I’m standing in the wings of my high school theater (The Baltimore School for the Arts)—a ballroom that once was part of an old hotel in Maryland. The stage looks like black ice, and I’m afraid I’m going to slip. I hear the audience talking (it’s a packed house). My castmates are fussing around me. Men are wearing puffy pirate shirts, and women with nearly identical flowing, curly hair are wearing long black skirts. I hear the orchestra warming up and the “tap, tap, tap” of the conductor’s baton on his music stand. The overture is about to begin.

I start to panic. My heart pounds, I can barely breathe. My vision gets cloudy, and I’m pretty sure I’m dying. I think my feet are stuck. I have to go on stage, right now, but I’m only wearing ...

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