Writing a Play
“Okay, just this once, then you return,” Dawn said
“It’s nice to see they didn’t toss you in some room and throw away the key.”
“Oh, I’m not that big of a deal,” I said.
“Yeah, right. Will you take a look and what you created?”
Long ago, the cafeteria served as an auditorium. Moveable seats would be lined up in rows, and parents would watch their children perform in plays or orchestras on the raised stage. With a new auditorium having since been built, this old stage served as a storage area for the wrestling team. Rolled up mats covered part of the space. Club Dead members unrolled them and sat on the now padded stage, eating sandwiches, drinking juice and talking aimlessly.
Students completely filled the stage. One third of the cafeteria sat up there. The other two thirds waited and watched for something to happen.
We had become the show.
I put my feelers out for tension, but I detected none.
It was a very chill scene.
And then Mrs. Stone appeared, standing at the cafeteria glass doors. Folded arms, tense jaw, tapping foot, she appeared ready to pounce.
“Come on Dawn, make something happen,” I said.
“You know how it works. Get the group’s attention and let them take over.”
“Is that what you do?”
“Basically. They want to be tipped.”
Dawn stood up and looked over the sitting crowd.
“Okay, hey, boys and girls, listen up. Let’s make an agenda,” Dawn said.
“What about CJ?”
“Right here. I’m sitting this one out,” I said.
“Did Stone torture you yesterday?” Fretwell asked.
“She looks like she wants to now,” Emig said.
“Let’s not give her a reason,” Dawn said. “What do you say?”
“How about a chant?”
I did not think that would help, but I would not judge. Just watch the show.
We chanted loudly and longer than usual. Members slapped on the mats in time with their syllables. It was the type of performance that made a school disciplinarian’s hackles rise.
After the chant died down, part of the lunch crowd below clapped.
Club Dead members looked down and appeared surprised to see them.
“How about a play update?” Dawn asked.
“It’s actually going very well,” Tallie said.
“Tells us what you got.”
Tallie, Sponge Bob, Fretwell and Emig took turns describing the unfolding narrative.
“Zombie Charter School! How cool!”
“So what happens next?”
“Do they earn their credits?”
“I don’t know,” Tallie said. “We’re kind of stalled. But we’ve written up the dialog.”
“You’ve written a screenplay?”
“This is totally awesome. Can we try out for parts?”
“We’re getting ahead of ourselves. First we have to finish it.”
“So let’s finish it. Now, right here.”
Simultaneously, they pulled paper and pens from their backpacks. I hadn’t thought Club Dead members would be so prepared, like students.
“How about this? The principal is a zombie, right?”
“And the VP in charge of discipline?”
All eyes zeroed in on Mrs. Stone. The stare-off last seconds. They fell about in shrieking laughter. This grew stronger. First, Club Dead members were collaboratively working on an actual project productively, then they were smiling and laughing in pleasure.
“How about they aren’t real zombies? They faked it.”
“Right, I mean, Blok and Stone seem like zombies in real life. So they fooled the real zombies.”
“Okay, the leadership of the school watches their school being taken over.”
“How did that happen?”
“Well, lots of kids act like figurative zombies, so they didn’t realize that real zombies were changing the entire school population?”
“So no kids were immune?”
“We thought about Club Dead, you know, the zombies figured they were cool and they didn’t bite them.”
“So Club Dead is full of non-zombies and the administration is human. Are they going to work together?”
That made everyone stop and think. Working with the enemy? Even in fictional form, the sound of that sentence came across as disturbing.
Several students scribbled, others sought a muse. The entire cafeteria was quieter than usual. The students sitting in the cafeteria continued to watch us write.
Mrs. Stone no longer stood off-stage.
The bell sounded. No one moved to go to class.