Chapter 1: Devin
The bus was late. It was always late. Devin looked at her watch for the fifth time in 2 minutes. If the bus didn’t get there soon, there was no way she’d make it across town in time for her audition. She sighed and turned up the volume on her IPod. Oh well, she thought. I didn’t really want this part anyway. It was a pilot for a comedy and Devin just knew she wasn’t a comedic actress. The part she really wanted—the one she had been waiting to hear back from for a week now—was a supporting role in a dramatic series. The casting director had told her that it was for two episodes with the potential for a permanent role on the show. But who knew these days with shows? It seemed like they were getting cancelled every day. Still, Devin was hopeful about this one. She had really nailed the audition. The casting director even told her so, which was rare to hear. Usually, she heard all kinds of negative criticism from agents, managers, and casting directors. Don’t get your hopes up, they’d say. Stick to modeling. This business is tough. It takes years to make it and even then, you’ll be lucky to find good work.
Maybe they were right. Maybe she shouldn’t get her hopes up. What was the use? Disappointment after disappointment. But she had moved her entire family across the country! If she gave up now all of the trouble she had put them through wouldn’t be worth it. She had to keep trying. She tried to stay positive and say her affirmations, but there was always that doubt looming in the back of her mind: What if I never make it? Maybe the doubt was a good thing—to remind her she could survive even if she never made it. As her dad always said, “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Always have a Plan B.” But, this was her only dream. All she ever wanted to do. There was no Plan B. This was Plan B!
Finally the bus is here, she thought. I might actually make it to my audition on time after all. She wondered which girls from her acting class would be there. The thought made her anxious, as it always did. Sitting in a room full of hopeful actresses her age. All just as pretty, if not prettier. All just as talented, if not more. Devin tried to distract herself from restless thoughts and turned on her meditation music, hoping it would soothe her nerves. She followed the instructions of the voice on her IPod: Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Imagine you are floating and drifting across the ocean, feeling weightless and free. Devin allowed the voice to take over her mind, feeling the tension leave her body. Now picture yourself fulfilling your wildest dreams. See yourself there, present and aware of everything around you. Who is there? What do you hear? How do you feel? Feel exactly how you’d feel when all your dreams come true. Hear it. Smell it. Feel it. See it. Devin tried to imagine herself working with one of her favorite directors. She tried to feel how she’d feel when her dreams came true: Fulfilled. Accomplished. Confident. But nothing happened. All she could see was a blank stage with nothing on it. Instead of feeling peaceful, she felt even more frustrated.
Devin was jolted from her thoughts by the honking of horns. Ugh, LA traffic, she thought. She looked out the window and recognized they were only a few blocks away from her stop. She turned off her IPod and shoved it into her purse. She reapplied a thin layer of lip gloss, took a quick check at herself in her mini compact, and ran her fingers through her long brown hair. She took one last look at the two pages of script in front of her, hoping to feel inspired. But again, nothing.
She’d have to run the two blocks if she wanted to make it. She decided to speed walk. She didn’t want to arrive all sweaty and windblown. When she entered the small studio, there was a line of girls sitting against the wall. A petite woman looked up at her from the front desk.
“You just made it. Sign in. Headshots and resume go here,” she said, pointing to the stack in front her. “If you can find a seat, wait here for your name to be called.”
Devin looked around the small hallway. Not a chair to be had. That’s what you get for being late, she thought. She signed in quickly and placed her photos and resume on the indicated pile. She maneuvered her way towards the front door and leaned against it.
“Here,” a skinny red-head said, “You can share my chair if you don’t mind being kind of scrunched.”
“Oh, thanks,” Devin replied, pulling her purse tightly to her hip and sliding in next to the girl.
“My name’s Alana,” she said.
“Devin. Thanks for the seat.”
“No problem. I’m second on the list, so we won’t have to sit like this for too long.”
“Cool. That’s probably what I should’ve done. Get here early and all. But, the bus…”
“I know. It’s always late. I got lucky today. My dad left on a business trip, so I got his car for the week. Thank God. But still, it takes like an hour to get anywhere in this city,” Alana said.
“I know, right? Crazy. I’m still not used to it,” Devin said.
“How long have you been out here?”
“About a year. I moved here from Pittsburgh.”
“Oh cool. I’m from Utah. Salt Lake. We’ve been here for about three years. Yeah, it takes some getting used to,” Alana said with a laugh.
“Right here,” Alana said, getting up.
“Break a leg,” Devin said.
“Thanks! You too.” Alana flashed an enormous and genuine smile.
Devin admired how Alana moved fluidly down the hallway with her long legs and bouncy red curls. It was often rare for Devin to meet girls like Alana—beautiful AND nice. It was usually one or the other. Alana definitely had the ‘look’ of an actress. And with that kind of personality, she was sure to go far. Straightforward. Confident. Easy to talk to. Even though Devin knew she too had these qualities, did others people notice them about her? Alana made it look so easy. Devin wondered if that’s how people—casting agents and directors in particular—saw her too.
Devin watched Alana open the door to the casting room, and just as she was closing it, Devin saw the image. It was a mere flash, but it was as clear as day: Alana shaking hands with the casting director, who was congratulating her on her audition. Alana on a sound stage making people laugh. Her male counterpart standing next to her, with his arm around her waist. Alana on the red carpet. Reporters everywhere. Alana posing for them, as she stood in front of a poster with her picture and name all over it.
In a mere seconds it was over. The image was gone. The room seemed to spin. Devin felt like she was going to be sick. She could hear herself breathing very heavily. People around her were asking if she was okay and if she needed some water. Their voices were dulled by the high- pitched ringing in Devin’s ears. What had just happened? And why did she feel like she had just been run over by a Mack truck?
“Give her some room, people. She’s having a panic attack. Let her breathe!” The petit woman from the front desk was standing over her, rubbing Devin’s back. It was comforting. Something her mother used to do when Devin had hurt herself.
“It’s. Not. A. Panic. Attack,” Devin managed to get out, in between breaths.
“Honey, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I see ‘em all the time here,” said the petit woman. “Here, take small sips of this,” she said, handing her a Dixie cup with water. “Can we call someone?”
“Yes. My mother,” Devin replied. She handed the woman her cell phone.
In a few minutes, Devin’s breathing was back to normal and she felt less dizzy and shaky. Devin’s mother arrived 30 minutes later, bounding through the front door, panicked and alarmed.
“Devin!” she screamed.
“Hi, Mom. I’m fine. Seriously. It’s nothing. Can we just go?” Devin said, not only embarrassed about her ‘so-called panic attack,’ but also upset that she didn’t feel well enough to audition.
“Sure. Thank you,” Devin’s mother said to the woman at the front desk.
“Of course. You feel better, sweety. Deep breaths,” the woman said to Devin.
They drove home in relative silence, until her mother’s curiosity almost drove her to a panic attack.
“Devin, what happened to you?” She asked.
“I don’t know, Mom. Can we just not talk about it, please.”
“But honey, you’ve never had a panic attack. What brought this on?”
“I told you it wasn’t a panic attack!”
“Honey, it’s fine. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. People get them all the time.”
“I didn’t have a panic attack. It was…something else…like a bad dream? I’m not even sure.”
“Sweetheart, you’re just too overworked. You put so much pressure on yourself.”
“Mom, it’s not that. I’m telling you. This had nothing to do with being stressed or whatever. I saw something I’ve never seen before.”
“What do you mean?” Devin’s mother asked, slowing the car down and turning into the driveway. She put the car in park and turned toward Devin. Devin stared out the front window as she tried to remember the images she saw only one hour earlier.
“It was like flashes of images. Of the future. But not my future. This girl’s.”
“Who?” Her mother asked.
“This girl, Alana. She gave me her seat at the audition. She was really nice. And pretty. We only introduced ourselves and talked for a short time, because she was called pretty quickly into the audition. I saw her close the door to the room and then it happened,” Devin whispered.
“What happened, honey?”
“The images. They were so quick but so clear. Like it was actually happening in front of me. I could see it. Her future. All happening in front of me.”
Devin turned her head to her mother, whose brow was furrowed and concerned.
“Whatever. Maybe I dreamed it. It’s probably stress. You’re right,” Devin conceded, grabbing her purse and getting out of the car.
Devin went to her bedroom and shut the door. She suddenly felt exhausted, like she had just run a marathon. She slipped off her shoes and climbed into bed. Her cat, Neo, slid up to her and purred. She stroked his head and sighed. She heard a knock at her door and knew it was her mother.
Devin pretended to be asleep when her mother came in. She didn’t want to talk about it. She just wanted to forget it even happened. Maybe sleep would help her do that. Maybe it was just a bad dream anyway.
Devin heard her mother leave and quietly close the door. She rolled over on her back and looked up at the ceiling. All the exhaustion she had felt only moments before vanished. She now felt a sudden surge of anxiety. The images she had seen were so clear. Why did I have them? Where did they come from? Why were the images of Alana of all people? I just met the girl. It was like I got a glimpse of the next two years of Alana’s life.
Devin squinted her eyes shut and tried to conjure up the images again, but nothing came. Only blackness. Maybe it was more than just stress. Could it have been a vision? Like the ones on those weird sci-fi shows? And if it was, why me? What’s so special about me to have visions like those?
She tried to push the questions out of her mind, but they kept returning, begging for answers. One particular question burned intensely in her brain: If I’m a visionary, then why can’t I see five years into my own future?