You sit on the freshly swept rehearsal floor, drawing your knees to your chest while you watch the rest of the dancers congregate in a tight circle across the room. You cradle your legs in your arms, stealing whatever bit of comfort you can before you’re thrown back into the snake pit. Not that you don’t love it—you do. You’ve wanted this for as long as you can remember.
Well, not this exactly…but something like it. You weren’t exactly praying that you could be a backup singer when you were a little girl, but you’ve always known that it would take time and rejection—lots and lots of rejection—before you landed your dream role. You just…you know that you can be so much more than a chorus girl. There’s this part of you that’s bursting with energy and ability and raw, untapped talent and you could knock their socks off if you were only given the chance.
There is a flurry of activity as the doors sweep open and your stomach tightens in nervous anticipation. There are the writers, the assistants, and yes: trailing behind them yet making an entrance of her own is Ivy Lynn. From your compact position against the wall you are barely noticed, but you don’t mind. You can look at Ivy to your heart’s content without being noticed in return.
Not that this has anything to do with your heart. This has everything to do with the part of you that appreciates and envies her beauty and talent and opportunity.
Ivy is wearing a yellow dress. You hate her a little because the color doesn’t wash out her pale skin and golden hair; it’s only magnified and made to look better than it already does on an everyday basis. Her skin looks milkier, her hair shines brighter. Sometimes it hurts to look at her, the way it hurts when you stare too long at the sun. Sometimes the imprint of her image burns behind your eyelids long after you look away.
Right now she’s laughing, head thrown back, hand pressed to her chest. You’re not exactly an expert on Ivy-speak, but you question whether or not such a high-pitched giggle can be genuine. You wonder if it’s all just for show, if there’s any part of her life that isn’t just a performance. Is she like this at home with the curtains drawn, blocking out the hypnotic Manhattan lights? Does she sparkle this way when she’s out of range of a Broadway marquee?
Curiosity nags at you and you feel a dizzying thrill of desperation to know what the real Ivy Lynn is like. Sometimes you wonder if you’ve dreamt her up, if she’s a product of too much sangria and too many midnight viewings of 42nd Street. But when she opens her mouth and lets out that big, improbable voice, you know she’s real. You know she’s not just a fantasy or a nightmare. She’s just Ivy: your competition.
But…she’s not just your competition. Stripped bare, Ivy might just be someone you could like. You certainly don’t hate her, not if the tingling warmth in the pit of your belly is any indication.
These musings don’t matter though, not really. You’ll never get to know the real Ivy—if such a thing exists. As you get to your feet and stretch out your limbs, you cannot deny the possibility that Ivy really may be a rude, needy femme fatale beneath all that glitz and glam.
Sometimes it helps to think that she really may just be a bitch after all. It gives you perspective. You’re not here to like her. You’re not here to fill in for her. You’re here to sing and dance behind her, to help brighten the shine of her own star quality while yours fades in the background.
Still—you envy her beauty and her curves and her belt and her range.
You don’t want to be like her, not if she’s so horrible and fake. You’re pretty comfortable with yourself as a performer and a woman and you don’t need that constant validation or attention.
You take your place behind her and study the way her hair falls across her back. There’s a freckle just above the hem of the yellow fabric. You bite your lip. If you looked up at your reflection in the wall of mirrors, you’d see that you’re blushing.
No, you don’t want to be like her.
You simply want her.