Read an Excerpt
Wasn’t It Good?
by Andrea Dale
One problem with community musical theatre is that the songs say more than you can ever say in life. Characters stand on either side of the stage, oblivious to each other, and pour their hearts out without hearing the other also singing about love or hatred.
In Chess, for example, the wife and the girlfriend of Anatoly sing about how neither of them are right for him?that what he wants and needs is the other one.
“Wasn’t it good, wasn’t it fine?” they both sing. “Isn’t it madness, he won’t be mine?”
The song is the only time the two women appear on stage together, even if they don’t acknowledge each other’s presence.
That was a damn good thing. Because the other problem with community musical theatre is that you end up being in shows with the same people.
And it was more than a little awkward to be sharing the stage with the wife of the man who used to be yours.
I glanced stage right, but Lori wouldn’t meet my gaze.
I could only guess what she was thinking.
Ironically, she had the lead role, that of Anatoly’s girlfriend. The wife?my part?didn’t even show up until Act II.
One scene together. One song. Her sweet soprano to my strong alto. Our voices weaving, dipping, soaring, intertwining around a single theme of forbidden love, too short and too soon taken away.
No, I did know what she was thinking.
Seven years ago, now. During a production of The Pirates of Penzance. Women in frilled bonnets and flouncy dresses, pretending to be innocent. But what woman doesn’t have a weakness for men in pirate outfits, tight pants and open shirts baring an expanse of firm chest?
We were younger then, and daring to the point of foolishness. Lust was in the air, not just for us. We probably weren’t the only ones who snuck off to the orchestra practice room, “borrowed” key clutched in hand, breathless with danger and desire.
A heady combination.
The darkened room. Barely any space between chairs and music stands and instrument cases. We pressed up against the baby grand piano, gleaming black as night. The cover slapped down over the keys, and we held our breath until the strings’ vibrations faded, and no one knocked on the door.
Wasn’t it good?
Fingers fumbling with unfamiliar costumes, frantically groping over the fabric when the fastenings proved too difficult. Nipples so hard, so jutting that they could be tweaked and twisted even through the many layers. Muffled cries of delight at the pleasure, muffled cries of frustration that it wasn’t enough.
Shoving a skirt out of the way, reaching up underneath the heavy, draping cloth. Modern underwear easily dealt with, for both of us.
Bent over the piano, feeling it rock against the wheel clamps that kept it from rolling. Would either of us be able to play piano again without thinking of this?
But there was no thought. Only maddening sensations of stroking and probing. Juices smeared, mingling, the sharp scents filling the stuffy room. Everything slick and hot, trembling thighs and thrusting hips.
Wasn’t it fine?
The steady rise towards a desperate crescendo, screaming almost soundlessly into the sleeves of our costumes, tearing our throats but not caring, not even thinking about our voices.
Then slinking back to the rehearsal, taking our places on stage after the break as if we’d just gone out to grab a coffee. Certain that everyone knew?but nobody said a word, not then, not ever.
Not even us. We never dared again.
One scene, that’s all we have to get through now. We haven’t spoken in seven years?why should it be hard to keep silent now?
Isn’t it madness, she can’t be mine?