“You’ll do great!”
“I’ll call you as soon as it’s over, I swear.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
“I have a feeling it’s gonna be fine. My first words when you answer will be: It was perfect! and then I won’t have to worry about it until they get back to me in a month.”
“Oh, God, I’m probably more nervous than you are right now.”
“I know… Well, five minutes left, I should be on my way.”
“You’ll crush it. I can feel it. Break a leg!”
“What’s wrong? Didn’t it go well?”
“I— I fucked up. It was— It was disastrous. It’s the worst performance I’ve ever given in my entire life. And I had been so ready too; I knew it by heart, I could recite it in my sleep, but— but the lights and the faces and the scribbling, I just— it… it was too much. I just choked. I couldn’t even get through the first monologue.”
“What? What happened, what did you do? What did you tell them?”
“Nothing! I couldn’t stop shaking the entire time I was up there. The lines I had practiced so carefully over and over again so that my delivery, my pronunciation, everything was perfect, they just— started coming out of my mouth like a jumbled labyrinth of incoherences. And then eventually, halfway through, I just stopped sprouting nonsense. And then I started crying in front of them. Crying, Maya! And I think they thought it was somehow a part of the performance! Ha. When have you ever heard of actresses crying during Hermia’s Act 1 monologue? I couldn’t even write it off as acting! So I just turned and left. I didn’t say anything, didn’t offer any explanation. And they didn’t call after me, either. Why would they? My disaster of a show was enough to convince them I’m a hopeless case.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“I just… I just really wanted to get in. And you know what the worst part is? I don’t have anyone to blame but myself. I sabotaged my own chances of getting in. In less than two minutes, all my plans and hopes for my future were gone. Months of planning and rehearsing all rendered utterly meaningless in an instance. It feels unfair. It doesn’t feel real.”
“You don’t know that you won’t get in.”
“Maya, I won’t get in. I know how these things go. They’ll fill up their slots with the people who could actually get through both of their monologues and the interview questions without bolting for the door. Who would ever accept me after something like that? An actress with stage fright; have you ever heard of something so ridiculously ironic?”
“Where are you now?”
“I’m walking home, but I’m a mess. As soon as my mom sees me, she’ll know how bad it went. And I really don’t feel like reliving this debacle again and, besides, I don’t want her to lose what little support she has for my acting.”
“It’ll be okay. You have plenty of other options. You’ll get into all of them because they don’t hold live auditions, and then you’ll have so many offers you won’t even know how to choose from.”
“But I don’t want to go to any of those other colleges, I wanted this one. Really, really badly.”
“And I know it’s not the end of the world. But it certainly feels like it.”
“Do you want to come over?”
“No. I still need to process it... Get used to the idea I won’t be attending my dream school.”
“Are you sure you want to be alone right now?”
“I’m sure. It’ll take a while. I’m guessing it’s not easy to let go of childhood dreams rooted in your soul.”
“Promise you will call me if you need anything.”
“She didn’t get in.”
“I thought they didn’t tell her until next month.”
“Technically, yes, but she’s not getting in.”
“Did the audition go bad?”
“Oh, poor Ali.”
“I don’t think she’d like other people’s pity.”
“It’s a good thing she’s not here then… What was it for?”
“Oh, there’s no way she was getting into Juilliard.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Well, you’ve seen her rehearsals; you tell me, would she have gotten in?”
“I… I don’t know. I believe in her, of course. But I also have to be realistic. If she ever asked me seriously if I thought she could get in I wouldn’t know what to tell her. Because on the one side, I would need to let her know that I support her and build up her confidence instead of tearing it down, right? But the truth is I don’t know if I would mean it if I told her I was certain she would get in. And on the other hand, I couldn’t just be honest with her and tell her I doubted her performance; all it would do is psych her out. So what? Do I lie? Is it even a full lie if I honestly don’t know what to think?”
“I’d say partial lying is safe territory. You know, white lies. Saying something you don’t completely mean because it will be good for her in the long run.”
“Would it though? What if I built her up so high her fall was only made worse when she realizes she’s not as good as I made her believe?”
“Hm. Then pray she doesn’t ask you.”
“I need to know something.”
“What is it?”
“Do you think I could make it? As an actress? Or is this all for nothing? Maybe I should have stuck to business school. It’s safer. More reliable. With acting, I have no guarantees. I’m not even sure I have what it takes; especially not after the audition fiasco. So tell me, do you think I’m good enough? To make it in the industry?”
“I know it’s gonna seem like I’m evading your question, but I don’t think it’s about whether you’re good enough or not. I mean, 'cause that’s what college’s for in the first place; to get better. I think your motive for pursuing acting needs to be because it’s your passion, and you can’t picture yourself doing anything else. Because when you think that, then whether you’re talented enough or how reliable the career is… those things cease to matter.”
“You’re right, it does seem like you’re evading my question.”
“I know how much you love it. So I think you definitely have the drive to make it in entertainment.”
“But not the talent.”
“Ali, it’s not about that.”
“I just wanted you to answer one question: Do you think I’m talented or not?”
“… No. Not yet. But that’s what college is— Alison? Hello?”
“Was that Alison?”
“She hung up on me.”
“You need to get better friends, Maya.”
“No… it was my fault. I shouldn’t have been that honest with her.”
“Since when is being honest a bad thing?”
“Isn’t ignorance bliss?”
“It’s not when cold, hard facts catch you unawares and smack you in the face.”
“The only thing I did was make her doubt herself.”
“Doubt’s a crucial part of figuring out what you want. No one’s ever completely sure.”
“I’m the exception.”
“I thought Alison was the exception too. She was so excited after she got over her failed attempt at studying business and decided she wanted to act instead; it was the surest she’d felt about anything in her life. She didn’t even have to tell me; I could hear it in her voice. What if she gives up on it because of me?”
“I don’t think she will. She’s stubborn, that one.”
“I never thought it’d be a good thing.”
“What about you?”
“Am I stubborn?”
“What do you wanna do?”
“Find a way for people to give me a fucking break about my future.”
"Calm down, it was just a question."
"It's just... it's a question I'm sick of hearing all the time."
"You won't be once you find an answer you like giving."
"I'm sorry about what I said."
"It's okay. You told me what I needed to hear. It's better than believing a lie. I just needed to stop being a whining baby for a second to realize it."
"For what it's worth, I really do think you should continue acting. It's your passion; I can tell. You shouldn't let someone else's words alter your choices. Or diminish the confidence you have in yourself."
"Quitting acting never even crossed my mind. It'd be worse than dying."
"I mean it."
"What are you going to do now, then?"
"I have a hundred other colleges I need to apply to. I decided I don't care so much about where I study acting, but that I study it. I figured I could have had it a lot worse. I shudder to think of me in a business class."
"I don't think that would have ended well."
"It wouldn't have. But it's not even the fact that it was business specifically; I just can't imagine doing anything else but theater. Without it, I'm nothing. It's kinda like with you and songwriting."
"Where are you applying anyway?"
"I'm taking a gap year."
"It's what people do when they don't know what the hell to do with their lives."
"But you do!"
"It's music. Your career's music composition, Maya, there's no question about it."
"What if I don't want to do that?"
"Why wouldn't you? You're great at it!"
"Stop it with the insecure bullshit. You're good and you know it."
"I don't want to talk about this."
"Sooner or later, you're gonna have to."
"I'd rather it be later, then."
"Alison forgave me."
"How generous of her."
"Oh, shut up. I was surprised at how much more mature she seems, actually. A year ago, she'd have burned me at the stake for less."
"Is she quitting?"
"You could learn a thing from her, you know."
"You think I'm quitting?"
"I meant because Alison clearly believes in herself."
"And I don't."
"No, you don't."
"Well, you're right."
"And you don't care?"
"There's nothing I can do about it!"
"You could have a little faith in yourself."
"It's not that easy!"
"Maya, you could be amazing if you only stopped placing so many damned restrictions upon yourself! I did that too, for a while, and it only lessened my chances at success. But I snapped out of it and look at me now."
"We're not the same."
"I thought we were. I thought I saw a spark of that same drive and ambition in you. But I guess I was wrong."
"I suppose you were."
"Well, I'm leaving. I don't want to sit around here and see you throw your life away."
"Go right ahead."
"So, Alison got into NYU."
"That's nice for her."
"No, you don't get it. NYU has live auditions."
"She didn't choke?"
"I helped her. I told her what you told me; to have a little faith in herself."
"That's good advice."
"Are you taking it too?"
"... Ask me again about what I want to do in life. I don't mind the question anymore. In fact, it excites me now. Because I like the answer. Alison liked it. And I think you will too."
"What do you want to do, Maya?"
"Music. Isn't it the most beautiful-sounding word you've ever heard? I want to create music."