Suddenly, the lights rose up again.
What the hell? She glanced nervously at Roger, but he was grinning at the audience. And she had to smile, too- because he was just being Roger. She looked to her left, and there was her sister, looking at Roger, too.
Olive noticed October and looked down at her. They shared a gaze, and October swore she saw a tear. But suddenly Olive broke into a smile and whispered, "He's such an attention whore, huh?"
October laughed. And it was then that she noticed that the audience was still clapping- clapping and on their feet. Her face was beginning to hurt from smiling so much, and yet she just couldn't stop.
Dust appeared from the stage right entrance, arm in arm with Nathalie, waving at the audience like an actor. Nathalie had a handheld mic. He took it from her.
"Now, uh... I don't think we normally make speeches until closing night," he said, "But since we got a standing ovation and all..."
The audience cheered. Nathalie grabbed the mic back.
"Actually, we just wanted to recognize someone special," she boomed, smiling from ear to ear, "I'm Nathalie Mitchell... I sort of directed this show... and let me just say... it hasn't been the smoothest ride we've ever had."
The cast laughed. That was an understatement.
"But the thing about a play is... if you have the right ensemble... and I don't just mean actors- I mean everyone- techs, performers, background people... if you have the right ensemble of theatre people willing to commit themselves to every aspect of the show, it's going to be great. Some people go above and beyond. Like October Chase-Hepburn."
Everyone stared at October, and she felt her face get red.
"Some people are always there to do what they're good at to make the show great. Others are willing to do whatever it takes. They're the people that are around even when they don't need to be there, who don't take charge but who will work until they've fallen asleep on themselves, doing whatever they need to do just to make the show great," Nathalie smiled back at October. It was a smile of respect, "Because that's all they want. That's the true spirit of the theatre. You may not see October Chase-Hepburn reprising the role of Helena in our next show. But she stepped in when no one else could or would. She's an amazing person, and... she is this show."
To her surprise, October heard the audience cheering, and she faintly felt Roger taking her hand. She looked up at him, and at all of the cast members. There was an admiration she'd never seen in their eyes. Roger took her other hand and turned her toward him, and then it was only his eyes that she was looking into.
But she let go of Roger's hand and looked at her sister. Roger did, too. His eyes were pleading with Olive's.
And Olive realized that the entire cast, the entire audience was watching her for her next move. October was silently asking her for something. Roger was waiting patiently. Even Nathalie saw it. She looked at Roger, and his kind eyes bored back into hers. She missed him. She did. But that wasn't what was important.
So Olive jerked her head to Roger as if to say, "If you must."
Roger kissed October before the entire audience, and they all started to clap.
"Okay, okay! Save it for backstage!" Nathalie whispered to them after a few moments, laughing. They both smiled and the curtains finally closed.
After the curtain call, Nathalie held a cast meeting in the boys' dressing room to tell them how proud she was and then to defensively announce how utterly corny they all were. She also told them what had happened in the grid- and showed them Miss Allegory in her current state. Most of the cast left after that, creeped out. But Roger, Dust, October, Olive, and a disoriented Cada stayed.
"I don't get it," October protested, "It was seriously Miss A all along?"
"Yup," Nathalie said, nodding.
"She tried to kill me?" she cried.
Cada tapped her foot on the ground, "Everybody tries to kill the teeecchhiieeeees..." she said, obviously still drugged out from whatever Miss Allegory had given her.
"We always knew Miss A was crazy," replied Nathalie, shrugging a little.
Roger stood up, "Wait a minute!" he said, "That's impossible. What about the night we spent in here?"
"You spent a night together in the theatre?" October squeaked, "Why didn't I know about this?"
"You little sluuutttt!" Cada cried. She tried to get up but hit her head on the dressing room counter.
"What about it?" Nathalie asked, ignoring Cada.
"The table saw noise!"
Nathalie's eyes widened a little, and she got sort of pale. The whole room was silent for a while. October heard something in the distance- it sounded like the lift being operated. No one said a thing, but they all heard the voice echoing outside.
"Hey, hand me those gloves, will you? This isn't focused. I need to fix it... I know, I know... but it needs to be perfect."
Silence. Finally, Nathalie spoke.
"Do you remember when October was a freshman, or even before that- when we were sophomores?"
Roger, Olive, and Dust nodded.
"When I did the lights," Nathalie said, "I'm not really that good at them, you know... and sometimes I would leave them for a second, frustrated... and when I came back, they would be so well-focused they'd look professional. And the theatre has always been a little spooky, for as long as I remember being here."
"But it was never... destruction," Dust said softly, "I would find gloves in the bottom of the lift when I thought I'd forgotten them. Sometimes the lights would go out- but it was always kind of funny, wasn't it? Like techies playing jokes on each other... only we never found out who was doing it."
Nathalie nodded, "I... I don't think we have anything to worry about."
Her friends nodded back at her. She got up and turned the doorknob, slowly, and walked out. Everyone followed her out. Even Cada staggered behind them.
Eventually, she ended up on the stage, and they all stood, looking around at the now-empty seats. Nathalie shivered and smiled.
"But I also don't think our adventures are over yet."