Katherine checked Theodore’s pulse and set his limp arm down on the bed with gravitas. “He’s gone,” she announced to his family.
“Good!” called out Jason from behind the director’s table followed by a collective exhale as the actors were released from concentration. “That was great,” said Jason with due diligence. “I felt like everybody was very present. Very in the…”
‘Whatever,’ thought Katherine crossing back towards her prompt book. She needed to jot down the new blocking she’d come up with for the nurse.
“It’s probably a good time to take a break,” Jason said to her as she drew near.
“Okay. Ten minutes everyone,” Katherine shouted over her shoulder. She glanced at her watch, a gift from her father for finishing the first year of her BSc. “Back at three on the dot.”
The actors raced out for their medicinal teas, homeopathic drops and quick cigarettes. As in everything, Theodore lagged slightly behind, his tattered script in hand. Katherine had noticed he’d held it throughout the entire coma scene. It had been a little off-putting.
“For a guy who holds onto his script so much, it’s remarkable how few lines he actually knows,” Jason said.
Katherine nodded. “I was just thinking the same thing.” She found her pencil and jotted down the nurse’s new cross from stage left to the IV drip before she notices something is wrong with Theodore and shoves his food tray aside to take his pulse.
She’d come up with the blocking while she was standing in as the nurse. Not that anything was wrong with the original blocking but from the perspective of a character on stage, Katherine had felt strangely compelled to do move differently. Jason had been complimentary about her instincts. Katherine had just chalked it up to her frequent Grey’s Anatomy marathons.
“That wasn’t half bad,” Jason said.
“Yep. It’s getting there.” Katherine had learned to be non-committal when talking to directors. They were generally insecure.
She glanced at her phone and saw that Blake had called twice. She deleted his messages without listening to them. Since Gary’s “abduction”, he had become a little clingy. If she wanted this much neediness in her life, she’d be have finished her Early Childhood Education certificate. Maybe she should dump him. Katherine enjoyed her solitude. It was so much less annoying than everything else.
“After the break, I’d like to the first act,” said Jason.
“Okay. I’ll do a reset.”
Katherine headed back to the “set” which currently consisted of wooden cubes, chairs and a sturdy table covered with her yoga mat, pretending to be a bed. The tray of medical instruments was a mess. The actors had started playing with her props. The fake scalpels and the real scalpels were mixed up. It was a disaster waiting to happen. Actors were like children.
“— standing in.”
“I’m sorry? “ Katherine said, annoyed to have her train of thought interrupted. She looked up and saw Jason nearby, an empty coffee mug in hand.
“Thanks for standing in. As the nurse,” he clarified.
“Oh yeah! No problem. Just part of the job.” She smiled politely and went back to placing the medical instruments to their positions at the top of act one.
“I’ve put out a casting call to replace Mindy because of the shingles “
“Right”. He wasn’t going to walk away. She looked for something to say. She smiled and said: “I hear those hurt.”
“They’re related to chicken pox or something, right? I *think* I read that somewhere.” She could feel him staring at her. It was annoying. She knew it wasn’t sexual. They’d worked together before and nothing had happened. Not even when they were loaded.
As if he’d been reading her mind, Jason said: “You want to do it?”
“Excuse me?” She felt her cheeks flush.
Katherine let her hair fall over her face to hide her blush. She hadn’t seen this coming. “Uh, well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I already kind of have a job on this show.” She tucked a strand of wavy hair back behind an ear.
She’d expected a punch line. A “ha ha ha got you” sort of exchange but instead, he was quiet.
“Are you kidding me? You’re kidding, right?” She tried to sound as casual as possible, to give him every opportunity to back out before she listened to what her heart was telling her: that she sort of wanted to do it.
“You’re perfect. Seriously. It’s a small part but it’s like it was made for you.”
“Huh,” she said, thinking about it. Her eyes suddenly narrowed. “Are we broke? Is that it?”
Jason laughed. “No! I have money. I just think you’re perfect. Be the nurse.”
“What about calling the show?”
“It doesn’t conflict with any cues. And hey! You’ll get a sexy white uniform and an opportunity to ram a thermometer up Theodore‘s ass every time he drops a line.”
“If I could, you know I would.” Jason said. “Just think about it, okay? But don’t think too long.”
Jason walked out towards the kitchen and Katherine quickly completed her preset. She was surprised how much the idea of pretending to be someone else tempted her. It wasn’t because her natural acting talent had finally been “discovered” or that the production needed her: playing the nurse felt right. Like a natural next step. Besides, she had taken a healing crystals course at the Resonance Centre where they’ d told her she was a natural healer so maybe it was time to explore that side of herself? What could it hurt?
She checked her watch. There were six minutes of break left. On impulse, she grabbed her phone and dialed Blake to tell him the news. She was being such a little girl.
Blake didn’t answer. “Typical,” she said, tossing the phone in her bag. He was never around when she wanted him. Just like all the others. Fucking men.
Unless, she considered, this was his pathetic way of breaking up with her.
‘Ha” she said out loud. Then started to believe it.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK Chapter 4: Guys with Feelings