In The Eye Of The Storm

Fifteen. The turning point of my life. The day when I found out that I was not an Adams; I am Black.

My name is Carrisa Black, eighteen years old, haunted by a man in the shadows, running through the fog that blinds me from my path to a normal future and hoping to know who my real parents are. I am pushed into the eye of the storm.


5. BFG

Thursday, May 22, 2008, 8:00 am

“Carrisa, do you have everything with you? Are you ready?” mum was calling from upstairs. She could get so paranoid sometimes, even in the calmest of situations. Well, that’s her and I don’t have the power to change that.


“Yes, mum,” I sighed. I was sitting on the sofa, waiting, with my favourite cap on my head, the small bag that I always carried around outside the house on my lap and inside was my iPhone, wallet, a pen (you never when you’re going to need one) and the invitation letter from Mrs Strickland, sent to me yesterday through email. For my first day of special acting class, I wore a long dark blue t-shirt with four white stripes at the bottom, jet-black tights with red converse. My hair was tied into a ponytail and my fringe was let lose. Glancing at my watch, I shouted to mum, “come on! I don’t really want to be late!”


I heard the heavy footsteps thumping down the stairs and mum emerged with her keys clinking against the others that were on the same hoop. She was wearing her normal, plain green t-shit, blue jeans, green flats and her blond hair was flowing around her perfectly proportioned face. Yup, that was mum, so simple yet had high expectations.


“Alright, alright, let’s go,” and we left the house in the family car. The drive didn’t take as long as the travel to the city by bus; after all, with the bus there would be six stops in between the journey. This time it took at least forty-five minutes, with a few stop lights here and there, not as a big of a deal.


Thursday, May 22, 2008, 8:51 am

The PerformingArts Studios, big and grand as I left it two days ago. Walking through the glass doors seemingly felt familiar, like I’ve done it for my whole life. The thing is, I haven’t. And if I did, I don’t remember, which is crazy. Who forgets something like that?


“Ah, miss Black!” the receptionist, Ms. Fuller, called out, hand on phone, “Mrs Strickland is waiting for you in her office.”


“Thank you,” I smiled, without having to stop at the desk.


Twentieth floor and again, silence. I knocked on the Mrs Strickland’s door and pushed in. As I walked, she raised her head with a polite smile shown across her face. In her hand were some papers that I deduce she was reading before I arrived. Now, her desk was a bit more piled up, but other than that, everything was the same.


“Carrisa Black,” saying as she stood up, “good that you’re here, it is a pleasure.”


“You wanted to see me?”


“Yes, I did,” she said, sitting back down and gesturing to the seat at the other side of the table, “I wanted to personally give you this,” from her drawer, Mrs Strickland took out a black and blue wristband and held it out to me.


“What is this for?” I asked as I received the band. It was light, plastic, and rather ordinary looking.


“Every student will be given one of those. It’s to show that you are part of our acting group,” she leaned forward, with her hands together on the desk, the same way as when we first met, and eyed me, “we don’t let just anybody join our classes.”


I slipped the band on, “oh, please make it tight,” added Mrs Strickland, and I did so. With a sudden jolt, I felt an unexpected sting.


“Ow…” and unfastened a bit. Now that’s better. I thought.


“Please make your way to the sixteenth floor. Your instructor is waiting along with the rest of your class,” she told me with a smile, “enjoy your day, miss Black.”


I recalled that there were five different floors of the drama department and asked what they were for.


“The floor plan for each department, Music, Art and Drama, are similar,” Mrs Strickland explained, “the bottom is for our youngest students, five to ten years; next one up is for eleven to seventeen; then eighteen to twenty-five years; then twenty-six years and above. The top floor on each department is for the elite members in our company, you could almost say it’s for the teachers and highly respected students.”


Highly respected students? I wondered to myself.


“Yes,” Mrs Strickland nodded, “only a very few from our company are allowed access those floors.” I took me a while to realise that she had answered the question I accidentally asked aloud.


I thanked her and headed for the elevator. While the journey to my new class, my mind wandered to the band and was suddenly mystified. Why did it hurt as I put it on? I was sure I secured it with caution, like I always do with everything else. I don’t like hurting myself. So why did it hurt? Before I could dwell into the thought, I arrived the sixteenth floor.


Compared to the twentieth, the layout was the same, with long halls, floor-to-ceiling, windows and the incredible view of business buildings. Other than that, there was no similarity. This floor had rooming muffled voices of what I guessed were actors and actresses, the floor carpeted and on every wall were posters. This amused me, I like posters and there was a sense of familiarity that embraced me.


Unsure of where to go, I wandered through the halls, looked at some of the posters (plays, some of which I recognised: ‘Les Miserable’, ‘Grease’, ‘Wicked’, etc. Classics), and caught some lines that were voiced out.


“‘Ninus’ tomb’, man! You speak all your part at once, cues and all. Pyramus, enter: your cue is past; it is ‘never tire,’” said in an old man’s voice.


“O, as true as truest horse, that yet would never tire,” another in a high-pitched voice.


This brought a wide smile on my face. Midsummer Night’s Dream. Those were Peter Quince’s and Francis Flute’s lines. How did I know? I was Peter Quince in our production last year and my friend was Francis Flute. As you’ve probably guessed, I love acting, and I enjoy every moment of it.


Then I felt it. That tingling feeling that someone was watching me. I turned around and there he was at the end of the hallway, standing and staring at me.


“Silhouetted Man,” the urge to run after him was compelling. He was just there, still and quiet, as if waiting for my move.


“Who are you?” I called. No response. Not even a move of the muscle.


“Who are you?” I repeated. This time, my legs moved towards the motionless figure.


I wasn’t going to let this go unanswered. “I said: who are you?” moving faster, “tell me who you are?! WHY WON’T YOU TALK TO ME?!”


“Carrisa Black?” I whirled around to see a man in black stood in front of an open door, “are you Carrisa Black?” I turned back to where Silhouetted Man was. Gone.


Damn it!


“Yes,” walking back in the direction of the man, disappointed and angry with myself, “yes, I am.”


“Hello, I am Mr Wright, I’m your instructor,” he stretched his hand out, “and I’m always right,” and gave a wicked smile that freaked me out.


“Ha-ha,” I grinned half-heartedly and shook his hand. He had a firm grip and rather smooth palms. He was wearing a simple black t-shirt over his slight muscular body with light blue jeans.


I walked into the room and was amazed by how similar it looked like compared to the drama practice spaces in my previous school. The same carpeted floors, with the same mirrored walls and the same black curtains that were only need when the room needed to have that dark effect. I loved being in that room. I love being in this room, too. It felt like…home.


Spaced out were nine students that I guessed I would be working with for the special acting class. Mrs Strickland was true to her word; the students were from all over the world. Not to be racist or anything, but some of the nationalities were fairly obvious. For example, Chinese features, Indian complexion and, huh, English accent. Some of them were the same age as I was, while others were only a bit older. I also noticed that every one of them already had that black and blue wristband on, none worn loose.


“People,” the chatter went down, “here we have our last, but not the least, member of this team, Carrisa Black,” Mr Wright announced and walked past me to stand in the middle of the room, “alright, we’ll have our first exercise then. Who knows what BFG stands for?”


A girl raised her hand lazily, “yes, Hallie,” our instructor called.


“No, I’m Hallie. That’s Melanie,” another girl to her left, who wore the same clothes, complained. They had the same hair, and the same height. Twins, of course.


“Ah, yes,” Mr Wright smiled, “I’m sorry. Yes, Melanie.”


“BFG stands for that book, called…” she paused to think.


“‘Big Friendly Giant,’” a guy, with the heavy English accent, said from behind me, “by Roald Dahl.”


The twins, Melanie and Hallie, looked behind to stare distaste at the boy, and said, “yeah, that one,” and looked front again in unison.


Our instructor shook his head down in amusement, “ha ha, no. Not that,” from behind one of the curtains, he took out a white board with pens and rubber stuck to it. Then, he wrote B, F and G, one below the other at the side of the board.


“BFG stands for body language, facial expression and gestures,” then wrote out the words next to the letters, “remember this, guys, because I will ask you this next lesson, which is two days from now, and I want the correct answer from one of you or else all of you will be doing ten push-ups for our starter.” He looked back at all of us with a stern face, which makes me wonder: was he kidding?


He broke into a grin, “I was only joking,” and there were audible and inaudible sighs of relief. “But you do have to remember BFG because this skill is very important, for things like persuasion. Did you believe that I was going to make you do ten push-ups when I pulled that face? Yes.”


“Actually, I didn’t,” someone butted in.


Our instructor ignored this, “why? Because, I looked convincing,” he started to walk around the room, “this skill, as you may have already known, is used in all kinds of drama acts.


“Body language is the things you with your body and posture. Like if you are telling people that you’re an old man, you hunch your back and bend a little,” he hunched and bent a bit, “but when you’re an adult, let’s say, a business man, your back is straight and shoulders are level, head high,” our instructor did similarly.


“Why don’t you just tell people you’re an old man?” a guy at the corner that I couldn’t see asked.


“If you’re here in this class,” Mr Wright replied, “then you should know the answer to that. And anyway, where’s the fun to that? Let’s continue.


“Facial expression is, of course, related with the faces that you give to suit your character and body language. But also how you’re feeling. And don’t tell me that you can just tell the audience your feelings,” our instructor added quickly. There was a giggle in the room. “Let’s take the two examples again – the old man and the business man. Who can show me how an old man’s face might look like?”


Several hands went up. “Ashton?”


All eyes fell upon Ashton, who was the one at the corner that I couldn’t see, so I had to relocate to be able to get a view of the face that he was about to pull off. One moment he looked like his Chinese self, the next his face was scrunched up with his mouth pursed and eyelids made into horizontal slits that I couldn’t properly see his eyeballs.


“Ha ha, well done Ashton,” he clapped, “now, who would like to do the business man?”


Again, hands went up. “Kevin?”


This time, the face that the guy behind me, with the English accent, made was one of a proud person; head held high, eyes straight and serious with a glint of power and the chin brought up, almost to make his face seem arrogant.


“Yes, great job, Kevin,” he clapped again, “see how effective facial expression are when you use them to show different characterisations? Oh, yes, another word: characterisation,” and Mr Wright wrote this on the board, “also remember this word, guys. Ok, lastly, gestures.


“Gestures are to add on to the characterisation. No one would just stand there and say your lines.”


“I would!”


“Oh shut up, Ashton,” a girl near him, called out.


“I would have to agree with her, Ashton. Please keep your mouth to yourself. Anyway, I hope you get BFG, because what I’m going to get you guys to do is find a space, which,” he looked around, “you have already done. Ok, stand up and I’m going to tell you to act something out and I want you to use BFG to give life to the words. Exaggerate as much as you can! Make me laugh. Make me feel sad. Give emotion! Ready?”


There were nods, and we started the actual lesson. Finally.


Thursday, May 22, 2008, 12:16 pm

“Thank you, Mr Wright!” I called.


“See you on Saturday, Carrisa,” he nodded at me, “Ashton, you better remember BFG.”


“Body language, facial expression and gestures, yes sir,” he said and waved goodbye.


“That goes for all of you, people!” the instructor called out while everybody was filling out and into the elevator.


But it could only fit so much and soon there was no more room left for me, or another guy, Jack, so I we had to wait for them to get down.


“Well, see you both in two days,” and Mr Wright disappeared back into the classroom.


I took a look at the boy next to me. Jack Allas, a quiet one, I have realised, serious, too. He was probably one of those emo people, where they completely ignore all the other human beings around them. Yeah, that fits, with his jet-black hair. And his eyes. Icy blue, drawing and rather restless, I have come to be amazed at it. I tried not to stare for too long, but –


“Yes?” his eyes rested on me, those eyes that penetrated my soul, searching my every thought.


Oh shit. “Uh, nothing,” I stammered smiling and immediately looked down, “nothing.” There was a very awkward silence; I was fiddling with my hands like there was nothing else to do. He was still gazing at me and I felt a shiver down my spine.


I needed to break this quietness, “I’m Carrisa Black,” I hesitantly put out my hand for a shake.


He didn’t take it, “I know who you are,” his eyes were still position on me and I didn’t like it. “I know, my eyes are rather light blue,” he continued, “I’m albino, I get it a lot. But please, don’t be freaked out.”


“You know, when you tell someone not to freak out, the person you’re talking to tends to do just that.”


“Yes, I’ve heard similar things,” he spoke, looking away.


I grinned, felt relief and heard the ding of the elevator home.

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