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You in Five Acts
Author:Una LaMarche

“It doesn’t matter if you’re cute if you’re not famous,” Liv said, pretending to check her texts while she took a zoomed-in photo of Dave with her phone.

“We’re not unfamous, we’re pre-famous,” Ethan shot back. “Which is better than peaking at age eleven, if you ask me.”

“Make sure to lead with that when you meet him.” I laughed, trying to ignore my stomach’s enthusiastic somersaults.

“I probably should go introduce myself,” Ethan said, fondling the script sticking out of his messenger bag. “I could use a big name in my play.”

“Oh, so now he’s a big name,” Liv teased. She wiggled her eyebrows at me. “You know what they say about guys with big names.”

Even in the icy air, my cheeks lit up like burning coals. “Please,” I groaned. “I have to focus.” But I was secretly sort of grateful to her for taking my mind off of my audition.

“Aaaaand, that’s my cue,” Ethan said irritably, shoving his hands in his pockets as he stalked off toward Dave and Ms. Hagen.

“You guys are worse than us,” you laughed, shaking your head.

“Don’t be jealous,” Liv chided. “You’ll still have your dance groupies. But he’s new, and hot.” She reached over me to ruffle your hair. “It’s just like Shakespeare wrote: ‘Everyone has their entrance, everyone has their exit.’”

“Speaking of entrances,” you said, nodding toward Ethan. We all watched him make contact. It was like some nature documentary, where two species at opposite ends of the food chain face off on the Great Plains. Ethan immediately started gesticulating wildly.

“Ten bucks says he’s already name-dropped Arthur Miller,” Liv said. She was the only one of us who’d been allowed to read Ethan’s top-secret Showcase script, because Ethan had not so secretly written the leading role for her.

“Maybe he’s showing off your Godspell photos,” you said. Liv and Ethan had first become friends in ninth grade when they had played Jesus and Judas, respectively. In many ways, their relationship still mirrored that doomed Biblical pair.

“Maybe he’s inviting him to your party,” I said, my heart starting to race at the heady thought of Dave Roth, in a warm room, close enough to touch. Liv’s parents had left that morning to visit her aunt in San Juan, so she was throwing what she called a “soirée” for “a select group of dope people.” Knowing Liv, though, that could have easily meant the entire senior class.

“God, I hope not.” Liv cringed. “I actually want him to come.”

“You’re not both seriously into this dude already, right?” you asked incredulously, looking back and forth between us. I met your eyes and made a face like, You don’t know my life, and you looked legitimately taken aback. “I expected more from you,” you sighed. Your lips stretched out over your teeth like a smile but your eyes were flat.

“Excuse me, what kind of patriarchal bullshit is that?” Liv asked, turning on you. “Joy can do whatever, or whomever, she pleases. And you don’t get an opinion.” We high-fived over your head, and you held up your palms in surrender.

“OK, OK, I’m sorry,” you said. “I was just—”

“You can make it up to me,” Liv interrupted. “Jasper’s not invited, for obvious reasons, so I need your help making sure our good friend Mary Jane makes an appearance.” Just before Christmas break, Liv had broken up with her boyfriend of almost two years, who also happened to be Janus’s primary pot connection.

You raised your eyebrows. “C’mon, you know I don’t smoke. Stop stereotyping my people.”

“Excuse me, I’m Puerto Rican,” Liv said.

“Puert-Jew-rican,” you corrected with a smirk. “Olivia Gerstein.”

“Now who’s being racist?” Liv snapped. “Plus, I know your cousin Dante deals. Jasper was always pissed about how he was moving in on the uptown schools.”

Your smile disappeared. “I don’t know anything about that,” you said. “That’s his business. Not mine.”

“Fine, sorry. Forget I asked,” Liv sighed. “Just bring a six-pack of something, then.”

“What do you want?” you asked, turning to me, the tension of the previous seconds gone as if it had never happened.

I rolled my ankles, drawing circles on the stone with my toes. I’d been dancing all morning in class, and had made a point to stretch the hell out of my feet beforehand. “You’re flat in the wrong places,” Ms. Adair would often chide, looking me over like she wished she could telepathically force the curve of my hips down into my arches. But I could already feel my muscles tightening and shortening. It was torture to sit still.

“I want to speed up time,” I said.

You rolled your eyes. “What do you want to drink tonight? We have to celebrate.”

“Don’t say that yet,” I said, smacking you in the arm. “You’ll jinx it.”