AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece about the Thespians was written for Three Word Wednesday and will be cross-posted later this week at Weekend Writer's Retreat. It is not part of the novel and it contains no spoilers. Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday or Weekend Writer's Retreat for more fun.
Miranda pushed open the door. “Here we are.” She switched on a battery-powered lantern and handed her flashlight to Celia. “You can wear anything you like as long as you give it back if it’s needed for a production.”
Celia shone her beam over the racks of clothes. When she had decided to see if she could join the Thespians, she hadn’t considered that she would be expected to go around in costume like the rest of them. But since the pandemic, it was dangerous to be without the protection of a group, and although the Thespians were weird with their makeup and flair for the dramatic, they were skilled foragers who protected their people. Eleven-year old Celia would be safe here.
“Go on,” Miranda said. “Be whatever you want to be. That’s what this group is all about.”
While Miranda preened in front of a mirror, checking the fit of her bizarrely striped and spotted leotard, Celia approached the nearest clothes rack and began examining what was on the hangers. Medieval gowns. A milkmaid dress. A checkered gingham thing that looked like someone’s idea of an old-fashioned farm dress. Celia fingered the sleeve of a blousy pirate shirt, but she didn’t want to be a pirate. Was there no way she could beg off, abstain from this silliness?
Miranda was leaning into the mirror now, dabbing at her lipstick in the halo of light from her lantern. She met Celia’s eyes in the glass. “What’s the matter? Can’t decide?”
“Uh, yeah. So many choices.”
“If you try something and don’t like it, you can come back and change anytime, as long as you mend anything you tear and put everything back where you found it. Now go on. Choose something that expresses the real inner you.”
Celia looked at the clothes again. She didn’t want to express anything; she only wanted to be safe and fed. When was dinner at this crazy place? She hadn’t eaten in nearly two days, and they had made her audition to join. Her performance had come off well, but had taken the last of her energy.
With a small sigh, Miranda came and stood beside her. “You really are confused, aren’t you?”
“Just tired. And hungry.”
“Well, I’ve got just the thing.” Miranda fumbled in the pouch at her hip, and slipped something into Celia’s hand.
For a moment, Celia was too dumbfounded to speak. A Snickers bar? She ripped open the paper and shoved the candy in her mouth, relishing the sweet chocolate like the answer to a prayer.
Miranda watched in silence as the girl ate, then smiled. “Hit the spot?”
“Great.” Miranda put an arm around her, lifted her lantern in her other hand and led Celia back to the long row of costumes. “Now let’s find you something fabulous.”
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