"They probably think we're lovers, checking in for a night of passion," I joked, trying to keep the mood light. She eyed me. "Wouldn't be the first time."
"Oh." I said and then stopped, realizing what she was telling me. "OH."
"Is that a problem?" she asked, and I shook my head.
"No, of course not. I just thought ... you ... and men ... men stare at you all the time."
"Either works for me," she said, leading me out of the elevator. "Although it’s not a well known fact."
"I won't tell anyone! Wow, Porsche, you're the most interesting person I know," I blurted out as we reached my room. She laughed.
"Dated. Past tense," I countered as I stepped into the room.
"You sure about that?" She asked, raising an eyebrow. "Good night, Amy. Sleep well."
"You're not staying?" I asked, shocked. She shook her head.
"Double duty. Back to school to deal with your undead headmaster. Slash Boyfriend. Slash Vampire." She handed over her pill bottle and then, nodding, she closed the door. I was alone in the room, with only distant voices coming from another room to keep me company.
I wasn't going to cry, not this time. Porsche was right. This would be good for me, and good for Liam and me to not be so close together. I had to leave school sometime, and what better time to do it than during my first professional production?
I got ready for bed, popping the pills she had given me. Out of curiosity, I looked at the label.
“Porsche Caroline De Ritter" it said. So Porsche was her real name and not just a cheesy dance name. The dosage was the same as mine. We could practically be pill buddies. What surprised me was the date.
This was only a 3 month supply. So either she had switched doctors, prescriptions...or the more likely option: she was done. Porsche was no longer in HIV positive status. She was in full blown AIDS and they weren't working anymore.
I sat down, staring at the bottle. Knowing that meant so many things to me. She had immortality, I did not. Her transformation would change our status.
To my surprise, tears sprung to my eyes. Vampire or not, the first real friend I made here, who understood, was going to die a lot sooner than I was. And I'd be alone. Alive and alone.
Hot tears poured down my face. I didn't have any memories of my mother, only feelings of warmth and comfort and safety. I had seen pictures and they were like looking into a crystal ball and seeing my future. No matter whether it was 10, 20, or 30 years down the line, it was coming.
I curled under the blankets, my tears staining the pillow. My head began to pound, and I closed my eyes. This was a nightmare; all of this was a nightmare that I never wanted to wake up from.
But it was reality, and it was mine.
I waited for sleep to take me as a million thoughts ran through my head. But it never came. I drifted into a doze around dawn, although I was wide awake when the alarm went off.
Sitting up, I went to turn it off when the phone rang.
"Are you ok?" came the voice on the other end.
"Liam?" I asked. "Yes, I'm fine. Are you ok?"
"Yes," he said. There was an awkward silence. "I'll see you at 1pm today."
"Ok," I said and he hung up without another word. Just then, there was a tap on the door.
"Geez, sensory overload," I mumbled, as I struggled out of bed and pulled my hair into a bun, before pulling it open. I realized I should have looked before I did that. However, it was just a room-service man standing there with a tray.
"Breakfast," he said, and I shook my head.
"You're one of those actors, right?" He asked.
"Charged to the production company then."
"Right. Uh...put it over there please," I said, and he wheeled the tray in. I signed the bill, writing in a tip to make up for my cluelessness.
Lifting the silver lid, I was greeted with a platter of fresh strawberries and hot muffins. Grinning, I dug in. I could certainly get used to this.
It turned out that breakfast became the highlight of every morning. I would arrive at rehearsal fortified by breakfast only to be screamed at by Shannon for every move I made. It got to the point where I was second-guessing things I knew, like stage right and stage left.
I felt overwhelmed at the end of every night, my head hitting the pillow with a thud. The professional performers had a lot more contacts and experience than anyone at school did, and I was way out of my league. I thought I knew everyone in the industry; Sarah and I read the trade papers obsessively. But here they were, discussing people I had never heard of, and rolling their eyes when I asked a question.
"For any Chorus members," Shannon stood up one day, clearing her throat and getting out attention. "There's a friend of mine who's casting for teenage looking girls at Torrid Night Club at 2pm today for a commercial. The shoot doesn't conflict with chorus rehearsal, so you're welcome to try your luck. I make no recommendations for anyone." Her eyes landed on me, and I knew she was basically telling me I had no shot. However, I also knew that I should take every opportunity I could, and so I made a mental note to see if I could sneak down there today, if Liam would let me. Today was only a lightening rehearsal anyway, one of the many as the show drew closer. "Demo reels can be brought in as well."
I bit my lip at that. I barely knew what a demo reel was and I was fairly certain that I didn't have one. But I had to try, at the very least.
As soon as rehearsal was over, I called Liam's direct line to ask him what I should do. But instead of his voice, his secretary answered.
"Hi, it’s, uh ... Amy. Can I speak to Liam, please?"
"He's got student meetings all afternoon, Amy. But if you can come by..."
"No, I can't come by." It was already 1pm.
"Oh. Can I take a message then?"
"Just..." My mouth went dry, unsure of what to say. If I had been at school, this would be easy. I could just pop my head in and ask him. But now, we were a few miles apart and I felt like I needed his support. For the first time since this whole mess started, I couldn't get it. "Just tell him I'll be late for rehearsal, and if it's an issue, he can call me on my cell."
"Will do," she said, and I could hear her scribbling down the message. "Anything else?"
"Maybe he can call me regardless, ASAP?" I said, cursing myself for sounding so weak.
"I'll do my best, Amy," she said, and hung up, leaving me alone again.
I went up to the hotel room to get my headshot and resume and then headed back down. I could walk to the nightclub, no problem, but I still hurried. I had no idea what a commercial audition entailed. If they handed me a script, then that was no problem, I knew how to act. But this wasn't theater, so was it different? Who was I supposed to ask for? What was I supposed to do?
I was the first one there, when I got there. Luckily, someone at the front directed me to the right room, and someone else showed me where to sign in. It asked for an agency or recommendation. Remembering Shannon's words, I left it blank. I thought about putting down Liam's name or the Academy, but decided not to, at the last minute. I was here on my own, after all.
Someone else came out, and handed me a script, which made me breathe a sigh of relief. It was a commercial for a funeral home, which left a heavy feeling in my chest. How long before I saw one of those for real?
I was escorted in after only a few minutes in the waiting room. Unlike the Gatsby audition, this room was small, probably used as a changing room when the club was opened. There was just one person in it, a cameraman, who nodded to me and clicked the camera on, making the red-light flash.
"Alright, take your mark," he said. I looked around, confused, until I saw a masking tape "x" on the floor. Thankful I figured that out, I slid over to it, rooting my feet firmly on it.
"Great. So just slate and then I'll read for you," he said.
"Just your phone number, then," he looked bored. I stuttered through the sentence and he nodded.
"Alright. Now, look at the camera when you say your lines and don’t move from your mark.”
“Don’t move?” I looked down at the spot and looked back up, confused. How was I supposed to portray character if I didn’t move?
I saw the red light click off and then on again, and I looked at the script in my hands one last time.
The scene itself was easy enough. I had long since learned how to cry on cue, and I made sure to use that skill. The lines flowed naturally, but I felt restricted and stiff by my lack of movement. Twice, I bobbed out of frame and had to be waved back in. The tears that flowed down my face felt forced, and I had never been so happy to reach the end of a scene.
“Ok, thanks,” he said, looking right at me. I realized I was done and nodded.
“Uh…so...” I said, unsure. The cameraman rolled his eyes.
“They’ll call you if they are interested.”
“Ok.” I replied. I knew I had done something wrong, and I felt my cheeks burning as I left the room. Everything about that audition had been different. I had never had a camera in my face like that before, and I had never been so restricted to one spot.
Even though I was supposed to be at rehearsal, and seeing him in less than an hour, I couldn’t help but text Liam. I had to know what I did wrong.
Are you busy? Can you call me for a quick second? I wrote, checking it for spelling before sending it. I had barely taken 3 steps before my phone rang.