Chapter One

"Kirsten, remember to—"

"Say thank you often."

"And Kirsten, don't forget to—"

"Smile. I know, Mom. We've been over this several times. I'm not ten years old."

"I know, hon. I just want to make sure you I told you everything you need to know."

"Believe me, you did. Many times."

Look nice.

Sit upright with good posture.

Talk in a sweet and polite manner, which includes saying "thank you" often.

Charm their pants off—figuratively speaking.

And of course, smile.

Just a couple of the many, many guidelines to becoming an official ass kisser. Because, according to Mom, being an ass kisser gets you places. And I used to think it was people's talents that made their dreams come true.

Guess I was wrong.

I stood in the parking lot next to my mom's Ford Mustang, peering into the open window, almost ready to walk into the towering building close by. However, it seemed as if each minute she came up with something new to tell me, keeping me leaning against the car to listen to her go on and on. As if she didn't tell me everything already.

"I'm so proud of you, Kirsten. You know, Dr. Aaronson is so remarkable…suggesting this whole idea to you. Now look at you. Take a look at what you are becoming."

Dr. Aaronson is my therapist. Not just any therapist, but a highly exclusive psychiatrist who is the wife of an equally exclusive executive producer who not only produces, but directs the show Evidence—a crime drama. And when she heard about open casting calls for a new teen show from her husband, she immediately told me.

"This is the kind of thing you are meant for, Kirsten," she said in her overly chipper voice. "It's a great idea. You love the cinematic experience."

And I do. In fact, my documentary, The Homeless and The Homies—got first place in a New York film competition. Usually it's college students who enter with their final film projects. Those college students were probably envious when they realized that a senior in high school blew them away.

And because of my outstanding achievement and young age, I got a full ride to the New York Film Academy. It's a dream for any person who wants a career in film.

Plus, my documentary will be released to DVD in the fall. Even though it only exists on the Internet, being able to hold my work in my own hands would feel amazing.

The only problem with Dr. Aaronson's "great" idea was that I'm not an actress. I'm a producer. I like to take charge in what I do. And if I were to become an actress, it would just turn me into a puppet that would allow the producers to pull my strings and tell me what to do.

But, on the positive side, if I can produce, I can probably act. At least that sounds logical.

So, in order to get out of a few weeks of boring and useless therapy, I created an audition tape and sent it to the casting director, just as Dr. Aaronson suggested I do. Weeks went by and eventually a mass email was sent to all the teens whose audition tapes were impressive enough to be selected for the next round. And lucky me! I became one of the thousands of teenagers to get a second audition.

So here I was, ready to go and show the producers why I should be the one in their show and not the hundreds of other girls who nearly broke their necks to get this far. Maybe they wouldn't have had a hard time if they created a documentary—I'm sure that was the only reason they even considered me.

Hundreds of girls to compete against—no pressure.

"Yeah…the second round of auditions. What's the chance that I'm even going to make it?"

"Oh, Kirsten, hon. Don't be such a downer. You beat thousands of teens already to get this far!"

"So? There are still hundreds more to go. And besides, I'm not a great actress."

"You memorized all your lines!"

"Yes, I memorized my lines. But that doesn't mean I have the emotion and dramatic soul behind those lines."

"Dr. Aaronson shouldn't have allowed you to quit taking your medication. You so depressing and gloomy!"

Another plus of this audition…no more medication. All it did was make me sleep more than normal.

"You're not funny, Mom," I told her.

"Never said I was, dear."


I watched Mom grip the steering wheel tighter. She took a deep breath, exhaling the air slowly. A minty wave hit my face.

"Kirsten, we live in the Big Apple. You just to need to take a bite out of that big, old fruit and show them what you got," Mom explained, using hand gestures to make her point more valid.

"Okay. I get it."

"Kirsten, with your authentic look, there is no way they are going to be able to deny you the part of Molly. You look just perfect for it."

"It's Mona," I corrected her.

"Whatever, hon."

With "authentic look," my mom meant my nose and lip ring, as well as the red streaks in my chin-length, dyed black hair. And with the part of Mona—the reserved one who becomes addicted to cocaine in the second episode—it works.

"Okay, Mom. Can we hurry this thing up?"

It was getting closer to noon and the sun was beating down on me. Mom of course didn't notice, sitting in the cool air conditioning of her vehicle. I began to fan myself with my hand just to prove how hot it was.

"Oh. Of course, hon. Don't want you to get all sweaty and gross for your audition. Here's your Starbucks," she said, handing me my Caramel Macchiato. Steam slithered out of the top. "Gotta look fresh and awake."

"Thanks, Mom."

"Remember; flash that beautiful Crest smile of yours! I didn't buy all those whitening strips for nothing! And don't forget to call me when you're done! Good luck, hon!"


Before Mom could pull out, I grabbed at the handle of the car door.

"Mom, after the audition today, can I go visit Damien?" I asked.

"Damien? Why?"

Damien is my ex-boyfriend. I didn't know what it was, but something made me want to go and see him again.

"Please, Mom. I just need to do it."

With a concerning look, Mom still said,"Of course, hon."


I backed away as she drove off. Some annoying pop song was emitted from her vehicle as she headed towards the intersection. I watched her apply lip gloss while turning left onto the busy street, almost running into the green Volkswagen Bug ahead of her. Apparently, she forgot we were on Fifth Avenue, one of the busier streets in New York City.

I swear one of these days she's going to be trying to apply mascara and get crushed by an oncoming truck. Cause of death—trying to look good.

Seriously, she takes all these risks just to look good. And she does a good job at doing so. She has to have her hip blonde bob and her trendy Armani suits and listen to the popular, New Age music. After all, she has no problem doing so. With my wealthy grandparents, she can have all those things…and the Mustang…and the penthouse…and anything she so desires. Not to mention a little boost from the child support checks she receives from Dad.

Isn't divorce great? My mom thought so. She celebrated by buying her Mustang.

I took a sip from my coffee and burned the tip of my tongue. It quickly became numb and sore. There's something Mom forgot to warn me about. She hit everything, except hot coffee. Quickly I blew at the top, the steam disappearing into the air.

I used my available hand to tug at the bottom of my dress. The shortness was indeed slowly killing me. Also the straplessness was a burden. I wasn't in the mood to let my chest pop out, but the dress was trying to do that to me.

The purple dress, by Edun, with the fashionable—but uncomfortable—wrap-style around the waist was indeed a death suit of some sort. My waist is small and still it managed to have the corset feel. But, I sucked it up, because as my mom always says, fashion is everything.

That means, no matter how short—or low cut—my dress was or how tight it got on my waist, I had to tolerate it. No pain, no gain.

It could have been worse. I could have been stuck with the dark blue dress with all the ruffles that my mom also ordered. Now, that dress was horrid. I even told her that, but she ordered it anyway. It'll just be another dust collector in my closet.

And as long as I get to wear my black Converse sneakers, I'm okay. Mom suggested black heels, but I kindly declined her offer. I can't walk in heels anyway.

I watched a couple girls pass me and walk into the building ahead of me, giggling and whispering. I was about ninety-nine percent sure that they were also going to the audition.

Six friends. One house. One happy family?

That's the tagline for the new upcoming show Roomies, the show my audition was for. As if they don't already have enough young adult television shows to begin with. Them and hospital shows.

Basically, the show is about six friends who decide to live with each other in one house. And then everybody dates each other and hooks up with each other, just like most shows on the CW. The script only had the first two episodes and already one character hooks up with three different people.

Nobody can be original anymore. It's quite a shame actually.

I became nervous as I stood in front of the doors of the business building. I looked up; the building was daunting, to say the least. It was probably about thirty floors.

"Well, here goes," I said to myself.

Here goes.