Tonight

Tonight

We are two pretty girls in black and white dresses seeking shelter. Our one dollar pizzas cool in the wind as we look for someone who will take us in. We walk, run across streets, instead of watching the moving cars. I adopt an accent of sorts, not quite British and not quite Australian. More like the exaggerated accent of sophisticated ladies (because we are sophisticated, of course). You laugh, but you do it anyway. I kick open the lock to the closed park, but we skip it since there is only one exit and we really don’t want to get mugged.

We walk to a pair of school steps and sit down. That’s all we really need. Just somewhere to sit and eat our pizzas which are cold at the tip. After I finish, I am not ready to leave these steps in the middle of the street. I shout. You shout. The night captures our secrets and desires. What if someone hears? What if the names we yell materialize and turn the corner to find us, our faces tilted upward toward the sky? We don’t care.

The words become louder and louder until our voices crack and we see people. I keep forgetting that we are not alone. In that little space below the stairs, it seems as if we are sitting in our own room, our world.

I sit on the steps and wait for them to pass. Then, I dance, feet skipping on sidewalks and lampposts, while you watch. The steps become an auditorium. I spin, I twist, I jump up to the sky, willing it to capture me like it did our cries. You watch, shaking your head, because you see that it is not a dance. It’s just a series of jagged movements. At one point, I ask you why do you have that look on your face? You reply that you are embarrassed. I still do it because I believe in the night, in the dancing and in you, even when you don’t.

After we return to the school from our second trip to the corner pizzeria, we think about P.S. 20. There is a banner advertising tours in different languages. It must be a good school or why else would people come for tours? Maybe it’s about to shut down. We stop wondering because the school doesn’t judge us. It just lets us sit on its steps, prance around and scream.

We are improv magicians. I try to fit five words into the span of one, while you speak steadily. The people on the street scatter around us, trying to escape what they think are two girls arguing.

The steps become a stage as we become our mothers. You pretend to be me and I pretend to be her. Your voice rises (am I really that high pitched?). You ask the questions that I asked my mother. You give the same harsh responses that I once did. You become me. I’ve never told you those stories about my mother, so how are you able to replicate past conversations?

Earlier that night you told me that basically everything we do is not original, is not our own. Oh, sure we can work on it and make it ours, but the idea belonged to someone else. Is that why you become me so easily? Or is it because of the summer nights where we always, always had something to say? Are my thoughts not private? Or do you know me better than I thought you did?

I stare at you, but I see me, and I almost falter, but push on because we have a story to tell.

We end this game as our shouting rouses the patrons who disturb our show. We have to leave, so we say our goodbyes to this school and these steps that saw us happen tonight.

Anika Rastgir
Age 17, Grade 12,
Stuyvesant High School
Gold Key

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