Chapter 15

"So, its times like these I wonder how I take it. And if other families live the way we do. Do they love each other or do they just fake it? And if other daughters feel like I do too. Cause' some days I think I'm dying, but I'm really only trying to get through…" – Another Day, Next to Normal

I didn't feel nervous. Not even the bright lights bothered me. I just sat there in the canvas chair, completely relaxed, as Mr. Kelly looked over his note cards. Usually, interviews made me anxious, but this one was different. The atmosphere was so much more pleasant and not stressed like it was when I gave an interview for Good Morning America. I was literally shaking.

"Your tie is all wrong." My mother fussed over my father's outfit. I glanced at them. My father looked tired, as if the world and its heavy burdens were finally taking a toll on him. Either that or he was just as sick and tired of my mother as I was. My mother looked tired as well, though. The weight of her lies seemed to be affecting her physically.

"Alright, are you ready?" Mr. Kelly asked. I nodded my head and smiled.

My mother turned to me and gave one of her fake smiles. I'm sure she was just happy to finally be able to brag about how wonderful I am.

"Okay, we're on in 3, 2…" The camera man held up a single finger, and then the red light of the camera turned on.

Oh, boy.

"So, Stephanie let me begin by congratulating you on a very successful year with your career." Mr. Kelly began.

"Thank you so much." I said, politely. This will be easy, I tried to convince myself. Just answer the questions. It's not like you haven't done this before. You'll be fine.

Mr. Kelly glanced down at his cards. "And I see you brought your parents along with you today. You both must be so proud of Stephanie."

"We've always be proud of her." My mother answered. My father just smiled and nodded. I guess he wasn't allowed to speak even when spoken to.

"Did you always know Stephanie would be this successful in theater?"

No, I thought bitterly.

"Of course we did!" My mother gushed.

"She would always dress up like Dorothy and sing 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow with Judy Garland.'" My father explained.

My mother laughed. Well, it was more like a cackle. "We just knew she was born to perform."

I wouldn't believe it. I was almost completely in shock. I struggled in keep my composition as my parents continued to rewrite history. I drowned their voices out until they were only distant whispers, and I retreated into my mind - my memories. My parents never saw that sparkle in my eye every time I dressed up and sang along to musicals. They never noticed how I always grabbed the camera during Holidays and created my own home movies. By the time I figured out what performing was, I was twelve and I had to beg for my parents to get me singing lessons. It wasn't until they saw I had potential that they suddenly became interested. I did it all on my own.

"You're so lucky to have such supportive parents!" Mr. Kelly's voice broke through my thoughts.

I blinked. What did he say? Something about having supportive parents… "Yes," I lied, "I'm so lucky." My heart felt heavy in my chest. I wanted so badly to just let all my feelings come tumbling out, but I couldn't. I had just sit there, smile, and pretend that my family was perfect.

"So, how does it feel to be back in your home town?" Mr. Kelly asked me.

Horrible. Stressful. Suffocating. "It feels…strange." I fidgeted nervously with the sleeves of the blouse. "New York has been my home for almost five years. Being here is like being in foreign territory."

Mr. Kelly nodded, thoughtfully. "Was it hard to leave for college?"

That was one question I knew exactly how to answer. "I was ready to start my life. It was nerve racking to finally be on my own, but once I was, everything felt…right."

"Of course she'll always need her parents." My mother jumped in. Mr. Kelly looked at her, an irritated expression upon his brow.

"Of course." I said softly.

"Well, you did exactly what you said you would. You're involved in a very successful Broadway musical. So, what's next?"

The moment those words escaped Mr. Kelly's lips, everything changed. I felt like I was looking through a colored lens. The lights suddenly seemed much brighter than before, and I squinted. My eyes darted around the room and everyone seemed to be staring at me – my mother, father, and the camera crew. They waited for an answer.

Except, I didn't have one. My plan only went this far. I wanted to be on Broadway. Now, I was. What was I supposed to do next? I couldn't stay with the show forever, obviously. So, after it was over…what was I supposed to do? When you finally reach all that you've ever wanted, what more are you supposed to reach for?

"Well, I haven't quite thought about that." I said slowly, thinking over my words carefully, "I've had offers for a couple different projects, but I haven't decided on anything yet."

"Well, whatever you choose I know you'll be successful."

Would I? My face felt flushed, but I smiled, weakly. "I sure hope so."

And that was the end. Mr. Kelly thanked me and my parents for devoting our time. The lights when dark and the camera turned off. The interview was over, but my troubles had clearly just begun.

"You never told you were getting offers for other projects." my mother whispered bitterly to me as we exited the church. I so did not need this right now.

"I've been discussing them with my manager and Alice." Of course, I wasn't. But she did not need to know that.

"You're leaving the show?" My father asked when we reached Sookie's car.

"No, of course not." I shook my head. "But I have to keep my options open for the future." I unzipped my purse and searched for my keys.

"Well, you better make sure you choose the right project."

"I have everything under control, mom." I pressed, my eyes focused on the contents of my purse.

"You know, Alice was so rude to be this morning. You really should look into finding a new assistant."

I looked up. Narrowing my eyes, I said, "There is nothing wrong with Alice."

"Well, she did give your mother the cold shoulder today." My father piped up.

"Maybe if you weren't bothering her, she wouldn't have been so irritated." Anger and resentment filled my voice. My mind couldn't take this anymore. I was overwhelmed enough as it was. I did not need my parents criticizing my choice of employees. Over head, a single robin flew from its perch on a cable wire. I longed to feel like that bird.


"Stephanie, your mother is only trying to help you." I felt pity for my father. All he ever wanted to do was make peace. That's all that I ever wanted, as well. But if that meant spending the rest of my life at my mother's beck and call to simply avoid an argument, then I no longer wanted peace.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breathe. Opening them I said, "I don't need your help. The only thing I need is support and contrary to what you told Mr. Kelly, you never give it to me."

My mother's eyes burned with fury. "You will not use that tone with me."

"Now, come on girls, calm down." said my father.

"I am not a child anymore. You can't punish me for having an opinion. And as far as I'm concerned, this conversation is over." I ripped open the car door and slide inside. I left my parents, dumb struck, standing in the parking lot. I sped down the road. A wave of adrenaline crashed over my body. I had never said anything like that to my mother. But it felt good. It felt so good to finally put into words everything I had been thinking for so long. If I stood up to them, maybe they would realize that I'm not their little girl anymore. I'm as grown a woman as I can be at this time in my life, and I have wings. I have wings like that robin – flying high in the sky completely and utterly, free.