Hello, everyone! I'm Olivia. This is my first multi-chapter on this site, I'm really excited! Like many, I'm writing this for NaNoWriMo, so expect updates to be on a pretty odd schedule. This is going to be told in the perspectives of three different girls (only one per chapter, though) so pay attention!
Disclaimer: I do not own any song lyrics that may appear (I'm planning to write my own later). All characters and plotlines are my own creation and any resemblance to real life is purely coincidental.
This story is rated T for some language and some "thematic elements" as the fancy movie-rating people say. Oh yeah, and there's going to be a whole lot of girlxgirl, as well as some possible boyxboy and the presence of LGBTQ characters. If you are an closed-minded idiot and this offends you, don't read it. Some trigger warnings, also: they're credited in the Author Notes of a chapter if one has them.
There it is- fate, looming over me now, in the form of a gigantic three-story building. Five stages, four cafeterias, six dormitories across the street- this is what may determine my entire life.
It's terrifying. I'm standing in front of my entire future. What are you supposed to do at these moments? Just stand there and stare?
Well. I guess not, considering that I've just been nearly knocked over by the crowd of people running inside. Because, unfortunately, this is fate for about six hundred other people as well.
I take a deep, slow breath. It doesn't mean anything, Artemis. Your dream is so much bigger than them. Your dream will get you here. I open the frosty blue door.
One step. Two steps. Slowly, one foot at a time, I walk into the building.
…Oh, god. It's so different than what I expected. The lobby is crowded with all the other hopefuls and unbearably chilly. Shivering with a mixture of nerves and coldness, I untie the striped sweater fastened around my waist and slip it on. Okay. You can do this. I walk up to the sign-in desk, manned by two tall hipster-looking boys.
"Artemis Ryle." I hand in my resume to one of them, who has messy brunet hair and a T-shirt printed with a band I've never heard of. "I'm auditioning for Production."
"Production?" He checks me off the sign-in list. "Sweet, break a leg. We really need some more in there… I'd know."
"Oh, really? Are you in there?" I curiously ask, half-sitting on the edge of the table, letting the line keep going on the other side.
"Eh, no way. Do you know the teacher?"
"N-no…" I stutter out.
"She's…" He lowers his voice to a raspy whisper, cupping his hand at me. "Juliett Minx."
The whole hall seems to fall silent. The blond teenager besides him gives him a weird look.
"I'm in her class. I told you, she doesn't eat freshmen. Dean Springston, on the other hand, I'm a little concern'd with, but…" He rolls his eyes. I look at him a bit: scratched-up glasses. A mess of corn-colored layers. From behind his lenses, I catch a glimpse of his eyes. Green. They aren't emeralds, they aren't moss, they aren't olive… they're just green. With a little ring of amber around them. I'm slightly taken aback; I'm not used to eyes I can't describe.
"No way! Just look at her. She just screams "I-eat-small-children-in-my-sleep.""
"That doesn't e'en make 'ny sense." He deadpans.
I giggle a bit, but I'm confused. "Who's Juliett Minx?"
"Miss Minx. Dean's grand-niece. Teaches a bunch o' the Production classes. An', regardless o' what people say, probably not cannibalistic." He chuckles a bit. I like his voice: his words are slowly thought out, with a gentle tone and clipped-off sounds. "So, you're goin' into Production? Lemme guess- stage manager?"
"No. I, um, write. Plays, I mean." I sit down on the edge of the table, letting the line pass by.
"Oh." His grin widens. "Me too. That's pretty cool, e'en in Production I 'aven't met many others. I mean, they lump togetha all the directors an' playwrights an' stage managers in Production, so it's jus' kinda a mix o' people in there. It's pretty cool, though. I bet you'd like it. You know…" His voice lowers, raising an eyebrow. "Freshies an' soph'mores take a lot o' classes togetha in the smaller sectors. I bet we'd spend a lot o' time togetha…" He flirts I try to mask my exasperation, but he clearly senses it, judging by how he bursts out laughing.
"How can you flirt with me when you don't even know my name?" I shake my head at him.
"I dunno… what's your name, then?"
"Well, what's yours? I don't just give my name out to random strangers who flirt with me."
"Ouch." He laughs. "Surprisin'ly good comebacks, playwright girl."
"Why, thank you." I giggle. "So, tell me. How long does it take to find out if you get in?"
"Oh, it depends. Production's usually pretty fast, tho'. You don't get tha' many auditioners for us. Musical Theatre, tho'… that's a total nightmare. Still, it's not a' bad as the cast lists."
"Are the waits really as bad as they say for those?" I inquire.
"Worse. I swear, they literally made the cast list for My Fair Lady last year, and then just decided to wait a week an' a half, just to torture us more."
I'm sure my face looks straight out of a horror movie. "Please tell me that's hyperbole."
"Oh, no. It literally took three weeks. After callbacks." I wince. "Classes an' stuff keep you busy tho'."
"I hope so… I probably wouldn't even audition for anything onstage, but that still seems like torture."
"What?" I turn back to look at him, a bit surprised.
"That's my name. You asked for it before."
"Oh. Oh, yeah. I'm… I'm Artemis. Artemis Ryle."
"The hunter, huh?" He smiles a bit. "It fits you."
"My parents are mythology nerds." I pull out the stock explanation. "Once they actually had a fight over whether to name our new dog Pandora or Persephone."
"Okay. You officially rock. Well, your family does, a' least." He laughs. "Well, Artemis the hunter, you better get to your audition. I'll see you around."
"Oh- yeah. See you." I walk slowly. Hesitantly. I don't want to leave him. But when I finally get to the hallway, I nearly break out into skipping I'm so happy.
Did I… did I actually have a normal conversation?
Whoa! Artemis! You rock! You actually talked to someone without making a total fool out of yourself! Yeah!
It's a weird thing to celebrate about, but a reasonable social interaction for me is as far away as the moon. I've always had a small world. I don't talk to random people. I'm just… shy. And awkward, and nervous, and sarcastic—and just not what people like. More than anything, I'm alone.
Suddenly, here, though, everything seems… different. I'm more alone than I've ever been: I'm twenty-nine hours from Luckingston, from my parents, from my little sister, from the only friend I've ever had, the only things I've ever known. I'm in my own little apartment, in a town with anonymous faces, ten minutes away from all of my dreams personified.
New York City. It scares me just how close I am.
Still… When I'm separated from everything, how can I talk better than ever? Now that fourteen years of the same world has gone down the drain, how come I feel…
I feel like I belong, and I barely even know anyone.
That's when I see it. I come across a doorway with a paper sign on it. Instantly, I stop in my tracks.
Production Auditions- Room 14
Okay. Calm. You'll do this.
I open the door.
"Hello." I look up to see a blonde woman greeting me. She's tall, especially in the heels that click on the tile floor of the classroom. She has a strong presence, filling the room with her authority- but she's not threatening. She's like… an ocean. Strong, restless… but serene. She hasn't given me her name, but I know who she is.
"You're Miss Minx… right?" I quietly say.
"You've guessed right- oh! No need to be nervous! Here, I'll just check you off the list. All of our Production auditions happen individually, you know, because it's not like you have to learn routines or anything. Name?"
"Wait, no. I almost forgot! One of my students made a bet with me that I couldn't determine everyone's names based on only the list and their appearance. He doesn't believe I'm magical, you see." She giggles a bit.
"Oh, never mind. You'll find out, miss." She circles around me, and then sits back in her chair, looking at what is presumably her roll list.
She gives a smirk. "Artemis Ryle… right?"
"Y-yes." I say, taken aback a bit. "That's my name."
"Very nice to meet you, then, Miss Artemis." She puts out her hand, and I shake it.
"Wait- how did you do that? Do you have headshots or something?"
"Of course not! That would make me lose. I hate losing, don't you? Well, then again, doesn't everyone?" She laughs again- it's a timid laugh, but unmistakably the laugh of a madwoman. "I picked your name like I pick a character name. I try on what fits. Here, sit down." She pulls out a chair for me.
"Do you like your name, Miss Artemis?" I furrow my eyebrows, confused.
"Well… no, not really. But what does that have to do with anything? Don't you want to see my script submission, or anything? Aren't there specific things you need to ask?"
"Of course there isn't, Artemis. I can't ask a fish, a squirrel, and a bear all to climb a tree. Now tell me, why don't you like your name?"
"W-well…" I begin nervously, hints of confusion in my stuttering voice. "It's… it's nice, I guess. But I always have to explain it, with all the mythology. People don't really understand it. It just doesn't really fit me."
"Interesting." She smiles a bit. She sets her clipboard off to the side, obviously not taking any notes. What kind of audition is this?
"You know, people always told me, in high school and college, that a name was one of the most meaningful things a character could have. But they never talk about how a name's even more meaningful for a person. A name doesn't just show a fictional character's qualities; it shows a person's qualities, too. And if a person doesn't like their name, for whatever reason, then it shows a lot more about them, I think." She looks back at me, right into my eyes. "What do you think, Miss Artemis?" Stunned, I nod.
She laughs. "You seem a bit lost for words, Miss Artemis." I redden. "I think this place has that sort of effect on people though. This place has a different identity than anywhere else in the world, doesn't it?" She grins. "Where are you from, Miss Artemis?"
"Luckingston. Small town, in Colorado."
"Oh, so you're one of our far-goers, aren't you? I hope you've settled in well."
"Are you lonely, Miss Artemis?" I stay silent. "It must be a bit lonely, living in such a new place. I have a feeling it doesn't bother you much, though. You're rather introverted, I think. Many people here are, though."
"...Do you say these kinds of things at every audition?"
"Miss Artemis, have you ever had a writing teacher tell you that a writer needs to observe?"
"Oh. Yeah. I guess you're doing that, then…"
"No. Of course not. The best writing teacher I ever had once told me something extremely valuable: It is not a writer's job to observe, but to infer."
"Are… are these the kind of things you teach?"
The interview goes on. Each question grows odder and odder, yet more and more intriguing. It's not an audition anymore; it's a discussion. It's my first class at VTAA. That's when she asks the weirdest request yet.
"Miss Artemis… Would you sing something for me?"
"Sing. For me. It doesn't matter what, just pick a song."
"This is Production… I don't have to sing! I can't sing!"
"Everyone can sing. In fact, everyone can sing well. It's just a matter of whether society agrees or not. Just pick the first song that comes to your head. Here, stand up. I'll give you a bit of space." We both stand, Miss Minx pushing our chairs in and backing up against the wall.
I take a deep breath. That's when a song pops into my head.
"Whenever you're ready, Miss Artemis."
You wait for a silence; I wait for a word,
Lie next to your frame, girl unobserved
You change your position and you're changing me
Casting your shadows where they shouldn't be
I start to walk around a bit, disappearing into my own world. I'm lost in a song.
We're interrupted by the heat of the sun
Trying to prevent what's already begun
You're just a body; I can smell your skin
And when I feel it, you're wearing thin
But I've got a plan…
Where's the girl I knew before? The girl who didn't sing, didn't get lost in the half and whole and quarter notes? She's disappeared off of the cliff. How come I never want to see her again?
Why don't you be the artist?
And make me out of clay
Why don't you be the writer?
And decide the words I say
'Cause I'd rather pretend
I'll still be there at the end
Only it's too hard to ask
Won't you try to help me?
My eyes suddenly flicker open. The girl I've been for fourteen years is back- though today she's been slowly fleeting away, she's stronger than ever. "I-I don't have to sing anymore, do I?"
"No. That was fine." Miss Minx waves it off. "Interesting. Very interesting. This was the first song that came to your mind?"
"I think that tells a lot about you too, Miss Artemis. I've really learned a lot about you today- it's fascinating."
"T… thanks, Miss Minx."
Just then, a bell rings.
"Oh, that's the audition timer! I get so irresponsible with time. You'd better go- although make sure you stick around, lunch is soon! I just love how all you auditioners eat lunch together. It feels like school's starting early."
"Oh- I guess I better go then."
"One more thing, Miss Artemis."
"I don't believe in auditions. But do you know why I have them, Artemis?"
"Of course. You need to choose the kids you're going to teach."
"Wrong. The kids need to choose what they want to learn. Who they want to learn from. And, most of the time, it takes a lot more than a day to decide that. Miss Artemis, did you know that over a fourth of the freshmen accepted into VTAA change their initial sector or interest by the end of senior year?"
"N-no. I didn't."
"The most sector changes happen at the end of freshmen year. It takes most children an entire year to figure out what they want. Miss Artemis, make sure you take this coming year to figure out what you want."
"This has been a very interesting audition. I've enjoyed it. Now you may go, Miss Artemis."
I nod to her and leave the room with hasty steps.
Does that mean I got in?
I'm so confused.