I watched at lunch instead.

I watched as Andi sat down at her table.

Jamie didn’t sit with her.

In fact, no one sat with Andi.

Sooz flashed me the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. I resisted the urge to high-five her. Too incriminating.

But when I got up from the table, something amazing happened.

The earth shook with my footsteps.

It shook.

From now on, the earth would tremble in my wake.

And I knew. I knew what the dinosaurs sounded like.

They sounded like me….

Barry Lyga was a geek long before it was cool to be a geek, back when being a geek meant getting beat up on a regular basis, as opposed to selling that cool new Web app you wrote to a Silicon Valley start-up and retiring at twenty-five. In his time, he’s been a comic-book geek, a role-playing geek, a computer geek, and a sci-fi geek, though never a Trekkie, Trekker, or a Whovian, because he has his limits.

Barry is the author of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (called a “love letter and a suicide note to comic books”), Boy Toy, and Hero-Type. He’s still a geek.

Text by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci. Illustrations by Bryan Lee O’Malley.


by sara zarr

I wrote it.

I know we’re supposed to pick something from a quote-unquote known work such as something by Shakespeare or Chekhov, or one of those photocopied monologues in the drama room, but I looked at them and honestly there’s nothing that shows my range or says anything about who I am that will be memorable in any important way and that’s what I need: to be memorable. Because, and I’m not trying to embarrass you, Mr. P, but you’ve had trouble remembering my name since I first started auditioning freshman year. So obviously I need to take a new approach. Look at the audition form and look at my face: Rachel Banks. Not Rochelle, not Ruthie, not Melissa—I really don’t understand where you got that last one, but you have called me Melissa at least three times in as many years.

So my goal here is to be memorable. And anyway I thought that if Candace Gibson is allowed to reenact a scene from Napoleon Dynamite as her audition, then I can perform something that I wrote and is not just a total rip from a movie every single person at this school has seen fifteen times and can recite in his or her sleep.

We might as well get this out of the way now: I am going to go over the time limit. I beg you not to cut me off because I saw with my own eyes how Peter Hantz went overtime with that Sam Shepard thing, which was not even that brilliant. And all this introduction doesn’t count against the time. It says on the form that your introduction doesn’t count against the time.

I’m going to tell you a story here. One you already know, Mr. P, but I’ll be including some facts and details for anyone in this room who may not have been there or in case I want to use this monologue again someday when I am finally auditioning out in the quote-unquote real world, as you are so fond of calling it when trying to alert us to the truth that our high school shenanigans will not be appreciated by professionals.

You can start timing me…now.

Scotty King got electrocuted while running the light board.

It sounds like a joke, I know, but I’m saying that he got electrocuted. While running the light board. I’m saying that he died, during the second act of Miracle Worker when Julie-Ann Leskowitz had gotten so good at playing blind, deaf, and dumb that she didn’t stop her scene, even though the lights flashed and everyone heard the sizzling noise from up in the booth and Annie Sullivan stopped and said, “Oh my God, Scotty,” because she knew about the leak in the auditorium roof and Scotty’s belief that bare feet were good luck and we were having one of those late spring storms and there were puddles and drips everywhere, and she put it all together faster than any of us. And we stopped the show and people filed out, a lot of them not realizing what had happened and asking if they’d get a refund. Seriously, who asks for a refund for a seven-dollar high school play? I’m sorry, I’m still making it sound like a joke. You don’t know this about me, since you’ve never taken the time to know anything about me, but I use humor that way. It relieves the tension. Unless someone is actually dead, like Scotty, in which case it just ends up sounding sick and insensitive.

You know all this already, of course, as it is in our very recent history. And, well, you were there and all. What you may not realize is that it was supposed to be me.

Now it doesn’t sound like a joke. Now it sounds melodramatic, like I’m trying to get attention or turn the focus away from Scotty’s tragedy on to me, who has suffered no tragedy other than spending the last few months walking around like a zombie, like a ghost, like I stole someone else’s life and thinking if it had been me, would anyone have noticed?

One time I was at Adam Gunderson’s house looking through the sophomore yearbook, and next to my picture someone wrote and I quote: Look up ATTENTION WHORE in the dictionary and you’ll see this pic, and added like fifteen exclamation points. But I’m not. One, I’m obviously not memorable. Two, a performer does not an attention whore make. Not that I’m a performer. As you well know I’ve never gotten a part. I audition every single freaking time and this is the mistake I’ve made: I check the YES box.

On the part of the audition form where it says In the event you are not cast in the play, would you be willing to work behind the scenes on this production? I always put a checkmark in the YES box. Every time I see that question I think to myself:

Rachel, don’t check yes. DO NOT CHECK IT!

And this time, I didn’t. Because if I don’t check yes, and I make myself memorable, maybe I’ll get a part. Chances are that part will be Onlooker #8 in the third act or the maid who passes through the set with a feather duster twice, but I don’t care. As I have tried over and over and over to figure out why I don’t get even the crap parts no one wants, the only conclusion I come to is that you see I’m willing to be backstage so you give the parts to someone else, someone smarter who has checked NO.

This is an aside and should not count against my time: Are you really that desperate for backstage help? Can’t you offer the job to some D-average jock who needs extracurriculars or community service or something?

What happens is the part of me that would rather mop up Julie-Ann’s sweat or de-crust the greenroom furniture than not have anything to do with the play panics and I check YES. Yes, use me. Yes, abuse me. Yes, make me post call times in my own blood, I will do it. I will do it. These are not the thoughts of an attention whore. These are the thoughts of a person—me—who would do anything, anything to be in the general vicinity of this auditorium every single day, including weekends.

And no, Adam Gunderson and I are not dating. As everyone knows, he is with Candace. I simply happened to be in his bedroom looking through his yearbook on a stormy day last fall when the raindrops were hitting the window with sharp little thaps and we made popcorn and watched Twelve Angry Men.

Speaking of Twelve Angry Men, now there’s a play we’ll never be doing unless we get the asexual version of it, and Twelve Angry Jurors just doesn’t have the same ring. The problem is there are too many girls at this school who think they want to be actresses. Actors, I guess, is what you’re supposed to say now whether it’s a guy or a girl. If I were a guy, I bet I’d have any part I wanted. I could have been King Lear and crazy Duke of Cornwall because as you will recall exactly two guys auditioned and then one dropped out because of baseball and that is why we ended up stuck with The Glass Menagerie, which, I’m sorry, is more than a little dated.

This is one way to make myself memorable: I can play dudes. I’d cut my hair and flatten myself out on top—not too challenging—and there are already people in this school who think I like girls. You may have read about it on the second floor bathroom wall. People make the assumption that just because I don’t let guys grope me in the halls or dress in clubwear for school or spend fifteen hours straightening my hair and spackling on cosmetics I’m not a real girl. People are wrong about me, and someday soon these wrong people will know how very wrong they are when a certain person makes his feelings for me public. Not Adam Gunderson. He’s with Candace. The point is I would stuff a sock down there if I had to in order to get a part. Hillary Swank did it and got an Oscar, so wrong people can make fun of me all they want but they won’t be laughing when I’m on E! True Hollywood Story and they are day-job-having single mothers.

Miracle Worker was supposed to be my big break. As I mentioned and as you can see, I do not have a lot going on in the cleavage department, which made me a perfect candidate to play Helen Keller. Look at me. I’m small and wiry, I fit the part. As usual, I completely blew the audition. Hence the trying-something-new-and-memorable ploy of writing my own audition, hoping it will help me relax (and it kind of is, now that I think about it) because I’m telling you, when I do the lines in my room and no one is watching, I’m so, so good and that isn’t bragging.

Of course for Miracle Worker there were not lines per se, but I’m saying that in general when I practice in my room I’m Sarah Bernhardt, I’m Julie Harris, I’m Dame Judi Dench, for real. I practically made myself cry thinking about what it would be like to not be able to see or hear. Can you imagine? Then I get in front of you, Mr. P, and anyone else who might be in the room and I am so bad. So truly bad. Even I know how bad I am. If you were watching me and thinking: Does she know? Does she know how bad she is? The answer is yes, yes, I do. When there are lines, I say the wrong ones at the wrong time, in a total monotone, and I don’t know what to do with my hands, and one time I drooled. I was staring at the page with my mouth sort of agape I guess, because I lost my place, and this string of drool, sparkling in the stage lights, oozed right out. Probably you recall.

This is why I check the YES box.

This is how I ended up running lights but not wanting to run lights because that’s a job for people who are passionate about running lights, people such as Scotty King.