CHAPTER: 12345, 6789101112131415161718192021222324252627EPILOGUE

Thursday rolls around. It has come too slowly and too quickly for Toby. He feels like he’s been waiting his entire life for this moment but the minute the day ticks over from Wednesday to Thursday he also feels like it’s come too fast. He’s nervous, brimming with excitement but also questioning whether or not he’s actually got the talent to do this. He thinks that he does and he knows that if he doesn’t at least try then he’ll never know for sure. He wants to try. He has to try.

When he leaves home that morning he has his football kit in his bag and he waves goodbye to his dad like he does everyday. Anthony encourages him to have fun at training and to work harder than ever. Toby doesn’t correct him, doesn’t say a thing to make it seem like he’s doing anything but going to training. But instead of turning left at the end of the road to get the bus to the Academy Toby turns right, heading towards the train station instead. Within moments he’s on the train but he can’t help but feel like he’s doing something wrong. He can feel eyes on him, watching him and judging him. It’s different to when he was in front of the camera, more malicious somehow. He keeps expecting his dad or the coach to turn up suddenly, pop out of nowhere and drag him back to training at the Academy.

Each shout makes him jump. Even when he gets on to the train and it pulls away from the station he’s looking everywhere, searching for a familiar face that should be filled with anger. It’s only when he gets off at the station near the studio that he takes a deep breath and begins to relax. No one can stop him from auditioning now, they can’t drag him back and make him miss the audition. The next train back to Skelmerage isn’t until the auditions are over. He’s stuck here until then and that idea fills Toby with a sense of relief.

He takes a deep breath and heads towards the studio. There’s a bounce in his step now, a spring that makes him feel like he’s walking on air. He can’t believe that he’s actually here, about to audition. His blood is racing, every inch of his body is tingling. He stops outside the studio and looks up at the sign on front. His heart skips for a moment and he can feel something fluttering in his stomach. He smiles broadly and takes a deep breath. Finally he steps inside the studio and follows the signs for the audition.

There are a few auditionees already waiting. They’re sitting on some of the chairs, shifting and looking around themselves uncomfortably. Some of them are talking to each other in quiet voices. They all look up as Toby walks in and he falters for a moment. Then he takes a deep breath and carries on walking. He signs up at the table that’s been set up and is handed a script. He looks around for a seat and picks one that isn’t near anyone else. He takes it and begins to look at the script.

He stares at the words in amazement. It’s the exact same script that he read with Fiona. It’s the same script that he’s practiced with at home. He knows this inside out and he knows exactly how he wants to act it. He looks through the script and glances at some of the other actors that are all waiting to go in. Some of them are looking at their pages nervously, their mouths silently reading the lines. Toby sits back in his seat and crosses his legs, trying to hide his smile. He’s fairly certain that he has the advantage here. He knows the words and he knows how the scene should go.

One by one the auditionees are called in to the room. None of them come out again and Toby wonders if they leave through a different door, just so that the other actors don’t get scared off. Either that or this is some elaborate trap for serial killers to find their victims. Toby chuckles to himself at the thought, the laugh high pitched and nervous. He can feel the butterflies getting fiercer in his stomach and he starts thinking of how he might escape if it is serial killers. It helps with his nerves.

“Toby Arnold?” the woman with the clipboard asks.

Toby looks up sharply and nods. He climbs to his feet and grabs his bag. He’s sure that he recognises the woman, he wonders if she was at the studio in Skelmerage, that would certainly explain it. He follows her in to the casting room, legs shaking so bad he almost expects them to give out at any moment. He can’t see the people sat in the chairs at the end of the room, the receptionist is in the way.

“Toby Arnold, reading for the role of Wayne Rooney,” she says to the people in the chairs.

When she moves out of the way Toby spots David and Fiona, both looking at the scripts. Fiona looks beautiful but bored, haughty like she did the last time that he saw her. David looks stressed, his hair is a mess and there are empty coffee cups all around him. His left leg is jumping up and down. Toby takes a deep breath and calms himself. He clears his throat. They both look up and their eyes widen.

“Toby!” David says loudly, “What on earth are you doing here?”

“Trying out for the role,” Toby says with a shrug and a lopsided grin. “I enjoyed it so much last time I thought I’d give it a proper go, you know.”

“So…” David says, leaning forward and grinning, “You want to be the stunt double and the lead actor then?”

“Yes,” Toby says quietly. His eyes drop to the floor, “I thought I’d give it a go, you know, see if I was good enough.”

“Ambitious,” David says, nodding “I like it. Well you already know Fiona, she’s going to be hear to read the part of Coleen. It’s the scene that you’re familiar with.”

Fiona smiles tightly, clearly still unimpressed with Toby but she walks around the side of the table to stand beside him anyway. He quickly drops his bag on to the floor and holds his hand out for her to shake. She looks at it and her lip quirks upwards. It’s the side of her face that is hidden from David, the producer can’t see the disdain for Toby that’s written all over her face.

“Ok,” David says, “Off you go.”

Toby nods and fumbles with his script for a moment, trying to find the first page. They’re all out of order and he tries desperately to find the page that he needs. His hands are shaking, he's completely aware that all of David’s focus is on him. He needs to nail it. He starts to read. At first he falters, his voice cracking and his hands shake so hard that he almost drops the pages. When Fiona speaks, perfectly channeling Coleen, he calms down. He feels his heartbeat slow and everything around him starts to fade away. He forgets that he’s in a casting room, in front of David. Instead he’s in the living room, their living room at Everton, talking to the woman who loves him and who is willing to support him no matter what. He is Wayne Rooney.

David watches and is actually amazed. He can see the chemistry between Toby and Fiona. There hadn’t seemed to be any when they first stood side by side but as soon as they started to read the chemistry had appeared. He feels like he is truly watching a couple who has been together for years, not two strangers who barely know each other. It’s extraordinary.

They reach the end of the script.

“Ok, thank you,” David calls out.

Toby jumps when David speaks. He’s confused and disorientated for a moment and then he looks at Fiona. She’s just Fiona again, not Coleen. He looks at David, the shaking returning.

“Toby, as you know this is only the first audition,” David says, leaning forwards on the table and steepling his fingers together. “Your audition was far from perfect but to be honest that’s not so surprising. However I really do think that there’s something there. I think that you could be a good actor. But before we continue I need to know a few things. Have you ever acted before? Done any form of acting in any capacity?”

“No,” Toby says bluntly, knowing that there’s no getting around it, “I’ve never done anything like this before, ever.”

“Ok.” David says. He nods and makes a note on some paper beside him. “So why now? Why have you decided to try acting now?”

“I just want to do it,” Toby says with a shrug, “I realised that I really enjoy it and thought I’d try and see at least.”

“Ok… ok…” David says slowly. “I’ll make a deal with you. If you enrol in a ten day masterclass with the National Association of Performing Arts, or NAPA as we call it in the business, and bring yourself up to speed with acting in general you can have a second audition. How does that sound? Will you do that for me?”

“Yes,” Toby says quickly, “Of course I will.”

“Good,” David says, smiling broadly now, “When you enrol please send me the email confirmation of your enrolment. That way I can see that you’re taking this all seriously.”

“Ok,” Toby says. He nods eagerly. “Yeah, I can definitely do that for you.”

“Wonderful,” David says happily, “Now though I’ll give you some feedback. You need to focus on toning down your acting. It’s a bit pantomime at the moment, a little over the top and extreme for film. Also you’re a little stiff. You need to tell the tutor that I’ve said this, it’ll give them something to focus on. I want to see something much more natural from you next time. I want a real performance, believable, like you’re actually Rooney, not Toby.”

“Ok,” Toby says eagerly, nodding like a dog toy, “I’ll focus on all of that, take it in mind and try to focus on fixing that.”

David nods. He holds out his hand and Toby stumbles forward. He grabs the producer’s hand and shakes it eagerly.

“Thank you David,” Toby says, “Thank you so much.”

He follows Fiona out of the room. He watches her backside as she walks. It hasn’t helped that Fiona had looked really fit today. With how gorgeous she is it had been really difficult for him to get in to role, to focus on playing the part of Rooney. He realises that he needs to zone out his surroundings more than he already does. He needs to cut out everything but what is going on when he’s acting. Otherwise he’ll never give that perfect performance, the performance that he needs to give.

His heart is still racing though, even as he continues to follow Fiona out of the studio. He can’t believe that he’s actually gone through with this, that he’s actually got an offer for another audition. All he needs to do is to follow the requests that David’s made. He’s riding high, his entire body tingling with the realisation that he’s actually done it, he’s actually done an audition and he’ll be able to get the part that he really wants. And as he watches Fiona he realises that some of that was partially down to her.

“Hey Fiona!” he calls out, racing to catch up with her, “Listen I was just wondering if I could have your number?”

Fiona looks at him, blinking. She looks amazed and surprised that Toby’s asked for her number. He actually can’t believe that he’s asked for it himself, it was a spur of the moment thing, something that he didn’t think through. This is totally unlike him.

“Ok,” she says slowly, “I suppose so. I suppose you want some help with your acting,”

“Yeah,” Toby says quickly, “Yeah, totally, help with my acting,”

She holds out a card and Toby takes it eagerly. He slips it in to his wallet and smiles at her as she walks away. He walks towards the train station whistling. He still can’t belief he’s just done that. His entire afternoon feels like a dream

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