As the weeks went by, it got closer and closer to the end of the school year. Mum said that we were going to catch the train to visit Grandma after Christmas and I was really looking forward to that because I hadn’t been there for such a long time. It was just going to be Mum and I because the other girls were now too grown up and busy to visit Grandma. Catherine and Samantha both had jobs and boyfriends and they were never at home very often. Jasmine was in her last year of school and she said she had too many assignments to do over the break and she didn’t want to go away anyway. So that just left Mum and me. That suited me fine as well because I liked being alone with Mum, particularly now that I was able to talk to her about things.
I was counting down the days until the holidays and every morning I jumped out of bed and marked another day off my calendar.
Then I was sitting in class one day, staring out the window as usual, when Mr Norris announced that we would be putting on a play at the end of the term.
‘We have a lot of work to do over the next month. We need props and outfits and volunteers to help with everything. A letter will be sent home to your parents asking for their help,’ said Mr Norris.
I wasn’t really paying attention because I was watching the way the clouds were slowly growing and changing shape in the sky. Being in a play was the last thing I would ever want to do. I had already started forming a plan in my mind to get sick so that I could get out of it.
‘Auditions will be on Friday evening in the school hall. I will be putting a sheet on the notice board at lunchtime. I want you all to try out for one of the parts, or to put your name down to help behind the scenes.’
I decided that I wouldn’t be putting my name down anywhere. Nobody would notice if I didn’t show up anyway.
‘Now, I imagine you are all anxious to find out what play we are doing.’
I looked around the classroom and nobody seemed to be interested at all. A couple of the boys were throwing paper balls at each other, while another one was yawning and stretching his arms above his head. Virginia was busy studying her fingernails and Alison was trying to hide a notebook under the desk as she wrote something in it. I thought she was probably writing a love letter to her boyfriend, or maybe trying to cast a witch’s spell. I smiled to myself at that thought and went back to looking out the window as a cloud shaped like a fairy castle slowly turned into an elephant.
‘The play we are doing is by William Shakespeare and it is called ‘Romeo and Juliet’.’
Suddenly I sat up with interest. ‘Oh my gosh,’ a voice screamed in my head. ‘How amazing would that be?’ I suddenly had visions of standing at a window with the spotlight on me and Romeo looking up with his hands over his heart. But then my heart sank as the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I would never be able to do it. There was no way that I would ever be able to get up on stage and act in front of people. I sighed. But maybe I could help out with the sets after all. At least then I would be able to watch the play from behind the scenes.
There was lots of excited chatter after class and I heard some of the girls talking in the corridor while I was putting a book in my locker.
‘You have to play Juliet, Virginia. That part is just so you,’ said one girl. Virginia flicked her hair over her shoulder and pouted. I supposed she thought she was trying to look like Juliet but she looked nothing like her.
‘And Joel can be Romeo,’ she replied. ‘That would be just perfect.’ She twirled around and all her friends giggled. Joel Kemp was Virginia’s boyfriend.
It made me feel sick to think that Virginia would be Juliet. I couldn’t imagine anything worse. I closed my locker and walked away with my head full of whirling thoughts.