The Kacheek Club: The Tale of the Wilted Rose
"But this last rose, which 'twas at first sight perpetually wilted, shall be the one to forever cast a shadow in my plots," finished Bridgette the Faerie Kacheek dramatically as she brandished the drooping red rose in her paw around like a sword.
"Thoughts, not plots!" whisper-coughed Xana the Disco Kacheek, who was hidden from view as she stood in the right wing of the small school theater stage.
"I mean, i-in my thoughts," Bridgette quickly corrected, throwing a nervous glance towards their grammar teacher, Mrs. Owen the Red Pteri. The keen teacher had recently taken up the job of being the director of the school plays after the Neoschool principal had relentlessly searched for someone to take the position with no success.
"Alright, that's enough, Bridgette. Thank you." Mrs. Owen didn't look up from her clipboard as she dismissed the Kacheek and summoned forth the next hopeful auditioner.
Bridgette began speaking rapidly the minute she set foot backstage. "Ugh! No smile, no applause, not even an approving nod!" She turned towards her friends and exclaimed, "I probably didn't get the part. That's the only solution. Mrs. Owen most likely thinks that I did so horrible that I don't even deserve any recognition." She buried her face in her paws.
"Oh, c'mon, Bridgette, don't be so hard on yourself," soothed Gwen the Island Kacheek, trying her best to calm her friend down. "I mean, out of the entire audition, you only slipped up once. You did the best you could, and that's all that matters. Right, guys?"
"Yeah, totally," agreed Sarina the Cloud Kacheek. She smiled at Bridgette supportively before continuing. "Truth be told, I don't see what the big deal is about getting the lead part in The Tale of the Wilted Clothes. It's just gonna be another school play that every student in the entire Neoschool will be watching and remembering for the rest of the year, and I suppose the school newspaper will also be doing another interview about whoever gets the star role." She waved her paw in the air nonchalantly.
Bridgette scowled at Sarina. "Okay, one: the play is called The Tale of the Wilted Rose, not 'clothes'. And two: you basically just named all of the perks of getting the most important role in the play!" Her eyes seemed to glaze over as she stared dreamily into space. "Being in the spotlight on that stage, having every single student in the school know your name... Plus, the actors get to keep their costumes once the play's over!" She smiled enthusiastically.
"All auditioners to the stage!" Mrs. Owen's sharp voice pierced through the empty auditorium.
"Well, that's my call. Wish me luck." Bridgette slowly made her way onstage and lined up with the rest of the auditioners, her stomach filled to the brim with imaginary Carmarillers.
Mrs. Owen cleared her throat and began, "You all should be very proud of yourselves today after those wonderful auditions. However, as you and I both know, some are called to be heroes on the stage while others are simply better off pulling curtains or working behind the scenes. Now, please give a big round of applause as I hand out the roles... starting with Alexandria, the lead part."
Excited murmurs from the girls who auditioned for the lead suddenly burst forth. Bridgette's mouth was so dry that she couldn't find the willpower to join them.
Mrs. Owen took a deep breath before consulting her clipboard once more. "Congratulations, Bridgette. You've got the part."
The sounds of numerous girls groaning were muted out by Bridgette's ecstatic squeals. Gwen, Xana, and Sarina all rushed out from backstage to give their friend a well-deserved group hug.
"This is so awesome, Bridgette!" Gwen beamed proudly.
"You're gonna make The Tale of the Wilted Rose the best school play of the century!" praised Xana confidently.
"Since you're the lead role now and all, do you think you could get me free popcorn on the day of the school play?" inquired Sarina curiously.
Bridgette sniffed tearfully. "I never doubted for a moment that I would get the part of Alexandria. I don't know why you guys were so worried, though."
Gwen, Xana, and Sarina rolled their eyes before the four Kacheeks quieted down to listen as Mrs. Owen gave out the rest of the roles.
By the next day, word had somehow gotten out that Bridgette had scored the lead in the school play. It seemed like the whole Neoschool was abuzz and impatiently awaiting the arrival of their beloved school celebrity the next morning.
"Where is Bridgette, anyway?" Xana unloaded her books from her Rainbow Kacheek Backpack and arranged them alphabetically in her locker as she spoke.
"No idea. I invited her to walk with us to school today, but she said that she was busy with something." Gwen shrugged and stuck her Valentine Pencil inside her Snowbunny Pencil Sharpener.
"She's probably at home eating her early morning snack," put in Sarina. "I used to eat mine at home, but now I just take mine to school." She took a generous bite of the Cinnamon Granola Bar in her paw.
"Um, wouldn't that be called 'breakfast'?" Xana asked her quizzically.
"Nope, they're completely different," scoffed Sarina, accidentally spraying chewed granola all over the place. "But no worries, I can see how the two concepts could be mistaken as the same to the untrained eye."
Gwen turned to look at the school entrance just in time to see a familiar Faerie Kacheek push open the glass doors. "Look, Bridgette's here!" Glancing around her, she found out that she wasn't the only one who noticed.
An entire cluster of students gathered around Bridgette, more than half of them armed with pencils, paper, and the desire to get the Kacheek's autograph.
"Wow, looks like someone's got a new fan base," muttered Xana.
"Whatever. After all, it's totally not like Bridgette to let these things get to her head," assured Sarina. She looked around at Gwen and Xana expectantly. "Right?"
"Uh, sure." Xana flicked a piece of lint off of her Spring Cardigan Sweater.
"Yeah, totally." Gwen smiled weakly as she watched more of their classmates swarm around Bridgette.
"See? She's headed our way right now." Sarina wiggled her paw in the air. "Bridgette, over here!"
However, the Faerie Kacheek didn't spare her friends as much as a glance as she cruised right by them. Spinning around and adjusting her shiny star-shaped sunglasses, she addressed her fans, "I'll be signing autographs at lunch. Do remember to stop by."
Gwen, Xana, and Sarina stared in disbelief as the pets began to applaud for Bridgette. One by one, they slowly dispersed to head off to their first class.
"She just never stops giving!" gushed a Checkered Cybunny tearfully as she waved good-bye to Bridgette before walking down the hallway.
Xana watched as Bridgette made her way to her locker. The Faerie Kacheek looked pleasantly surprised to see that someone had taken the time to tape a rose to the front of her locker.
"Aww, how sweet! It'd be much better if the rose was wilted, though, seeing as that's what the play is about," murmured Bridgette, shrugging and tossing the rose over her shoulder.
"Can you guys believe this? She wouldn't have even known what the play was about if I hadn't taken the time to go over her lines with her before the audition!" said Xana angrily.
Sarina looked stunned. "So she wasn't at home eating a morning snack after all! She probably went shopping to buy those new sunglasses of hers." She dejectedly took a bite of her granola bar.
Gwen sighed and slammed her locker shut. "Maybe Bridgette will return back to normal by lunchtime," she uttered hopefully.
"Doubt it," Xana and Sarina said in unison as they exchanged gloomy faces.
Silently in her mind, Gwen couldn't help but agree.
Bridgette savored each bite she took out of her dainty Apple Walnut Tea Sandwiches. Ever since she had gotten the star role in the play, everyone had been treating her like she was the heiress to the Faerieland throne. Even the lunch lady! Bridgette giggled as she watched everyone else in the cafeteria pick lifelessly at their Mystery Meat Sandwiches.
"Um, Bridgette? You told us that you would be signing autographs at lunch," Karlie the Starry Buzz said timidly as she approached Bridgette's table. She eagerly thrust a Clown Chia Pencil and a Loveberry Notepad in the Kacheek's face.
And so the autograph session began. Bridgette took her time as she tried her best to make each autograph heartfelt and authentic for her fans. Sometimes she even switched between signing the autographs as 'Bridgette' and 'Alexandria'.
A Blue Hearts Notepad landed on Bridgette's table.
"Who will I be making this out to?" Bridgette asked, not bothering to look up as she finished up an autograph for Elenor the Island Lutari.
"Hmm, how about 'your old best friends'?"
Startled, Bridgette looked up to see Gwen, Xana, and Sarina standing in front of her table. They all had their arms crossed over their chests and glares on their faces.
"Oh. Uh, hey, guys." Bridgette smiled halfheartedly at her friends.
"Hi, Bridgette!" Sarina beamed brightly at her and waved before remembering that she was mad at the Kacheek. The glare quickly came upon her face again.
"What gives, Bridgette? First you completely ignore us in the hallway, and now you don't even care to sit with us at lunch like you always do!" said Gwen, furrowing her eyebrows. "You've completely let this whole acting thing get to your head."
"I don't know what you guys are talking about." Bridgette scowled at the three girls. "Now, could you please move? You're holding up the line."
"Fine! I hope you enjoy your newfound fame," retorted Xana sarcastically, snatching up her notepad and stalking away. Gwen and Sarina turned on their heels and followed Xana out of the cafeteria.
Bridgette was silent for a moment before she gasped. Eyes widened, she shouted after them, "Wait! I forgot to sign your notebook!"
She got no answer in return.
Bridgette heaved a great sigh before looking at herself in the mirror. Ever since the showdown in the lunchroom with her used-to-be friends, Bridgette's life had been filled with nothing but sleepless nights and lonely lunchtimes. It turned out that the majority of her fans had only wanted her autograph that first day; after that, they simply treated her like they always did. Even the lunch lady.
"But it's time to put that behind me now," whispered Bridgette, staring at her reflection. "Tonight's the big night. Sometimes those who pursue the theater must give up the things that they cherish the most."
Mrs. Owen suddenly bustled backstage. "One minute 'til showtime, Bridgette!" she called before hurrying out.
Bridgette quickly patted some Glittering Faerie Dusting Powder on her face. Holding her bulky Powdered Wig in place, she stood up and straightened the hem of her Garden Tea Dress. "You can do this, Bridgette," she told herself encouragingly.
She waited for the ominous piano music to begin playing, which was her cue. When it finally did, she excitedly swept onto the stage.
Bridgette didn't exactly know what to expect since this was the first play she had ever been in. However, she definitely hadn't expected the entire auditorium to be empty, save for herself, Mrs. Owen, the rest of the cast members, and the janitor sweeping the floor all the way near the entrance.
As the play progressed, a gazillion thoughts flooded into Bridgette's head. Where are all of my fans? Where are all of the 'We Love Bridgette' signs? Where is the theater agent I called to come and see me perform?
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the play ended. The sinister piano music played once again, and Bridgette listlessly took a bow along with the rest of the actors.
"Whoo! Go, Bridgette!"
"Awesome job, Bridgette!"
"This popcorn is definitely in need of some butter... Oh wait, I mean, yaaay, Bridgette!"
Bridgette gasped and shielded her eyes from the bright stage lights. Sitting all the way in the last row were Gwen, Xana, and Sarina. "I must have not seen them come in," whispered Bridgette to herself, awed.
While the rest of the performers headed backstage, Bridgette ran all the way down the aisle to meet her friends.
"I don't believe this," declared Bridgette, feeling her spirits lift as she watched her friends smile at her.
"Yeah, well, we decided that we would come to support you," said Gwen nonchalantly, her eyes twinkling.
"You see, at first we were planning to not come as a protest to your new ego-" Xana paused to giggle softly. "-but then we found out that everyone else wasn't going, either. Apparently, there was a Jazzmosis Xmas Special concert going on in Tyrannia, and all of the rest of the students decided to go to that instead of the play."
"But wait - it's not even winter yet!" said Bridgette, struggling to understand.
"Yeah, but I guess Jazzmosis decided that they would do their Xmas Special early because it's always been a big hit," chirped Sarina happily. She adjusted the festive red hat (complete with white fur trimmings and a jingly yellow bell at the tip) on her head and added, "I was actually gonna go to the concert, but Gwen and Xana told me to come here."
"Oh, and also, we forgive you. For everything," finished Gwen.
"Really? You forgive me?" Bridgette looked shocked. "Even when I ignored you? And stole pens from all of you guys so that I would have enough ink to do more autographs?"
"What?" Gwen, Xana, and Sarina looked at each other in confusion.
"Uh, forget that last part." Bridgette giggled nervously. "The point is, I'm completely and totally grateful that you guys are willing to forgive me. You guys are the absolute best friends an actress could ever have."
"We know," Gwen, Xana, and Sarina said in unison.
Bridgette pulled her friends in for a group hug, glad that now she was free to be Bridgette instead of Alexandria.