A Part to Play
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Shattered by family tragedy, Lucy Carter, 15, is sent away to a prestigious performing arts boarding school where she meets a mysterious musician whose talent and insecurities teach her to rediscover her love of acting and to believe in herself.
She stood on a sidewalk near a busy intersection in her hometown. Cars zipped by through a layer of heavy fog that made visibility difficult. It was dark outside, but the orange street lights illuminated the cars as they drove by. Lucy saw familiar headlights. Her mother's car approached.
Despite the fog and the darkness, she could just make out her sister, Kate, sitting tensely in the driver's seat. Headlights flashed from the other direction, distracting Lucy from her sister for a moment. An erratic vehicle headed towards her sister. It veered into Kate's path for a moment, and Lucy screamed, but eerie silence hung over the scene. She tried to run out into the street to wave her sister down, but it was as though her feet were stuck in cement.
When Kate saw the driver in her path, she stomped on the brakes and spun the steering wheel sharply to the right shoulder, causing the little sedan to skid, which rotated it around ninety degrees. Now Kate's car blocked the entire street.
The larger vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee, slammed into the driver's side door at full speed, as if the driver hadn't even seen Kate's car. Lucy screamed again, but there was no sound, not even of the cars colliding. She couldn't tear her eyes away as she watched the sedan's side section crumple into itself. Kate's body tossed back from the force of impact. Suddenly, across the street on the opposite sidewalk, Lucy saw both of her parents watching the same scene. Once again, she waved her arms, this time to get their attention. But they acted as though they couldn't see her.
When she blinked, she found herself hanging upside down in a car, strapped in with a seat belt. It took her a moment to realize she was in the backseat of the car Kate was driving. Lucy looked around desperately for her sister and saw Kate climbing out of the passenger side door, unhurt.
Her parents embraced Kate, holding her and crying over the close call. Lucy felt a searing pain in her chest; she looked down to see a piece of metal from the destroyed vehicle piercing her. Blood gushed from the wound. She cried out for her parents, her shrill scream now the only sound in the violent scene. But her parents and Kate, with arms around each other, walked away from the accident, leaving her there. She heard her mom's voice, "This family does not work without you. Thank God you are safe."
"What about me?" Lucy cried. What about me!
Darkness enveloped the quiet dorm room when Lucy's eyes snapped open. She shook so hard from the nightmare that at first she wondered if she was having a seizure. This was by far the worst dream she'd had of Kate's death. It was the first where Kate actually walked away from the accident and she, Lucy, died in her place. Or at least she had been left for dead, with her parents and sister happy together.
The true impact of what it meant to be sent to ESPA hit her with the impact of a freight train. She simply was not good enough for her parents; they had always loved Kate more. And now, she would never have that life again--the one with laughter and games--it was gone. All of it. Kate was dead and her parent's marriage was dead. There was no home for her anymore. The security she drew from her sister's unfailing support, from her parents love and affection--it was all gone. She had nothing; she had less than nothing.
Her breath coming in short gasps, Lucy crawled towards her backpack to dig out her iPod. The room spun around her as she pushed play. She made her way to the small space between the bed and the wall and curled into a ball with her music turned up full volume. Who was she without her sister? Who was she without her family? Nothing, absolutely nothing. She cried harder than she ever had, wishing a giant earthquake would split the ground open and swallow her. And when the tears dried up, everything became numb.