A Face They Never Knew

Maybe it wasn’t a real betrayal, but it certainly felt like one at the time. I suppose, if I force myself to be accurate and I think about it from their side, I have to admit that it’s unlikely they intended to even hurt me, let alone inflict on me such feelings of hurt and frustration.

Real betrayal takes intent, doesn’t it? Maybe even a plan, and a desire to harm. Real betrayal happens in movies, where the villain pretends to be a friend all along and then suddenly turns and show the protagonist a face they never knew was there.

We had been working on the show for months, the four of us. We wrote it together. We developed the characters together. I wrote the music, with a lot of input from Wilson and a bit of lyrical help from Leslie, because while all them can sing Rylee couldn’t make words and music that fit together if her life depended upon it.

I only sang a bit at first, when we first started, because I’ve never been confident about my voice. I said a few self-deprecating things. I made a mistake, here. I admit it. I started to paint a false picture for them. I focused too much on the negative side of my experiences and I failed to let them know that, overall, I enjoyed this.

They heard me talk about how I wasn’t a good singer, and how they were all so much better than me, and they though, Oh, he doesn’t want to sing. They heard me talk about how I’d never sung and acted on stage before, because I’ve always been behind the piano; they heard me talk about how anxious that made me, and they though, Oh, he doesn’t want to be on stage.

I guess it’s my fault that they didn’t hear me say how much confidence the whole experience had caused me to be about my singing. I guess I wasn’t clear enough or loud enough when I said I was excited to put on the show, or that I had fallen in love with the music and the characters, or when I said I felt like the character whose part I sang the most while we were creating the show, Chace, had become a part of me.

I was out for a week on a family vacation, and when I returned, there was someone knew amongst our fold. Jacob. The people I had thought of as my friends, as those closest to me, who I assumed understood me better than anyone else I knew, welcomed me excitedly. They explained to me with light in their eyes that they’d found someone to portray Chace.

I wouldn’t have to worry about being on stage anymore.

I wouldn’t have to worry about not singing well.

Besides, Leslie said, she felt that she had a much better chemistry with Jacob. Their harmonies were tighter and they played off of each other better than she and I.

Maybe they really did have my best interests at heart. Maybe they really did misinterpret or just simply miss everything I said recently in favor of some of the things I’d said when we’d first begun our project. Maybe they really did think they were doing something that would bring me happiness.

Whatever they though, they were wrong. I felt discarded and disposable. The worst part is that I stayed on. I kept playing piano for them and refining the compositions, because what else was I supposed to do? This musical felt like it was a part of me, even if they had cut away my biggest attachment. So despite the frustration of feeling like a superfluous appendage that had been excised, I remained, and I played.

Then, when it was through and we finished our final performance, I stopped trying to be friends them. I just didn’t have the strength anymore. I let them drift away, out of my life, without even saying goodbye. They didn’t mean to betray me, and maybe, realistically, they didn’t, but being misunderstood so completely still stung too much to try to hold on to our friendship.

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