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A Freak Accident
I stood in the wings, sheathed in shadows. I watched him stroll forward on the stage, his arms around the girl that his character was in love with. Part of me wanted to be that girl. The other part of me knew he had no interest in that girl. That part yearned to be the one he did have interest in.
The scene ended and he strolled offstage. I wanted to walk up to him and tell him he was amazing onstage, but I didn’t.
She was already there. Her arms around his waist, his arms holding her tightly to his chest. They murmured quietly to each other, soft smiles visible on their faces. I felt empty inside. I hugged my torso, trying to compensate for the hollowness.
I stood in the darkness, watching the two of them hold each other happily. I backed away a bit, further into the shadows, where I could watch him safely. Where I could imagine that I was her. The one he held close in his arms.
She was the girl I wanted to be. Now that he was in the wings, I no longer wanted to be the girl he was with onstage. All of me wanted to be her, the girl he was hugging securely against his chest.
I wrapped my arms tighter around myself, wishing that they were his arms, not mine, that held me tightly. I wanted to step out and say something, anything, just for him to notice me. But I didn’t.
As much as I wanted to be her, she was his. He was hers. I couldn’t be her. It would be wrong to try and separate them and try to make him notice me when he was with someone else. He probably wouldn’t even look twice at me, but I couldn’t do that to him, or her. It was wrong.
It was another day. I had made my decision and decided to say hi to him. I told myself that it was just one word, that he would likely not take note of one person passing him and saying hi. That’s what I told myself.
But I was lying to myself. I did want him to notice me, even though it was wrong. I was a selfish person.
But at the same time, he probably wouldn’t look twice at me anyways. That’s why I was just saying hi. Everybody says hi to people. It wouldn’t indicate anything.
He was smiling as he walked offstage. My muscles tensed, it was time. As he walked towards the exit, I walked towards him. As I passed him, I did it. I quickly whispered hi, and flashed a small smile. Then I continued walking, resisting the urge to look back.
I took a drink from my water bottle, upset. He hadn’t said hi back. He hadn’t noticed me.
I told myself it was for the best, at least I tried, it didn’t matter.
That was the biggest lie.
It didn’t matter.
Because it did matter. It mattered more than I wanted to admit, especially given her. I didn’t want to ruin their relationship, but at the same time… I sighed, wanting… I don’t know. I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t want to get out of there because that was the only time I saw him. I didn’t want to forget about him, because I love the feeling of liking someone in that way. But...it wasn’t enjoyable seeing him with her.
It was a week after I had tried to say hi to him. I hadn’t tried again, because I didn’t know if he hadn’t noticed me or if he had ignored me. I hoped it wasn’t the latter.
It was time for a scene change. I and another grip by the name of Amanda were carrying a table onto stage while a deck tech lowered a backdrop behind us. We waited for the signal, and then we hurried onstage with the table. We set it down and ran right back offstage.
I was in a hurry to be backstage before the lights came up onstage again, and I didn’t see the person who was shrouded in shadows in front of me until it was too late to stop.
I twisted, trying to avoid hitting them. I ending up just bumping their shoulder, which was better than running them over. I turned, an apology on my tongue, when I froze. It was her. I quickly hid my momentary mortification behind a smile.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you there! I’m so sorry!” I gasped.
She smiled back. “It’s okay.” I could tell that she was completely sincere. So I nodded, and then I retreated into the shadows.
I watched as she and a few other people danced their way onstage. I knew this scene, he came on at the end of it. He would be here soon, very soon, so he would be ready.
He walked backstage, and my heart started flying like a racehorse. I stepped out a bit, so I would be ready to watch closely from the wings as he went on. He was facing away from me, towards the stage. I sighed internally, of course he would be, she was onstage.
Suddenly, I heard a weird noise. I looked over to where it was coming from. To my horror, a rope had frayed and was about to snap. It would cause the row of stage lights it supported to fall. My stomach dropped. He was directly in its path. It would come crashing down on his head, and-
No. I wouldn’t think about that. He had to move.
Why wasn’t he moving?
Oh. Of course. He didn’t know it was falling.
Someone had to tell him. But no one was paying attention.
Me. It had to be me. I had to tell him.
Suddenly, the rope snapped. The lights began to fall. As if it was happening in slow motion, I heard people beginning to shout, beginning to point at the lights. I did not join them. I was running.
I ran forward, racing against the falling lights. I ran like my life depended on it. Or, actually, his life.
I reached him, terrified I would still be too late. I shoved his left shoulder, sending him tumbling to the floor. But out of harm’s way. I wasn’t so lucky.
I almost made it completely to safety. A spotlight clipped my shoulder, the sharp metal tearing through my purple T-shirt and leaving a deep, bloody gash across my shoulder, as well as what would later be a huge bruise. Another brushed harshly against my hip, leaving another deep bruise. Several other lights clipped me in different places, just as rough as the first two. The force of those hits sent my balance spiraling like crazy. My body slammed against the floor. I got the wind knocked out of me, and my head cracked against the ground. My vision swirled. My ears rang from the colossal crash that had been made by the falling lights. My eyes fell shut as I gasped for the air that had been knocked out of me. Blackness was slithering into my mind. I must have nearly hit my head hard enough to black out. Through the ringing in my head, I hoped he was okay. I didn’t care that I was hurt, so long as he was okay.
I could barely think. Or hear. Everything seemed to be falling away, down a long, dark tunnel. Slowly, though, I became aware of voices. Voices shouting, voices crying, voices screaming, voices sobbing, voices calling my name, asking if I was okay. I gasped, then groaned. It hurt to gasp. But I had to. I had heard his voice. It was close. Very close. Like he was sitting right next to me.
“Lynn? Lynn, can you hear me? Lynn?” That voice. It wasn’t his. It was Amanda’s. She was calling my name.
“Why did this happen? Who is responsible for this? Decktechs! Explain this!” I recognized that voice, too. It was the director’s. Dang, he sounded as if he was seriously ticked off. Not that he didn’t have a reason for it.
“On three? One, two, three!” That voice. It was a boy’s voice. But it wasn’t his. After the boy spoke, a weight suddenly vanished from my torso. I hadn’t noticed it before. It must have been the lights. They must have slammed me down and pinned me to the ground when they had fallen.
“I’m so sorry.” A tiny pause. And then, “Can you hear me? Are you okay?” There it was. That was his voice. I would recognize it anywhere. I sighed mentally, automatically thinking he meant her. But slowly, it dawned on me that he must mean me. He had been the only person in the way of the falling lights. And then I had been the only person in the way. Because I had shoved him clear of the danger. Happiness blossomed in my chest, and then withered. Just because he had finally noticed me didn’t mean that he cared about me in any way. Even though I believed I saved his life. Because heavy lights falling from that height definitely had the potential to kill. It probably would have claimed his life. And it almost claimed mine. But it didn’t, and he was asking if I was okay.
“Lynn? Lynn! Wake up!” That was Amanda again. She sounded really worried.
I gathered my strength and tried to pry open my stubborn eyelids. After a moment, I won the battle. My eyes opened. I was relieved that I didn’t have double vision, but the room did seem to be shimmering slightly around the edges of my vision and there was still a hollow ringing sound in my ears.
The first thing I saw was Amanda’s face. She was bent over me, her hands tight on my shoulders as if she was about to shake me awake. That probably would have been the case if I hadn’t opened my eyes.
Her face was openly worried. Amanda normally tried to not show much emotion, but it looked as if she had stopped caring about that when I got hit. When she saw my gaze latch onto her face, I swear I saw a hint of tears in her eyes before she leaned down and squeezed me.
“You idiot! Why did you do that? You could have been killed!” she gasped. It took me a moment to remember how to use my arms, and I tried to squeeze her back. But I had forgotten about the huge, bloody gash across my shoulder, and my arms fell back to my sides with a gasp of pain.
“Oh, Lynn! Don’t worry, no one else got hurt. You were the only person under the lights when they hit the ground,” Amanda said. She knew of my feelings towards him even though I had never told her. She knew me better than I knew myself sometimes, and she knew that I cared about him and I just wanted to be sure that he was okay. “I’m going to go help clean up. Practically all of the lights shattered when they hit the floor and glass is all over the stage. I think you actually escaped that part, except for that shard in your leg. But I’ll be right back if you need me,” Amanda reassured me. I arranged my face into the best smile I could manage through the pain.
Reassured that I was okay, and probably also sensing I wanted to be alone with him to talk, Amanda stood and walked away. I watched her, unwilling to turn and look at the silent presence beside me just yet. He hadn’t said anything, and I hadn’t looked at him. To tell the truth, I was scared to turn my head, to read what might be written on his face. But I hadn’t shoved him out of the way only to pretend he was invisible. So I did it. Except this time, instead of saying hi, I turned my head.
He was sitting there, staring at his hands in his lap. I couldn’t read the expression on his face. To my surprise, she was nowhere to be seen. She must have been calling his parents to tell them what happened.
He must have felt my gaze on him because he looked over at me. Shockingly--or at least to me--I didn’t blush. I only looked back calmly.
“Are you okay?” I heard myself ask. Even though Amanda had told me no one besides me had gotten hurt, I wanted to make sure for myself. In response to my question, he looked surprised. And then, mad? What the heck?
“I’m completely fine, thanks to you.” He glared at his hands, resting on his knees. I still couldn’t believe that he had looked at me and was talking to me.
He looked up at me, his expression softened. I prayed that my feelings for him weren’t showing plain as day on my face. “How are you?” he asked softly, scanning my injuries.
I took a moment to respond. I didn’t want to upset him, but I didn’t want to lie. I wanted him to know that I didn’t care what happened to me as long as he was okay.
“Pretty beat up, but I’ll live,” I said, hoping that he wouldn’t get upset. He did. His mood darkened.
“Will you stop that?” he asked sharply, in a whisper.
Stunned, I managed to reply with a quiet, slightly strangled, “What?”
“Stop acting like you’re not in pain and that it’s not my fault.”
“Well, I am in pain, but I’ve been worse. And really, it’s not your fault.” I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was trying to comfort him. Internally, I marveled at my situation.
“And how is it not my fault? You were almost killed because I wasn’t paying attention!”
“I could have pulled you out of the way instead of shoving you out of the way. So, in a way, it was my fault,” I said. Really, why didn’t I do that? That would have been much smarter. Then again, I often refer to myself as the world’s biggest idiot. I guess I was really earning that title now.
“Stop blaming yourself. It was an unavoidable freak accident. It was no one’s fault.” I grimaced, pulling my sore body into an upright position. He sighed.
“I guess you’re right. But I am very sorry for not paying attention. More than I can express.” Then he did something that shocked me. He leaned forward and pulled me to him, holding me securely against his chest. I was so surprised, I was frozen in place momentarily.
“I’m Brian. And thank you. For saving my life,” he mumbled into my hair.
I unfroze, and wrapped my arms around his waist, returning the hug. “I’m Lynn. And I would do it again, no questions asked.”