Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
Performing Arts School Admissions OfficeJimmy sat in the outer reception area, awaiting his meeting with the admissions office. While he waited he alternated between gnawing on his ragged fingernails and flipping through a copy of Newsweek on the table next to him. He hardly even saw the pictures, let alone any words.
Between phone calls, the woman behind the desk tried to make chatty conversation with him: things like "Nice day today," and "Where are you from," and "What do you think of the campus?"
Jimmy would pause in his nail biting long enough to smile and give an answer, but as soon as her attention was returned to the telephone, the fingers went back to his mouth.
At last a door marked "Howard Patine" opened, and a tall, skinny man with thick glasses and pock-marks all over his face poked his head through the doorway. "Jimmy Bates?"
Jimmy started to raise his hand, like he was in a classroom, and then aborted the movement. With a twitchy sort of smile he said, "That's me." Then, considering he was the only person here besides the secretary, wished he hadn't said something so blatantly obvious.
Mr. Patine held the door for him, and Jimmy walked into the office of the man who had the power to control his college destiny.
"So, Mr. Bates," the admissions director said, as he motioned Jimmy to a straight-backed, unpadded chair across the desk from him, "You want to attend Glenn Meadoes Performing Arts School."
Mr. Patine nodded. He studied some papers in front of him and said, "Your application says you want to study acting."
Jimmy, quietly resisting the temptation to chew his fingernails, sat on his hands and said, "Yes sir."
"Hmm." Mr. Patine was silent for a moment as he continued looking at Jimmy's paperwork. He frowned. "I'm looking at your transcript, and it doesn't appear as though you took any fine arts classes."
"I took a class in pottery," Jimmy replied.
"Hmm. Yes. I see that now. But," he frowned again, "that's not exactly in line with an acting career." There was another pause while he shuffled papers. "No experience acting at all? What about community plays and musicals?"
"Church pageants?" Mr. Patine sounded like he was grasping for straws.
"Hmm." The frown deepened. "Well, let's get beyond that for a moment, and let's talk about career goals. You want to be in the movies, I suppose?"
Jimmy shook his head.
"You want to be on Broadway, then?"
Jimmy shook his head again.
There was a long pause. Finally Mr. Patine said, "Young man, Glenn Meadoes is one of the most prestigious performing arts schools in the country. I sincerely hope you aren't wasting my time."
Jimmy's ragged fingernails automatically went to his mouth. He pulled his hand away and said, "Oh, no sir!"
"Hmm. Perhaps," Mr. Patine finally suggested, "it would be better if you were to just tell me why you want to study acting."
Jimmy smiled. "I want to be a politician," he said.
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