Think of everything we’ve missed.
Every touch and every kiss.
Because we both insist.
No matter how close, you are always too far
My eyes are drawn everywhere you are
Suddenly, I didn’t want to be here anymore. I couldn’t be this close to him. I was going to go crazy. It was stupid… even more stupid than having a one-night stand would have been, but I liked him. He didn’t like Shakespeare, and he rode a motorcycle, and he was my teacher… but I liked him.
I’m done. I won’t ignore.
I won’t pretend or resist.
I want more.
Lindsay finished out the last few chords, then stuck her tongue out and said, “Blech. Happy, Kenny?”
Cade laughed and gave a loud whoop! The crowd started clapping and whistling. I tried to raise my hands to join, but they were like lead in my lap.
I looked at Garrick, and this time he was looking at me. His eyes were dark, and when we connected, he made no effort to look away. Maybe I hadn’t been imagining his stare earlier. We watched each other as the clapping died down, and for the first time in my entire life I really understood that “heart beating out of your chest” thing because it felt like there was something inside of me, desperate to get out.
Before I went crazy, I ripped my eyes away, stood, and pulled Cade up by his elbow.
“Hey, what’s up?” He was so good at reading me, and I watched as his eyes went from amused to concerned. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah, of course. I’m just tired. Can you take me home?”
“Sure, of course.” He pressed a hand to my cheek like he was my mother checking my temperature. He barely took his eyes off me as he said, “Thanks for letting us share your table, Mr. Taylor. See you Wednesday.”
“It’s Garrick, Cade, please. You two have a good night.”
Garrick looked only at Cade as he spoke, which was probably for the best. With an arm wrapped around my shoulder, I let my friend lead me out an archway on the side of the property that led to the parking lot.
I’d never been so glad to climb into a rusty car that smelled faintly of oil and cheese. Cade climbed in beside me. “You sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah, I promise, I’m just tired.”
“Okay.” He didn’t look convinced. “Let’s get you home then”
He turned the key, and nothing happened. No engine, no lights, nothing.
“What?” I asked. “What does that mean?”
“It means my car is a piece of crap.”
He turned the key again, and when nothing happened he slammed a palm into the steering wheel. I pulled my legs up into the seat and laid my head against my knees.
“Hold on a sec.” Cade climbed out of the car, and popped the hood. I stayed curled up in my seat trying to mentally erase the last 24 hours from my brain. Somewhere between analyzing every look Garrick had given me tonight and planning out what I would say and how I would act in our next class, I must have fallen asleep.
The next thing I knew, Cade was shaking me awake, and the car was definitely still not on.
I rubbed at my eyes, and climbed from the car.
“Sorry, I guess I was even more tired than I thought.”
“Listen, we can’t get the car started, and we’ve tried everything we can think of.”
My brain didn’t register the “we” until the hood started lowering, and Cade was still standing beside me.
And of course, there was Garrick again. Because the world just couldn’t make anything easier on me.
“We even tried jump-starting it using Mr. Taylor’s bike.”
“I told you, it’s Garrick, Cade.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. So anyway, since I don’t live far away…”
Oh lord. No. Please no. Cade was an RA in one of the dorms, which meant he could walk home. I, on the other hand, lived a few miles from campus.
“I asked Mr. Taylor, and he said he could give you a ride home. Turns out you guys even live in the same apartment complex.”
“You don’t say.” I tried to turn my gritted teeth into a smile. “That’s nice of him, but I can just call Kelsey to come get me. It’s no big deal.”
“But y’all are going to the same place…” Cade’s confusion was endearing, but I sort of wanted to kick him in the shins.
“Bliss,” Garrick interrupted. God, I would never get tired of hearing him say my name is his delicious accent. “It’s fine. Really. I don’t mind, and I’ll have you home in no time. I promise.”
He was looking at me like this was the most casual thing in the world. Like having my arms wrapped around him as he drove would be totally okay. Like I didn’t still have a bandage on my leg from the last time I’d been on that bike.
Cade yawned. He looked as tired as I felt. I knew if I pushed the issue, and wanted to wait for Kelsey, he would wait with me.
I rubbed at my eyes, and took a deep breath.
It wasn’t deep enough.
“Okay, fine. Thanks… Mr. Taylor. And I’ll see you tomorrow, Cade.”
Cade smiled, oblivious to my torment, and said, “Great!”
He placed a quick kiss on my forehead, said goodnight to us both, and then jogged across the road and onto campus.
I didn’t even bother with the calming breath this time. I knew it wouldn’t help. I set my shoulders, and turned to face him.
He watched me for a second, frowning, and then said, “You cannot call me, Mr. Taylor.”
Despite the tension between us, I laughed. It really was ridiculous… considering. “Okay… Garrick.”
There was no good way to do this, so he just handed me the helmet, and climbed on the bike. He didn’t have to tell me to be cautious of the exhaust pipe as I got on the bike, but he did anyway.
Tonight he had on a light jacket because a cold front (or well… as cold as it got in Texas) had just come through. I held onto the jacket instead of him. The ride was even scarier without something more solid to hold on to, but I refused to wrap my arms around him. Mostly because I wasn’t sure I would have the willpower to unwrap them if I did.
When we arrived, I was off the bike in seconds. I think I said goodbye. Honestly, I was so panicked that I just bolted. And he let me. When I slipped inside my apartment, I risked a glance back. He was still on the bike, and after a second, he started it back up, and took off. I watched him go, battling crazy urges to follow him.
No matter what I was feeling… there couldn’t be anything between us.
Wednesday, I waited in the greenroom until the very last minute, so that the class would already be full by the time I got there. I had my headshot and resume with me as assigned, and I took a seat with Cade way off to the side, so that there were about a dozen people between Garrick and I.
About a minute after nine, Garrick called the class to order.
“Alright, then. Like I said Monday—we’re not wasting any time. We’re jumping into the thick of things. Today, you’re doing mock auditions using cold readings from A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. If you haven’t read it, you should be questioning your major right about now. I’ve split you into pairs. Those assignments along with the side you’ll be reading are on the table to my left. I’ll send you outside and you’ll have ten minutes to prepare before I call in the first group. You’ll note that the scene I’ve chosen from the play is the scene leading up to the climactic moment where Stanley rapes Blanche, his wife’s sister.”
“Dude, he rapes her?” That would be Dom, obviously one of those ones that should be reconsidering his major.
“Yes, Dom. Now the difficulty of auditions is that you often must depict climactic scenes without the benefit of having an entire performance to build to that point. You’re going into this emotionally blind. The moments before you audition are extremely important. You have ten minutes to find a connection with your partner and with your character. Good luck!”
He stepped to the side, and it was like Black Friday at Walmart as actors rushed the table, trying to grab a side and find out their partner. I wasn’t really feeling up to jumping into the mob, but Kelsey grabbed me by the elbow and didn’t give me much choice.
I grabbed the side, recognizing the scene. Garrick wasn’t kidding about starting right at the climax. Blanche is pretty much bat-shit crazy already. I glanced at the assignment sheet and wouldn’t you know it… I was paired with Dom.
I pressed a hand to my forehead, a dull throbbing beginning just over my left eye. Dom swung an arm over my shoulder a moment later.
“What do you know Blissful, we’re together again.”
I shrugged off his arm and headed toward the door. “Let’s get this over with, Dominic.”
When I exited the theatre, pairs were already camped out in various places throughout the hallway. The only spot left was directly in front of the theatre doors, which was almost guaranteed to make us the first group picked. That meant we’d have less preparation than everyone else. The thought made me feel like I was going to break out into hives, but clearly the world was against me today. Whatever, at least I’d be done with class early.
“Alright, Dom, let’s see what we’ve got.”
I spent most of the ten minutes explaining the play and the scene to Dom. He was one of those guys that had a good look and was pretty good at playing the over-confident douche bag (mainly because he was an over-confident douche bag), but that was about it.
“So, my guy is drunk, right?”
“Sweet. And you’re crazy?”
I sighed. “Well, sort of. I’m a little delusional, and you destroy those delusions.”
“Great. Then I attack you.”
I rolled my eyes. What was the point?
“Yes, sure. Anyway, I’m going to open sitting in the chair, and you’ll enter from stage left, okay? I can’t imagine him making us do the whole scene because it’s kind of long.”
And that was all we had time for because the door opened and Garrick’s eyes fell on me. “Bliss, Dom, you ready?”
Dom pulled me to my feet against my will, and said, “Sure thing, Garrick.”
Ready was the exact opposite of how I felt. I hated being unprepared.
Garrick took our headshots and résumés and looked over them in silence for about a minute. I grabbed a chair and moved it to the center of the room and took a seat. I folded my audition side so that the paper wasn’t too big and unwieldy. He had us introduce ourselves as if we’d never met him, and then he gave us permission to begin.
The scene opened with Blanche dressed in all her finest clothes (including a tiara) talking to imaginary suitors at an imaginary party.
It took me a few seconds to get into the scene because my own feelings of dread and unease were so contrary to Blanche’s blissful ignorance. But once I got there, it was easy to block out the room around me and lose myself in her laughter and her dreams and her delusions. When Dom swaggered into the space, I had to admit, he made a great Stanley. Despite knowing absolutely nothing about the play, he exuded Stanley’s charisma, his absolute disregard for Blanche.
I used my unease about the situation with Garrick, letting it seep in and directing it towards Dom. After another half a page, Garrick stopped us.
“Good, good. Bliss, you started a little unsure, but you were dead on by the end. Dom, I think you’ve got a really good grasp on Stanley.” I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. “But… I’m not feeling as much connection on your side as I am with Bliss. She’s aware of you at all times, adjusting her movements to your movements. I need to see you reacting a little bit more. Let’s skip forward to right before you re-enter from the bathroom. Start with Blanche calling Western Union, and let’s see if we can’t really concentrate on connecting with each other.”