Of course, these being complex problems and there being distractions flying about her, from actors and quiet chattering between students, it wasn’t that simple. Plus, she was still in earshot of the stage, so she could hear everything happening. At this point everybody had memorized every single line of the play, even parts they weren’t in, but strangely that only made it harder to tune out when you were trying to do other things.
Worse, circles was the most difficult thing she had been taught this year (which was why she was studying it so hard), but they simply didn’t make much sense to her. Between her radians, sines and cosines, she was quite simply lost. It was frustrating because math was, generally speaking, her strongest subject. Aside from theatre, of course, but she never considered her theatre classes a “subject” like History, English, or Math.
“What are you studying?” a hushed voice asked from above. She glanced up to see Branden, one of the Lost Boys, who was also waiting for the next scene.
“Seems easy,” he said, looking at her work.
She scoffed. Branden was a freshman, so he was still a few years from learning just how wrong he was. But she didn’t correct him. She knew it would probably come out a bit harsh. Instead she chose to change the subject.
“Are you ready for your finals?”
“I already took all of mine, actually,” he replied. “Well, most of them. We’re going to be watching movies on finals day of two of my classes.”
Amy kept reading for a minute, not really paying much attention to his answer. “Oh, so you’re done?”
“Yup. Well, in my history class Mr. Warson is making us take notes on the movie. He didn’t even tell us what it is! He said that if we don’t take at least fifteen valuable notes about things we find interesting about the movie he’ll take points off of our test.”
She remembered Mr. Warson. He was widely known to be one of the stricter teachers at school, especially for the History department. Most students didn’t like him. “At least you won’t have to deal with him anymore.”
“Yeah, I think the worst part about him is…” he kept on, but Amy had tuned him out completely. She wasn’t even focused on her math anymore, but instead thinking about the history exam for Clarkson’s class. Dates and names of places and people filled her mind. Clarkson’s class had been about more recent United States history, which had largely focused on everything from the first World War to the Kennedy assassination. She quickly went through the order of Presidents during that time, and the most important things each of them were involved in. She always thought it interesting that even though the twenties seemed to have been the best time to live, the two presidents that served their terms in those years were regarded as some of the worst presidents of all time.
Her knowledge of specificities gave her confidence that even if Warson was grading the exam, she could still ace it pretty easily. Ben, on the other hand, was in trouble. She doubted whether he could even name half the leaders of the main countries involved in World War II, even though they had spent nearly an entire quarter talking about the war.
She couldn’t help but feel a little guilty of that. She never discouraged him from talking to her, though she rarely replied. At least, not that she could remember. She just couldn’t bring herself to be mean to get him to focus when she needed to, and they both got in trouble frequently because of it. She knew she would blame herself if Ben would have to retake that class. She was the smart one, after all. It was practically her job to help friends out if they needed it.
But he didn’t really seem to worry about passing, which was all the more infuriating. He had to go off with Clarkson saving lives or something nonsensical. He didn’t even go to class last Friday! Unmotivated was usually a personality trait for Ben, but ditching class was a new low for him. He had remained elusive over the weekend, too, shooting down her offers to help him study by saying he was busy with Clarkson the whole time. It was appalling that Clarkson seemed to be letting his own student fail, too. Shouldn’t he worry about Ben’s well-being? Why did he humor him so? There was no way anything Clarkson was doing was actually dangerous. The authorities would be involved if something serious was happening, certainly not a struggling high school student, but…
She looked up to see Branden still standing there, looking a little concerned.
“Oh! I’m sorry, Branden. I’ve been a… a little distracted. You know how finals week is. Stressful for everybody. What were we talking about?”
“We weren’t,” he smiled a bit, though it wasn’t taken in humorous light. “I just came back from my scene. You seemed like you were dozing off.”
Apparently she had been more distracted with her thoughts than she realized. “Oh. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry,” he nodded reassuringly. “You’ve probably got a lot on your mind. You’re going to be on in less than a minute, though. You’re going to be kidnapped, and all that.” He was referring to one of the upcoming scenes.
“Oh, god, a minute?!” She scrambled to put her things away, slamming the textbook closed over her notes and pushing it off her lap to stand. Brushing herself off and making sure her dress was fitted properly when she stood. “Thanks, Branden,” she grinned. “Would have been embarrassing to need me on stage only to find me here asleep.”
He laughed. “Well, you know we have to look out for each other! Good luck!” and with that, he went further back stage around some of the furniture and props that had been used in previous plays.
She couldn’t believe she had zoned out so much as to have merited Branden to leave the conversation entirely. Had he said goodbye, with no response from her? It was so rude of her to lose herself to thoughts in the middle of a conversation. She hoped he would forgive her for that.
She went over to one of the wings of the stage, picking up a woven basket prop as she walked. Looking out onto it as she waited for her entrance, she saw Peter was still talking to a few of the Lost Boys, telling them about how they’ll stop Captain Hook.
“Don’t you think he’s planning something, Peter?” one of the Lost Boys asked.
“I do, Tootles. But when he comes…” Amy watched him flourish an arm and punch into the air, mimicking a sort of uppercut, followed by a punch with the other hand. She couldn’t help but follow the words along in her head.
“Pow! Smack! He can’t stand up against the might of the Lost Boys!” The Boys, sitting around him, clapped and laughed excitedly, pretending to whisper to each other about how much fun that would be. “Hook won’t stand a chance.”
And with that, the lights dimmed, calling the end of the scene. In a show, the audience would be clapping, which helped to mask the sound of the stage shift, especially when the stage crew needed to be moving stage props around, as was the case here. Some of the crew on her side of the wings (wearing normal clothing as they didn’t need to wear black until the show), carried fake mossy rocks to place to mimic wilderness. They ran out and placed them as soon as the lights went out and the actors cleared the stage, Peter (though really his name was Jack) and one of the Lost Boys, Tootles, coming her way. They gave thumbs up and nods as they passed. This close to the show there were rules not to talk when you were backstage, though in reality people rarely followed it until the day of the actual show, where they were too nervous to talk. Amy nodded back, returning their thumbs up in a gesture of recognition.
The lights returned, and Amy walked on stage, alone. She pantomimed picking flowers and placing them in her basket. “I’m really worried about Peter,” she exclaimed, looking out into the audience as she projected the voice she altered to be that of Wendy Darling. “I know he has a good heart, but I’m afraid I think he’s too young to be acting so old. Swords and bows and arrows. Who ever thought of such a place as this?” She placed the basket down on the ground to address the audience directly. “It really is beautiful, and I think it’s all so fascinating, but those boys are too small to be carrying around things that can hurt other people. Who does he think he is to be telling those boys about adventures? How are they going to grow up to be responsible adults if there’s nobody here to show them how?”
And as she said that, an idea came into her head. Ben was in over his head, shrugging off responsibilities just because of some fantasies he had had. She would help him, whether he liked it or not. Everybody has to grow up some time, and it certainly was within her capability to help him. She would regret not doing so in the future, so really, she only had one option.