For the next audition I was actually prepared, even though most of the week was spent dreaming of that magnificent woman and the look of her piercing blue eyes. I had never had a better motivation for studying – I just had to be near her, and what better way than to take part in her play? Even though my mother didn't believe me for at least two days, once she did she helped me practice my lines and insisted I tried hard.
"Who would've thought," she exclaimed, "My Frannie might turn out to be a musical star! I can't wait to see Jack and Marsha's faces!"
"Please don't invite them, Ma, I really don't need any additional pressure. Also, who says I even get the job? They could say no, you know."
"Say no to a one of a kind like you? Please."
I didn't reply to that, secretly taking comfort in the small hope that it would actually work out.
We rehearsed all weekend, annoying the neighbors to no end, until I knew every word by heart. My mother aka my coach was not entirely happy with my emotional performance, but the jealous sister wasn't really an intuitive character for me. Even my worst memories of jealousy about Danny didn't help. By the time Monday came to an end, I just resigned to doing as well as I could and hope for the best. I had already come so much further than I'd ever thought. Luck was obviously on my side in this.
Early Tuesday morning, after a tiny bite for breakfast, I took the subway once more to enter the world that lay right on the other side of the river, and yet so impossibly far away. Breathing consciously slowly and deeply, I walked from the station to the Sheffields' residence. The imposing building greeted me as hostilely as the last time, but it didn't bother me. Without hesitating, I stepped up to the door and knocked.
"I'm here for the casting," I said, looking at the same grumpy butler as last week.
He let me in and accompanied me to the office, which was a good thing, because this house was huge and I really doubted I would have found the way on my own. This time, there were less women around, waiting in the corridor, but then again I was pretty early. There were still a few minutes until ten, so I walked around a bit, looking at the art on the walls and the visibly expensive vases holding some tulips. I was almost around the corner, when I heard voices nearby, and one of them was definitely CC. I took a few more steps, careful not to make noise. They were speaking behind a door left ajar, and before I'd even tried, I saw them, my angel and this guy, Sheffield, in what seemed to be an intimate conversation. His tone was low, his head tilted, his body way too close to CC for my taste. I heard something about dinner, late night drinks and hotels, and CC sounded definitely flirtatious. My heart contracted in a silent outcry, before it expanded in fury. I turned away and went back to the other candidates, while a jealousy as hot and sharp as a sword right out of the fire soared through my blood. Seriously, this guy? Mr. Shampoo commercial with his dumb British accent, his ugly suits and – oh my God. I was losing it, I thought, but then it dawned on me. This is it. This is what I have to channel, and I might actually get the part.
Just a few minutes later, the two of them appeared together, greeting us nonchalantly and inviting us to get ready. The first one went right into the office with them, I had to wait for what felt like forever. When they finally called me, I took a deep breath. I stepped through the door and just before they'd realized I was already in, I saw the guy withdraw his hand from CC's. The flames were burning bright again, so I slammed the door, skipping any introduction, and started yelling my text. The words were flowing easily, naturally, and I was so immersed in Rachel's fit, that I didn't see my jury's faces change from confused to stunned.
When I finished, it was like waking up, and seeing CC look at me with wide eyes and slightly flushed cheeks was the best sight I'd ever seen.
"Well, that's what we call an improvement," Sheffield said, and CC nodded.
"That was very good. But as for your resume…"
"Oh." Quickly I got it from my bag and handed it to her. "Sorry, I totally forgot."
CC's ice blue eyes quickly scanned the page. "Um, so… you have no experience whatsoever?"
"I considered lying about it, but I think honesty is the best policy."
Sheffield grabbed the resume from her. "A sales person in a bridal shop?"
"Trust me, I've seen plenty of drama there."
CC smiled at me, and I thought I might faint. "Well, thank you for your performance today, we'll consider and get back to you within a few days, once the decision is made."
I nodded. "Thank you. I'm looking forward to it."
As I left the office, I felt strangely relieved. The image of her smile was not fading from my inner eye, and stayed with me all the way into the city. I didn't feel like going home, so I took the subway downtown and strolled through the fancy department stores and past the windows of the most beautiful fashion stores. I was imagining all sorts of costumes I might get to wear, how I would stand in the spotlight with CC in the audience, carefully watching the piece of art she'd produced come to life.
Of course, I didn't actually buy anything that day, instead I went to the library to get some more information on musical theater and Broadway in general. I checked out a pretty interesting book, and I was eager to read it. In fact, I was reading it Friday afternoon, when the phone rang. This was nothing unusual, but ever since the casting I jumped every time I heard its ringing.
"Frannie, it's for you," my mother screamed, and I ran into the kitchen, hardly able to catch my breath as I took the receiver into my trembling hands.
"Yes, this is Fran Fine?"
"Miss Fine, it's CC from Sheffield productions. I have the pleasure of informing you that you've been cast as Rachel in our newest piece."
For a second, I couldn't say anything, then "Oh my God. Oh my God."
I could hear CC smile, as she said, "Congratulations. Please come by the office on Monday so we can get you set up with your contract and all the details."
"Yes, I will, thank you so much!"
"Have a nice weekend, Miss Fine, we look forward to seeing you again."
"Same to you, Ms Babcock, so do I! See you soon."
I let myself drop into the nearest chair while my mother yelled loud enough for the entire street to hear, "Mooorty! She got the job, Frannie's going to Broadway!"