Origins Part II: Pride
Four years ago – June 2012
While I had no love of drama there were benefits to the theatre block. For one backstage had a lot of well-hidden hidey holes. I listened as Kellen and the other actress wanna-bes recite for an upcoming school play while I double checked prop inventory. Here at Rodeon the students were encouraged to get as involved as they could so the drama teacher Mrs Clark was more a supervisor than anything. We had someone in charge of lighting, someone in charge of sound and Lissa was the director. Lissa was one of the ‘popular’ girls. A group kellen had quickly and expertly integrated with. It had the benefit of afforded me the ability to be myself without too much trouble. I got stares for my chimera features but no one dared insult me or comment on my decision to ignore the rules and wear jeans. The teachers had long given up on trying to make me wear the uniform skirt. Lissa sighed loudly now and walked backstage, Kellen and four others following her in typical beehive behaviour. I looked up from where I sat, regarding them quietly.
“This play won’t work,” she muttered, flipping her blond curl with a perfectly manicured hand. “I need a Romeo who is actually taller than me!” she whined. I rolled my eyes and went back to checking we had enough tables and chairs for all the scenes. I felt someone watching me and shot a glance over my shoulder and met Kellen’s gaze. I saw something light up and shook my head but she smirked and spoke.
“What about Julie? She’s the tallest girl in our year.” I shot her a glare but she just looked proud of herself. Lissa turned to regard me openly.
“She does look pretty boyish too,” Lissa murmured. The comment made me blush slightly and I broke eye contact quickly, pretending I couldn’t hear what they were talking about.
“Will she be able to read the script?” Joy cut in. Her name was misleading since she always looked vaguely unhappy about something or other. It might have something to do with the fact she was plain looking compared to the others with dull brown hair and flat blue eyes. Of course Kellen was still the prettiest of all of them, not that I was ever going to tell anyone I thought that.
“I’ll help her learn it,” Kellen promised. I gritted my teeth – what had I done to deserve this kind of betrayal?!
“Get the chest binder we have off Olive and see if it fits Julie,” Lissa said. With that they went back to the stage to continue rehearsing. Kellen hung around, walking over to where I was.
“I assume you heard everything?” She said, leaning against a wall facing me.
“I’m not doing it,” I replied.
“What? Why not? It’ll be fun!”
“I don’t like being on display.”
“We can cover your nose with make-up or something – don’t give me that look, drama make up is different from day to day make-up,” she added before I could object.
“There are only two months to go, I’ll never learn the lines in time.”
“I’ll help you. We can rehearse every evening and I’ll speak to the teachers so they give you more leniency with homework,” Kellen insisted. She wasn’t exactly kidding. Even if no one knew about the Syndicate, Gustke was a powerful name; and the school needed all the donations they could get. Money was power in a school like this.
“I can’t act,” I pointed out.
“Yes you can. You do it all the time. You act like you’re interested in conversations at lunchtime. You act like you’re interested in classes when you’re actually day dreaming about something else,” Kellen shot back. I cocked an eyebrow at her and she just laughed. “See?” she said.
“I’m obviously not that good at acting if you can see through it,” I sighed.
“I’m just smart. You’ll be good enough for the audience,” she promised. “Please, Julie,” she begged, stepping closer and grabbing both of my hands in hers, her hazel eyes wide and pleading. This close her vanilla perfume made me feel lightheaded.
“Fine,” I choked, dropping the connection and stepping away. The last thing I ever wanted was for her to work out I had a crush on her, who knew how that would impact our friendship. Mrs Clark called out, telling us it was 7pm and time to head home. There was a mixture of people living on and off-site. We had a house in Brighton that was there for holidays but during term time lived at the school. I guess it was a safer this way. I was of course in the same room as Kellen. The moment we got in Kellen handed me a bag and sat on her bed.
“Come on, put it on so I can see how well it fits,” she said. I opened the bag and realised it was the chest binder Lissa had told her to grab. I felt a slight blush build but there was little point in making a fuss about privacy. I striped my blazer, tie and shirt and finally my bra – and immediately got stuck.
“Let me help,” Kellen laughed, standing up and helping pull down the binder. I immediately felt the restriction of the material but it wasn’t painful or hugely uncomfortable. I grabbed a new t-shirt from the wardrobe and looked at myself in the mirror. I blinked at my reflection, my reflection jarring me for a reason I couldn’t place a finger on. I felt more comfortable like this than wearing my bra, that much I knew.
“Perfect fit,” Kellen sighed in relief. “Dude, if you were a guy you would pull so easy,” she laughed.
“Funny,” I replied dryly. I left to go shower and went I returned to the room Kellen was already downstairs eating dinner. I glanced at the chest binder on my bed and shook my head, pulling on my normal clothes. The benefit of the income was I could actually buy some of the stuff I wanted. I’d grown very attached the punk emo look, even dying some of my fringe black. Kellen had laughed at me at the time but no guys in town dared mess with us when we were in town together. I joined Kellen, Lissa and the other boarders in the kitchen. The house mistress, Vivian, handed me a plate before picking up some of the finished plates on the table next to ours.
“So, has Kellen spoken to you yet?” Lissa asked, surprising me. At most I got a hi but the others didn’t really speak to me, which was fine by me. I looked at Kellen who beamed me a smile.
“Yeah, I’ll do it,” I replied, somewhat begrudgingly.
“Brilliant,” Lissa said. And with that they went back to discussing school gossip and other girl-stuff I wasn’t interested in.