Today's Reading

Once I found my phone, I texted the Fan4 for moral support. Fantastic 4 is what we finally agreed to label the text group for Shay, Tessa, Izzy, and me only a week ago. Izzy, of course, was the one who came up with it. These three girls were my besties now. Maybe a little over-involved and opinionated at times, but in mostly good ways.

I got an assortment of "sorry (frown faces)" and "that stinks." But while, yes, not getting the voice lesson was frustrating, not knowing how to make my mother understand why it was important was worse. No matter what I did, she didn't take my passions seriously.

So I FaceTimed Josh.

"Hey, Millie Vanilli!" He grinned into the camera. "What's up?"

"Mom doesn't get it."

He laughed. "What? Let me guess. Our mother doesn't understand your insatiable love of all things Broadway? Mills, her idea of engaging with popular culture is watching The Great British Baking Show."

I frowned, and he laughed again. "I am sorry though."

"I can't just . . . wait, you know? I want to do musical theater for a career. But I'm already behind. There's this girl at school named Presley who performs in professional productions. And she's only a junior! I have a long way to go to catch up."

"Hey, Amelia!" Jessica leaned in so I could see her and waved. At least she called me Amelia. My family and many of the kids at school were still calling me Millie despite my constant requests to call me Amelia. Amelia sounded more mature and professional to me. Amelia Bryan. Yeah. I could see that in a Playbill bio.

"Hey, Jess." I smiled but wanted her to go away so I could finish talking to Josh. She was sweet, and I knew she loved Josh— both very good reasons to like her. But she still irritated me because I had to share my brother with her. Always.

I preferred Josh over my sister, Maggie, because he treated me like he actually liked me. Maggie, the sister in between Josh and me, acted resentful of my entire existence. Maggie was a sophomore at University of Illinois, which was fine with me. But Josh getting married and moving out for good? That made home feel a whole lot less like home. Josh had always been the one to jump to my defense. Without him, it was me against Mom—especially since Dad didn't have strong opinions about the whole theater thing.

Everything would be different if Josh were home.

Jessica asked me a bunch of small-talk questions about school, and then she finally left.

"Can you talk to Mom?" I asked.

Josh shook his head. "You know I'm your biggest fan. But this is your battle, kiddo, not mine."

"But she listens to you. She acts like I'm gonna grow out of it or something. Like it's a phase."

"Like the monkeys! Or the owls!" Josh laughed.

"Stop. They were cute, and yes, a phase, but this is not."

"How can she be sure that this passion you've got for theater won't vanish and you'll suddenly want to do something else?" He paused. "No offense, kiddo, but you have been known to do that."

For the rest of the night I thought about what Josh said. He was right. I had popped from thing to thing in the past. But I was more mature now. I knew what I wanted. 'But how to convince Mom that I was serious about theater, that it wasn't some silly schoolgirl phase?'

If Mom could see me up onstage for our spring musical, Peter Pan, maybe she'd see what I knew. Theater is my calling. My present and my future rolled into one. Then she'd understand.

But it would take more than any old part to convince her. I had to play the lead. I had to play Peter Pan.


This excerpt ends on page 11 of the paperback edition.

Monday we begin the book Curses by Lish McBride.
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