A/N: I've read way too much Bret Easton Ellis lately. And I really have been auditioning for student films, etc. It's a weird scene. Though I'm pretty good at it. I've applied to about thirty auditions, been invited to six, gotten four callbacks, and been cast in one project (possibly two). And I only started applying about three weeks ago. So, could be worse.
I'm also slightly sick and hopped up on way too much coffee. What a horrid combination. So, yeah... this isn't my best work. I'm slightly delirious, probably due to dehydration (between the coffee, the nausea, and the sweltering weather...). Hopefully it's better than nothing.
The name "Alison Lee" is supposed to sound like the name of a Southern Belle. It's classy, though still rather modern. "Alison" is also a reference to the innocent young heroine of Alice in Wonderland. "Lee" doesn't really mean much, though it makes me think of the Confederacy. My Aunts were (non-racist/nice) debutantes. I think "old vs. new"/"tradition vs. modernity" will end up being a major theme. Same goes for "public image vs. truth". I just read A Streetcar Named Desire and it really resonated with me.
My brain feels incredibly foggy, my stomach aches, and my red eyes water. Luckily, I'm able to hide this behind a well-rehearsed smile. I look like a perfectly respectable young professional on her way to a job interview. From a certain point of view, that's just what I am.
Between the sleek green dress and the large Julian Wells-like sunglasses, I feel like a snob. A brat. A rich bitch. Of course, to be honest, I'm pretty broke. I've got about $140 in the bank. I live in my mom's basement. My clothes - though expensive - are all at least a few years old. Many are vintage. Same goes for the pearl earrings and the matching necklace. Inherited, not earned.
It's all a game, an illusion. Theatre.
After all, I am an actress.
Smiling prettily I walk towards the dance studio. My thrift store heels click-clack evenly, musically. Spin straight, shoulders back, gait steady. I'm already in character, putting on a show for an audience of half-dead druggies and deranged drifters.
It occurs to me that - if it weren't for my rich family, charming manner, and disturbingly good luck - I might be nodding out on the sidewalk, too. Frowning slightly, I try not to think about it. I'm supposed to be the well-dressed, extremely sober ingenue. Like old Blanche DuBois, I have a part to play. A lie to live.
I find myself in front of the old dance studio. There's a sign out front. Black sharpie on white cardboard.
It reads: "Audition Here".
And so, I enter. I find myself in a dreary - though well-lit - room. The floors are sturdy hardwood. An ugly, sunken, greenish sofa leans against the wall to my right. On my left I spot a large display shelf covered in dance supplies - from soft leather flats to satin pointe shoes, plain black leotards to soft pink stockings, Capezio to Danzcue.
There's a desk right across from the door. A young man sits behind it, smoking a grimy-looking herbal cigarette. He's got his nose in a real doorstopper of a paperback. Stephen King's latest, I think, or perhaps an old sci-fi standard. Something cliche, pointless, uninteresting.
Suddenly he notices me, and says: "You're here for the auditions, yeah?"
"Yes. I'm Alison Lee," I say, wincing slightly. My voice has become rather hoarse from all the, well, horse. It's embarrassing. I used to be a lyric soprano. Now I sound like Marianne Faithful, or maybe Ian Curtis. It's horrible.
"The 10:40?" the boy asks.
He goes back to reading that fat paperback of his. Not knowing what else to do, I sit down on the ugly sofa. Even though I'm only about 107 pounds, I sink into the cushions. It's like a scratchy, uncomfortable cloud… or something. I don't know.
My bright smile is fading. Luckily, the boy doesn't notice.
It occurs to me that I'm still wearing those huge sunglasses... even though I'm inside. How snobbish I must seem! Of course, I'd rather look snobbish than stoned. Even after all the coffee (not to mention the cigarettes) my eyes are still red and slightly spacey-looking. I'm on the verge of some kind of freak out.
Yet I sit still, quite ladylike. My perfume - something light and floral that used to be Mother's, before she tired of it - hides the nasty smell of sweat. Cotton gloves and jacket sleeves conceal the (half-healed) needle marks and awkward bruises. After years of trying to be little Miss Perfect, I know how to appear in control. I'm not even shaking. Well, not really. Oh dear.
The boy is staring at me. Have I been speaking out loud? Does it even matter? I know I'm going to fail this audition. Well, I think I am. Maybe I won't. Acting is pretty easy compared to my previous 'career'.
Being a junkie was a serious, full-time gig. All that storytelling took a lot of effort. In fact, I had to start keeping a journal. A log. I also had to be creative. After a while I became quite the expert. Inventing a plausible story on the spot and sticking to it take effort. I spent hours reading medical textbooks, searching for illnesses that resembled intoxication or withdrawal.
I was a professional bullshitter. An olympic-level dope fiend.
Of course, after one years of using and three semesters of college, things began falling apart. Long story short, I got an abscess in my foot. Now, in the developed world, the only people who develop abscesses are IV drug users. For once I wasn't able to explain myself. For the first time I couldn't think of an excuse.
So, yeah, my parents sent me to an overpriced rehab center with barred windows and awful food. Also, the college expelled me - even though I was a straight-A student. That place is really anti-drug… despite being run by a bunch of chain-smoking, alcohol-loving, overweight madmen with names like 'Brocklehurst' and 'Lowood'. Hypocrites.
That little... fiasco really messed me up.
To make matters even worse, my parents are no longer willing to pay for my education. They don't take me seriously anymore.
This is surprisingly problematic. These days one can't do much without a degree. Even fast food places prefer college graduates. After much thought, I decided to become an actress. I was already an expert faker. Also, from ages eight to seventeen, I'd attended ballet classes on a thrice-weekly basis. Even whilst using I still kept in pretty good shape. Save for the eyes, I still looked like a dancer. Kind of. Or so I tell myself.
Anyway, I managed to convince my parents to let me become an actor. They've agreed to let me live at home for free for six months, if I can keep busy. If I can make a career out of this.
Hey, it's something I'm already good at. And I'm pretty, too, or so people say. I know how to dress like a sober, respectable professional. Even though I'm still using.
People don't realize how hard quitting is. You can't just stop. Addiction isn't a mild cold. It doesn't ever leave you. About a week after leaving rehab, I called up an old dealer and relapsed quite gleefully. Hey, I couldn't help myself.
The dealer in question happens to be a deranged and depraved cokehead. I met him at a concert, ages ago. He's a paranoid pervert, though his gear is usually pretty decent (even though he never does it himself). It's smokable, too. You see, I've sworn off needles forever. Casting directors don't like puncture marks and I can't afford another infection. That would ruin me, it really would. I'd be thrown out, abandoned, homeless! And constructing this 'recovered, remorseful, good-hearted ex-addict' persona took effort. I wouldn't want all that research - all that practice in front of the mirror - to go to waste. No, sir!
So I'm sitting there, in silence, waiting to be called back. Waiting for my first audition.
A/N: The main character is a richer, meaner version of me (I'm actually a terrible liar, though a decent enough actor). Her random symptoms resemble how I was feeling a few hours ago, possibly due to dehydration (among others things). The cokehead is based on a repulsive bastard I know, who isn't actually a drug dealer. The auditions are based on auditions I've actually gone to. I own a set of glasses I refer to as my "Julian Glasses", because they remind me of the Less Than Zero character. About four years ago I was a lyric soprano, now I'm a contralto (for reasons unknown).
So... yeah... this story is slightly autobiographical. Very Hunter S. Thompson, I suppose. Though the setting is a bit vague. Few people smoke cigarettes anymore (especially indoors!). Bands and movies mentioned in later chapters tend to be pretty 1970s-80s. The #metoo thing hasn't happened in-universe. Social media won't be much of a thing. Well, it might be. I'm not sure yet.