|Watchers & Dancers
Author: ArmarielRoZita PM
This is an updating of Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic, Little Women, which dares to ask: What might the March sisters have been like if they had been living in the present time? It is not a parody or satire, but a respectful, gently humorous, and affectionate take on a strangely timeless tale. Now complete!Rated: Fiction T - English - Family - Chapters: 30 - Words: 107,815 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 05-14-13 - Published: 11-17-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3075262
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
21. Pandora's Box
"You were right, Jo," Meg said next morning as they were getting ready for church. "About Eddy using Sally, I mean. She knows it now, and she's heartbroken. I could just shoot him. God forgive me for thinking that, but it's true."
Jo was a little shocked at Meg's confession, but relieved that she was finally over Eddy Moffat.
"So...there's a chance for Michael now?" she said as she sat and studied her comb as if it had suddenly become very interesting. The little girls were still at the Laurences', having had a sleepover with Gracie the night before. Their mother had had serious misgivings about Beth spending the night away from her, but Mr. Laurence had assured her that Beth would be in good hands, and so she had finally consented.
"Maybe," Meg admitted. "I really don't care if I ever see Eddy again. In fact, I hope I never do. Poor Sally, I just hope she gets over him soon. But I'm not counting on it."
"She's not mad at you, is she?" Jo asked.
"I think she is, just a little," Meg sighed. Her lips quivered a bit. "Really, she should have known that was what he was doing. Why else would he date her? I guess she was hoping he would come to like her eventually. I should have seen it, and warned her about it. Yes, you can say 'I told you so' if you like. I feel awful, like I helped ruin her life, and could have prevented it. I'm worried now about what she'll do."
"You didn't ruin her life," Jo said. "She'll get over him. It might take a while, but she will. Girls don't die for love anymore. That's just in old songs and tales and stuff. She'll find somebody else, and everything will be just ducky for her again."
She was not sure she truly believed that, herself.
"I hope so," Meg said. She sat on the edge of the bed in her slip, hairbrush in hand, staring morosely at the mirror, then at the window.
"I like Michael," Jo said. "I hope he'll get to stop pining away for you and have a chance at true happiness now. If he only had a different name."
"I don't know," Meg said. "I hate to keep leading him on. I just don't know what to do. I don't want to mess up his life along with Sally's. Sometimes I just wish there was no such thing as falling in love and we could just meet the ones we're going to marry when we're ready and not have to go through any heartbreak and all. Life would be so much less complicated."
"Well, as Hannah would say..." Jo glanced sidelong at her sister.
"It gets worse," Meg finished. "Great, just what I needed to hear."
"Well," Jo said, "the Vaughns have invited us and Theo up to Bar Harbor this summer. Think you'll go? It might do you some good to get away from here for a while. Give you a whole new lease on life and all that happy hoss crap."
Meg shrugged, then rose to go to the closet to choose an outfit. "Maybe I will. I'd love to get away, it's so dreary around here now. You like the Vaughns?"
"They're ok. Although Fred cheated at Farkle, I think."
"Yes, I saw that. It was good of you not to get riled at him."
"A year ago I would have clobbered him," Jo said as she put on her grey dress. "But I was remembering what Mom said to me just that morning. That she was proud of the way I had been controlling my temper and all. I didn't feel like I really deserved the praise after that business with Amy and my book... Frank seems to like Beth a lot," she noted.
"I saw that too. He'd better be good to her."
"That's what I was going to say. Theo says he's changed a lot since his accident. Said he and Frank and Fred used to get up to all kinds of devilment, when he was up there visiting them in the summertime. He said Frank was the worst one. He wouldn't have looked twice at Bethy then. Now he's totally different."
"Funny that Beth should be the first of us to have a boyfriend," Meg said as she took out her turquoise dress to put on. "I always thought she'd be the last, if she got one at all."
Jo was silent for a moment, remembering how John Brooke had looked at Meg...while all along Kate was looking at him. She wondered if she should say anything about it.
She wouldn't have thought Kate would look twice at him. He was hardly in her league.
Being grown up was not all it was cracked up to be, she concluded, not exactly for the first time.
Hey Theo! Did you ever do anything so stupid you felt like socking yourself on the jaw?
Yeah, a time or two. How do you think I ended up here? Tho I guess it turned out to be a good thing I did, after all. So, wuzzup?
I just did something so f-ing stupid I felt like socking myself on the jaw. I didn't realize Lana Babcock had a youtube channel. Dang, WHY didn't I think of that sooner?
How did you find out?
I was sitting at Dave here minding my own business, and it just occurred to me out of the proverbial blue. Shit, of all the people who would have a youtube channel, it should be HER, KWIM? Well, I found it, and she's got like about 12 vids on it. One of them she's actually singing "Over the Rainbow". Can you imagine? She starts out saying, "This goes out to my sister who was senselessly taken from us in the prime of her life" or something like that. Then she just kind of whispers "This one's for you, Diana" into the mic and all. And she tries to look all sad and soulful and everything, and I almost had to grab the wastebasket and puke.
Wow. Where do I find them?
Careful what you ask for, dude. There's one of her singing "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret, and one with "Send in the Clowns" and another with "Stranger in Paradise" and "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and of course "On My Own" from Les Mis, and she's got on a different sparkly little dress in all of them. Jeez Louise, how many sparkly little dresses can one 17-year-old girl own?
Did you watch them all?
Not yet. I had to let my stomach settle after each one, watch something good to take the taste of them out of my mouth.
Why are you watching them if they're so bad?
Looking for clues, I guess.
Not yet. There's also some vids Diana is in. I haven't watched those yet. Do a search under lababcock. LOL, I'm not the only one who calls her that. She calls herself. Guess the first A stands for Alyssa, that's her middle name. Be sure to have some barf bags handy.
Sure you're not just a little bit jealous Jo? LOL
I'm a whole lot jealous, but that's beside the point.
Well. Want me to come over there or do you want to come over here?
I'll come over there. Somebody else might want Dave. Besides, your puter is faster.
By the time Jo managed to get to Theo's, about an hour later, he had watched all of Lana's videos. And did not appear any the worse for it, strange to say.
"What am I supposed to be looking for, Jo?" he asked as he fired up his computer. "All I saw was a girl in a sparkly dress singing. A little stuck on herself maybe, but that's not exactly a crime. She's got a damn good voice, although she kinda lacks something. Some kind of...star quality, or whatever. There's no heart or soul there."
"You ain't a kiddin'," she said. "Let me show you something..." She typed in a name in the browser and clicked on it. "There's a duet between Diana and Lana. You just won't believe what song they're singing."
"Is it the 'Friendship' song?" he asked with twinkling eyes.
"It's 'Wind Beneath My Wings,'" Jo said. "The song that was sung at Diana's funeral."
"Hmmm. Well, that's pretty weird, but... So you went?"
"No, I read about it in her obituary. Watch it, if you think you can stand to."
They watched the video for a minute. Theo slowly shook his head.
"So that's Diana," he said as he gazed at the dark-haired girl in the simple white dress that had only a tiny bit of sparkle on it, her only jewels a small pair of crystal earrings and a silver ring.
"Gorgeous, huh?" Jo said with a touch of envy. "I've seen her in person in a couple of musicals. She played Maria in West Side Story and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Meg had to drag me kicking and screaming to see those with her, but I really enjoyed them once I was there... Now watch Lana's expression here. Fair warning, it's frickin' scary. Here, get in on full screen." She took the mouse from him and right-clicked to bring the video to its full resolution. "Otherwise you might miss it."
"I see what you mean," he said a moment later, with a little shiver at the malevolent hatred that flickered over Lana's visage, for only an instant, but once seen, could not be unseen. "Still, it's not exactly conclusive, is it?"
"It's conclusive to me," she said softly. "And now I wish I'd never watched it. I feel almost dirty. As if I'd had something to do with it. I wish I hadn't told you to watch it. I'm sorry I did. I've opened Pandora's box, and there's no closing it now."
"Guess we won't have to play Hamlet after all, what?" he said, looking as glum as she felt.
"Guess not," she said. "We'd better keep this to ourselves. Just our little secret, right?"
"Right," he said, sounding as though he had aged a full year in the course of a few hours.
CAST LIST for Les Miserables
Jean Valjean...Adam Wexler
Bishop of Digne...William Anthony Horst
Monsieur Thenardier...Stan Luckett
Madame Thenardier...Mary Luckett
Little Cosette...Stephanie Wexler
Little Eponine...Chloë Anderson
Convicts: Elliot Stokes, Brian McGowan, Keith Ripperton, Ray Maddox
Factory workers: Deborah Weinstein, Jodie March, Inez Rodrigues, Tiffany Anderson, Sally Gardiner, Karyn Finney, Nikki Landon
Jo had worried about the "Friendship" song for two weeks, practicing it over and over with coaching from Meg and Mr. Brooke, until she pretty much had it down pat, or at least as pat as it was going to get...and then it turned out she didn't have to audition after all. She had been admitted to the cast simply on Meg's recommendation, as was Theo. Jo would have not only one, but three costumes, since she was playing a factory worker, an inn guest, and a revolutionary (since her voice was naturally low pitched, she could sing tenor if she didn't bellow) along with Theo and Michael. Amy and Beth were also admitted as chorus singers.
The director was Marguerite Foster, head of the Arts Foundation. She was a rather big woman in her late fifties, with a mop of greying black curls, a booming voice and a hearty sense of humor. Jo liked her, although she confided to Theo that she looked like a man in drag but for the wild curls. Likely she didn't take any guff from any prima donnas of either sex.
"I'm so glad Stephanie is playing little Cosette," Meg said as she and the others stood about the Arts Council practice room looking at the cast list. "I knew she would. She was Amaryllis in The Music Man, you know. She really can play the piano and she can sing and act. And she's a darling little girl, not a bit conceited or spoiled like you might expect. Isn't it neat that she's Valjean's daughter in real life too?"
"But she's a blonde and you're not," Amy said. She had hankered after the role herself, but she was too old for it, and she didn't have a very strong voice. And there was also the small fact that, as Jo had noted to herself, she couldn't act for sour apples. "You'll have to bleach your hair, Meg, or wear a wig."
"People's hair sometimes darkens as they get older," Meg said. "And Sally said she'd put some streaks in mine before the performance."
"Isn't it cool that we're ALL going to be in it?" Beth said. "Except Mom and Dad. And Hannah. I wish Dad could come in time to see it."
"Maybe he will," Jo said. "I hope, I hope."
"Jeremy Wexler is a creep," Amy grumbled. "He's the one that put the glue in my hair last year."
"But it washed out easily enough when Mom soaked it in warm water," Meg pointed out. "And boys will be boys, you know. I doubt he'd do it again."
"I'll thwap him a good one if he does," Jo said with a wink at Amy. "I'm guessing he'll steal the show. He's a real character. I'm not surprised he got the part of Gavroche."
"Who's Lucy Maddox?" Theo asked.
"She's director of the children's choir at our church," Meg said. "Ray is her husband. He's band director at the Middle School. Hasn't Mr. Brooke ever spoken of the Maddoxes to you?"
And she glanced about as if to see if John were in the room hearing her. Apparently he was not.
"He might have," Theo said, "and I just wasn't paying attention."
"Seems funny she's going to play a prostitute," Jo said sitting down on one of the risers. "Wonder what people at church are gonna think about that."
"To think the Lucketts are playing the Thenardiers," Beth said. "It's weird that Mrs. Luckett is playing such a mean lady. She's a real sweetie in real life, and she has the most adorable little boy just three years old. I baby-sitted him once. I wonder how she'll manage."
"I hope I get a decent costume to wear," Amy said. "I sure don't want to get on stage looking totally stupid."
"They're going to try to work in a swordfight," Theo said brandishing an imaginary blade. "Ms. Foster said that when I mentioned that Jo and I could fence."
Jo also whipped out an invisible weapon, said "Engarde!" and she and Theo pantomimed a swordfight with exaggerated flourishes that greatly amused all the bystanders, who clapped and cheered them on.
And then Lana walked in. Jo actually felt the hairs rise on the back of her neck. She could almost swear she heard her sword fall to the floor with a clatter.
"Hi, guys, what's up?" Lana said.