I’ve been insomniatic for nearly three weeks now, and dreamless just as long. But then. Last night. I am back in New Zealand, waiting in a line that runs the length of the college quad and out around the gum tree. I am with Nicola and Simone, but also Bekah and Jake, and we are twenty-four but also fifteen, and Mr. Palliser is sometimes Ms. Turner, which makes sense because they both wear capris. We are waiting for letters, and those closer to the canteen are exclaiming over their opened envelopes, some even turning a two-hand reel at their news, but I open mine only to fold it up again, slip it back into place, and march straight-shouldered toward the director, who I tap on the shoulder.
“Excuse me, Mr. P? Mr. P, there’s been a mistake.” I don’t even wait for him to turn full around. “I can’t be Mary Poppins, I’m sorry, I can’t.” He doesn’t even wait for me to finish. “Nonsense. You auditioned, you triumphed, you’re perfect for the part. Practically perfect in every way, actually.” He laughs. It’s a joke. I smile, weak. “I’m sorry, Mr. P. I can’t. I’m not happy enough.”
“It’s acting,” he says.
“Even then,” I say.
“Fake it ’til you make it,” he tries.
“That’sThe King and I,” I counter, already walking away.
. . . . . . .
Today at lunch I asked my grandmother if she’d ever had her heart broken. She hesitated, scrutinizing the strata of her turkey-swiss-bacon-avocado sandwich, but looked up smiling. “No, no, I never did,” she said.
I’ll probably write an essay about that.