish costume whatsoever. I then go home and go to bed and wake up the next morning with no memory of the fish. I go to school that day a bit dazed and during theatre, Mr. Mills congratulates me on my performance at the dress rehearsal and during opening night later, the fake fish still plays my part.”

After Stephanie’s rant had a lengthy pause I asked, “Are you done?”
“Yes. Please analyze.”
“Steph, you’re making too big a deal about this. I mean, it’s just one dream.”
“But it’s been happening every night since I got the part of Monica.”
“So? You’ve had recurring dreams before. I’m sure this is just your brain’s way of trying to replace stress with comedy. You’re going to be absolutely fine.”
“You think so?”
“I know so. I’ve still got an hour before I have to be home. Wanna run lines?”
“Sure.”
I stayed at Stephanie’s house until 9:22, when she started thinking of song references and bursting out into The American Spirit songs every twelve seconds.
I biked home and walked in at 9:28.
“What did Stephanie want?” my mom asked as I waltzed into the living room.
“She’s been having this weird dream she wanted to tell me about,” I answered.
“And she made you go all the way to her house for it?”
“Well, we went over lines too.”
“Okay. Go up to bed. You’ve got a big day tomorrow.”
“Night, Mom. Love you,” I muttered as I began to ascend the stairs.
“Love you too,” Mom called after me. I quickly slipped into my favourite pajamas and climbed into bed, ready for dress rehearsal the next evening.
I woke up the next morning feeling a bit out of sorts. I didn’t even know why. I’m going to fast-forward through the day until third period, because my life is pretty boring.
I was sitting in third period when I glanced over at Stephanie’s chair and realized she wasn’t there. In fact, I realized I hadn’t seen her all day. She’s probably just going over songs or lines or choreography with Mr. Mills before the dress rehearsal today, I thought to myself. Mr. Mills does that sometimes. She’ll be back in class soon.
She wasn’t back in class soon.
By the end of the day, I hadn’t seen Stephanie at all and I was getting worried. Was she sick? Was she going over the whole play with Mr. Mills? Four times? I worried as I walked to the school auditorium. When I got backstage to prepare for dress rehearsal, I approached Mr. Mills to see if he had seen Stephanie at all today. He told me that he had, and that Stephanie was in the dressing room getting ready as we speak. I calmed down and reassured myself that everything would be fine.
The whole cast was gathered before the dress rehearsal started to listen to Mr. Mills. Stephanie wasn’t there yet but Mr. Mills decided to go on anyway. He complimented us on our hard work and wished us luck for the performances to come. As he was finishing up his speech, he exclaimed, “Ah, Stephanie! There you are!” I was so relieved that she was finally here. I turned around to see my best friend, but it wasn’t my best friend standing in front of me. It was a giant fake plaster catfish wearing the Monica costume.
To Be Continued