Boston, Present Day
I was all alone backstage. Flinging props and costumes around, slamming cupboard doors, kicking a row of empty water bottles. I'd planned to clean up, but instead I was wrecking everything.
We opened The Taming of the Shrew tonight. A few months back, when I found out I'd gotten the role of Katherine, I knew I was headed for trouble. I hadn't even auditioned for it. I wanted to play Bianca, the sweet daughter, the one all the suitors are after. But Mr. Finley, our drama teacher, wouldn't even consider it. "Miranda, you will play Katherine," he'd said. "The role was one of your mother's triumphs, and you must carry on the tradition." Inside, I'd fumed. My mother again. It was always about her.
So here it was, opening night, and I'd totally screwed up. Rather than playing Katherine with the subtleties the role deserved, I'd played her as the traditional shrew turned submissive. The woman completely tamed by her husband. Afraid to make the role my own, I practically sleepwalked through the performance. When the curtain fell, I raced offstage, defying anybody to look at me. No way could I deal with polite smiles, insincere congratulations, and, worst of all, pitying eyes that quickly darted away.
My cell phone vibrated in my jeans pocket. It was Macy, my friend and fellow actor, so I answered.
"Miranda? Are you all right?"
"Yeah," I fibbed. I hated it when people asked me that, even friends who actually cared. No, I'm not all right. I feel like a failure and an idiot. And I let everyone down.
"Where are you?"
I heard loud music and laughing in the background, so I knew where she was. The opening night party. "I'm still changing and putting stuff away. What a mess." I didn't mention that my foul temper had caused the mess in the first place.
"You're not thinking of skipping the party, are you?"
I drew a deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut. "Macy, please don't freak out, but I'm not coming."
"What do you mean you're not coming? You have to come! It's opening night." She broke off to talk to someone, then said, "John wants to talk to you."
"No! Tell him I'm sick or something." John had played Petruchio, and we'd been dating, sort of. He was a nice guy, but he wanted more than I was willing to give. I heard Macy making excuses for me.
I waited a few seconds, until she was back. "What's the matter with you?" she asked. "I'm sure he knew I was lying."
"I ruined the whole performance, Mace! I sucked. I can't face anybody right now." Or maybe ever.
"You weren't that bad."
"Thanks. I feel much better. Look, after Sunday's closing, I'm driving up to Maine, to our place at Acadia. I need to be alone for a while. I think I want to quit acting, Mace."
"Oh my God, Miranda, give it a little time. Everybody has their off nights. Remember how good you were in Much Ado About Nothing?"
I spoke over the lump in my throat, my voice sounding raspy. "I had about ten lines in Much Ado! And this was more than just an 'off night.' I stunk from the first rehearsal."
"This is because of your mom, right? You think you can never measure up to her. That's so not true."
"Mace, can we talk about this later? It's late, and I want to get out of here."
"Please come to the party. You'll feel better."
"I'll talk to you tomorrow," I said, ending the call. If I listened long enough, she might wear me down.
Driving up to Acadia National Park had popped into my head while Macy and I were talking. There was no reason I couldn't go. My grandparents, who kept an eye on me when my parents were on tour, wouldn't care. Spring break started next...