The prompt: It's not like it hasn't been broken before.
What came out of my head:
"What? What hasn't?"
"What's that," Wesley asked, pretending not to understand. His lab partner, Destiny, leaned on the table, trying to look into Wesley's eyes, but he wouldn't make eye contact. She looked at him until he shifted his eyes in her direction. He looked at her long braids first as they fell over the unlit Bunsen burner. If it had been on, she would have done a great Michael Jackson impression at that moment. His eyes ran up her braids - they were so tiny, he just wanted to touch one - until they stopped at her gaze, her eyebrows narrowed in impatience.
"I said I had to miss the study group with you tomorrow? And you said what sounded like, 'sure. Go 'head. It's not like it hasn't been broken before?' What were you referring to? My word?"
"What? No! No way," Wesley replied quickly, his hands gesturing "no" in agreement. He snorted a nervous little laugh while Destiny waited again for his explanation. How was he going to get around telling her that's he's been having a running relationship with her in his head and what he was actually saying was that it wasn't like his heart hadn't been broken before?
"Because I keep my word, Wes."
He liked how she called him Wes. No one else did. He had been a nerd as long as he could remember and it was difficult to make any real bonds with any of his peers, let alone pretty ones like Destiny. And when you add in the whole racial difference...well, she was not in his world, clearly. She was on Earth. No! Venus. She was a Venusian goddess and he was a space cadet. She had graced him with a nickname that was cooler than he was and she was the only one to call him that so he felt really special when she came around and called his name.
"I...I know you do, Destiny. I know you keep your word. I was just, just thinking about something, that's all."
"Nothing. It's not important," Wesley turned to face her to change the subject. Destiny didn't back up and Wesley noticed that. This was why he loved her. "Listen, you go to your audition. It's important. We'll study later. No big deal." Destiny put her hand on his and gave it a squeeze. She kept it there while she smiled at him. "You're the best, Wes." Giggling at her own rhyme, she let his hand go and leaned on the table, propping her head in her hand. She continued looking at Wesley and smiling.
"You know, you have been so great with all this, Wes. I really hate that we have to have a science credit in a school known for churning out great actors. I mean, you're supposed to be able to pick your own path in college, right? Why should I pay to study stuff I'm not going to use? I mean, I'm going to be a great actress," Destiny shook her braids back as she spoke, then quickly lowered her voice and her head in seriousness. "I'd give anything to be that, Wes." Wesley thought her eyes flashed a golden-like color, but he had never dared look so deeply into her eyes before so he couldn't be sure they weren't her usual color. Destiny shook her head again, as if to shake off bad vibes, and stood up to grab her books. "I'm glad you're helping me," she said in her regular voice again.
"Me too," Wesley whispered in reply. Destiny stood in place for a moment, a look of consideration on her face. "Listen, it's just an audition but it can take a long time, you know? I shouldn't do it," she said as if arguing with herself. "I should concentrate and meditate and...." She bit down on her lower lip for a moment. "Why don't you come with me, and we'll sit all the way in the back and you can whisper science nothings in my ear."
Wesley turned red immediately and worried Destiny would notice. But she didn't act like she did. Then again, she was an actress so who knew for sure but her. "Umm," he said in thought.
"Yeah," she said more enthusiastically this time as if agreeing with herself and Wesley was not in the conversation. "It'll be cool to have you there, actually. You can be in my world for a while. I'm ALWAYS in yours, after all. I swear we live in this lab." She looked around in mock disgust, rolling her eyes but smiling again when she looked at Wesley. "Let's do this, Brutus."
Wesley smiled and ran his fingers through his short locks in embarrassment. "I..I guess so," he replied. Looking at Destiny who called him Wes and just invited him to be in her world, Wesley grew a little braver. "What's the play? What role will you go after?"
"It's an August Wilson play," Destiny replied enthusiastically. "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Know it?" Destiny didn't wait for Wesley to respond. "I'm going to try for the role of Dussie Mae." Destiny put her hand on her hips, turned her head slightly and tilted it down so she could look up at Wesley with sexy eyes. "It's a very sense-u-al role," she said slowly.
Wesley's eyes grew big. He swallowed his excitement and said nothing, again hoping his body didn't betray his mind. "Sounds, um, interesting." Turning back to the table, Wesley began to close his own books. "I can go, sure. I'd love to help [myself to] you," he said and thought at the same time.
"That. Would be. Fantastic, dear Wes," Destiny replied happily. "How about I meet you at the theater tomorrow night at 8:30?"
"8:30? Wow, kinda late, huh?"
"Well, there are a lot of people trying out," Destiny answered, adjusting her bag and looking around the table again to be sure she had everything. "They gave us special times to come so we didn't have to wait around too long."
"Oh, oh ok. No problem. 8:30. At the theater."
"Back door," she said.
"Yeah. We, umm, have to hang out back there before the audition so they can keep track of us." Destiny looked around as if someone had come into the room. "But afterward, we can sit in the back of the theater and watch everyone else."
Wesley welcomed the opportunity to just watch her if he could. "It's a...date," he said bravely.
"Yeah," Destiny smiled and gave him a wink. "A date with Destiny."
Classes the next day were no where near as intriguing as they usually were for Wesley. All those theorems in his math class and wonderful discussions about genetic engineering in his ethics class went over his head as he thought about seeing Destiny in her world. He'd have to remember to actually bring the books they needed to study for the next test.
After classes were done for the day, Wesley went back to his dorm to wait and pace and think about what to wear. "I can't do anything out of the ordinary. She'll suspect. But she did call it a date," he argued with himself. "I can put on a sweater maybe. It's kinda chilly out there, after all."
By eight o'clock, Wesley's hands were starting to sweat as he kept opening and closing them, looking out the window. The theater was on his side of campus but located off campus so he'd have to walk up a street and take a side road to get there. It was a pretty old theater. He saw it once during a campus tour years ago. He was actually amazed they kept it around but he had heard the theater people refused to let anyone touch it. They apparently had all kinds of superstitions and rituals, like not whistling back stage and saying break a leg, he had heard. Theater people could be a species unto themselves, except for Destiny. She stood alone.
Wesley willed the clock to read 8:15 so he could leave. It wouldn't take him long. He didn't want to seem too eager and get there too early nor be late. But at 8:15 on the nose, he left. Books forgotten.
The street was quieter and darker than he remembered. But maybe he had never walked it before in the dark. The school was in a rural town so there were no street lights unless the street residents pitched in and paid for them, which they refused to do. Kept the college kids out, they said. But the theater was in the neighborhood so sometimes they had to deal with a little raucous behavior.
Wesley turned down the rocky road that ended at the theater and was surprised to not see much activity. He did see a person or two but it was hard to tell. They were in dark clothing. Maybe costumes? And they seemed to scurry away as if they saw him but didn't want him to see them.
The theater was a dark, round structure that looked as if it were sleeping. Wesley felt the urge to tiptoe around it, following a white, arrow-shaped sign that read BACKSTAGE. He looked behind him as he crept along on the crunchy rocks and drew a breath when he thought he saw a figure looking around the corner at him but then it darted away.
Wesley couldn't recall where people parked. "The parking lot must be on the other side," he thought. "That's got to be where the cars are." At the back door, Wesley saw there was a light on overhead. The heavy looking metal door looked tightly shut. As he walked up to look for a doorbell or something, the door quietly popped open. A hand reached out and wrapped around it. It was a female hand and Wesley stepped back in slight alarm until he saw Destiny slowly put her head out the door. She had that serious look on her face that instantly changed to the happy look she always gave Wesley. Suddenly Destiny reminded Wesley of one of those clowns who would look sad, wave his hand up over his face to reveal a bright smile, and then wave his hand back down again to reveal his sad face. He wasn't really sure if he was seeing the real her or not. Wesley never liked clowns.
Destiny stuck out her manicured hand. "Hey Wes," she said softly, which seemed contrary to the wide smile on her face. "Come on in, boyfriend. We've just gotta be a little quiet," she said, as if to answer his silent question.
Wesley stepped inside on the wooden floor, the door closing so quietly behind him that he had to turn around to be certain Destiny had closed it and was there. He looked around at all the wooden beams and ropes hanging from the ceiling. Dark corners lurked everywhere. Velvet ropes on their golden stands were gathered against a wall and stairs on either side of him looked to lead to more beams, wider ones above him. Destiny had not let go of his hand and had begun to walk toward a doorway. As they entered, Wesley could see it was a large dressing room to one side of the doorway and a drawn curtain on the other side.
"Auditions going ok," he asked. "Sounds so quiet out there."
"Umm hmm," Destiny said, leading him toward the curtain but not looking back.
"It's like it's sound proof or something," Wesley said nervously. Destiny's hand was cool but he was still happy to be holding it. He looked around for the other actors but saw no one.
"Are you the last audition of the night," he asked.
"Yes. This is it," Destiny replied.
At the curtain, Destiny stopped and turned to face Wesley. She put her hands on his shoulders as if she were ready to waltz. "Acting is my life, Wesley, you know?"
"I know," Wesley replied.
"I love it. I love the theater and I want the theater to love me."
"It will," Wesley said, mesmerized by Destiny's golden eyes. He did feel as if they were dancing now. She smiled at him. The dance was slow and Wesley didn't want it to end.
"You have always been so sweet to me, Wesley. I could tell, you know," she said, looking down shyly but never taking her hands away. "I could tell you liked me and I liked you too, you know? You were cool. Taught me so much about those stupid chemicals." Destiny quietly laughed to no one. Wesley felt himself stepping backward into the curtain. Destiny was leading the dance now.
"But those chemicals won't make me rich and famous."
"I could," Wesley said. The fear was gone and he felt free to say all he ever wanted to. "I'll be rich one day, Destiny. You could marry me and be in all the plays you want. I'd finance them."
"Ohh I knew you were special, Wes. I knew it." Destiny stopped, sliding her hands down his arms, she gently grabbed Wesley's wrists. "I knew you would be the one to help me. And I... I assumed..."
"Well," Destiny began to walk toward him again pushing him back as she stepped forward. He felt the curtain around him. "You had such a sweet, innocent way about you. I assumed you were a virgin, no?"
Wesley cleared his throat, looking down at their feet. They were still moving. Why didn't he feel it? "Well," he answered slowly. "Only because I was looking for the right one, you know?"
"I do know, Wes. I know it well. It's hard to find the right one. But it has to be the right one. The innocent one," she said. Wesley could feel warm lights above him as Destiny stepped closer to him, embracing him, her face coming close to his but not touching him. "The one willing to sacrifice his all. For me."
"For you," Wesley repeated, allowing his hands to touch her waist but not daring to bring his face any closer to hers than she did to his.
"That's why it hurts me,"
"Hurts? It doesn't have to..."
"It hurts me that I don't get to keep you. But I need the theater to love me."
"Destiny," Wesley whispered.
"I have to be willing to make a sacrifice for it and my sacrifice has to work both ways. It is the ultimate love. That you'll lay down your life for a friend."
"Anything for you, Destiny," Wesley said, but even though his mouth spoke for itself, his head was racing with wild, confusing thoughts.
"Anything?" Destiny stepped in closer, her eyes closing with Wesley's as she brushed his lips with hers. They were still dancing. Moving. But not in circles. She was moving forward. He was moving back. Wesley opened his eyes to take Destiny in once again. She grabbed his hands and stepped back slowly, as far as she could go. Wesley saw the hooded figures step from behind the curtains and form a semi circle around the couple. He heard the electronic sound of a door opening and looked around but saw nothing.
The figures slowly walked forward as Wesley quickly looked at each of them. Holding hands, he and Destiny slowly walked - her forward, him backward.
"Thank you, Wes. Thank you for your sacrifice. The theater will love me most of all for sure now." As she smiled, she let go of Wesley's hands. Surprised, he stepped back to regain his footing but found nothing as he felt the sudden heat and was no more.
The theater closed the hidden door in the wooden floor. The applause of the other figures in the audience drowned out the screams of the sacrifice in the fire pit, out of their view. They rose for Destiny, their newest star, as the stage curtains closed upon her, encircling her in their ghostly embrace.
What's this about, Monica?
You don't know? Why, it's my own March Madness!
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