After a rather crazy night I wake up at midday from the noise of chatter in the park coming through my window. I wonder if Jen remembers our deal or whether it was just a thing of the moment and in real life motivation only lasts a few minutes.
“Kye!” Jen bursts out of her room and into mine, “Come on we’re going to sign you up to the drama society!” She opens the curtains blinding me with the sunlight and then heads into the bathroom.
I am relieved to find her motivation still at one hundred percent. Nervous but excited, I get out of bed and get ready for the day. I style my hair in half a braid and then braid Jen’s hair, we eat cereal in the kitchen as the boys join us wearing shorts and vests ready for sport.
“Are you guys going to the gym?” asks Jen.
“Nope, Deq and Rio have basketball tryouts today and Marcus and I are club members so we’re heading down too” says Brian. “Do you want to come Jen?” he teases her as she pulls a face at him.
“Oh nice, speaking of societies, I err…” I make a start, but feel way too uncomfortable to finish so I look at Jen for help.
“Kye wants to join the drama society,” Jen completes my sentence taking a spoonful of cornflakes into her mouth.
The boys look at me and then at each other in surprise.
“I knew you were a drama queen!” exclaims Rio.
I giggle shaking my head, “Rio, that’s not a good thing and I’m serious, I really want to join but the spaces got filled up yesterday, I saw the list,” I look at Brian and Marcus for some advice.
“Well, that’s not good. I mean, usually if the lists are full they don’t take on any more people,” says Marcus, still trying to think of a solution.
“There’s got to be something we can do!” Jen puts her spoon down, “Kye’s different, she’s a scientist not a typical drama student, do they not want that mix up and diversity or whatever?”
“That’s a fair point, and you are like… tanned…you know…for diversity…not an all-white cast,” adds Deq.
“Yes, that’s true. You should ask and tell them what you study, they might change their minds and let you join,” says Marcus.
“Who do I ask?”
“I know a guy who might be able to help,” Brian says, “Dwaine. The president of student activities and societies.”
“Dwaine – the basketball captain?” asks Rio.
“Yep, he likes having authority,” nods Marcus. “But he’s alright.”
“Yeah and coincidently his girlfriend is chair of the drama society,” Brian adds. “You can come down with us now if you want, he’ll be at the tryouts.”
“I’ll just go grab my bag,” says Jen cheekily nudging Brian with a grin. “I would love to come along, thanks.”
I agree to that offer. I feel a little relieved that the guys know this Dwaine guy, but his grand authority makes me nervous.
* * *
We take a short walk through the colorful gardens in the heat of the sun and approach the sports grounds – a huge outdoor basketball court lies in front of us. Next to that is a tennis court and then a football pitch. Behind is a building, which I’m assuming holds the shower rooms and indoor sports courts. All the sports fields are busy with people, there must be tryouts for quite a few different sports today. There are cheerleaders doing their thing, boys and girls throwing, catching and kicking, people cheer and shout. It’s a vibrant environment. I like it. We make our way onto the basketball court, there are guys of all builds on the court warming up and chatting. Some are muscular, some are tall, some are confident, others seem nervous; this is their audition and I know that feeling.
Rio and Deq grab a ball and start warming up, Marcus starts mingling with old friends while we follow Brian to Dwaine, the president.
“Dwaine!” Brian calls.
Dwaine turns around, a tall, slim man, with dark skin, his every muscle toned in the number twenty three vest he wears accompanied by a bandana tied around the circumference of his head. His jawline is a piece of art and his eyes are bright, his hair is styled into braided cornrows. He has a striking confidence about him. He smiles whilst walking towards Brian.
“How you been man?” Brian asks.
“Brian my man!” he calls shaking Brian’s hands as they bump off each other’s shoulders. “I’m blessed, I’m blessed. How are you?”
Brian goes into a quick catch up conversation and then introduces us, “This is Kye and this is Jen,” Brian points at us. “They’re freshmen. This is my man Dwaine, the president of student activities.”
We shake hands. He seems nice.
“Basically Kye wanted to ask-”
“Brian!” someone calls from behind hitting him with a ball.
“Ow! Toby!” Brian calls bouncing the ball back to this Toby guy, he jogs toward him and gives him a manly hug, while Jen and I are left awkwardly looking up at Dwaine.
“He was saying you wanted to ask me something?” Dwaine breaks the silence with his deep voice.
I can feel my heartbeat in my throat and my cheeks giving off heat. Why am I so nervous!? “Yeah…actually…err I wanted to join the… err… Drama Society…” I halt.
“And…?” Dwain asks for more information, although I feel like he’s really not cooperating.
“And… at the fair all the places filled up, so I couldn’t sign up.” I feel embarrassed and as if all eyes are on me.
Dwaine frowns to the point where his forehead wrinkles up, “What makes you think I can get you on the team, I mean signed up?” he says.
I’m already nervous and embarrassed and now I’m being questioned, “You’re the president of all student activities.” A slightly different me is now speaking, my face turns red as I try to get my point across, I can feel sweat everywhere.
“Yes I am, but we have rules bae, I can’t just let you sign up out of nowhere,” he gestures with his hands making him look more confident and overpowering.
I have no come back, the sweat is turning into a drench and I just keep telling myself to calm down. You want to be an actress? Stop being so damn awkward.
Jen butts in, “Hey! Dwaine! Listen, rules are there to be broken and Kye is different, she’s not studying drama like everyone else in that society, she’s studying Physics, a science. Don’t you guys want that whole diversity thing? Isn’t that why we have societies – so you can do something other than your subject?” Jen makes a good point. “She wants to be a Hollywood actress,” and then she completely ruins it.
Dwaine is a poised man, he’s not shocked by Jen’s sudden outrage, nor is he amused at my vulnerability and craziness of becoming a Hollywood actress that Jen just exposed, he simply frowns in thought.
“Well, why don’t you study drama or go to acting school if you want to be an actress?” he says looking down at me. He doesn’t sound sarcastic, he seems to be straight up truthful. He’s actually being so genuinely straightforward, that it’s hard to hate him even though he’s not helping. But that is a question that haunts me and I am sick of people asking me it.
“Acting is not something you study, you just do it. All you need is an opportunity and luck maybe.” My cheeks burn and right now, if I make a fist with my palms, surely sweat would drip from it like water from a wet cloth. However, I stand my grounds. I continue to argue my point before I lose the confidence, “I guess you want to be a basketball player…captain?” I step forward, “Isn’t that why you joined the team? Do you study basketball?” I make my point.
Dwaine laughs, thoughtfully, his hands on his chin. I pretty much offended the guy that I came to, to ask for help. So stupid.
“Woah, Okay, okay, you are right, anyone can be an actress, but for this…” he points at the basketball hoop. “For this you need skill and training, acting is easy, shooting a hoop, now that’s hard, you have to know how to do it, you have to be tall.”
Did he just insult my height? This guy is now annoying me. I laugh spitefully, “Firstly, acting is a skill and secondly it works the same way as a scout picking you out of a game. Actors also get scouted from plays or films. Like I said, it is an opportunity. Oh and by the way, you don’t have to be tall to shoot a hoop.” I roll my eyes.
Dwaine pouts his lips and raises his eyebrows, “Err yeah you do.”
“Err no you don’t!” He annoys me to the point that I now imitate his gestures and his voice without even realizing.
Jen laughs behind me but she soon stops when we realize that everyone is staring at us. Balls are no longer bouncing and the chatter has disappeared.
“I’ll tell you what,” says Dwaine acknowledging the audience we have created.
I look at Jen anxiously.
“You shoot one hoop… one hoop…and I myself, will take you to the drama society,” he smirks. “What do you say?”
What the heck have I just got myself into? This is typical of my kind of luck. I have to fight for everything! Absolutely everything. The pettiest of challenges always come and block my path and I always struggle before overcoming them. To top it off basketball really isn’t my sport. This is just brilliant, thank you very much God. What the heck are you doing up there! I feel awkward standing in front of the audience. I don’t usually feel awkward in front of an audience, but this is different. Don’t back down Kye. I could say no and go away looking like a fool and then will probably cry later on, or I could shoot, miss, look like a fool and then still cry later on. Either way I’m going to look like a fool and cry, so I might as well try it. I feel so scared right now, that I begin to act.
“One hoop?” I confirm pretending to be confident.
“You’ve got one shot,” Dwaine’s gestures the number one with his forefinger. “If you miss, no drama.”
“Fine.” The word slips from my tongue and the crowd begin cheering.
Jen takes my arm and pulls me back slightly, “Kye, can you do this?” she whispers.
I just stand still and quiet in disbelief of what is happening in my first few days here. I’m not that tall, I definitely don’t look sporty in my ankle boots, leggings and checked shirt. I don’t look girly either, I look like a nerd. Now, I’m more afraid of being embarrassed than not getting into the drama society. I cannot believe what I’ve got myself into!
“Yo! Ball!” shouts Dwaine.
Someone throws him a ball.
“It’s all yours,” he places the ball in my hands. “Win or lose, its life. I’m glad you’re up for the challenge, Kye.” His voice softens and he moves me back a step and into position. “From where you are, we call it a three pointer. One shot, Kye.”
I look at the black stripes on the orange ball and then at the net, far… far away. I’m already popular now, thanks to this, so now it’s about my reputation. People stare at me intrigued, even Rio, Brian, Deq and Marcus are staring. Now is the time to become the cool, popular girl or the idiot, wannabe actress. I look at Jen, then the ball and then the net squinting as the sun catches my eyes. I look above the net to the sky, God help me please. I swing my arm right over my head and squat before a slight jump letting go of the ball, not even being able to see it because of the blinding sun. I wait for the embarrassment to come. The orange ball swings straight through the net not even touching the rim or the board! I did it! The crowd go mad! The guys are shocked. I am shocked! But I hold my real expressions inside. I act cool and smirk at Dwaine. Then I look behind at Jen with wide eyes gasping for a breath with total astonishment.
“Thank you God!” I mime, closing my eyes.
Jen runs up to me with a hug and whispers in my ear, “Beginners luck.”
“Fricking hell,” I whisper back in a shaky voice before putting on a feisty look and turning to face my audience.
The boys run over to me praising my fluke – which deep down, they all know of. I catch Dwaine in the corner of my eye who is pleasantly surprised and claps sincerely.
“Nice shot,” he compliments.
“Thanks,” I reply.
“You know, you’re not the kind of girl I thought you were.”
I laugh, “Well, never judge a book by its cover.”
“I won’t. You’re alright Kye, you’re alright,” he nods to himself, “I’m glad you got it in. The drama society have their introductory meeting on Thursday. Meet me in the Centre Square, outside the main building at four p.m., I’ll take you there.”
“Thanks Dwaine,” I blush as my nerves calm down. My body relaxes. I overcame the obstacle. I don’t know why God makes me do such things, I mean what the heck!
Brian pushes forward, “Yeah okay, you’re welcome! Are you girls done now? Shall we start the trials?” he yells as people cheer him on.
One step at a time.