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Just One Day (Just One Day #1)

By:ayle Forman

alarm clocks. I'd wondered how I was ever going to handle college if I couldn't handle this.

But I've gotten used to the hair, and the homesickness has mostly gone away, and even if it hasn't, the tour is ending. Tomorrow, almost everyone else is taking the coach straight to the airport to fly home. Melanie and I are catching a train down to London to stay with her cousin for three days. Melanie is talking about going back to the salon where I got my bob to get a pink streak in her hair, and we're going to see Let It Be in the West End. On Sunday, we fly home, and soon after that, we start college-me near Boston, Melanie in New York.




"Set Shakespeare free!"

I look up. A group of about a dozen people are coming up and down the line, handing out multicolored neon flyers. I can tell straightaway that they're not American-no bright white tennis shoes or cargo shorts in sight. They are all impossibly tall, and thin, and different looking, somehow. It's like even their bone structure is foreign.

"Oh, I'll take one of those." Melanie reaches out for a flyer and uses it to fan her neck.

"What's it say?" I ask her, looking at the group. Here in touristy Stratford-upon-Avon, they stand out like fire-orange poppies in a field of green.

Melanie looks at the flyer and wrinkles her nose. "Guerrilla Will?"

A girl with the kind of magenta streaks Melanie has been coveting comes up to us. "It's Shakespeare for the masses."

I peer at the card. It reads Guerrilla Will. Shakespeare Without Borders. Shakespeare Unleashed. Shakespeare For Free. Shakespeare For All.

"Shakespeare for free?" Melanie reads.

"Yeah," the magenta-haired girl says in accented English. "Not for capitalist gain. How Shakespeare would've wanted it."

"You don't think he'd want to actually sell tickets and make money from his plays?" I'm not trying to be a smart-ass, but I remember that movie Shakespeare in Love and how he was always owing money to somebody or other.

The girl rolls her eyes, and I start to feel foolish. I look down. A shadow falls over me, momentarily blocking out the glare of the sun. And then I hear laughter. I look up. I can't see the person in front of me because he's backlit by the still-bright evening sun. But I can hear him.

"I think she's right," he says. "Being a starving artist is not so romantic, maybe, when you're actually starving."

I blink a few times. My eyes adjust, and I see that the guy is tall, maybe a full foot taller than I am, and thin. His hair is a hundred shades of blond, and his eyes so brown as to almost be black. I have to tilt my head up to look at him, and he's tilting his head down to look at me.

"But Shakespeare is dead; he's not collecting royalties from the grave. And we, we are alive." He opens his arms, as if to embrace the universe. "What are you seeing?"

"Hamlet," I say.

"Ah, Hamlet." His accent is so slight as to be almost imperceptible. "I think a night like this, you don't waste on tragedy." He looks at me, like it's a question. Then he smiles. "Or indoors. We are doing Twelfth Night. Outside." He hands me a flyer.

"We'll think about it," Melanie says in her coy voice.

The guy raises one shoulder and cocks his head toward it so his ear is almost touching his very angular shoulder blade. "What you will," he says, though he's looking at me. Then he saunters off to join the rest of his troupe.

Melanie watches them go. "Wow, why are they not on the Teen Tours! Cultural Extravaganza? That's some culture I could get into!"

I watch them leave, feeling a strange tug. "I've seen Hamlet before, you know."

Melanie looks at me, her eyebrows, which she has overly plucked into a thin line, raised. "Me too. It was on TV, but still . . ."

"We could go . . . to this. I mean, it would be different. A cultural experience, which is why our parents sent us on this tour."

Melanie laughs. "Look at you, getting all bad! But what about Our Fearless Leader? It looks like she's gearing up for one of her head counts."

"Well, the heat was really bothering you . . . " I begin.

Melanie looks at me for a second, then something clicks. She licks her lips, grins, and then crosses her eyes. "Oh, yeah. I totally have heatstroke." She turns to Paula, who's from Maine and is studiously reading a Fodor's guide. "Paula, I'm feeling so dizzy."

"It's way hot," Paula says, nodding sympathetically. "You should hydrate."

"I think I might faint or something. I'm seeing black spots."

"Don't pile it on," I whisper.

"It's good to build a case," Melanie whispers, enjoying this now. "Oh, I think I'm going to pass out."

"Ms. Foley," I call.

Ms. Foley looks up from ticking names off her roll-call sheet. She comes over, her face so full of concern, I feel bad for lying. "I think Melanie, I mean Mel, is getting heatstroke."

"Are you poorly? It shouldn't be much longer now. And it's lovely and cool inside the theater." Ms. Foley speaks in a strange hybrid of Britishisms with a Midwestern accent that everyone makes fun of because they think it's pretentious. But I think it's just that she's from Michigan and spends a lot of time in Europe.

"I feel like I'm going to puke." Melanie pushes on. "I would hate to do that inside the Swan Theatre."

Ms. Foley's face wrinkles in displeasure, though I can't tell if it is from the idea of Melanie barfing inside the Swan or using the word puke in such close proximity to the Royal Shakespeare Company. "Oh, dear. I'd better escort you back to the hotel."

"I can take her," I say.

"Really? Oh, no. I couldn't. You should see Hamlet."

"No, it's fine. I'll take her."

"No! It's my responsibility to take her. I simply couldn't burden you like that." I can see the argument she's having with herself play out over her pinched features.

"It's fine, Ms. Foley. I've seen Hamlet before, and the hotel is just over the square from here."

"Really?

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