Byron didn't mean to be early to the next meeting for the play, but he ended up the first one there besides Nelson himself. He was more nervous than he had been the last time, because today would be the day of auditions, which meant today would decide if he finally got to try his hand at acting and if he would be made to speak in front of a lot of people, or if he would just stick to the background like always. It felt like forever, waiting for all of the others to trickle into the auditorium, and when they all had, Nelson asked if they would come and sit in the front row together.
Byron went for an end seat, as did one of the seniors, Rolf. Next to him was a space, and then Hollis, and next to him was Sally, and the freshman had scrambled for the seat on the other side of her. There was a space between him and Ursula, and then a space between her and Bill, who ended up sitting next to Byron. Nelson stood on stage, smiling at them as he began to speak again. “Alright, so I hope you all thought about what you want to do in the show. If you're interested in having a speaking part, please raise your hand.”
Sally's hand shot into the air and she wore a determined, defiant expression. Byron hoped that Nelson had sorted out the little issue of not having any female roles, or he was sure there was going to be some sort of conflict. Not that he could blame Ursula or Sally for being upset; he was completely on their side, he just wasn't a fan of conflict when he could avoid it.
Bill raised his hand as well, and Byron realized that this was his only chance. Slowly, he began to raise his own hand, but he thought about just reading lines in front of everyone in the room. He thought about reading lines in front of a jock like Bill, like reading them in front of someone who really wanted to be a performer like Sally, or reading in front of people as intimidating as Ursula, or Rolf. And that freshman, Eddie, seemed to like laughing at just about anything. Byron lowered his hand, hoping that nobody had noticed him even thinking about trying.
He felt someone nudge him, and looked over at Bill, who was giving him an encouraging smile. “Hey,” he said, “if you really want a part, you should put your hand back up.”
Byron hesitated, but Bill just kept smiling at him and he finally broke their awkward eye contact to look back up at Nelson and raise his hand. They were the only three to raise their hands so far, and Nelson said, “I did some editing to the script. Our main character will have a love interest, so, Sally, that does mean there's a part for you to try out for. Ursula, would you like to try out for the part as well?”
“I'd rather not,” she replied. “It's better to have no part than to be stuck in a love story that was just shoehorned in.” Nelson looked a little embarrassed, and Byron had to hold back a laugh.
“Uh, alright,” he said. “Alright, then how about we get auditions underway?” He paused, then said, “Is there anyone else who wants to try out? We have two more speaking roles to fill at least. Anyone?”
There was a pause before Hollis raised his hand, saying something about being willing to help out, and then Eddie's hand shot up and he glared at Hollis from behind Sally, as if challenging him directly. If she noticed, she didn't do anything to indicate it, but she seemed like the person who wouldn't mind having a few boys competing over her. She was certainly pretty enough to earn that sort of attention, but Byron had never been able to fall for the girls like Sally.
Really, if he had to pick between her and Ursula, he would have gone for the latter, no matter how intimidating he found her. In fact, it seemed that “intimidating” was his type where girls were concerned, which might explain why he had never managed to find a date. As far as his type where guys were concerned...he was doing all he could to ignore the way Bill's smile was affecting him. If he didn't think about it too much, he might be able to get through being in a play with him without turning into a nervous wreck.
“To start off, we'll do some cold reads from the script. Bill, Byron, will you two read some lines for me?” asked Nelson, and the two of them stood up and walked onto the stage. Byron was trying to keep himself from shaking, but he noticed that his hand was trembling a bit as he took a script from Nelson.
They were told what scene to run and which characters they would be, and then Byron did what he could to clear his mind of everything except the words on the page and the character who was supposed to be saying them. It was a little rough at first, as his voice shook and he had a hard time looking at Bill, but once he really got into it, he found himself forgetting everything else, even managing to to see Bill only as the character he was supposed to be playing.
Part of it had to be just how surprisingly good at this Bill was. He seemed to get into character without a problem, and was so damn convincing that it was hard not to go along with it. By the time they reached the end of the scene, it felt weird for Byron to return to the real world, and he felt his face go red as Sally applauded wildly. Hollis gave an earnest clap as well, which meant that Eddie started up not long after him, but it didn't seem entirely insincere. Even Ursula looked a bit impressed, and Nelson beamed at the two of them.
“That was incredible, you two! Really, that was great,” he said with a smile, before telling them they could take a seat, and then he called up Eddie and Hollis to run through the same scene. It did not go nearly so smoothly for them, as Hollis hesitated when trying to figure out what emotion to put into his speech, and Eddie was over the top, like he was trying to make everyone laugh. When Sally giggled a bit, it only encouraged them, and Nelson looked relieved when they were done with their scene.
After that, he had Sally run through a scene with both Bill and Byron, trying each one of them out as the main character to see what their stage chemistry was like. Eddie looked irritated that he wasn't being considered, but Byron figured it served him right for not taking things more seriously. Once again, it was easy for him to get in character, and found he was a little less nervous acting opposite Sally than he was acting opposite Bill, but watching Bill and Sally act together was something else entirely.
She was every bit as talented as she claimed to be, and Bill couldn't seem to turn off his charisma, making it impossible not to get drawn into his scene, and the two of them had stage chemistry that would have made Byron feel a pang of jealousy if it wasn't so beautiful to watch, and if there was anything to be jealous of in the first place. He had to remind himself that he and Bill had just met.
“I think we're just about out of time,” said Nelson. “Sorry for those of you who didn't want an audition, but next time I'll have plans for sets and hopefully even supplies so we can get to work on those. I'll also have the finished cast list and we can begin official rehearsals!”
“That was fun,” said Bill, surprising Byron as he walked out of the auditorium with him. “I didn't think I'd enjoy acting that much, but it was great. Boy, that Sally sure is something, huh?”
“Uh, yeah,” he agreed. “Yeah, she is.” Now that the magic of the stage was gone, the closeness between Bill and Sally was starting to bother him, but he wasn't sure why and, once again, he had to remind himself that he didn't really know Bill at all.
“You were great too. I'm glad you decided to try out. No offense to the kid, but I'd really rather not have to act with that freshman clown.” Bill gave him a warm smile, and Byron really thought he was going to die, right then and there. Or maybe he already had, he wasn't quite sure.
“Th-thanks,” he said quietly, relieved to see that they were at the door and he could make his excuses. Turning and mumbling a quick goodbye, he walked down the hallway, going the opposite direction of the parking lot, as if he needed something from his locker. Anything to get him out of the conversation before he said something stupid or exploded.
When Byron was alone, he could finally let himself breathe, and when he had himself completely calmed down, he couldn't help his excitement. Today had gone really, really well for him, and he had had a lot of fun during his audition. He was sure that he would have a lot more fun in the play, but he was also sure that he would have to get this budding crush on Bill under control soon, before it got out of hand.