A Gray Mistake

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Human-sized rats aren’t very common, and believe me- actually trying to be one is much harder than you think. Hunched down, dressed in a too-small smelly fur and gray tights scurrying across the battle scene-set stage of the Nutcracker, I sure hoped I looked like one. Quite honestly, it was never comfortable nor did I actually feel like one. But hey, being a rat comes with some consequences.

Suddenly, one of my dyed-gray canvas shoes slipped on the rubbery surface. The fur was a real pain to move in, never mind seriously run and avoid being crashed into. The legs holes are just too small, jerking me back. I lost my balance. Thanks to my luck, I happened to be near the center of the stage, but it’s a good thing I didn’t fall. Glancing up, I noticed with a tinge of irritation I had been lagging behind. “Faster, faster,” I urged myself.

Almost too late, I was backstage again. The first cue hadn’t been too bad, except for that one slip. Suddenly I got scared: what if I fell again? I’d look like an idiot! Muttering the steps over and over again, I kept one eye open to watch what was going on and the other shut tight, trying to remember all of my yelled corrections from the countless rehearsals.

Finally the moment came for my second entrance; the time that the battle swung into a full-out action packed event. The time that I had given up all my weekends for; the moment I had thought about, dreamed about, and breathed about. The music came with a crash- my cue. I scurried on stage with the rest of my fellow enslaved rats, feeling quite confident and smelling the scent of the maple syrup like fog. My mind was screwed into the choreography. “I will not mess up. I will not mess up,” I mumbled repeatedly.

Then, disaster struck. The choreography called for the rats to scurry around the Nutcracker in a tight circle, a difficult thing to pull of in tight furs and slippery shoes. Suddenly, a bright red figure loomed into my path- the Nutcracker! I was hurrying too fast to put on the brakes. I swerved to avoid him, and almost lost my footing doing so. But the Nutcracker merely stepped back into my path, completely oblivious to what was going on at his feet. I backtracked and ran to my next spot; there was not a moment to spare. The music kept playing, but I wanted it to end out of my embarrassment.

Finally the music ended with a low mourning note- the end of the battle had come, and the Rat King was dead. We froze, and along with the soldiers, watched as the Rat King fell backward. Acting as a mournful mouse, I dragged the Rat King’s big heavy body off stage. The first few trickling notes signaling the Snow Queen started, and it was clear who had lost the battle- us.

Later backstage, I realized how funny it must have looked, a rat colliding with the Nutcracker- the main attraction of the scene. At last, the thoughts of embarrassment escaped me and it was all over. Well, at least for this year. And next year will be a completely different story, complete with its own mistakes and blunders. Till next year then, rats!





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