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        I looked at my sink the way I looked at any sink. It was a sink. Nothing in it. Nothing on it. Nothing to it. It was a plain, gold faucet with a clouded luster and a washed-out, emerald, marble table and it looked like any other sink I’d seen in any other powder room or office building or hotel that was almost posh enough. My mother still hadn’t thrown out the stack of unused red solo cups from the memorial party.
          “But what do you see in it? What’s its story?” My acting teacher kept prying. “What’s its meaning, its purpose? How does it feel?”
          It’s a sink. Its story is that my mom picked out a bunch of stuff she liked in a home design magazine and some plumber guy installed it in my house. Its purpose is to spew out water when someone pulls its lever. I mean, who cares? Some things have absolutely no meaning or emotion and a sink is one of those things. And that’s okay. Apparently Sandrine just couldn’t cope with that. Especially since she dragged me all the way from the sitting room to stare at something that doesn’t breathe so I could give it life. 
          I had to break her: “I’m sorry, Sandrine, but it’s a sink. I really don’t understand the point of this exercise.”
          “I’m trying to get you to feel something. Evoke emotion,” Sandrine was moving her arms in a hippy-dippy, under-the-sea way that I can’t even begin to explain. “Touch the sink. Feel its crevices. Relate it to yourself.”
          “How can I relate this thing to myself?”
          “Find something.”
          “But I have nothing to work with.”
          “There are no limits to what the connection can be.”
          “I’m a human. I have a life. It’s a sink. It doesn’t.” I thought I made the distinction.
          “But imagine it does. If you can open your mind, you can open your body and you can open your soul.”
          Sandrine was starting to wear on me. It’s acting. You don’t have to feel anything. You have to go on a stage, say some pretty words, and act like you felt something as you were saying the words. But, at the end of the day, it’s a performance. It’s fake, and anyone who truly buys into it is a fool. A helpless, desperate fool. Some poor soul who inserts himself into an audience to see what people who never existed and never will exist are going to do with their nonexistent lives. I used to believe what Sandrine shoved down my throat– that I loved “feeding a story to the hungry crowd”– but now I realized it was all a bunch of fabricated nonsense and all I ever really liked was perching myself on a pedestal in front of the little people.
          “Okay. Let me help you find a connection.” She took a beat to think. “Its faucet is gold and we are digging for gold inside of you.”
          “There’s no gold inside of me. Just blood.”
          “But in your heart, Morgan.”
          “Why are we doing this?” At this point, I was completely befuddled.
          “Because you’re reading a monologue from the perspective of a girl whose little sister blew her brains out and your face is completely expressionless. Your lines are mechanical and you look bored.”
          “Okay, but can’t I just pretend to cry or act sad without thinking about something that actually happened to me?”
          “No. Besides, I think it would be therapeutic for you to think about the incident. Maybe that would help to unleash your true self.”
          “How would thinking about things that depress me unleash my true self, Sandrine?” I was fed up with her.
          “You and your character are going through the exact same thing so this piece should cause you to emote quite easily,” Sandrine enunciated each syllable to the point where I felt each obnoxious word hit my throat like a hot, tiny pellet.
          “What are you talking about? My sister’s not dead,” I retorted, gesturing to the photo of my sister and my dad that was way too close to the edge of the counter.
          Sandrine just stared at it, not knowing whether to make a reference to my father or get back to acting. Luckily, she went with the latter.
         “The audience won’t believe you unless you’re actually feeling it.”
         “But I’m not feeling it! I can’t actually feel it. There are other ways to give a good performance that don’t involve turning into an emotional wreck in front of everyone! They’re not supposed to think I’m such a mess or that I, Morgan the actor, am actually in pain in the moment because it isn’t real!” I exclaimed.
          Maybe I got a little too carried away. Maybe I didn’t exclaim, maybe I shouted. And maybe I was getting way too invested in this argument for a reason that I couldn’t articulate. Maybe I thought acting was bullshit and I wanted to quit.
          “Morgan, we act because we want to feel in order to make others feel. If you truly don’t feel or don’t want to feel then why do you want to act?”
          I liked to act because I liked to be on stage. I myself never had to feel anything, I just had to convince the blobs in the crowd that they were feeling something. The only thing I liked to feel was the audience looking at me. The people in the first row were close enough to reach out and touch me, but they couldn’t. Not only because I was elevated, but also because they were hypnotized by my world yet stuck in their own. My eyes shone like a million daggers when I was in the spotlight and they pierced through the limp, transported bodies below me, but I didn’t feel a thing. They held the seats but I held the knives. I loved to rehearse and say things the way they were meant to be said. I loved to be something different but still sort of similar. I liked dressing up and putting on my stage makeup, and placing myself in front of a crowd. I was playing pretend. That was the point.
          But I didn’t say any of that.
          “I don’t.” I replied with a completely straight face.
          I just wanted it to end. I wanted to go back to doing my own thing. I wanted to use the sink to wash my hands and leave. I wanted to get a new acting coach who wouldn’t ask me about the emotional journey of an inanimate object.
          “What?” She was shell-shocked.
          “I don’t,” I stood firm.
          “You can’t quit, Morgan. I see potential in you, if you would only let it out for the world to see.” She looked off into the distance like she was at the climax of one of those movies where a talented kid almost gives up on her dream.
          Sandrine was one of those actors who needed to learn how to talk like a human and not like a magnet on your refrigerator. It seemed as if she was always digging for another pretentious cliché or a turning point type of line that would bring out some broader emotional truth and solve everything or bring back the dead. She was so dramatic that I could never tell if she was acting life or reacting to life. And her name was Sandrine. I guess that’s why she’s an actress.
          “Morgan, you’re closing yourself off.” She was trying to lead me to some type of revelation.
          I wasn’t answering her, which was kind of awkward, but I guess it made for a good movie. I knew I should probably talk though. I needed to roll the credits.
          “Listen, I know it’s been tough since–”
          “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I cut her off because I knew what she was talking about.
          “Morgan, you’re a very talented actress and you would be even better if you let yourself be vulnerable on stage.”
          Being vulnerable on stage? On stage, you’re invincible and there’s absolutely nothing that should change that. To be an actor, you don’t have to be such a weakling. Why did she want me to disintegrate into some fragile child from an Arthur Miller play?
          “Thanks Sandrine, but I think we should stop. I’m not feeling great.” This was getting weird and, if I was quick enough, I could make it upstairs in time for today’s last rerun of Shark Tank.
          “I get that things are especially hard for you right now–”
          “Clearly you don’t get it because you won’t listen to me when I tell you that I need to call it a day.”
          She started to condescendingly massage my shoulders. “Look, maybe if you channeled what happened with your father into–”
          “I don’t want to talk about it! You can leave now.” I felt the pang of her thumbs reverberate in my neck as I pulled away.
          She was my acting coach so why did reality have to come up? That’s why I stormed out of the powder room, slammed the door in her face, and locked myself in my room until she left. It was rude but there’s no point in discussing my problems with her or you because it’s my life. It’s a secret. You’re the audience. She’s an actor. All you need to know is what I show you and that’s completely fine. I don’t understand why she wanted to get this out of me, why she wanted me to burst.
          I heard the smack of the front door from the hallway and I ran toward the sound. I stood by the glass until her in-your-face blue Mini Cooper disappeared into the frame of the window pane. I turned the lock, which was followed by the most satisfying click of the door. I liked doors.
          I think my mom was at some suicide awareness concert event and my sister was probably going along with her because she bought these flashy pumps that she needed an excuse to wear, so I had the house all to myself. I was about to go back to the powder room to wash my hands but I didn’t want to do it right away. I was so tense that my legs felt like frayed strings as they dragged my feet like they were dented slabs of wood; so I plopped down on the barstool.
          I looked over at all the white flowers lined up on the kitchen counter. I don’t know why we had to keep them out in a central part of the house. They would start to rot by tomorrow anyhow and they didn’t look pretty in our kitchen so it just looked unnatural. We should have put them in the basement to begin with because they were useless out here.
          The ones from Sandrine were the biggest, of course. They were way over the top and inappropriate. My mother loves that kind of thing but I don’t. I don’t think sending a card the size of a cookbook and waxing poetic about how “freefalling into the atmosphere is the most peaceful and sublime form of death out there” is helpful to anyone. And no, saying “ah, what a release” does not make me see things from my father’s “newly refreshed perspective” or enlighten me in the slightest. But according to Sandrine, that was supposed to be comforting. Just like my monologue was supposed to be some sort of catharsis. But I told her that my sister was still alive and she never blew her brains out after all, so her theory was stupid. That little b**** had some big nerve.
          I was tired of looking at the flowers from all those people who wanted to throw some type of pity party on my behalf. I didn’t want a party and I didn’t even want to be on stage anymore after my tiff with Sandrine. All I wanted was to eat. I finally worked up the strength to walk toward the sink again. I looked at it with a newfound sense of disdain, even though it felt like it always did. Before I got started on my microwaved lasagna, I turned on the gold faucet that was in all of our bathrooms and put my hands under the clear water. I despised its transparency.
          The water came on way too hot.
          “Ow!” I jerked my hands out of the way.
          I was so jarred that I yelped. Almost cried. That would’ve been something.
          The last time this happened, I was a little kid and my father accidentally turned the water on boiling hot for me just as I was about to wash my hands. I wailed because I was used to minimal discomfort at the time. He probably had a lot on his mind but I was a little brat and I was hurt and I was mad. I had one of my hissy fits but my father scooped me up and held me until I stopped. Completely steady throughout the thunder as always. He seemed so even-keeled, and I loved that about him most. That’s what I missed. But maybe that neutrality was hiding something inside that wanted to wail like me.
          You see, Sandrine waltzed around, trying to tell me that I had to open up the door to my deepest depths and gather the courage to scream, but screaming was easy. What took real acting chops was to contain it all. Just like my father did before he succumbed to gravity and plummeted to the center of traffic.






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StephieOThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jun. 19 at 8:15 am
Powerful story. Fantastic dialogue and character development. Keep writing!
 
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