The elevator opened to a crowd of giggling girls, who greeted Sheena and then got in as we exited.
“Hey, Tammy, there’s a package for you at the front desk,” Sheena called, and the girl called Tammy nodded, as the doors closed and we continued down the hallway. “And, 66.” She popped the key in the door, and opened it.
I gasped when I saw the inside of my room. There was a bed, a kitchen and a bathroom all crammed into a small space to make room for the living room. It held a barre running against one wall, with floor to ceiling mirrors, and hardwood floors. There was a bureau with lights around the mirror, and an extensive makeup kit, as well as a large closet with every type of hanger you could imagine. The lights in the room were all on dimmer switches that looked more complicated than some theater sound boards.
“Even when you sleep, you practise. All the rooms look like this. No one ever has an excuse to not work,” Sheena said, with a smile. My stuff was all in the center of the living room floor waiting to be unpacked. “Need anything else?”
“No, thanks,” I said, still looking around the room in awe.
“Alright, well, if you need me, I’m just a phone call away. It’s #1 on the phone,” she pointed to a houseline on the desk, and then gave me a smile, and left.
Alone in the room, I began to pull my stuff out of boxes, folding it carefully to fit in the drawers and cupboards. This place was bigger than my room at home, and I knew it was going to look sparse when I was done. However, it was my place and the very thought of that sent chills down my spine.
I turned, startled, to find Liam at my door.
“Liam!” I said, before I could stop myself. “Er...I mean...Mr Swift.”
“Liam is fine.” He said, leaning against the door way with a smirk. “They told me you were finally moving in, and I wanted to make sure you had your class schedule for tomorrow.”
“Sure.” I said, looking at the desk where I had unfolded it. “I have Shakespeare in the morning, and then Theater History right after it. In the afternoon, there’s a whole block to be in the senior theater.”
“Sounds right,” he said, watching me unpack. “There should be a script for a practice show in one of your drawers. I want you to go over it before tomorrow, if you have time. We won’t perform it in full, but we’ll take it to a workshop level in class.”
“Right,” I said, looking up at him. I couldn’t believe how fast my heart was beating. Here I was, standing a few feet away from one of the biggest movie stars on the planet (or at least, he used to be), and about to start theater school.
“I brought you this,” he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a newspaper. My eyes widened as I recognized our picture on the front.
“Oh wow!” I couldn’t stop myself from ripping it from his hands, and he laughed at my excitement.
“Your first tabloid cover,” he said, watching as I read it. They didn’t have much information on me, but it had paragraphs about past scholarship winners, including, to my surprise, a familiar name.
“Porsche De Ritter had a dance scholarship here?” I asked, looking up at him. He grinned at the mention of her name.
“She did. Took it right out from under thousands of hopefuls, stayed three months, and then was recruited to the Russia National Ballet. Please stay longer than three months,” he said, turning his megawatt grin on me. I was surprised by this personality that was emerging from Liam. All the other times, I had seen him, he was emotionless; his jaw set, barking orders at people. But now, alone in my room, he was showing me his sense of humor and a laid back side of him I never would have guessed. I was flattered that he would even bother to come check in on me, when there were hundreds of students in this school. But still, there he was.
“If you’ll have me,” I managed. There was a silence then as we stood, simply looking at each other. Since the first day that I met eyes with Liam, I felt like we knew each other from before. His eyes were so full of expression and soul that it was overwhelming. I felt comfortable, simply being there with him.
“I’ll see you in class then, tomorrow, unless you need anything else?” he finally said, breaking the gaze and I nodded.
“I’m going back home for dinner, and then I’m sleeping here tonight. So…unless you wanted to talk to me tonight?”
I was asking innocently, there seemed to be so many things I needed to be caught up on. However, Liam’s face instantly darkened and he shook his head.
“No, I won’t be free tonight. If you have any questions, you can call Sheena at security,” He turned on his heel, suddenly, and was gone before I could stop him.
I sat at the desk, my mind whirling at what I possibly could have said wrong. I hadn’t meant to offend him, of course, and I couldn’t imagine how I had. Somehow, I must have managed.
Losing my motivation to unpack, I went to put my coat back on. I had never lived alone before, and it was certainly going to be lonely. At that moment, a small part of me I wanted nothing more than to head home, see my father for dinner, and sleep in my own bed. But that life was over.
The first week of classes were a blur to me; a constant stream of people and text books; lines and instructions; hallways and colors. Unlike simply sitting in the classes and auditing them, I actually had to participate, to do the work, and answer questions. More than once, I found myself lost trying to find a small classroom, or backstage entrance. The students were helpful, friendly for the most part and willing to share their textbooks and scripts with me until I got my own … at least in the beginning. But as time went on, it was Liam who gave me the support I needed, making sure I had time to find my way and pausing to offer definitions of terms or words that must have obviously confused me. And soon, I found the friendly looks from others turning to raised eyebrows, and snickering; dirty glares that would have stopped even the hardest heart in their tracks.
I told myself he was just being nice. He was helping me out. After all, we were to perform together soon, and so we had to work together. I even tried telling the others that. But soon, I found being at school was not much different than being at home. I was isolated, alone and different. The walls were thin, and I could a lot through them. I was used to sleeping in pitch darkness and dead silence. But at school, with the hall light constantly on, and the thin walls, I got neither.
It’s just that…I don’t know. Maybe I’m so useless and need all this extra attention, so they are frustrated with me. And my lack of talent. I texted Sarah one evening, as I sat in one of the common rooms alone. I was supposed to be writing out a modern day translation of a Shakespeare verse, but I found myself unable to focus.
Are you kidding? They’re jealous. She replied back instantly. You beat out a million girls for a scholarship, you’re awesome and gorgeous, and the hot movie star/headmaster is paying attention to you. Why are you sad?! This is the ride of your life!
Maybe he thinks I’m so useless that I’m ‘special.’ I replied back, sullenly. And that’s why he has to stop every five seconds to tell me what something means.
Video chat. Now. Came the reply, and I sighed. I didn’t really have an excuse to say no to her, now that I was at school with free unlimited Wi-Fi. Our video chats could go on for hours without me worrying about our internet bill. I hit the screen share button and waited for her camera to load up, holding the phone up to my face.
Sarah was pretty, in a kind of exotic way. Her hair was cropped short, in a style I never dared to try, and she always wore eye shadow that made her almond shaped eyes pop. Up in Canada, she was a community theater actor, being forced by her parents to study finance in University. However, that didn’t stop her from dressing like Madonna and auditioning for everything she could find. She had spunk, energy about her that I always envied.
“You know what you should do?” She said, as soon as her face popped up. Sarah had a liquid French accent that I imagined made every man around her want her. “Take me on a tour of your school. The Wi-Fi goes all over, right?”
“Nooo,” I whined, leaning back in my chair. “It’s getting dark and I want to go to bed.”
“But you’ll just lie in bed for hours and listen to whoever is sobbing their eyes out every night continue to do so. Besides, it’s like 8pm, Amy, you’re acting like a 50 year old.”
“Hey,” I grinned at that, struggling to my feet. “I have a disease, you know.”
“There’s the disease…and then there’s just you,” Sarah teased me. “Or you can sit here and tell me how gorgeous Liam is.” I sighed, and hit the button for the rear camera, so she could see things from my point of view.
“Alright, fine,” I stood up, heading out into the hallway. “But if I get in trouble for illegally filming or something, I’m sending them to arrest you too.”
“Show me Liam!” Sarah said to me, and I rolled my eyes, quickly turning the camera around and pulling my headphones out of my pocket, so the whole corridor wouldn’t hear her outbursts.
“Sarah, hush,” I said, burning with embarrassment. “I don’t know where he is, geez.”
“I thought he was always with you?” She teased, and I rolled my eyes. “Ooo, what’s that?”
“That’s the dance studio for the juniors,” I said, putting the phone up to the window. It was empty, but she could still see the barre decorated with Disney characters and the multicolored lights.
“Wow. You could have had so much fun as a kid,” Sarah said, as I continued to walk, angling the camera to show her various pictures or sticking it into classrooms so she could see my daily environment. I was just about to see if the theater was open when I was distracted by the sudden sound of breaking glass. Sarah must have seen my eyes dart away, because she leaned forward.
“Hold on a second,” I said, walking carefully towards the sound. Curiosity killed the cat, my father always used to tell me. However, I ignored his voice ringing in my ears as I peeked around the corner to the classroom.