It’s been a busy couple of weeks in our respective households with a new job starting for Caro, and a house move, and a change of job for me too. So life got in the way and so there was no post last week.
W’re making up for it today!! We promised a while ago that we’d put some excerpts of the new book (and possibly some bits of the older ones) on this blog, so today, for the first time, we’d like to unveil a small portion of the book to come!
To set the scene a little…Jaime Randall is a washed up has-been actress at the ripe old age of twenty-eight. She’s trying to get her life back in order, but is finding that it’s two steps forward, one back.
“Audition? Me? For a local amateur production? Seriously, they should be asking me to be their star.”
“Such humility. No one cares who you used to be, you do realise that? You didn’t make any friends when you came home, so you’ll probably need to start from scratch. In fact, rather than being in the play, why don’t you see if they need any help with backstage?”
“Backstage? Are you kidding? I suppose if I have to audition I can, but I’ll outshine everyone.”
“That’s the spirit, go in nice and modestly and let them see the real you. Your charm can’t fail to work.”
Jaime flushed slightly. Anne was unfortunately right most of the time and completely unimpressed by Jaime and her theatrics. Suppressing a smirk, Anne continued, “Well now that’s settled, I picked up a flier the other day – auditions are this afternoon. I’ve got a few hours free, so I’ll come with you.”
With her stomach squirming and pulse racing, Jaime waited to go on the stage. She’d worn a short dark wig and used her mother’s maiden name in hopes of not being recognized. When the name was called, she stood frozen in fear. A shove from one of the other try-outs had her stumbling ungracefully onto the tiny stage.
“Name and what’re you going to torture us with today?”
“Jaime McGregor.” she replied softly.
“Speak up! You’re not going to be heard from the back of the theatre.”
Jaime’s head came up and her shoulders straightened. She caught a glimpse of Anne, giving her a thumb’s up from the cheap seats.
“I’m Jaime McGregor and today I’ll be singing ‘We’ll Meet Again’”
The casting director didn’t even hide her impatient sigh and eye roll. “Well get on with it then.”
Strangely, the hostility of the director steadied Jaime more than anything else. She’d dealt with people like her countless times in countless auditions. She took a few deep breaths and opened her mouth to sing.
The first clear notes rang out and filled the theatre. The set builder and painter stopped what they were doing, the lighting man swung the spot on to the stage and the director felt all the hairs on the back of her neck prickle. This was her star. Anne relaxed and beamed as Jaime’s voice grew in strength and confidence.
Looking out across the seats, Jaime truly relaxed for the first time in what felt like forever. Home. She was home. In the circle of the spotlight, she felt warm, comfortable, in control. She had her small audience in the palm of her hand. The song was an old friend, familiar, and she didn’t need to think about the melody or phrasing. The bright spotlight blurred her vision, making it hard to see the theatre stalls in front of her, until all she could see was light. Slowly, as her eyes grew accustomed, she began to make out the dim shapes of tables and chairs. What? She blinked. She wasn’t in the theatre any more. She was in…a club?
Dimly lit, the air was hazy but she could discern small groupings of people, most of them in uniform. She could smell the smoke of their cigarettes and the faint tang of spilled liquor. Where was she? She looked around, trying to see something to identify the place. A name on the wall caught her eye, “Midnight Jazz Bar”. She was standing on a stage, backed by a small band and she was singing. She was in a blue dress, sweetheart neckline, gloves, pearls around her neck. She felt so sad. So abandoned. So alone. A tear slipped down her cheek. For a moment, her voice faltered and the image flickered, then she regained control and continued singing. As the song came to an end, she closed her eyes, and when she opened them again, she could see Anne in the back of the theatre clapping wildly.
What on earth had happened to her? Had she been just swept up in the moment? She had felt like herself, and yet utterly unlike herself. It was as if she really had been Kitty, the tragic lead in the musical. She hurried from the stage and out to find Anne.
Hope you enjoyed it! Watch this space for more and let us know if you like it.
Please don’t reproduce this anywhere as it is Caro’s and my original work.