She turned her face toward the light, determined to find the glittering outline of the golden orb pressed against a blue sky. Her eyes watered, so she squeezed them shut, just for a moment, before blinking them open and searching again.
“Charley Worth.” Nana’s hand closed around her granddaughter’s. “I’m starting to think you want to blind yourself.”
Nana tugged little Charlotte along, distracting her from her goal for the moment, but not deterring her in the least.
Charlotte Worth looked through hazel eyes to find a world in vibrant color, thrumming with endless possibility. She found herself forever looking for a sparkle in the dust, a free toy in her cereal box, or bubble gum at the center of a lollipop. She felt it all the time, somewhere deep within her—a need to look for that bit of silver, the small burst of light beaming through the dark clouds that sometimes hovered over life. Her unfailing curiosity was something that her parents never quite understood. But she was a little girl, her mind free from the knowledge of what the world was really like, and her mother and father planned to do everything they could to keep it that way. With Nana Rosie’s help, they were sure to succeed.
“Charley,” she’d say, using the nickname Charlotte’s parents hated because of its masculine counterpart. “We’ve got the whole day ahead of us, and the world at the tips of our toes. What would you like to do?”
Charlotte’s answers varied: the park, the mall, the library, but most often her answer was the train station. She would cling to Nana’s wrinkled hand as they made their first stop at the deli for sandwiches. For Nana, pastrami on rye bread, and for Charlotte, ham and cheese on a roll, hold the mayo. When they were back in Nana’s red Buick, Charlotte watched as her grandmother covered her eyes with large, rose-tinted sunglasses, and slowly reversed out of the spot. The pair sang together, tunes Nana knew from church, or their favorite, ‘The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow’, from Annie. Nana’s voice was always off-key, raspy with age and years of smoking, but Charlotte never noticed, only sang along with her.
When they got close enough to hear the sharp whistle of trains pulling into the station, Charlotte jumped up and down in the red velvet seat of the car, the sound going right through her limbs, leaving her flailing in excitement. Nana parked, and they took their untouched sandwiches to the northbound platform and sat down on a bench where they could watch the trains come and go as they ate, Charlotte delighting in the stories Nana made up for the people coming and going.
“He’s in a hurry,” Nana said. Charlotte clutched her sandwich as the well-dressed man raced past them, forgetting to chew in her interest. “He’s rushing home to his wife, who just went into labor. The baby will be here very soon.”
Charlotte turned all the way around in her seat to watch the man jump into his car and peel out of his parking spot. “Is he going to make it there in time?”
“Looks like it,” Nana replied. “Just in time to kiss both his wife and his brand new baby girl.”
“How do you know it’s a girl?” Charlotte asked, staring up at her grandmother as if she really did hold all the secrets of the world.
Nana met her eye, staring into the hazel depths that were so like her own, and smiled. “I have a knack for these things, Charley. When you’re as old as I am, the world doesn’t seem so unpredictable.”
Charlotte believed her, accepted the answer (even if it didn’t make much sense), and faced forward in her seat again, content in the knowledge that her grandmother was special, and hoping that meant she was special, too.
After finishing their sandwiches and their game, Nana took Charlotte’s hand and led her back to the car.
“Well, Charley. Another day is under our belts. And you know what?” Nana looked down at Charlotte then, her kind eyes and wide smile surrounded by soft wrinkles, and her drooping cheeks a shade of pink, all framed by a head of light silver curls.
“What?” Charlotte asked.
“I bet the sun will shine even brighter tomorrow.”
The rain should be a comforting sight. I’ve grown so used to it over the past few months—the feel of it on my face, the cold, sometimes warm plop, plop, plop of it on my shoulders, soaking my hair, the feel of puddles under my feet with my wellies on—it’s stranger if it isn’t raining. But the steady downpour is pooling in the lush grass of my front yard, not the bustling streets of London, and a day that should be an exciting one—seeing my best friend for the first time since my return—feels more like it’s mocking me instead.
“Here’s the same gray sky,” it seems to say. “The same dark, gloomy clouds, and the same incessant rain, but Charlotte Worth, you are still three thousand miles from where you want to be.”
I down the rest of my coffee, my only solace on this ironically dreary day.
“Charlotte, you ready to go?” my father asks, slinging his suit jacket across his shoulders and sliding his arms into the sleeves.
“As I’ll ever be,” I mutter, lifting my heavy bag from its place on the kitchen chair and dragging it (maybe too) dramatically to the front door.
“Cheer up, buttercup. You’re going to have fun today,” Dad says, with a chuckle I can’t help but resent as he locks the front door behind us.
“I’d rather have fun in London,” I say with a pout, before running to the car through the downpour and tugging on the handle of the passenger side door, only to find it locked. Of course. “Dad!”
“Go ahead,” he calls, mercifully clicking open the locks as he makes his way around the car to the driver’s side. I slide into the front seat and swipe at the raindrops on my forehead and bare arms.
Dad starts the car and grins over at me. “I wouldn’t say that last part to Andrea if I were you.”
“Good thing you’re not me, then,” I say with a smirk.
Andrea. My best friend since high school. The only real friend I’ve ever had. From the moment we met in freshman year art class at Lincoln High, she understood me, mainly because she was just like me. I’ll never forget the way she leaned over, breathing Skittles breath onto my shoulder as she watched me sketch, and said, too loudly, “Wow, that’s really good!”
I’d smiled, the sketch of my hand almost as lifelike as the real thing.
“Thanks,” I’d said, and glanced over at hers to repay the compliment. But the sight of the dark lines, the deformed thumb—Was it a thumb?—and too long middle finger had me saying, “Yours, um… yours really isn’t good.”
Too late, I’d realized that I should’ve padded that with something positive, something constructive, and braced myself for her to yell, glare, insult me, or all of the above. But the smiling girl with the dark skin and large brown eyes had just laughed—cackled, even—agreeing with me before introducing herself.
She called me last night to ask about today—to see if I would mind meeting her in Manhattan. Which didn’t make much sense, considering she only lived about ten minutes away here in Westchester.
“For what?” I asked, already dreading the journey downtown. “Why can’t we just meet somewhere around here?”
“Because…” she said, pausing long enough to make me think her emphasis on the one word should’ve explained it all.
“Because I’d rather explain it to you in person! And there’s something I want to show you. Now, are you willing to meet me downtown, or not?”
The impatience in her voice made me smirk.
“One question first…”
Andrea didn't have to make a single noise for me to know that she was probably hating me at that moment.
“I’ve been home for two days, I’m still pretty seriously jet-lagged… shouldn’t our first time seeing each other in nearly four months be on my terms?” I asked.
There was a silence on the line then that made me wonder whether or not the call had been dropped, but then Andrea said, “Meet me in Washington Square Park tomorrow morning at eleven. Drink as much coffee as you need to, but you better be there.”
“Can we meet earlier?” I asked, knowing that the battle was already lost. “My dad’s got a class at nine, and I won’t have a ride to the train.”
“Fine. We’ll meet at ten.”
I blew out a resigned breath. “Sounds good.”
“Good,” she said. “And Charlotte?”
She was smiling for the next part. I could tell. “I can't wait to see you.”
I smiled, then, realizing in that moment just how much I’d missed my best friend. “Me too.”
Now, Dad doesn’t try to talk on our ride to the train station, somehow understanding that speaking in a civilized manner is not something my brain’s up for this early on a summer morning. I spend the five-minute ride staring outside, watching the town I grew up in fly by, but its familiarity no longer holds the same kind of comfort it used to. And I wonder if it was worth it—the choice to leave home for so long, spending months on my own with only my new friends to rely on, and falling in love with a city an ocean away from everything I know.
Yes. Yes, it was.
The reality of being back still sucks, even though I’ve already been here for two weeks. And the fact that people expect me to be happy about being back—when I know I’ve learned so much more about myself, not to mention the world, in the three and half months I spent in England, as opposed to my first twenty years here—is pure torture.
“Alright,” Dad says as he puts the car in park. “Text me and let me know what time to pick you up.”
I nod. “Thanks.”
With my bag—filled with tickets, receipts, and other bits of my trip that I didn’t have the heart to throw out—weighing down the whole right side of my body, I open my umbrella, get out of the car into the pouring rain, and rush towards the entrance of the station. But I don’t get far before Dad’s voice stops me.
I blink through the downpour, the rain like white noise all around me, but I find his wide smile—the one that causes his hazel eyes to sparkle just like hers used to.
“The world’s at the tips of your toes, kiddo.”
The words fly towards me at a rate of ninety miles per hour, like a baseball whizzing across home plate, my chest the catcher’s glove. The rain drowns the sound of the impact.
Strike three, no one shouts.
She’s the glint in his eyes; a shadow who trails his steps; the honesty in his smile. Swallowing over the lump in my throat, I force a smile and nod once before turning back towards the entrance and joining the steady flow of people heading inside, all of us entirely unaffected by the sharp whistle of a train pulling into the station.
On any other day, my commute into New York City would be routine, completed on auto-pilot. But today, having been out of my schedule for an entire semester, I can’t help but notice everything anew: the rain pelting the East River as we cross over it, gray meeting gray with a splash of white, the blur of Harlem streaking past the windows, and the dry, dark tunnel leading into Grand Central Terminal. It’s all familiar, but more like something from a distant memory; fuzzy around the edges, the sharp clarity of it left behind three months ago.
The faces around me are the same, too: solemn, tired, bored—people so complacent in their lives and the rush of each day that they don’t even realize how sad they look as they file out of the train like ants marching out of a hole, off to do the same tedious work they do each redundant day. And as we all follow the leader into the main terminal, then scatter in different directions, I realize with a sick knot in my stomach that I’m one of them again.
After a jolting ride on the subway, I arrive at the West 4th Street station and follow another stream of different, but similarly unamused-looking people back out onto the damp city streets. It’s stopped raining at least, and as I head down the gum-spattered sidewalks, avoiding dirty puddles and other people, I realize this is where it feels most like London; where I can be just another anonymous face in the crowd. Here, right in the mix of it all in Manhattan, I try to pretend that I’m still there, that I can hear the lilt of British accents all around me.
But even my imagination can’t hide the arch of Washington Square Park, can’t make it something it’s not, can’t bend it into the shape of the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain in the middle of Piccadilly Circus, or mold and point it skyward like Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.
If I can’t be there, the arch, I suppose, is the next best thing.
That’s part of the joy of living so close to New York City–-the trek down from Westchester can feel endless, but there’s never a lack of things to do, or things to see once you’re here. In that way, it’s a lot more like London than I give it credit for.
Settling onto the driest bench I can find, I study the arch, the artwork etched into its sides and release a sigh. The familiarity in this moment is comforting, and it dulls the ache for London just the smallest bit. I have to believe that more adventures will present themselves. Have to believe that I haven’t peaked at twenty years old. Have to believe that my life now will hold more for me, in every sense it hasn’t before.
The air stirs around me as two joggers race by. I watch both of them for a moment—two men donning gym shorts and sweaty t-shirts—and imagine they’re training for a marathon, maybe a triathlon, judging by the fit looks of them. When one gives the other a shove, and the “shove-ee” smiles and shoves back the “shove-er”, I know they’ve known each other a long time—maybe since elementary school, when one (Kyle) picked the smaller one (Andrew) for his team in a game of kickball on the playground. No one ever really liked or picked Andrew because he was too uncoordinated to be of any use, but Kyle saw the potential in him—his speed. They’ve been best friends ever since. Now that they’ve both grown and are on more equal footing, they push each other to reach their potential.
When Kyle and Andrew disappear from sight, I pull my sketchpad from my bag, flipping through the pages slowly, seeing everything again in my mind, and I wish there was some way I’d been able to capture it for real. Art may imitate life, but there’s no way it could ever be the same thing. I trace the edges of Tower Bridge in my sketch, blurring the lines of the pencil just a bit with the tip of my finger. I’ll have to go over it again, but right now I pretend I’m there, as if just touching my rendering of the beautiful bridge can bring me back, and I see it in my mind’s eye.
Until a familiar voice interrupts my memories.
“Well, if it isn’t my favorite wannabe Brit, back stateside and absolutely thrilled to find her best friend exactly where she left her.”
I whip my head around to find Andrea smiling at me as she nears the bench.
“Was that supposed to be a British accent?” I ask, standing as she sets her bag down. “You should know it could use some work.”
She hugs me then, and I breathe in the smell of coconut, as familiar to me as the strong arms wrapped around my waist. Andrea is several inches shorter than me, and our hugs always went this way—her arms around my waist, her head tucked under my chin, her frizzy, black ’fro tickling my nose. But she’d never squeezed so tightly, never held on for this long, and I realize how much I missed her.
“I’ve missed you, girl,” she says as we pull away, and grips my hands in hers. “You look great.”
“Oh, are we being nice to each other today?” I grin. “In that case, so do you.”
Andrea smirks. “I figured I’d at least try to get through the first five minutes without any snark, but since you already went there…” She sits down on the bench, and I sit beside her, both of us turned so that we can look right at the other. “How does it feel to see me after so long? What’s changed? Do I still have an air of authority and a wing so sharp, men bow down before me in fear?”
I stare at the perfect, sharp wings of the black eyeliner she’s referring to, and smirk.
“Don’t give yourself too much credit,” I say. “I may’ve come all the way down here to see you, but the real draw is that the city is more like London than my house is. And yes, to all of the above. And it’s really good to see you.”
“I knew you had ulterior motives,” she says. “And I’m proud of you. That almost sounded genuine.”
After another moment, we both drop the act and giggle.
Andrea reaches into her bag, pulls out her sunglasses and puts them on. “So. What was your favorite thing about it?”
She may be a little bit of a thing, but the volume at which she speaks would make anyone who wasn’t looking think she’s much larger. Andrea demands attention. She always has, even when she looks as cute and innocent as she does today, with her high-waist black shorts and black-and-white striped top, her hair a somewhat contained ’fro atop her head.
Before I have the chance to respond to her impossible question (I loved all of it too much to pick one favorite thing), she asks, “Did you meet Prince Harry and tell him I love him?”
“He was unavailable every time I tried to get in touch. Strange, really.”
“Probably for the best,” she says, turning to look out at the people milling around us for a moment. “He couldn’t handle me, anyway.”
I nudge my prescription glasses further up onto the bridge of my nose. “True. Even I can’t, and I’ve known you for six years.”
She smiles. “I take a twisted sense of pride in that. But seriously, how was the land of the royals? Everything you hoped it would be?”
“In all seriousness…” I look away from her towards the fountain. “I wish I’d never left.”
As soon as the words are out of my mouth I realize how they could be taken, and I glance at Andrea, ready to put a more positive spin on them, but she beats me to it.
“Thanks a lot.”
“Andi, you know I didn’t mean it that way, I just—”
“Don’t you think I know you well enough by now to know what you mean?” She shakes her head, grinning at me. “You and that mouth, Charlotte. Consider yourself lucky you have such an understanding friend who puts up with both of you.”
“Oh, please.” I sit back and cross my arms. “You’re even worse than I am. At least I attempt to sound apologetic afterwards.”
Andrea presses her lips together, sucking them between her teeth for a moment, before saying, “I can’t even deny it,” and screeching a laugh.
I’ve almost forgotten how contagious her laughter is, but the sound of it now has me giggling along with her.
When we’re both breathless, giddy just from being together after so long apart, she pats my knee several times. “Okay…before I hear more about the trip—and I intend to hear everything,” she says, eyeing me with a smile. She’s practically bouncing out of her seat now. “There’s something I want to ask you, and it has do with why I wanted to meet so early.”
I gasp and hold a hand up to my wounded heart. “You mean you didn’t just miss me?”
Andrea’s smile doesn’t falter. “I had a meeting this morning with the people at the community theater…”
I nod after a moment, watching the excitement form on her face, in her grin, in her eyes as they crinkle up.
Andrea’s done plays for as long as I’ve known her. I remember the first one I saw our freshman year. She was the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, which couldn’t have been a more perfect role for her. Her normally loud voice so simply turned maniacal, and as the kind of person who enjoys any kind of attention, she had the whole audience completely captivated. She’s been doing shows with the community theater on the Lower East Side since graduation, and only getting better with each new role.
“I’ve been trying to get them to agree to allow me the time and space to do a play, and…they finally said yes! I’m directing my first play in a real theater!”
“Oh, my God, Andi! That’s amazing!”
She slaps at my hands in her excitement, and squeals loudly enough to attract the attention of passers-by. I smile at the strangers in apology, but Andrea doesn’t even seem to notice.
“I know,” she says, oblivious to the confused stares of the general public. “I get a full eight weeks of rehearsal time, and then a whole weekend for shows!”
“That’s incredible, Andi. I—”
“You know how long I’ve wanted this, Charlotte, probably better than anyone. And as much as I love acting, I need to try this. I know I’ll be good at it.”
“Of course you will,” I say, able to cut in this time. “You’re great at telling people what to do.”
“I know!” she agrees, not catching my joke, or just choosing to ignore it. “I’ve done enough plays now. Directing one should come pretty naturally to me. And I get to cast it and everything. They’re basically giving me total freedom.” She digs into her purse and pulls out a pack of cigarettes, smacking the bottom of the container.
“Who’d you have to accost for full freedom?”
She giggles as she puts a cigarette between her lips, and then plunges her hand back into the bag for a lighter. “You know me too well, girl.” She removes the cigarette from her mouth with two fingers, her other hand still in the depths of her bag. “But no one, actually. After the success of the last play—when I stepped in for Nora after she got sick on opening day—I guess they just trust me.”
She pulls a lighter out and puts the cigarette back between her lips. “And they should,” she says over it. “I’ve done, like, six plays with them at this point.”
Andrea flicks the lighter and puffs, smoke swirling quickly around her and meandering over to me.
I cover my nose. “Smoking kills, you know.”
Andrea blows a puff straight out in front of her. “So does nagging, but I don’t see you stopping.”
“It takes much longer,” I say through my fingers. “And besides, I do it out of love.” I make a show of sliding all the way to the other side of the bench. “I’d like to have you around for a while.”
“Well I’m glad you feel that way, Charlotte…” Andrea releases another long breath of smoke with a devilish grin. “Because I have a proposition for you.”
“Uh oh,” I say, my hands dropping away so that she can see my already-excited grin . “I'm in for it, aren't I?”
“Nana!” Charlotte called from across the sandbox.
Nana always sat on the same bench in the park. The one closest to the exit. Charlotte darted between other children towards her grandmother, oblivious to their curious young eyes as they trailed her. “Nana, are you watching?”
“Of course I’m watching,” Nana Rosie said, smiling as her granddaughter skidded to a halt right before hitting the pavement, sending sand flying everywhere.
“I’m following a trail to a magic temple,” Charlotte said, and brushed away the hair that had fallen in her face. But it fell right back into her eyes, so Nana reached over to curl it behind her ear. “And I found these clues to help me.”
She held up fistfuls of sandy garbage—bottle caps, a broken toy soldier, a few rocks, and a gum wrapper.
“Ah,” Nana said, leaning over to eye Charlotte’s hoard. “Let me know when you find it. I hear there’s a lonely princess inside, looking for a friend.”
Charlotte’s eyes lit up, looking more green than brown in the sunlight, and with a promise to find the princess she was off, running past the other children playing together, on an adventure of her own creation.
Charlotte’s parents weren’t around much. They each worked odd jobs to keep up with the rent of their two-bedroom apartment in the suburbs of New York. But when they did spend time with her, she demanded their attention. Not in the way a spoiled child might, by screaming and carrying on to get his or her way, but in a way that confused, and even sometimes frightened them. Charlotte was fearless from the moment she put her hands and knees to the green carpet of Nana Rosie’s living room and crawled. Even putting a finger in an electrical socket didn’t scare her away from doing it again. Even a twenty-five foot drop to the ground didn’t stop her from climbing a tree just to see the view. Even the chatter of classmates, whispering about the strange girl with a mane of red curls, didn’t stop her from going off on her own. Mr. and Mrs. Worth, like all parents, feared for their daughter. But their fear was rooted in the way she didn’t need them; the way she didn’t rely on anyone but herself. Their only comfort, the only certainty they had that Charlotte’s recklessness wouldn’t get the best of her, was Nana Rosie.
Nana took up the slack, keeping an eye on Charlotte in her own home, and at the library where Nana had worked as a librarian since long before Charlotte was born. Unlike Charlotte’s parents, Nana understood her granddaughter and took pride in the way Charlotte kept herself busy in the library, pulling books from the shelves at random and reading them aloud on the floor, giving the characters different voices, as if she were reading to an audience. She loved when Charlotte played by herself in the park, singing to herself or making up little games as she wandered around picking up bottle caps and broken plastic toys long forgotten in the sand. She saw the way young mothers eyed Charlotte, with a mix of tenderness and wariness as they pulled their own children closer to their chests. She saw the genuine surprise in their eyes when little Charley nudged her glasses up her nose and asked them if she could borrow their shovel for her mission. And Nana felt only pride. She felt like she was witnessing a miracle each time her granddaughter surprised her somehow, and saw Charlotte’s independence as a special gift, rather than a dangerous trait.
“Charley is a leader,” Nana would say when her son and daughter-in-law complained that she was too strong-willed, too much a detriment to her own well-being. “She’ll never do what you hope she will, and forcing her won’t do anyone any good. Support who she is instead of worrying about who she isn’t.”
Luckily, Charlotte didn’t often feel weighed down by her parents’ concerns, but Nana did. She didn’t know if they couldn’t understand, or simply wouldn’t take the time to. Charlotte might not sense their fear, but just in case she ever did, Nana had a plan.
“Charley,” Nana said, looking up from her book at the dining room table while her granddaughter sketched in her first ever sketchpad—a birthday present from one artist to another. Charlotte looked up. “Hold onto your curiosity. Let it keep you moving. You never know when or where you’ll come across something extraordinary.”
As any five-year-old might, Charlotte took her grandmother’s words literally, and decided that if she were to discover something extraordinary, she wanted to discover it quickly. From then on, she did everything at a light jog, running anywhere and everywhere—across her room, the living room, in the halls of school, on the playground at recess, even in the library. She’d gotten in trouble for it many times, and her parents and teachers tried to slow her down, but Charlotte was determined—so determined that she found herself in the emergency room with a broken ankle after skidding across the hardwood floors in their apartment and falling over, her foot twisted at an odd angle. She and her parents deduced that Nana Rosie probably didn’t mean for her to start sprinting everywhere with her advice.
Charlotte slowed down after that. She didn’t stop moving, but hoped that extraordinary things wouldn’t mind waiting for her to discover them.
I can already feel the cigarette smoke clinging to me—my hair, my clothes, and my lungs.
Andrea ignores my snide remark, and from the look she gives me, I know it's not the right time for banter.
"I'm listening," I say.
She flicks ash to the ground, letting the cigarette dangle from her fingers and burn red for a moment. “Okay, so, of course I’m thrilled about this opportunity. I’ve wanted to do this for too long not to be.”
“But…and this is only for your ears, Charlotte Worth. You cannot tell a soul.”
“Who the hell do you think I’d tell? The only person I talk to apart from my dad is you.”
“Right, I know. This is just—well…it’s embarrassing. It’s hard for me to even say this to you, and you’re my best friend.” Her eyebrows are drawn together, and she stares at the ground as she takes another long pull from her cigarette.
“Spit it out, Andi.”
She whips her head around, eyes round with something I don’t often see in them…fear.
“I’m scared I’m going to screw it up,” she finally admits, taking another long drag before tossing the cigarette. It blinks red before dimming a little way away; smoke curling up and toward the sky. “I know I won’t, but I have this…” She gestures to her stomach. “This feeling that it’s not going to be what I expect. And don’t get me wrong—I know it’ll be a challenge. But I want to take it on, and I think it’ll really help to have someone I trust wholeheartedly on board.”
She looks straight at me then, and I nod, waiting for her to continue.
When all we do is stare at each other, her eyebrows shoot up. “So? Will you?”
“Will I wha—? Oh.”
“Will you help me?” Andrea asks. “You’re the only person I could think of. You’re my best friend, Charlotte, and I know I can count on you.”
“But…” I’m a little taken aback, not just because she’s asking me to help her with a play, but because she’s asking for help at all. Andrea’s the proudest, most independent person I know, and she’d never admit to this kind of thing unless she was being totally serious. “But, the last time I was in a play, or even involved in one, I was six.”
“That’s okay,” she’s quick to say. “You’ve seen lots of plays, and it won’t be hard. Besides, it’s not like I’m giving you full control or anything. I’d just like to have that extra pair of eyes and ears, and someone creative to help with set design, and—”
“Set design?” I ask, perking up a bit.
Andrea smiles. “See? There’s something in this for everyone. I also hoped you might be interested in creating the artwork for the program, and ads and stuff. We wouldn’t need that for a while, but if you’re at rehearsals, or at least some of them, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of inspiration.”
It sounds like a pretty good deal, despite my nerves. The fact that I’ve never worked on a play is the only thing making me think twice about it. But this is Andrea, and if I were to work on a play with anyone, I’d want it to be with her. At the same time, this is Andrea. I know Andrea, and with her, something that’s supposed to be fun could quickly turn into a whole lot of not fun. She takes her work and her ideas so seriously, and if other people’s ideas don’t gel with hers—it would be an understatement to say that she doesn’t take it well.