Leap to the Sky

by

Devin Kennedy

I

“You call that leaping? My eighty year old grandmother leaps higher than the whole lot of you! And, she’s got arthritis in both her knees!” Screamed a tiny bald man adorned in purple. “Leap like you mean it! Where is your passion?!”

I tried to stifle a laugh; the entire premise of this audition was ridiculous. In honor of Christmas, our town was putting on a Christmas play. The title? “A Day in the Life of Leaping Lord.” I wouldn’t even be here if I didn’t need stage experience. There was also the added perk of having a chance to work with Martin Skortise, the comical man in purple, was a dream come true for any aspiring actor.

“Be more graceful! Flow like an angel who has just gotten their wings!” Martin snarled. “How hard is it to leap while you’re facing the audience?”

I bit my lip as I watched the guys in front of me take a stab at leaping over the railings that were set up on the stage. They were all clad in stained tights—ones that presumably were a pristine white once. Martin, being the control freak that he was, made anyone auditioning wear tights, as they would have to don them for the final performance. Nearly all the auditioning men had not brought their own pair, so Martin made them dig out a pair in their size from a box.

I looked down at the lime green tights that encased my own legs. I felt silly in them, but I was glad I had them.

“You’re not supposed to fall on the guard rail! Get up! Get out of the way!” Martin screamed. I watched as the guy who fell got up, embarrassed. He was the only one besides me who’d brought his own tights. But, at least his tights were black. Martin pointed at the guy in front of me, indicating him to go next. The guy ran and took a leap, tripping over the rail. The guy did a face plant.

Martin threw his hands up into the air, breathing through his nose heavily. “What part of this do all of you not get? The ten lords a-leaping are graceful. They do not fall on top of what they’re leaping. They are not called the ten falling lords! They leap. They land. Simple! Get it right.”

Martin then pointed a gnarled finger at me. “You. Show me what you’ve got.”

I nodded and sprinted over to the guardrail. Right before I hit it, I leaped up into the air, propelling myself over the rail. I stretched out my arms, one in front of me, the other behind, as if I were an Olympian. I curled my right leg under me, letting my foot jet out behind me. I threw my left leg out in front of me, and turned my head to grin at Martin. I brought my right foot down gently as I landed perfectly on my feet. I let my arms drop as Martin applauded.

“That, gentlemen. That is what a leaping lord is! He looks at the audience! He has proper feet and hand placement. He smiles! He gets over the rail without tripping over it, without falling on it, and without knocking it down!” Martin said. “I need nine more of you to do just that. Get your heads out of your rears and start putting your body to work!”

I couldn’t help but smile as I made my way off the stage, heading for the first row of seats in the tiny auditorium. Getting praise from Martin made the idea of this play seem bearable. Doable, even.

II

I arrived at the auditorium early the next morning. Martin had gave up on having people leap over the guardrails, mostly because I was the only one who was able to do it. He had dismissed us and told everyone to come back tomorrow; the second part of auditions was now to commence.

Martin stood at a keyboard that was set up at the edge of the stage. He placed his fingers on the keys and struck each key delicately, letting each note kiss the air. He looked up and saw me watching him.

“You.” He said. “You’ve got a name?”

“Jack.” I replied. Martin nodded.

“You sing, Jack?”

“In the shower? Or elsewhere?”

“I don’t want to know if it’s only in the shower.”

“I was kidding. Yeah. I sing.”

Martin nodded again, cracking a small smile. I was glad he took well to my joking. “Come over here. I want you to sing.”

I walked over to the piano and Martin began to play through the scales. I hit every note he played, feeling that he managed to keep his smile.

“A good bass. And, you sing on key. Very good.” Martin said, clapping his hands together. “You can take a seat and watch everyone else. You’re in. There’s a pile of scripts on the end seat.”

“Thank you, sir.” I replied. Martin nodded. I headed off the stage and took a seat next to the pile of scripts. It was a page long, only a song on there. Typical Martin fashion, from what I’ve heard.

I watched as the guys from yesterday all came in, Martin auditioning them. Most did not make it. He managed, however, to find nine more guys who could sing.

“Since only one of you managed to leap over the guardrails, we’re going to hook you up to ropes, hoist you into the air, and you act like you’re leaping.” Martin said as the last of the auditioners was accepted. “And, because you’re all actors, one would assume you can accomplish a task such as that.”

He then paused, striking a key lazily on his keyboard. “Get up. Get your tights on, and let’s start this. We’ve got a lot to do in ten days.”

I stood up along with the rest of the guys. I was already wearing my tights, neon yellow today. I have to remember to tell my girlfriend to buy more manly tights. These guys might get the wrong idea about things. Not that my leaping skills help any.

Within five minutes, the guys and I were lined up on stage. Martin began to speak again.

“It’s a short performance. We have to let the rest of the twelve days have their performance time too. I don’t know why, but we do. We sing our song. We run off the stage, only to come back on, leaping over the guardrail, announcing our names, and the curtain falls.”

He paused, picking his own script from off the piano stand. “Starting from beginning to end, where you’re lined up now, that’s who you are.”

I looked down at my own sheet. I was Reynard. Lord Reynard.

“Now that everything makes sense, let’s go over the song.” Martin said, placing the script on the piano again. He brought his fingers down on the keys. We began to sing at once, naturally falling into our parts.

“We. We the ten lords a-leaping!

We! We are just happen to be seeking!

A place. A place where we can be known.

We do not just leap, though it’s a skill we own.

We have names. Have families too!

If you were unknown, you would be blue.

So, we’re here! We’re here to say.

That we will not be unknown for another day!

This is an outcry, that you don’t know us.

How do you even expect to gain our trust?!

We. We the ten lords a-leaping!

We! We are speaking!

So listen while you have the chance.

And, maybe, you can join us in our dance.”

Martin removed his fingers from the keys and smiled. “Good. After we do the song again, we’ll practice running off the stage. Then we’ll have you fitted for the harness so you can be lifted into the air.

III

“No, no, no, no!” Martin screamed. “It’s the third day of rehearsal and you still can’t manage to act while being hoisted over a guardrail? You don’t have to do anything but smile!”

The harness dug tightly into my ribcage. I was sick of being in it. I couldn’t move it without making the ropes attached to it move as well.

“Sir?” A voice called. A small woman carrying white robes and a bag ran down the auditorium isle. Martin turned.

“Gloria! My costumes! Tell me they’re something I can work with.” Martin said. The woman called Gloria ran up on stage and over to Martin. He took the white robes from her hands.

“These…these aren’t what lords wear!” Martin cried. He threw the pile down and ripped the bag from her hands. He pulled out a cardboard Burger King crown.

“And this is what I have to work with. White robes and children’s toys.” Martin sneered, disgusted. “These are the ten lords a-leaping! Where are their wigs? Where are their tunics and fake swords?!”

“The robes were just for measuring, sir. And, this is a community theater. We don’t have money for that kind of stuff. That, and all of the other plays needed money for their costumes.”

Martin threw his hands in the air. “For the love of Pete.”

Gloria shrugged apologetically and picked up the robes. She then shuffled over to us and placed the robes on the ground. She picked the first robe off the pile and handed it to the tall man in front of her. I watched as Martin put his hand on his forehead. “Gloria. Sweetheart. We have seven days before we have to perform. In front of an audience. Do this after rehearsal.”

Gloria nodded and picked the rest of the robes up, as well as her bag. She then shuffled off the stage and out of the auditorium.

“From the top!” Martin yelled.

IV

The curtain closed as the audience finished applauding. I looked at my fellow cast mates, disgusted. They had all gotten drunk before the show. Ten lords a-leaping had turned into nine lords a-slopped over drunk and one lord a-trying to make it all work.

Martin stood before us, shaking his head. I had sung my hardest, gathered all the guys up and pushed them so they would take their leap. Luckily, they didn’t have to say their names; Martin had been the one reading them off. He glanced at each of the guys, his eyes landing on me last. I swallowed.

“You’re all dismissed. It was a one night show. You gave the audience one. Go home.” Martin said. He then turned away. “Jack. A word.”

I walked over to Martin as the rest of the cast headed their own separate directions. Probably to make friends with the toilet.

“Thank you.” Martin said. He looked at me, sincerity in his eyes. “You held this show together. Not only are you a fine entertainer, but you know how to keep the audience from suspecting anything was going on. I’d like for you to audition for my next musical. I’ll send you a letter after the holidays.”

I nodded, shocked. Martin stuck out his hand and I shook it, grateful. “Thank you, sir. I look forward to it!”

Martin nodded and walked off to greet the audience. I smiled, looking down at the white tunic that hung over my green tights. Maybe I didn’t need a new color after all.

BIO:  Devin is a writer, just like everyone else in this anthology. Devin wishes that she were secretly rich so she could spend her whole day writing, and not have to look for trivial thing like a job. If you would like to know anything more about Devin, or maybe even read some of her other writing—which, she would love if you would–, you can email her at anticlimactic@live.com Or, if you just want to talk, you can email her there too. She’ll most likely answer you, unless she becomes too busy being famous. She’s kidding about that last part. She thinks.

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12 Comments »

  1. 1

    Your characters and setting were spot-on, exactly the tone of the frustrated martinet director and the hungry performer. Thanks for the story!

    • 2
      Devin Says:

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked it!
      I wasn’t completely sure about everything, but I’m glad it all fell together in the end!

  2. 3
    Laura Eno Says:

    Wonderful story! Loved the ‘letting each note kiss the air’.

    • 4
      Devin Says:

      Thank you so much! I loved your story as well! I’ve been horrid about leaving comments on everyone’s, and I loved all of them too! But, yes. Enough about that. :]
      That was one of my favorite lines as well.

  3. 5

    What a fun story, Devin. Your description of Jack’s first leap was perfect. I could see his every move.

    Have a wonderful Christmas!

    • 6
      Devin Says:

      Thank you so much! [I’m sounding like a broken record. 🙂 I’m kidding, of course.]
      I wondered if I wanted to make him fall like everyone else, but that would just be too mean. 😛
      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas as well!

  4. 7

    Reminded me of my theatre days (i’ve taken a hiatus from it for right now). This story was very descriptive from the actors perspective and there were great moments that made me laugh.

    Well done!

    Laura

    • 8
      Devin Says:

      Thank you so much! I never was in theater myself, but I’ve known a few people in theater. Mostly from school. A lot of them were the uptight kind, looking for the big break, but some did have a sense of humor. :]

      Again, thank you!

  5. 9

    Simply brilliant!! You got the character of Martin down to a “T”. I had a drama teacher in high school who was always similarly frustrated and frazzled before our annual shows. Needs no saying that I stayed a good distance away from those productions, and would readily volunteer to do backstage work whenever I could not escape!

    Loved every word!

    • 10
      Devin Says:

      Thank you!
      There was a crazy director at my high school. She was ALWAYS in a foul mood. I guess I was secretly channeling her. 😀

      Again, thank you!

  6. 12

    I swear I had left a comment here as well. Wonderful story! The whole 10 Lords a leaping was always a funny thought to me. I love where you took the idea. Very fun. Good work.


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