Jack is about to watch a play. Myrna deposits some flowers.
Chapter Eleven: Missed Messages
“So I’m just really excited to see how everyone does. I mean, this is one of my favorite stories ever, and the movie this is based on is one of my favorite versions of it and now I get to see one that my sister helped with!” The elf squirmed happily in her seat, ignoring the baffled silence from Jack. Her unbounded energy had been apparent when she immediately leapt up to yank his arm around in greeting the second he entered the box. Korina, as the elf had introduced herself, was quite the spectacle. She had on an eye-wateringly white fur coat and matching kubanka adorned with a small holly applique, both of which contrasted sharply against her dark skin tone. Between the distracting visual display, the speed at which she spoke, and his ignorance of whatever it was she was talking about, he had a hard time following the conversational thread.
“Do you have a favorite version, Mr. Frost?”
She tipped her head towards the stage. “Of A Christmas Carol.“
Jack squinted at his program’s cover, “I thought this was called Scrooge.”
Korina snorted. For once, Jack wasn’t in on the joke. A novel sensation. He didn’t like it.
“Ooh! It’s starting!” squealed Korina as the house lights dimmed.
A spotlight flashed on, highlighting the red-clad figure shuffling onto the stage fiddling with a cordless microphone. She was just far away enough that Jack couldn’t clearly make out her face, but something about her nagged at his memory. She tapped the microphone lightly, which answered with the expected speaker boofs.
“Welcome,” she smiled, “to the Borealis’ production of Scrooge: The Musical.”
“Psst,” Jack leaned over and poked Korina in the shoulder. “Who’s that?”
“Her? That’s Juniper. She’s the director.”
“Ah,” he said. The actually helpful elf from before. This answered some of the questions left dangling from that encounter.
“Yeah, she’s pretty cool,” said Korina. “Have you met her?”
“She’s the one who reserved this spot for me.”
Juniper continued, “I would like to remind everyone that all donations go towards supporting more productions like this one. Please ask at the front desk or call the theater to find out how best to help.”
Jack groaned. “I thought this was a musical, not a lecture. When’s the fun bit supposed to start?”
“It’s almost finished. These never take very long.”
“What is this, anyway?”
Jack snorted. “They have ticket sales. What do they need donations for?”
“Shh!” Korina hissed, trying to wave his volume down. “It’s ’cause my sister keeps the prices down so more people can afford to see stuff. They need the donations to break even.”
So you get a bigger audience just to bore all of them. Doesn’t seem like much of a trade-off, he thought, but even he had enough presence of mind to know that was a bit too rude to say out loud. “If you think it’s worth it, I guess.”
Korina shot him a puzzled look from the corner of her eye but offered nothing else to the conversation.
“…and a reminder that flash photography is not permitted. Thank you for your patience, and please, enjoy the show.”
And with that, the lights cut out as the opening fanfare announced the musical’s entrance.
As Myrna dodged yet another backdrop, she realized how stupid it was to assume that intermission backstage would be any less busy than at any other point of a play. She’d managed to outrank her way back there with the intent of presenting the apology flowers to Juniper in person. Now she’d just be happy to leave them someplace where they wouldn’t get immediately knocked over and trampled in the bustle of activity.
Good thing I left them in the car, she thought, just as an elf, buried under a pile of costumes, ran straight into her, knocking them both to the ground.
“Hey! Watch where you’re going!” Myrna barked at the black-clad elf, who clambered to pick up the scattered apparel.
“Sorry,” they whisper-shouted, continuing on their break-neck way.
“Dick,” Myrna muttered, dusting off her one evening gown.
Someone yanked her out of the way of another elf barreling past (carrying props this time) and didn’t stop dragging her along until they reached the backstage entrance.
“What the hell do you think you’re-,” she shouted before her rescuer/assailant spun around and clamped a hand over her mouth.
“Keep quiet,” Theodora said in a lower voice than usual, “This is a family show and we’ve only got a curtain and a door muffling the noise.”
Glad she hadn’t succumbed to her instinct to bite unwanted hands anywhere near her face, Myrna nodded. Theo removed her hand slowly, scanning her accusingly.
“Nice dress,” she said. “What are you doing here? You never come backstage.”
“Um…” Myrna swallowed. She’d wanted to do this at least semi-privately, as this really only concerned her and Juniper. And my brother, but we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it. If the experience at the flower shop was anything to go by, she didn’t want to fuel any more rumors than necessary. At least not until there was more of a chance for them to be true.
“Is this about Juniper?” Theo cut into her hesitation, arms crossed.
“Yes. I need to speak with her,” she said. There, that seemed neutral enough.
Theo’s foot had started to tap impatiently. “Right now? Can’t this wait until after the show?”
“She’s leaving with her parents for Elfmas right after. Like she does every year.”
Myrna could almost physically feel Theo’s scrutiny. It was one of the rare occurrences where her training to stand with your back straight while under suspicion proved useful while still at the North Pole. Which seemed to happen a lot at this theater, come to think of it.
Finally, Theo unwound her arms with a deep sigh. “Fine. But in the future, know intermission is never a good time for this sort of thing.”
“Juniper’s busy right now with a set malfunction, but I’ll have her meet with you after the show in my office. Got it?”
“After the show, in your office. I’ll be there, but she might not show if you tell her I want to talk to her.”
Theo held up a hand. “I know. I’ve worked with her long enough to recognize the symptoms of a prolonged hissy fit. Just be in the office after the show. I’ll make sure she’s there.”
But you’ve never lived with her, Myrna thought, less than convinced. She saw no point in pressing the issue. “Where’s your office?”
“Just ask one of the ushers, it’s not a secret. I’ve gotta go.” She brushed past Myrna to rejoin the silent backstage bustle.
Sure enough, the first usher to appear at her side when she exited the stage access door immediately swept her to the appropriate hallway. After pointing out the correct door, he zipped back to his post, leaving Myrna alone in the administrative wing.
She could tell, even at a distance, that the office had no physical lock, so the hefty magical barrier didn’t come as too much of a surprise. It also wasn’t much of a problem, given she could easily bypass it. It swung open without complaint once she’d presented the magical equivalent of her Head Security Elf badge.
She didn’t bother with the light switch. The light spilling in from the hallway illuminated a direct path to the desk in the center of the room. Once there, she summoned the arrangement in a little “poof” of gold and carefully placed it on a small patch free of paperwork and office supplies.
A bright ascending chime broke through the relative silence of the tucked-away room. The play was about to start up again. Myrna started to hurry to her seat, but an earlier uncertainty caused her to pause at the doorframe.
“Dammit,” she muttered, hiking her long skirt to sprint back to the desk. The chime rang again as she summoned a pen and some nice stationery from home.
“Fuck fuck fuck…” She quickly scribbled something down, stuffed the note into the ribbon tied around the vase, and ran out of the room as quickly as her nice shoes would allow her.