By Karri Compton
Derek didn’t know when he entered the theatre that night, his life would change forever. He settled into his cushiony red seat and leafed through the program.
Grandma Penelope patted his arm. “Isn’t this exciting? Your mother will certainly get rave reviews for this performance.”
“Sure, Grandma, but I’ve seen lots of these musicals. I’m used to it now.” He didn’t know much about singing and dancing and acting, but he knew his mom had talent. Grandma Penelope always said so.
Presently the heavy black curtain swished open and the lights went down in the audience. Show time. Derek watched his mother act and sing her way into Thalian Hall’s history. He yawned as the show neared its end. Soon he could kiss his mom and give her the flowers he and Grandma Penelope had brought her. But now he had to go to the bathroom. Bad.
“Grandma, I have to go to the bathroom. Now.”
Grandma Penelope grimaced, but whispered for him to go quickly. It wouldn’t take him long and he knew his way around Thalian like his own home.
“Be back in a minute, Grandma,” Derek whispered. He scooted his way past the others on their row and ran-walked to the lobby restroom. When he exited, he snuck around the corner and down the stairs to test the backstage doors. Sometimes his mom brought him here during dress rehearsals where he could look at the wardrobe room, scenery and orchestra pit. He knew a nine-year-old shouldn’t be backstage, but he couldn’t help it.
He crossed his fingers and pulled on the heavy door. Open! The hallway led past the orchestra pit and dressing rooms. He trotted up another set of stairs that opened to the backstage area. There would be a lot of people there, but no one would notice him. They were always hurrying to change costumes or set props or something. He circled around to offstage left to eye his favorite part of the theatre--the fly rigs. He hid behind a set piece and watched the stage hands secure the long row of levers for backdrops and curtains. He wished he could control something cool like that one day.
He focused his attention onstage to the finale, which was the last scene and big song at the end. His mom entered stage right and he grinned from his hidden place. Suddenly he heard a loud whoosh. A huge, flown-in piece sailed at an angle across the stage, obviously out of place. Derek gasped as a frayed rope swung loose, hitting the floor.
Time seemed to slow as the wooden piece hit his mom squarely on the head, knocking her to the black floor with a thump.
“No!” He raced towards her. Chaos ensued, actors scattering in every direction. The crowd buzzed, the music petered to silence. Someone closed the thick main curtain and a nervous voice announced something Derek couldn’t understand.
“We need a doctor!” One man shouted.
Several cast members huddled around Derek’s mom. He pushed to the front and tried to hug her. One of them stopped him, hugging him so he couldn’t see her.
Someone shrieked, “I think she’s dead!”