Chapter One: The Audition

"Alright, Noah, I just reviewed your application and everything looks well. I'm going to have you do the monolouge in just a few seconds but before I do, I'm just going to have you answer some quick questions. Is that alright? Perfect. It says here that you dropped out of Colombia. Any particular reason why?"

Reason?

The death of my father.

My sister's suicide.

Are those good enough reasons?

Oh wait, I'm doing that thing inside my head where I answer questions without really saying them outloud. I have to stop doing that. I told myself I'd stop. How many seconds have passed by anyway? He's still waiting for my answer. Shit, he must think I'm an idiot, but the lights on me are so bright I can't even see him or the studio for that matter. But I can just imagine what he's doing. He's probably standing somewhere in one of the rows he hasn't stopped pacing in since I've gotten here with that stupid clipboard he had me hold onto for like an hour with all of my deepest tiniest details. That application thing was so stupid. What's my favorite color? Do I have trouble being consistant? Do I make friends easily? Am I in a relationship?

Wait. I still haven't answered. Shit. Shit.

"Deaths in the family," I answer, trying to project my voice out over the blinding light that traps me in some stupid bubble on the stage. I can imagine what he's doing now. His brow is probably raised over his dark eyes and his semi-muscular arms are probably flexing as they cross over his chest and are bulging through that stupid white shirt of his. What nationality is he anyway? Is he some kind of Spanish, Middle Eastern, maybe Italian? Stranger things have happened. He's probably some mix of all three.

"It says here Not Applicable under the question of your relationship status. What does that mean, not applicable?" his voice seems to be coming from the far left side of the stage and I try to follow his imaginary route. He sounds so old but he can't be that old. Definitely no older than twenty-five. Shit. Twenty-five. That age used to seem so far away but now it feels so close. I just turned twenty.

"I just don't see how it matters if I'm applying to become a member in an acting group," good, I didn't take too long with that one and I sounded pretty professional if I do say so myself.

"I need to know where your heads at, Noah, I can't have you casted as a big role if I know you're going to be here and there with Mr. Right-Now," he says in a bored tone like he's explained this a million times. Well so-rry. If so many people have asked the question then shouldn't he put something on the application to explain it? And what's with the Mr. Right-Now? Is he saying I look sleazy?

"No," I huff angrily. I do not look sleazy. I washed my hair a million times for this thing and I even combed it out and put product, I never put product. I'm even wearing a dress! I do not look sleazy.

"No?" the tone in his voice makes me feel like I'm three your old. 'No?' Where does he get off being so high and mighty? What's his name even? Santos? What ever. I don't have to be here getting the third degree from some guy, although cute, running some stupid beginner's acting group.

"No," I sigh, trying to contain my frustration. "I don't have a boyfriend."

"Good," he comments to my confusion. What's so good about it? Does this mean he's going to give me a good part? "Now, I recall you said 'deaths' in the family. Who died?"

"My father and my sister," that weird thing in my throat pops up again and the stupid light is making my eyes burn. Stop it Noah, not here. I clench my jaw and look away from his path to the doors that I remember seeing just before all the lights came on. I push the weird thing down. It's okay. It's going to be okay.

"So you're accustom to death?"

"What kind of question is that?" I snap before I have time to stop myself but really, where does he think he's going with this line of questioning?

"I just need to know if acting out death scenes will be too much for you. Pretty much all the great plays end in death," why is it that he always has an answer for everything and somehow always makes me feel like an idiot for asking?

"No. I'm fine with death," I am. The weird thing is pushed down all the way to the pit of my stomach and I'm feeling much, much better. Definitely more confident.

"Sounds good. Now we're going to move onto the monolouge. What I'm looking for here mostly is a reflextion of yourself through your words. My father used to say 'You are who you pretend to be' and that's what I want to see here. I want to see you, Noah. I want to meet you for the first time," at the choice of his words I feel an odd sense of vulnerability I'm not comfortable with. It's like he's taken something so impresonal and made it really, really personal. How did he do that? I hear a shuffling of papers and then he continues to speak, "I see here you're going to be reading from Hamlet. I assume it's going to be the 'To Be or Not to Be' speech but going into it I just want you to know you don't have to impress me. This isn't going to define your every role in the acting group. I know you're an amature, I'm an amature. We're all amatures here. I just need to ball park your talent coming out of the gate. I don't want to cast you as Juliet and then find out you'd be better suited as Rosaline...if you catch my drift. I have some other material here if you'd like to take a lo-"

"'O that this too too sullied flesh would melt..thaw, and resolve itself into a dew. Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His canon 'gainst self-slaughter. O God...God...how weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world! Fie on't, ah, fie, 'tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature possess it merely," my eyes lower to the stage as my hands lower to my sides. In a softer voice I continue, "That it should come to this..but two months dead-nay, not so much, not two. So excellent a king, that was to this Hyperion to a satyr, so loving to my mother that he might not beteem the winds of heaven visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth, must I rememebr?" I clench my fists and my jaw tightly as I look up again, at him, Santos, "Why..she would hang on him as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on! And yet, within a month-let me think on't; frailty, thy name is woman-a little month, or ere those shoes were old with which she followed my poor father's body like Niobe, all tears! Why, she-O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer-married with my uncle, my father's brother, but no more like my father than I to Hercules. Within a month, ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears had left the flushing in her galled eyes, she married. O, most wicked speed to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets! It is not, nor it cannot to good. But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue..'"

I'm expecting some kind of comment but there's only silence that makes my last words hang in the air all around me like smoke from a fresh lit cigarette. I could use a cigarette. No...I quit after my first one. Smoking isn't for me. I can't quite inhale the right way and it's one of those things you have to work at and if I don't get something on the first try I'm done with it. But the smell. I could really use a good friend that smokes right now.

Wait. He still hasn't said anything. Was I bad? Was I aweful? I don't think I was that bad. I think I was actually pretty good? Why isn't he saying anything, "Santos?"

"Yeah?" the word comes out like he's just waking from a daze and like he's the one that's confused.

"Well...?" I ask. He's really unprofessional. If he fell asleep in the middle of my monolouge I'm going to be so super pissed.

"Well...it's safe to say you're in the group. I'm just trying to figure out if we should do Hamlet and if we do, if you should play Hamlet or if you should be Ophelia. It'll probably just be an excersise at first. What do you think?"

What do I think? He's giving me a choice? Does that mean he thinks I'm good? Well, obviously he thinks I'm good. Am I blushing? Why am I still up here? I try to look for him beyond the lights but my eyes have become so accustomed to its brightness that it's all that I can see. It's only the white line and the end of the stage and then black abyss. It's starting to freak me out, "Can I come down?"

"I just have a few more questions," there's something in his tone that implies something I don't really know. It's like I'm being interigated, that's what it's like. Like he doesn't really trust me quite yet. I nod my head even though he's already begun talking, "Are you a virgin?"

"Ye- Wait! Why is that any of your business?!" I shout as I take it upon myself to get off the stage. I stomp down the stairs in growing frustration. Am I a virgin? Why does he need to know! I'm sick of all these probing questions that I'm not comfortable answering!

"Noah!"

I jump at the sound of my name so close to me. I had been so heated I didn't even think about how unfocused my eyes were or where I was even going. I blink my eyes rappidly, trying to get them to adjust to the darkness on the otherside of the stage but I only succeed in making out the basic shape of Santos' face that is suddenly so close to me by the stage. Even though I'm pissed off he somehow manages to give off this calming vibe that makes me relax a little, that makes me want to listen even though it annoys me how he's leaning over me with his arm on the stage like some kind of "cool guy." I step back a little and ask, "What?!"

"Don't be offended. As your director I need to know what makes you uncomfortable," the way he says 'uncomfortable' makes me feel very uncomfortable because it reminds me suddenly how close his chest is and how looming his presense is and even just the way his lips form as the word comes out of his mouth, like he's doing it on purpose. "I just need to know if sexual content is a trouble for you. That's all."
'Sexual content.' Where did this guy learn to give his words such character? He needs to be acting, not me. I look away into the seats that have become clearer since my eyes adjusted. Death and sex. That's not too crazy. Almost every Shakesperean play has those two elements. Why would it be a trouble for me? I look back at him, into those dark eyes I can't really see the color of, "As an American I think it's my civil duty to be perfectly comfortable with death and sex. It's not going to trouble me."

His mouth turns into the oddest little half open smile that makes me feel all weird in my chest area and I have to roll my eyes to look away from it. As he gets out of his position against the stage I can feel his body move close enough so that I notice and before I can say something he pulls himself back, "Good. I think the others are going to like you."

"Others?" I ask. I was sure I was the only one that responded to the stupid little invitation slipped under my apartment door. I asked my neighbors and they all said they threw the thing out. What others could there be?

"Yeah. You were my last audition. You'll meet everyone tomorrow at noon...that is..unless your busy," Santos says with an amused kind of expression that implies there's obviosuly nothing I have to do but come to this stupid acting group.

I fold my arms over my chest and give him my best annoyed smile and say, "I'll move some things around."

"Good," he smirks. His eyes are on my chest and I'm just about to yell at him when he picks up a piece of lint from my dress and flicks it away, "I'll be disappointed if I don't see you again and we don't want that now, do we?"

What...is he flirting with me? This hot piece of you know what...is he flirting with me? Oh no...I'm a little puddle again...I can't react properly to flirting; I turn right into a little girl! He's still smirking, even more like he knows he got me! Think...think of something...I got it! I step away from him, walking past his side as I cock my head backward and smile, "Hmm...I haven't decided that yet."

His mouth drops open and I can't help but to scream in my head "Yes!" I turn back around and walk out of the theater. There's no doubt in my mind, I'm defenitely coming.