James Hartley

“So what do you think of Eve?” Jenna dropped subtly into the crew lunch meeting,

“She’s alright, why?” I asked biting into my sandwich. Two days ago I was as free as a bird, playing in nightclubs and applying for the odd bank internship and now, BAM, all my days and nights were taken up with this play. It was something I hadn’t seen coming and I still wasn’t sure if I was happy about it or not…

“Have you ever spoken to her?”

“Yeah, two or three times, why are you asking?” I asked again, Jenna seemed to be avoiding that question,

“What about Bella?”

“What about her?” I tried to be nonchalant and it worked,

“What do you think of her?”

“Jen, I’ve been here like ten hours, I barely know any of these people…”

“You seemed to be getting along with her,” she pointed out,

“I’m making friends, are you jealous? I don’t want to offend you but seriously I don’t want to hang around with my sister every time we get a free moment,”

“Why are you sitting next to me then?” she asked,

“I’ve not had time to befriend the crew, like I said, only ten hours on the job!”


After lunch and the discussion about technical stuff I returned to the light box and sat working the lights for the practise of act one. The extras arrived and chaos broke out, one of the girls was still drunk from the night before and she threw up all over the stage. Jenna practically erupted and sent the girl to clear it up herself, Ethan stood there chuckling to himself and so Jenna sent him packing, up to me.

“Hey man,” he said coming in. Ethan and I hadn’t been particularly good friends at school, he was the fat kid we all laughed at as he tried to run up and down the football pitch. I hoped he didn’t remember that I had been in that group of bullies.

“Sup?” I asked switching on the backlights so I could see his face,

“Jenna told me to come and get out her hair,” he raised his eyebrows as he smiled, “is she always that scary?”

“Only backstage.” I smiled back, “You really have changed since high school,” I muttered,

“Yeah, lots of weights training and a little less food, works a charm,” he smiled, “now my heart’s not in danger of failure, which is always good,”

“Good to know…good to know,” I mumbled,

“You’ve not changed much. I still remember your group of friends and that time Coach made run up and down t he field because I complained too much, you just stood there laughing and impersonating me. That was the most humiliating day of my life, I mean I am thick skinned and I shouldn’t have cared that you were making fun of me but I really wanted you guys to accept me. You wouldn’t though, because I was fat…”

“We were all dicks back in high school, popularity is overrated,”

“It’s not though, really, why do you think I became healthy again? I’m accepted now, girls look at me because I look good – not because I’m the fattest guy they’ve ever seen - it was something I always dreamed of, being accepted is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“Why’d you come back?” I asked him, “I heard you moved to Ohio,”

“I wanted to show people, get my own back, prove I wasn’t a worthless lump of fat.”

“What do you mean?” I asked,

“You remember TJ Sykes?”

“Oh yeah, TJ!” I smiled at the memory,

“Toughest guy in school, bigger muscles than a boxer with the reputation of a hit man, now he works in a garden centre. His muscles are nonexistent and he joined a Buddhist movement, he didn’t know what hit him when I came around the corner.”

“What did you do?”

“Beat the crap out of him,” he smiled and I frowned. This guy was disturbingly happy about hurting a peaceful garden centre Buddhist.

“Payback isn’t the most ethical thing to do, ever heard of forgiving people?” I asked,

“Don’t try and talk me out of it,” he warned, “I’m only just getting started…”

“What do you mean?” Ethan sat back on a chair and folded his leg over the other.

“Back in high school Jenna Hartley was the girl I dreamed about, she was beautiful, clever and athletic and I knew she’d never go out with a guy like me. Once I’d summoned the courage to ask her out, I did just that and she laughed in my face. Do you know what she said? ‘I wouldn’t be seen dead with a guy like you.’” Ethan paused, “My heart was broken and my world crumbled,”

“Jenna’s changed, we all have, back in high school we were young and naïve,”

“That’s not going to stop me until I hand out every sentence; every person who hurt me back then is going to pay for it,”

“What are you going to do to Jenna?” I asked worried, I didn’t expect him to tell me but he did.

“I’m going to do to her what she did to me. Break her heart.”

“Not with me sat here you’re not,” I warned, Ethan smiled and winked,

“Try and stop me,” he turned and left the light box. I sat in the chair replaying the scene in my head, had I just imagined that out of a movie or did it actually happen? I got up and made my way backstage, I had to warn Jenna. Ethan was already shadowing her and she stopped when she saw me,

“James, back on the lights!” she said firmly,

“I need to talk to you,” I said, she came over and Ethan followed, “alone.” I warned. I took her over to one side and sat her down,

“I just spoke to Ethan, he’s not good news Jen, just ignore him,”

“What do you mean? I can’t ignore him!”

“Send him home, banish him from your life, he’s up to no good!”



I explained to her the conversation I’d just had and at the end Jenna folded her arms, “I don’t believe you.” she said stubbornly and walked away. Eve came to my side and put her hand on her hip,

“He really likes her you know, that Ethan guy,”

“No he doesn’t, he’s bad news and I think he’s going to break Jenna’s heart,” I muttered, Eve and I stood side by side and watched as Ethan flirted with Jenna. This was going to end badly and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Cara came up to me a little later that day before the performance and dropped a bombshell.

“Ethan is going to help you out with the lights, he’s got some experience and so you’ll have less pressure, you can form a duo or something.” She grinned and patted my arm. I looked up and saw Ethan wave sarcastically across the stage at me. That was the night Ethan joined the crew.

The End

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