Breaking Big
like? I’ve checked online, and you sure see a lot of different costumes for Puck. Are they going for green? You’ve always looked good in green.”
    I can’t do it.
    “Yes, I have my costume. I think you’ll be surprised, Mom. In fact, I know you will.”
    “Hmmm. That sounds ominous. Anyway, listen to me go on. What were you calling about?”
    “Nothing, Mom. Just wanted to hear your voice.”
    “Isn’t that sweet? I’m sending a hug your way, Robin. Now get to bed. You need to sleep. Pleasant dreams, and we’ll see you soon.”
    Sleep. Sure. I head back to the boys’ change room. I should go to the company change room, but I don’t think I can stand anybody’s comments tonight, and the boys’ change room should be empty.
    I pull on my warm-ups, but I don’t know if I can face more practice tonight. I’m done. I can’t even get up from the bench. Everything aches, mostly my heart. Dance is over for me.
    All of a sudden the door opens and Jeremy and Cam burst in, talking a mile a minute. Great. They stop short when they see me.
    “Why aren’t you in the company dressing room?” asks Jeremy.
    “I didn’t feel like going there.”
    “What, the company doesn’t think you’re such a hotshot now that you actually have to perform?” Jeremy says snidely.
    “Maybe I’m sick of them.”
    Cam looks a little shocked.
    “You’re an idiot,” retorts Jeremy. “You’re the one who gets the big chance, and now you’re sick of it? I don’t think hotshots are allowed to be sick of it. I never pegged you as the jealous type . Remember that? This is how the company guys do it . Sweet. You were so smart, and now you’ve decided to give up because you’re sick of them ? Dancers don’t give up—ever.”
    “Proves I’m not a dancer, doesn’t it?” I shoot back.
    “Hey, guys,” says Cam. “Chill.”
    There is silence for a moment. “We have to practice for our final exam,” explains Cam, getting into his warm-ups. “It’s next week. I guess you won’t have to take it.”
    “Doesn’t matter if I take it or not,” I say. “I’m leaving right after the show.”
    “Leaving? What are you talking about?”
    “Oh, come on,” I say. “It’s not like everybody doesn’t know I’m a washout. At least give me the courtesy, as ex-friends, not to pretend.”
    “I don’t believe you,” Jeremy spits out.
    “Yeah, well, believe it. You were right from the very first, so feel free to say, I told you so . I thought because they picked me, it meant I was ready, that they knew I was ready. They should have picked you instead.”
    Jeremy gives a harsh laugh. “My mom sure thinks so,” he says. Then he sits down beside me. “This is a rough scene, isn’t it? Rough on you ’cause you got picked, rough on me ’cause I didn’t.”
    “I heard your mom yelling at you,” I admit. “I didn’t mean to listen, but I was right there and couldn’t help it. She was pretty harsh.”
    “Yeah, she gets like that. She wants me to be a star. I’m used to it.”
    “I called my mom. She thinks I am a star. From the sounds of it, my entire hometown is coming for what she calls my ‘debut.’ So I think I can predict that my humiliation will be complete. I almost told her I was going to quit.” I sigh. “But I didn’t.”
    Cam smiles. “I can picture it. Sometimes it’s hard to get a word in edgewise when your mom gets going.” Then he adds, “Which is a good thing, in this case. You can’t quit.”
    “He’s right,” Jeremy says more seriously. “You know you can’t, don’t you? Not this close to opening.”
    “Yeah, I know. Wishful thinking on my part. I won’t quit.”
    “So you’ll just do your best,” offers Cam. “That’s all anybody can ask.”
    “I don’t even know what my best is!” I start pacing back and forth. “Everybody keeps talking at me—do this, do that, try this, try that. I’m so confused, I couldn’t even tell you what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong!

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