Home > When You Get the Chance

When You Get the Chance
Author: Emma Lord

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

I get about as far as “Dear Millie Price, we are delighted to inform you” before I emotionally black out like I’ve just been whiplashed by a rainbow and drop-kicked into a river of glitter. I slam my phone down on the nearest table, jumping to my feet.

“It’s happening,” I gasp.

“Can it happen somewhere else?”

In my defense, I forgot I was in the library. But also in my defense, Oliver Yang would be annoyed with my existence in any room in this school, and likely every dimension hereafter.

Sure enough, he is fixing me with the same patented Stage Manager Scowl I’ve watched evolve since we first started mutually irritating the hell out of each other freshman year. In the beginning it was far more pronounced—all furrowed brows and tight lips, aimed with the intent to burn. But after three solid years he’s adopted a much more impassive micro-scowl, either because he’s too cool for a full one or because the two of us get on each other’s last nerves too often to warrant it.

I grab my sheet music off the copy machine and glide over to his table, brimming with the kind of excitement that even he and that irritatingly handsome face can’t puncture.

“Finals are over,” I say, jamming a finger down on his open physics textbook.

He pulls it closer to him, out of my reach. “I’m taking this one late. I had to sit in for all of the auditions.”

Ordinarily he wouldn’t spare so many words for me, but there’s a slight warning in his voice—a reminder that he’ll be helping make the casting decisions and it would be in my best interest not to pester him any further. But he’s spent the last three years pestering me, so it only seems fair to get in a few last jabs now that my theatrical fate is safely out of his hands. Some of the casting decisions our theater teacher has made for me over the years likely have less to do with me looking the part of “Townsperson #7” and more to do with Oliver holding a Millie-shaped grudge.

“Well, I’m done with finals,” I tell him cheerfully, sitting on the edge of his table.

“Woo,” Oliver deadpans without looking back up.

“And with this school.”

“If only.”

I toss my hair back behind my shoulders, fully aware that the swoosh of curls is every bit as much a good comeback as any verbal one. But Oliver isn’t looking at me, focused on closing his physics textbook and jamming it into his backpack. I scoot myself off the table as he heads out.

“You’re not even going to ask why?”

Oliver sighs. “I have a feeling you’re going to tell me whether I want you to or not.”

I twist my lips shut. The thing is, I really shouldn’t waste this kind of news on Oliver, who prides himself on his ability to pretend I don’t exist. But I’m in what my aunt Heather calls one of my “Millie Moods,” when everything is just so much that it feels like it’s going to spill out of me if I don’t find a place to put it. And unfortunately for Oliver, it’s the last day of school, and he’s the only person within a reasonable radius.

“Fine. I won’t tell you, then,” I decide.

Oliver pivots toward the exit of the school. “Oh no,” he says flatly.

I follow him out onto the sidewalk, where he’s crossing the street to get to the science wing of the school. To be clear, it’s not that I want to continue to have him in my line of sight, but getting on Oliver’s nerves is a cherished pastime of mine. And if this really is the last time I’m going to see him, I want to leave an impression. I want him to look up at my face on a Broadway marquee five years from now and remember exactly what it was I said to him before my big bouncy curls and Heather’s old nineties mom jeans walked into the West Village and out of his life for good. I want him to remember my—

“Millie!”

Oliver’s hand wraps around my elbow and yanks me back just as a taxi whizzes past, close enough that I let out a yelp at a volume extremely embarrassing for a native New Yorker. Even more embarrassing, though, is the fact that I am now pressed chest-to-chest against Oliver. Worse still, when I open my eyes, I discover that my face is buried directly into his neck.

We both step back at the same time, his face as red as mine feels.

“What the hell were you thinking?” he demands.

My brain is too busy trying to delete the firmness of his bicep and the smell of his shampoo to formulate a worthy response.

“Thanks,” I mutter, crossing my arms over my chest to hide the fact that I’m shaking.

Oliver stands there for a moment, his weight shifting between his feet. “Fine,” he relents. “What is Her Majesty freaking out about?”

And just like that the panic about my fleeting mortality—and the fact that I expressly forbade him from calling me “Her Majesty,” along with a slew of other unflattering nicknames—is all but forgotten. “I got into Madison Musical Theater Precollege,” I exclaim loudly enough to stun a flock of pigeons into immediate flight. “Partial scholarship. I’ll start next semester for senior year, so I can finish up high school and start getting college credit at the same time.”

I’m not exactly expecting him to congratulate me. So far his highest praise of my performance ability was when I overheard him saying to our teacher, “I guess she’s the only one who can belt that high G,” during sophomore year. But I’m at least expecting a little more than a head tilt and a “Huh.”

“‘Huh’?” I repeat. “Did finals really eat up your last brain cell?”

“No,” he says drily. “The glittery disco pants you wore auditioning with ‘Super Trouper’ took care of that.”

“That was insurance,” I tell him. “Donna or bust.”

“We’re not doing Mamma Mia,” he sighs for approximately the eighteenth time this month.

Oliver is sworn to secrecy on what the school picked for the fall, but I have my sources. Namely that Mrs. Cooke’s been humming “Money, Money, Money” in the hallways way too often for it to just be a consequence of the public school system underpaying its teachers. That, and Mamma Mia is closing its limited Broadway run next week, which means the rights will finally be up for grabs again, three long years after Oliver crushed my dreams of doing it.

See, freshman year we lost the rights to the other show we were planning to do at the last second. As it is my responsibility as someone with excellent taste in both music and cuffed overalls, I suggested Mamma Mia as a replacement. I had more than half the theater kids on board, but before I could so much as say “Voulez-Vous,” Oliver convinced Mrs. Cooke we didn’t have the “resources” and talked her into waiting another year.

Which is, of course, when the Broadway revival was announced, and all our hopes of getting the rights went out the window right along with my last few shreds of patience for Oliver meddling with my plans.

“You’re just mad that you’re going to have to teach someone to train a spotlight on me for ‘The Winner Takes It All.’”

“You’re that confident you’re gonna get a lead?”

I raise an eyebrow at him. Even with Oliver’s scheming against me, we both know there’s no way I’m not in consideration for a lead. My occasionally overblown ego aside, I’m the best singer this school has.

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