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By Alex Flinn
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Alex Flinn
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Lots of girls I know call themselves divas. "I'm such a diva!" they say, as they're rubbing your nose in some five-hundred-dollar shoes their daddy bought them. But being a diva's a lot more than just being a rich grrrl. It's about singing, about getting flowers thrown onstage--about being brilliant. I plan to be a diva someday. But first, I have to get through this audition.
And--wouldn't you know it--there's a wad of phlegm stuck in my throat.
The scene: I'm in an auditorium with, maybe, fifty other wannabes, trying out for the musical theater program at Miami High School of the Arts. Goths sit with goths, punk rockers with punk rockers. The girl next to me has an eyebrow-ring and hair Jell-O-dyed acid red. Everyone here has something freaky about them . . . except me. I'm the one and only person here in a dress (which maybe is freaky).
And I bet I'm the only one here with gunk in my throat.
Don't think about it. But I can feel it lying behind my tongue like cafeteria spaghetti, at a life-changing audition. I clear my throat and Eyebrow-Ring Girl gives me a look and nods at the person onstage.
'Scuse me--I'll choke more quietly in the future.
I sneak another look at her. My cheerleader friends would say she probably isn't getting enough attention at home. But I think anyone who'd wear that outfit has to be cool, and Iwonder what it would be like to want to be noticed.
Me, I'm all about not being noticed. I'm sixteen, and for the first fifteen, I was a fatgirl, invisible as they come. I was okay with that. Well, maybe not okay, but . . . used to it. But last summer, I went to fat camp and lost thirty-five pounds, and became (at least temporarily) a thin girl, a blond prettygirl. I actually made the homecoming court and dumped the hottest guy in school . . . and still became one with the walls most days.
If any of my friends knew I was here, auditioning for a performing arts school, that they'd notice. In a bad way. But I didn't tell them. I didn't even tell my mother. This is the first time in my life I've ever done anything all by myself. There's a bunch of reasons for that.
First, my friends all want me to be like them--cheerleaders, homecoming queens. I thought by losing weight I could be like that. But now, even though I'm thin enough, I'm still not cheerleader material. Funny, changing how I looked didn't change who I am. I picture myself doing a pyramid or making up a cheer and . . . oh, puke.
"See anything interesting?"
Too late, I realize I'm still staring at the girl with the eyebrow ring. I am a dorkus maximus.
"Um . . . I love your hair."
"What are you doing?" she asks.
I stare at her. Is it that obvious I don't belong here? Is it the dress?
"For the audition? Habla ingles? What are you performing?"
"Oh . . . I sing . . . opera." I wait for her to laugh or make a snarky comment.
"Cool." She raises her pierced eyebrow. "You have one of those horn helmets?"
I make the face Mom calls my diva face--eyeballs up; trying not to snort. "Um, not yet."
"Sorry. It's just, you don't look like an opera singer. You're not . . ."
"Fat?" No. Not anymore.
The girl laughs. "That's not what I was going to say."
But I know it was. It always is.
The woman up front calls a name (not mine). Eyebrow-Ring Girl turns to look.
Opera is the second reason I'm here. I love it. Most people think opera is a weird thing. Probably so. But it's my weird thing--the one thing I'm really good at. Maybe good enough to get a dessert named after me someday (Peaches Melba was named after a diva) or maybe a town. Maybe even good enough to get into this school.
The biggest, hugest reason I'm here (and the reason I'd never tell anyone) is my ex-boyfriend. I need to go somewhere where everyone hasn't already heard the sad, sad saga of me and Nick. And also, where I don't have to see him every day.
I pop a cough drop into my mouth and make myself sit still for two whole minutes, until the girl who's auditioning finishes singing.
Omigod! What if I'm next?
"Sean Griffin," the woman up front calls.
I actually really, really wanted to be next.
I read a book about auditioning. It said the worst thing that could happen in an audition is that you don't get the part, so you have no money, so you can't buy food, so you die. Like . . . if you thought that the absolute worst thing that could happen at an audition was death, then you'd be less nervous about screwing up.
That so did not make me feel better.
"Here I am!" a voice sings.
The guy, Sean Griffin, is skinny and wears a purple unitard, which seriously clashes with his blond hair, and eyes so blue I can see them even from a distance. He looks older, and he's been standing with the teachers, so I thought he was an assistant or something. Guess he's just a suck-up. He walks onstage, plunks a Burger King crown on his head (Really!), and starts to sing.
Everything has its season. Everything has its time.
Show me the reason and I'll soon show you a rhyme!
As soon as he starts singing, I'm nervous. I mean, more nervous. Lots of people at the audition were good. But Sean Griffin is the first person who's like a professional, even in that geeky outfit. I now know why he was standing up there with the teachers, like he belonged there. He knows he's going to get in.
Excerpted from Diva by Alex Flinn Copyright © 2006 by Alex Flinn. Excerpted by permission.
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