Left Over

August 31, 2011
By EmilyClark BRONZE, Wayne, Pennsylvania
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EmilyClark BRONZE, Wayne, Pennsylvania
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She said that she would tie my lips together with a noose if she had to because my breathing was like white wine spilled down her blouse. It hung there ugly and tainted, left over from the day. She said that she used to watch it grow wider and wider until it swallowed her whole. She told me that she never liked it when I talked. I asked her too many questions that she couldn’t answer. It left her feeling inadequate and dumb. Like a dog scratching its ear as it watched a fly buzz toward its nose. Then she wrinkled her eyes and her mouth turned into the thin wire of a washing line. “Sometimes I think you ask me questions just so I feel stupid” I told her that she was being ridiculous. She shrugged and muttered something about curiosity killing a cat and left me standing there feeling ripped open. I wondered why. Then I realized that it was because she had torn the shawl that hung around the cobwebs in the back of my mind with the broken mirror laying under it. Of course, I wanted her to feel bad. It was the inconsequential characteristic of humanity. The ability of building yourself up by pushing other’s down. The truth fermented on my tongue for a while. The taste buds trying to discover if this was a satisfying or ugly realization that would keep them dry and parched. They decided on the former. There was no need to puzzle over this and revisist insomnia because I had finally discovered an inevitable truth. I picked up my backpack and walked out of the room. I decided to ask Mrs. Randall about the psychological temperament of humans tomorrow. Hey, it was the cycle of life.

The video club was founded by Eliza Berkins. Her green highlights matched her eyes so that her overall appearance was like an electrifying neon light. The cut of her black hair came across her forehead in small waves. The highlights streaked through her bangs while the rest of her hair was held up by a long rectangular clip. She was a thin 5 foot 6 inches and her pale heart shape faced made the contrast of her hair more acute and shocking. Eliza’s eyes were large and bold and many times when something displeased her they would flash so that they appeared like small green bolts of electricity. She wore a dark purple T-shirt that had gold letters which spelled out, “Did You Hear?” and skinny jeans. The entire outfit was rounded off by black boots that reached her knees. At the moment she was leaning back on a chair with her shiny boots on the table and a pencil in her mouth. She looked like she was slightly amused and slightly exasperated because of her half-cocked head and tight lips. However, I could tell that she was seriously puzzled at Crane’s seemingly inability to understand what she was saying. To her the word “acting” was something that was could be slipped on like a dress. She didn’t understand the difficulty of shedding one’s own personality and putting on another. Eliza believed in the simplicity of disengaging oneself from needs of her own and easing her body into the picture of another’s life. Crane’s bewilderment to her was an amazing phenomenon that could not be explained by the English language. This could be seen as a sort of narrow-mindedness on Eliza’s part, but I knew better. Eliza may be impatient with other people’s inadequacies, but she wouldn’t rest until Crane knew what to do. I’d known Eliza since grade school. She was my best friend. We knew each other inside and out. Sometimes I thought too well.

“Crane, if you want to join the club then you will have to present some form of talent in the film arts.”
Crane sighed, “I’m surprised that you would turn anyone away. I mean seeing as there are only four club members. I would have thought that you would have been grateful for me just to be here.”
Eliza leaned over the table and put her feet on the ground, “Crane. The only reason that there are so few people here is because it is so elite. We have people knocking at our basement door all the time. Believe me.”
Crane looked at Joan. She shook her head. “Ok. Well, I will act if you need me to, but I am not going to say that I can act. You get me.”

Eliza resumed her former stance, “Yeah, I get you. Whatever that means.” Eliza was a stickler for proper English, at least what she thought was proper English.

Crane twisted in his seat, irritated, “So, if I need to have a job, as you call it, what do the rest of these people do?”

Eliza stood up. “I think it is time to introduce you to my team Crane Anderson. First, we have Rosemary Clemens, our make-up and costume designer. She is also the head cheerleader in this high school. She maintains a grade point average of 3.4 and is usually seen growing flowers at the elderly home.” At this point, Eliza shook her head as though trying to get rid of a disgusting image. “ Rosemary has been a great addition to our team and has risen above our-er-expectations. We are glad that we took her on even though the recommendations were not strong.” At this point the girl in the front of the abandoned classroom raised her hand in a friendly wave. She had long flowing bright red hair and oval brown eyes. She was wearing a green sundress that had a large yellow sunflower embroidered on the front. Crane’s first impression revolved around the image of a cute little girl dancing in a field of daisies. He looked away.

Eliza continued. “Second we have Allen Sniper. He is our computer and special effects analyst. He had a GPA of a 4.0 until 6 months a go when he had an epiphany in his sleep that school was worthless. Now, he spends his spare time playing chess and thinking up new insults to spit at unknowing victims. We had high expectations and right now he has met them. However, his loyalty comes at the high costs of constant neurotic expressions and confrontations.” She gestured to the boy in the corner who had carefully crafted “I-don’t-care” haircut, which made his straight black hair stick up in random places. He was tall and had a long pointed face. His eyes were black and he had a smug smile on his face. He wore a crumpled suit and his tie was maroon.

Crane nodded his head and said, “Hey”

Allen smirked, “Welcome Crane. What’s with the name anyway? Do you have a bird infatuation or something? Should we just wait for you to fly home? Because believe me I am not going to help give you your wings.”

Joan shifted and sighed, “Really Al. Is that the best that you could come up with?

Allen snorted, “Its better than anything that you could have thought of.”

“Oh really? A baby could come up with something more effective than that.”

“Well, then why don’t you try?”

“You know what I will. Are you called Crane because of your overly long neck or those flopping wings that you call arms? No offense to you, Crane.”

Crane just looked at her in alarm. Silence ensued. Eliza broke the quiet by saying, “Not bad. I certainly preferred that to any of your slights Sniper.” Her words set off a long list of contradicting opinions mainly Allen’s moans of “You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve been working on mine since I head the guy’s name. There is no way Joan’s beat it.” Rosemary’s laughter flitted over the argument like the chirping of a small robin outside. Suddenly, Eliza’s voice rose above the noise. “Discussion over. Crane has the floor.” Everyone turned toward Crane, who was completely unprepared for this sudden attention, “Err--“
Eliza cut Crane off, “Enough about you. Now, Joan’s turn. Joan Wrangly, our one and only playwright. She has written numerous dialogues and scripts that have led our productions. She is also our character developer. Joan has a grade point average of 3.5 and enjoys playing guitar in the tree in her back yard. She is usually found at the gym practicing her karate or spending time with me. She has succeeded in filling her role here at our production industry.” Joan was a girl of about 5 ft 9 inches and had light blue eyes that always looked as if she had a secret. Her brown hair was tied up in a ponytail and when she shifted in her seat the sun would catch her blonde highlights in its hand. Joan wore tan shorts and a grey T-shirt that set off her freckles that decorated her arms and face. She was seated in the second row of the class room and was chewing on a pencil. She grinned to show a flash of white teeth and how amusing she found this whole meeting to be. She tapped her dirty sneakers on the ground as she waited for someone to speak.

Crane interrupted Eliza at this point and asked, “Production industry? Are you guys really that official?”

Eliza smiled, “You have a lot to learn Crane. Everything we do here is serious. Remember that if we accept you into this club.”
“Elite club” Rosemary chimed in.
“Thank you, Rosemary. Elite club.” Eliza nodded impressively.
“Yeah. That’s great. Can we move on now?” Allen asked.
“Shut it Sniper. I wasn’t done.” Eliza snapped. Joan smiled. The moment passed. “So, what do you do?” Crane remarked.
“What do I do?” Eliza leaned back in her chair, “I direct.” Crane waited. He had anticipated a longer introduction, but received none.
“So what do you have to offer us?” Rosemary asked sweetly. Crane flinched. He had felt some vehemence in her words. He hadn’t expected the question from her. Perhaps his first impression of careless schoolgirl was wrong. This whole crowd was utterly bizarre.
“Well, I have never really done anything like this before so I am not sure what I can give you.”
Eliza breathed heavily, “Ok, why are you here Crane if you have nothing to offer us.”
“Well, frankly. Yesterday when I met Joan and you in the parking lot, you said to come here at this time. So I did.”
Eliza’s bubble deflated and she considered the answer, “Acceptable excuse. However,” Eliza’s lightning flashed, “What is unacceptable is coming to this club unprepared. Joan! Search his bag.”
“Absolutely.” Joan got up and reached for Crane’s backpack.
“ What? You can’t do that? I haven’t done anything wrong” Crane felt oddly like he had just been sent to prison again and was being tried for murder.
“Relax. If there is a diary then we won’t read it.” Allen laughed. Crane was beginning to find this guy strangely irritating. Joan pulled out Crane’s school binders and textbooks. She rifled through his spare sheets of paper and pencils. Finally, she reached into the bottom of his bag and pulled out a folder.
Crane sat straight up, “You guys really don’t need to look at that. Actually, I just don’t want you to look at that.”
Joan just smiled in a condoling way and opened the folder. She picked up the pieces of paper and stared at them for a minute of two. She passed them silently to Eliza who shuffled through the pages. She had a slight crease in her eyebrow. Finally, she put the legs of her chair onto the ground and walked toward Crane. She sat on his desk and looked him straight in the eyes. “You will be our cinematographer Mr. Lamburg. Be here tomorrow at 3:30 on the dot. Make sure that you keep all your free time open for us. I’ll see you then.” The bell rang. Eliza picked up the folder and gave it back to Crane. “Not bad, Lamburg. Not bad.” She then stood up and picked up her bag. She signaled to Joan and they walked out together. Rosemary followed with a spin of her skirt and a slight giggle. “I wonder if the flowers have started blooming yet at the community center.” Allen snorted. “Idiot.” He slouched out of the room. “See ya, Robin”
“Even I don’t see how that is clever.” Crane muttered. He picked up his looked over photographs and hurried out of the schoolyard. He wasn’t exactly sure what had just transpired, but he was sure of one thing—he wasn’t in Kansas any more.

We called him Crane because the first time we saw him he looked like a giant bird with his overly large jacket hanging on his back. The strings of his light brown hair were cropped close to his head so that it resembled the feathers of a bald eagle that ruffled when the wind swallowed it. His head lay against the wooden shed so that shadows played the violin on his face while his eyes were concealed by the ratty hat that had been hastily shoved on his head. His legs were sprawled in disarray on the termite-eaten bench and he arms dangled through the sleeves of the coat like tooth picks. Overall the appearance seemed like a wounded bird inhabiting a 16 year old boy’s body. We approached him quietly and he didn’t realize we had stumbled upon him until we were right over his head. At this sudden appearance, Crane’s eyes popped open in surprise. He mumbled, “Ahhh, sorry, just fell asleep there. Did you want to sit down?” Eliza raised her eyebrows and said, “Don’t worry, we don’t want your prized bench. We were just wondering what your name was and what you were doing here.”

Crane paused and answered, “I’m the new transfer student from Maine. My name is Jake Lamburg. This is my first day here. As you can see, I don’t really know the place that well.”

Eliza didn’t look amused, “So what? You are going to skip the first day because you can’t find the door.” She gesticulated toward the obvious manifestation of the big doors to Manabie High School.

Jake cringed, “Of course not. I was just getting some shut-eye before I headed in. I wouldn’t want to miss anything today.”

“Yeah, sure you wouldn’t.” Eliza suddenly smiled. Her bright green eyes gleamed. “Why don’t I show you in, Jake?”

“Oh, that’s alright. I can get in by myself thanks.”

Suddenly, Joan interceded. She had been watching Jake for a while when proclaimed, “You don’t look like a Jake to me.”

“Who are you people? The school and name police or something? Do I need to go get my birth certificate?”

Eliza ignored him, “You’re right, Jay. He looks more like a bird. You know with his arms flopping around like that?”

Joan nodded, “Yeah I see that.”

“Maybe we should call him Cardinal.”

“Nah, too preppy. And we know that he doesn’t care about school so that’s not going to work. How about Oriole?”

“From that we should just say Swan Lake.”

“Yeah or maybe Goose.” They laughed.

Through their hilarity Joan’s voice was heard, “How about Crane?”

Eliza stopped smiling, “Yeah. I can see that. Ok, Jake. Your new name is Crane, got it?”

“No I don’t. You can’t just change my name because you want--”

The bell rang.
“We better get going, Crane. Joan will help get you to your first class. You do have your schedule right?”

“Sure.” Crane spoke in a faint voice of apprehension.
“See ya later, Lamburg.”
Joan turned to face Crane, “So what is your first class?”
“Er—its Spanish.”
“Cool, you’re with me.” Suddenly, Joan cuffed Crane on the head. “Shape up, Crane. We aren’t so bad. I know Eliza and I can appear rough, but don’t worry. Its all bite and no bark.”
Crane did not find this very comforting.
Then Joan asked him to join the video club.

“Tu quieres comer esas papas fritas?” Allen had been watching Crane eat hungrily. His mouth was salivating and when Crane finished his lunch, Allen’s face curled back into disappointment. At the moment, Eliza, Joan, Allen, and Crane were all sitting at the lunch table together. Joan was reading a book and Allen had his computer out. Rosemary ate at a different table altogether with her more social friends. Every now and again there was a loud burst of giggles in that direction that made Crane’s skin crawl.

“So, how did you like your second day of class, Lamburg?” Eliza was sucking on a twizzler, the red candy being ripped a part by small white teeth. Crane had noticed that Eliza never went anywhere without a large bag of these commercial savvy treats. It was another thing that he didn’t understand about Eliza.

“It was good, I guess.” Crane grunted, “Schools seem to be all the same to me.”

“Even one that has mandatory choir?” Allen asked.

“Yeah, that was new. I’ve got to say that the teacher really tries to make you feel uncomfortable by having the new kid sing a solo on their first day.”

“Well, she did say that you had a lovely baritone.” Allen snickered.

“Yeah, maybe for dogs. I have no talent in that area.”

“So what do you do in your spare time, Lamburg?” Eliza questioned.

“Err—nothing much I guess. I like to listen to records and watch movies I guess.”
Allen looked at Crane aghast, “You’ve got to be kidding me, Crane. You have a record player. What? Do you live in the 80s? Or do you just dress like it?”

“Yeah. I got it for my 11th birthday. What’s wrong with that? I mean I have an ipod too, but I think the music loses something without the record player.”

“What? Like clarity?” Allen shook his head like this was the strangest idea that he had ever heard in his head. “How do you listen to any new songs with a record player?”

“I use my ipod. Besides a lot of the music that has just been released is based on highly autotuned voices and thrill factor. No real emotion or passion.”

Joan closed her book. “I agree with Crane here, I never hear a song that hasn’t had some kind of digital retribution added to it.”

“No way. I submit to the fact that the music industry has lowered their expectations, but we have gained some valuable tracks. Like the Black-eyed peas and Beyoncé.”

“We’ve also gained things like Friday” Joan emphasized. They continued to debate.

Rosemary had crossed over to the table by this time. She sat down next to Joan on the blue plastic bench that was usually found in school cafeterias. Today, she was wearing a pink sundress that sported a long vine of roses on the side. A soft smell of lilacs accompanied her. Eliza eyed her with mistrust.

“We are not contributing any funds to the community center if that is what you want.” Joan smiled behind her book and leaned back against the windowpane.

“I just came to confirm the meeting tonight at 10:00.”

Crane’s head shot up in alarm. “10:00?”

Eliza’s face had reverted back to its usual calmness once she realized that Rosemary had no intention of asking for money. “Yeah. At the usual spot. Make sure that you bring the costumes from last scene except for that pantsuit. I don’t know what you were thinking there. They are going on a hiking excursion. Not back to the 70s.”

Crane tried to interject again, “At the usual spot? You guys meet this late usually?”

“I thought it would bring out the comedic undertone of the script.” Rosemary contradicted, “But I won’t make anymore if you don’t want me too.”

“Yeah, I can see where you are coming from, but we want the audience to take it seriously enough and only understand how completely ridiculous the idea is after they have seen the movie.”

Joan put down her book to join the conversation, “The point is for the audience to be entranced by this horrible idea of a daughter becoming obsessed with hunting down her parents, but also understand the improbability of this exact situation of ever occurring. The pantsuit might just be overkill. However, your “stranger” costume was brilliant. It adds all of the pieces of the character.”

Rosemary bowed her head, the massive sweeping of her red hair covered her face for awhile as she contemplated these criticisms. Crane felt as though he had just stumbled upon an asylum for the insane. “Obsessed daughter”, “hunting”, and “comedy” didn’t seem to be words that should go together. Perhaps, this society was a little bit too elite.

Crane decided to see if Allen found these words to be as absurd as he found them. Allen, however, was immersed on his computer. He had a slight frown carved around the edges of his lips.

Crane weighed which was worse, interrupting Allen and facing another string of insults or holding his silence and remain in a state of wary oblivion. He decided on the former. Seeing as Allen had to plan the insults before hand, Crane would probably be bombarded by them anyway. It would just occur because of a later course of action.

“Allen, are they really shooting a film about an obsessed daughter hunting her parents and calling it a comedy.”

Allen smiled reassuringly, “No.” His smiled vanished. “You are shooting a film about an obsessed daughter hunting her parents and calling it a comedy. We are doing the rest.”

Crane tilted his eyes and kept his voice level, “What?”

“Well, since technically you are the cinematographer, you will be choosing the angles and perspectives for the film. We will do the rest, bird brain.” The last words were spoken with a punch meant to hurt. Crane came out unscathed from the intended maliciousness, but was bruised by the other nonchalant sentence.

“And we are doing this at 10:00 at night?”

“Yeah” Allen answered impatiently, “At the bottom of Huckleberry hill, past the stone pigeon.”

Crane thought his ears were deceiving him. “Past the stone pigeon?”

Allen broke out laughing, “I’m just kidding with you, man! It’s past the stone lion, not pigeon.” Allen clamped his laptop shut, “Wow, I am getting good at this! See ya later, Crane.”

“Wait! Where is this hill? And pigeon—I mean lion?”

Allen waved his hand as he walked out the cafeteria, his head the tallest in the crowd, “Joan will show you.”

“Great.” Crane muttered. He packed up his notebooks and left the cafeteria.

Mrs. Randall was watching me out of the corner of her eye. She viewed my wavering hand with apprehension and dread. The usual self-assurance in her voice left once she saw me enter the classroom. I was like the creaking winds of winter blowing down her usually sunny day. The beady eyes of the rest of the students were witnesses of a crime as they would focus their lenses on me and then move back toward the teacher. They were the tethers that tied me to Mrs. Randall’s weak resolve to confront my ever-reaching hands. My eyes, the cups that would fill with Mrs. Randall’s insecurity as she raised her hand and pointed her long bony finger at me. I never meant for her to fear me, but it seemed almost impossible not to take advantage of her offer. The one that sat on her desk day in and day out, which echoed the words “Test me, test me, I know everything” and so I took the bet. Everyday I would ask her one impossible question and see if she could prove what she was worth. Everyday she lost, and every time she stuttered the words, “I don’t know”, it was like a wave had hit the classroom. The silence bordering on the extreme would slowly melt away as Mrs. Randall fixed her large sad eyes back on the board. She did that every class, hiding her emotion with her hair covering her face. If only she knew that I understood. That she could fool every one else with her supposed sadness and distaste, but not me. I knew that I had given her a reason, a challenge, a goal that made her want to get up everyday and face the heat. The knowledge that there was one certainty in her life that she could wake up to every morning gave Mrs. Randall a reason to live. She liked not knowing. She liked the silence and the drama of inadequacy. She was a teacher who was showing students that no one could know everything. That everyone could learn even the formidable Mrs. Randall with her deep voice and stern face and tight bun. She, the walking legend—the hero that had found the golden fleece only to reveal that it was made of bronze.

Crane got home at around 4:30 to find his mother waiting for him at the door. She was holding a baby that looked like it had been crying for 2 hours straight. Its eyes were red and swollen while drool dribbled down the side of its face. The baby thrust its pink fists up into the air as though it were punching Lisa Lamburg.

“You told me that you would call if you stayed late, Jake. You promised me.” Lisa Lamburg’s hair was frizzy and a mousy brown. Her thin face had deep wrinkles and her grey eyes darted across Crane’s face as though searching for some hidden meaning.

“I know Mom, but I didn’t know that I would be leaving late. I-I just got hung up at school.”

“You got hung up? No, Jake. You can’t just say that to me anymore. You forfeited that right when you decided to leave last year. I need to know where you are at all times until you turn 18. And even then, if you don’t send at least one postcard per month then I am filing a charge for emotional duress.” Lisa Lamburg’s voice trembled at the last words and her eyes dug holes into Crane’s scalp. She wouldn’t meet his eyes, but kept changing the baby from one hip to the other.

“Mom, relax. Do you need help with the baby? Who is this? David.” Crane took the squealing infant and tickled him under the chin, “What have you been doing today, Davey, huh? What have you been up to?” Crane took Lisa by the shoulder and led her into the house. She grabbed Crane by the elbow and said, “Why did you go, Crane? What did I do?”

Crane didn’t answer for a while. He put David in one of the cribs that layered the orphanage’s room. He watched the baby fall asleep and twisted the patched blanket in his hand before standing up. His mother was putting the twins to sleep. Her grey dress fell in folds across her knees. The whole scenario resembled a civil war picture with the gentle nurse leaning over a weeping patient. The coarse hands twisting the worn cloth with the unseen strength of one who has suffered and lost herself in the lives of her patients. The wooden crib made with same material as the severe bedpost of a soldier lost in war. Crane wondered if he could captivate the moment with his camera. It would be perfect if he softened the tone and captured the lighting falling from the broken window. But perhaps the best perspective in the room would be to show the front of the nurse. The lines on her face and the southward curve of her mouth. The softly carved nostrils and the high used forehead. But most of all was the sad expression engraved in the nurse’s eyes. The expression that spoke of the submission of acceptance. She smiled her torn smile at Crane as he passed by the last crib on the right.

“It was never because of you Mom. I just had to go, you know? To get away from it all.”

Lisa Lamburg was silent for a moment and then she nodded, her slow accepting nod, “Yeah, Jake, I do understand.” Then she patted him on the back and turned away so he couldn’t see her cry.

10 hours, 7 minutes, and 43 seconds later, the entire group was assembled under a rather draconian looking statue. Crane eyed the medieval statue with a little bit of skepticism. It seemed to outline all of the issues that Crane had gotten himself into by befriending the green-haired girl and kid with the name “Sniper.” (Perhaps too coincidental?) Not to mention the outlandishly charitable cheer leader and apparently friendly girl who took pride in hurting people. However, he was here now and he should probably just see what they were doing before discovering that he was allergic to some kind of costume material. Eliza’s Twizzler-tearing noise interrupted his train of thoughts,

“Welcome Video Club--” Someone immediately stopped her.

“Ok, Eliza, I haven’t complained up until now, but we do need a name for our club. All of the competition will take us for a joke if we still use the cliché term of “video” club.”

Crane had no idea how “video club” was a cliché rather than just an unoriginal name, but he didn’t intercede.

“Yeah, I agree with Rosemary. There is no way that we are going to keep calling this club something so basic. We need a title that ties all of us to a film.”

“We could do Attack of the Film Makers.” Joan suggested jokingly.

“What? And be seen as insane?” Allen demanded. Crane thought that it was a pretty accurate description.

“How about the Inspirers?”

“Really, Allen, that is worse than our other name.”

“How? It is what we want to be so why shouldn’t we call ourselves it.”

“Because it has been done a hundred times over by Disney or some other kid company. We want something that shows sophistication and humor. The Inspirers just makes the audience feel like they have to be inspired. Like they don’t have a choice.”

“And it is just lame”

Eliza broke in irritably, “This is wasting our time. We can focus on the name later. Right now, we will just call ourselves the Film Asylum, ok?”

There was sound of mutual reluctance, but acceptance to continue.

“Alright” Eliza continued, “Today we were supposed to film the first woods part, but since Camden left and moved to Nebraska, we are going to need a new Irwin. I vote that we start over with Crane taking Camden’s place.”

Crane started, he had been trying to follow the conversation, and realized that he was being given another unwanted position in this “Asylum”, “I already told you that I don’t act. I mean really I am terrible.”

“We’ll see. You’re character doesn’t really have any depth to it anyway, wouldn’t you say Joan?”

“Yeah, Irwin is a very straightforward man. He doesn’t have any dark secrets or emotional changes. You will do fine.”

“Wait-” Crane tried to cut the idea off, but it was too late.

“Alright, that’s fine with me.” Said Allen, “The other film was all wrong anyway. Since birdbrain here is our new cinematographer, it would have looked strange to have two different styles in the production anyway. The audience would notice.”

“Rosemary?” Eliza asked.

“I’ll just change the length of the pants. Crane is a good bit taller than Camden anyway. Irwin’s costume is simple so it shouldn’t be a problem. If it had been Cassius’s then I would have had to take more take more time off from the community center. And that would have been--” Rosemary’s eyes welled up, “Just terrible.” Crane shifted away from her.

“So we are all agreed?” Eliza raised her hand like a judge pounding a gavel.

Crane decided that it was time to cut them off before it was too late to get out of this mess. “No.” He said firmly. “Listen, guys. I don’t mean to sound crass or ungrateful for all of your help on my first day, but I really don’t think that I can do this. This is my first year at a new school and I need to get my grades up. This all sounds really…er…interesting, but I mean you probably want someone more experienced anyway. I have never done a film or acted. Ever. Thanks for the opportunity, but I think I should just head home.” Crane thought that he had sounded pretty eloquent and resolute in this speech. He was pretty proud of himself for sounding so genuinely touched at their insanity. He didn’t expect any argument or questions.

There was a silence that whispered through the field of grass that they were all standing in. Then there was a squeal of happiness that rang out of Rosemary’s mouth,

“Oh! That was brilliant, Crane! How can you say that you never acted before?”

“Wait, what? I think you have misunderstood--”

“Yeah great job, Lamburg. Didn’t expect that. Well put, really.”

Allen admitted with reluctant admiration, “I’ve never heard something so darn convincing before. I really enjoyed it. Camden wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to you.” Only Joan sat on the ground, motionless. A sly smile had spread across her lips and instead of turning toward Crane, she got up and walked to Rosemary. She wordlessly patted her on the back. Crane watched all this with horror spreading across his face. What could he say that would change these people’s minds.

“No, guys, I really can’t. I have an allergic reaction to—er—silk.”

“Oh, silly!” Rosemary laughed like the chiming of silver bells, “I never use silk costumes. That would be really ridiculously expensive Isn’t that lucky?

“Great.” Crane muttered miserably.

He should have known, when had these people ever been predictable?

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