I fixed my eyes on what I decided was the “incubator”. A burgundy throw pillow, on the opposite side of the room.
“Take your time with this… I’m going to improv with you between your lines.” The casting director fired up the camera.
Oh no. Ok. Well, here goes.
Me: “Doctor, I —“
“YES, how can I help.”
Oh. This is like, a lot of improv. Between all the words.
“…I am wondering if my baby will be—“
“—be… OK. If she will be ok…”
My eyes were welling up. I held on tightly to my wheelchair, which was a plastic office chair with normal legs. I tried to seem “Tired. Recently surgeried.”
The casting director “doctor” performed a short improv monologue. Something, something, “She’s gonna make it.”
“But she’s so—“
“–SMALL. She’s so small.”
We were doing a dramatic scene for a healthcare short film/commercial…thing. It was shooting in Denver the following week.
Doctor: “We’ve done all we can. She’s a survivor…”
“Ok. That’s good.” – those weren’t my lines, but… oh — “It was my fault. I went out when—“
“– Um, when I wasn’t feeling well.”
It was going great. I was in it to win it. We were all gonna make it! Me n Pillow we was gettin’ outta this thing, alive!
I had run through all my teary lines in this luxuriously dramatic scene, and was trying to come up with ways to casually “wheel” my chair toward the incubator, when the “doctor” suddenly asked in a quiet, compassionate tone (oh, we’re still going?), “And what did you name your baby?”
The epic final moment. And I had not once thought about a name for this baby. Biological what-now? I have 5 solid names for puppies, memorized, just in case.
After what felt like hours of tense, Primetime drama, I wanted to say “I named my baby….. Peabody.”
But instead, I fumbled and said something about not knowing if the baby would survive so I hadn’t named her yet (She shall be called “Anonymous”!), but that in the moment, I chose…. “Hadley.” My niece’s name. Because it was the only human name I have ever known in my life. At least, right then.
I willed myself to lock eyes on that damn pillow. STAY IN IT! Oh man. Peabody woulda been great!
The casting director turned off the camera and said “Really nice work. You know – it’s always so emotional when I ask what the baby’s name is.” HIS eyes were teary.
“I know! I know…. so… sweet…” I hoped he didn’t seen me leave my body and start packing up my things to go, at “Peabody”. “And you get to do this scene all day!” I said to him.
“Well! I love to do it.” He said.
“Me too.” I said, secretly wishing I could audition for the other thing that was casting in this office. But I was clearly not Hot Latina enough — no matter if I know the difference between reggae and reggaeton.
I walked out onto the street. Happy my baby was gonna make it. Lil Baby Peabody. And even more happy that I could leave her in that room for the rest of her life, and that it’s ok legally.
I let my mind wonder to the day when I softly gaze at my sleeping Frenchie puppy named… Hadley. (I’m kidding, Les. And Hadley, when you can read this.)