Jen is a hard-working student. She gets some of the best marks, she tries out for everything, she's confidant. She feels as though she's fairly good at everything; an all-rounder. But constant rejection from every music group, play and academic recognition still hurts. What if she doesn't want it to hurt anymore?
Jen stood at the back of the crowd. The cast list was up. She tried not to get excited. She'd played the moment in her head so many times; She'd see her name, she'd try to control the victorious "YES!" that she'd want to shout to the heavens, her friends would congradulate her and she'd show what she could do.
For four years, Jen had played that image in her head. Every time a list would come up, or names would be announced, she couldn't help but picture that happy moment when she'd finally get her moment in the spotlight. Instead, one by one, she saw each of her friends succeeding, making it into the groups and plays that she so desperately wanted to be in. Most of the time, they wouldn't even attempt to cover their joy and excitement as they prepared for their big roles. Every so often, they'd remember Jen, who had been put in as a servant or other such roles; meant to stand in the back and not speak; meant only to fill up space on stage.
The crowd slowly dispersed, and Jen could finally see the cast list. She didn't care about the characters, only the names. Yes...three of her friends had gotten large speaking roles, main characters. Another was in a smaller role. Jen scanned the list. Each name hurt her, because she saw that once again it wasn't her. Finally she found her name. It was at the bottom, almost as an afterthought. She was under "Servants, dancers, singers, extras". An extra. Not good enough to have an actual name. She'd been in seven productions as an extra or chorus member. Her name had only been on 2 of the programnes. She wasn't even important enough to be remembered on it.
Why had this changed so drastically for her? All her life, she had been told that she could succeed, she'd do well. That she had so much talent that was just waiting to be recognized. This obviously wasn't it.
Despite her best efforts, Jen could feel her face go warm, her heart thud heavily in her chest, her eyes prickling as tears wormed their way out. She rubbed at them. No one was around. Her friends were off celebrating already, not even bothering to wait around for her. She walked away as though she were condemned.
"I'll just tell him I won't do it," she told herself. She had said several times that if she didn't get a lead, she'd just tell the director she didn't want to be in the play. She knew that she wouldn't do it; she'd still be in the play, and cry afterwards at how she would've have done it differently, if only she had been given the chance. She'd smile and tell her friends good luck. She wouldn't let anyone see how much it hurt her.
The hallway was deserted as she made her way outside and then across the road to the music hall, where she could sit in a practice room in peace. She shut the door to a room softly and sat down at the piano. She opened the lid and fingered the cream and black keys gently, and then let her head fall down onto them in despair, making a very loud clash of dissonant notes. What did it matter?
She sat like that, breathing deeply, calming herself. She pasted a smile on her face, knowing that it had to look very fake. She checked in the mirror hanging on the wall above the piano. She was surprised; it looked natural. She was so good at acting, it was amazing that she didn't get a part in the plays.
Now she just needed to put herself in a good mood before facing her friends again. She checked the hallway to make sure no one was coming, and then closed the door again. She danced around the room, singing "All That Jazz".
She felt better, and left, ready to face her friends and support them; even if it killed her inside to do it.