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Chapter One: Annabel the Actress
Annabel was an actress.
Every week she put an ad in the town newspaper. The paper printed free ads for kids who wanted jobs.
Annabel's ad read:
ANNABEL THE ACTRESS.
NO PART TOO BIG OR TOO SMALL.
Annabel wanted to be a movie star someday. Or at least a soap opera star.
When she watched TV, she studied how the actors acted.
When she went to the movies, she imagined how she would play the starring roles.
Sometimes she thought, I could do that. Sometimes she thought, I could do better than that.
She read all the books she could find in the library about acting.
And she practiced all the time.
Today she was acting angry.
She stood in front of a mirror. She made her face look snarly. She messed up her hair. She held her hands out like claws.
"I hate you!" she shouted at the mirror. "Hate you, hate you, hate you!"
That's pretty good anger, she thought. But it's not great anger.
She tried to think of things that made her angry: Homework on a weekend. Losing all her money in Monopoly. Lowell Boxer making fun of her.
Lowell Boxer was her lifelong enemy.
She pretended Lowell Boxer was in the mirror.
"Grr! You get out of here, Lowell! Or else!"
Now that's great anger, Annabel thought. The important thing about acting was feeling the part. And she almost always felt angry at Lowell Boxer.
The phone rang.
"Hello!" shouted Annabel. "What do you want?"
"My, you sound angry," the caller said.
"Thank you," said Annabel. "I'm not really angry I was just practicing acting angry."
"Then you must be Annabel," the caller said. "I saw your ad in the newspaper."
"I am Annabel," Annabel said. "Do you need an actress?"
"I need a gorilla."
"Then why did you call an actress?" Annabel asked.
"What I mean is, I need someone to play the part of a gorilla," the caller said.
"For a movie?" Annabel asked hopefully "Or a TV show?"
"For my little brother's birthday party."
"Oh," said Annabel. Just a kid's party. She wouldn't have a very big audience. And there probably wouldn't be any show business people there.
But a job was a job.
"I want a gorilla to carry in the cake and sing 'Happy Birthday,'" the caller said.
"I can sing," Annabel said. "And dance, too. But maybe not while I'm carrying a cake."
"How much would you charge?" the caller asked. "You would only have to be here for about half an hour."
Annabel thought about it. "Ten dollars," she said.
"That seems fair," said the caller. "But you sound like a kid."
"I am a kid," said Annabel. "Do you think a grown-up would work that cheap?"
"It's just that Dennis likes big gorillas. You might be too short."
"I am an actress," Annabel said. "I will act tall."
"Well, okay The price is right, anyhow. My name is Daisy Fry. Our address is 462 Washington Street."
Annabel wrote it down. "Is your brother Dennis Fry?" she asked. "The one who got stuck on his roof?"
"That's Dennis." Daisy sighed. "We had quite a crowd here that day."
"I know," said Annabel. "I saw the firemen get him down."
"You must live pretty near us," Daisy said.
"Yes," said Annabel, "so I will not need a limo."
"You have a limo?" Daisy sounded impressed.
"No," said Annabel. "That's why I'm glad I won't need one."
"Be here at two o'clock Saturday," Daisy said. "And come in the back door. I don't want Dennis to see you. By the way -- you do have a gorilla costume, don't you?"
"Of course," said Annabel. "Doesn't everyone?"
"Okay," said Daisy "See you Saturday, then."
"Wait!" Annabel said. "How old is Dennis?"
"He'll be five on Saturday."
"Are you sure you want a gorilla?" asked Annabel. "Gorillas can be pretty scary."
"Dennis loves gorillas," Daisy said. "King Kong is his favorite movie."
"All right," said Annabel. "You're the director. I just hope I don't scare him."
"You don't sound very scary," Daisy said.
"That's because I haven't gotten into the part yet," Annabel told her. "By Saturday I'll be terrifying."
She hung up the phone.
She had a part!
It was only a children's birthday party. But all great actors have to start somewhere. And she would be paid ten dollars. For only half an hour of acting!
Now all she had to do was find a gorilla costume.
Copyright © 1999 by Ellen Conford