Also By Bella Forrest
CHAPTER 1: AMY
Write about what you want to be when you grow up. What made you decide that? Use all the proper formatting described in the previous chapter. I read the assignment over and over again, before I clicked the start button. The thing with being homeschooled, or ‘online schooled’, was that once I clicked the start button for the test, I couldn’t do things normal students did, like negotiate for extra time to go to the bathroom, or argue my grade. I had to do it right the first time.
I glanced at the clock, seeing that I still had about forty five minutes left before Dad came home. The assignment was only allotted at thirty minutes, maximum, which meant I could probably finish it in twenty. They always gave you too much time with these things, which was silly really, because it meant you had extra time to use the textbook and cheat.
I never cheated, of course. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. My father had taught me that something worth doing was worth doing right, and even if he wasn’t home, his lessons rung loud in my ears. If I started this assignment right away, I could finish it and start dinner. I was planning stuffed peppers worthy of a five star restaurant - my father would expect no less - and when I read the recipe for them, I almost drooled. However, they would take some time to make, and I didn’t want him home and waiting on food, not after a long day at work.
I clicked start, taking a deep breath, and positioned my fingers over the keyboard. Go.
I want to be an actress. I think I’ve always wanted to be an actress. I can remember, when I was young, putting on plays for my parents and my stuffed animals in the living room. Nothing thrilled me more than dressing up in costume, making up stories, and performing at the top of my lungs. However, I think there was one day when it became more than just a childhood fantasy.
I was nine years old, and my father and I had just moved here. After months of job searching, he finally got a job at a prestigious theater school just down the road. He was to be a cook, helping with not just the student’s three meals a day and snacks (about 50% of the school are boarders), but also the catering for the fancy theatrical events and any food props needed for the shows. It meant long hours, but that made up for the low pay. I remember him working late at home one night trying to develop a way for meat to be raw on the outside, but cooked on the inside. Whatever show they were doing at the time was not ‘appropriate for a child my age’, but he succeeded, and they put his name in the program and gave him ‘special thanks’ along with the rest of the chefs.
One day, he asked me if I would like to come to work with him. It was national ‘take your child to work day’, and workplaces all across the country were participating. It sounded much better than being at my tutor’s place all day (in those days, I was tutored; it was just a few years before we discovered I could get a good education online), so I agreed. I was surprised that he would let me out of the house for so long. You see, the other thing you should know about me, is that before this, I hadn’t dared to really have dreams. My mother died of AIDS when I was just a baby, and while my father was lucky enough to escape being infected, her blood runs through my veins. I was diagnosed as HIV positive when I was barely a week old.
My father has always been overly protective of me, keeping me homeschooled, warning me not to exert myself, barely letting me be in contact with other people. And while I understand his concern, things are different now than in my mother’s time. People with HIV can survive for years living a normal life, and even once the virus becomes full blown AIDS, ten or twenty years are not unheard of. I try not to think about when that will happen, because it’s inevitable. For now, I have mostly good days. Lonely, but good days.
Anyway, I’m getting off topic. The point is, the next day I was up at the crack of dawn, dressed in my best clothes, making my hair as neat as possible, excited to go to work with him. We left earlier than he normally would, so that we could walk together. I was practically bouncing off the walls.