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Stage Lights

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I am walking slowly, up marble steps, to the theater. The streetlamps are reflecting off the marble surface of the steps and the pillars leading up to the entrance. Their muddled orange reflections paint the stone surface, and the smell of gasoline feels oddly fitting. The busy sound of cars and pedestrians sits idly in my awareness, not commanding my attention, but warranting my peripheral acknowledgement. The light drizzle and the layered, gray overcast help make the chill on the outside match the cold on my inside. The cold feeling of an empty stomach, the saturated feeling of a sleepless night, they have haunted me since the day that created me. So long ago when I was born, that cold night when my mother died. An Obstetrical Death is what they call it; when a mother dies giving birth to her child, this is what I have to bear. That night was when it happened, on that cold stage, in that cold theater. This same theater with its glossy orange steps and its tall white doors, this theater is where I was born, and where my mother died. So very long ago, this is where two innocent lives shattered to create me. I remember how the audience looked as he stood alone on the stage. They coat themselves in black, like beggars and cretins, hiding in the darkness and leeching off the wonders of the light. Barely sustained by that which they despised so much, they were ungrateful beings, the quiet murmur of their voices burns me. They are undeserving and unappreciative. They are hypocritical critiques, worse than the shadows of which they starve. Not her, she was not like them, my mother. She was so out of place in their seats, in their rows of seats in the audience. She did not belong there, stood out like a sore thumb, a quiet, placid face in a sea of madmen. She never wanted me to kill her. She just looked at him while he was on the stage, the only one in the room who had an excuse to be biased and yet she was the only one who was innocent.


I am walking across the lobby; the stone cold handle continues to press against my skin even though the door had long shut behind me. The lingering of gasoline fades away, and my damp skin cools by the air conditioning vents. Curtains and velvet tapestries flutter softly in the air from the vents, and meek lights peel apart the shadows. Tables of pamphlets line the walls covered in posters. The door leading into the theater is ahead of me, but I turn and take the one leading backstage, the door that sits in the corner, unused except for those that know exactly where it is. The casual observer and unfamiliar would only need to see the large, obstinate doors leading to the audience. The days before my mother died were happy; he was the last thing she had. Her husband was gone, her parents long passed away, but how she loved her parents. Her mother especially, who taught her the subtleties of the performance. The intricate work that went in to making it perfect was unbelievable, but my mother persevered. She performed exactly as her grandmother had, exactly as she taught him. My mother shined on the stage, the crowd cheered, she was blissfully ignorant. When he performed though, when he broke the tradition and failed, that was when I was born. That was when his weakness and her despair gave birth to me, brutal and alone. The audience was not cheering then, the darkness of the audience as they sneered at him in his light and glory. One mistake was all it took to make them forget the practice and the effort they would have never dreamed of accomplishing disappear. He stood on the stage, standing in the light, so that the shadows could mock him, hidden in their own failures while his lay exposed in the light.


I’m behind the stage, the huge, overwhelming curtain flowing before me. The backstage light was dull and scarce, and the cold air barely stirred, careful not to disturb the magnificence it supported in the light. I’m standing, my hand touching the soft of the curtain; the caress of something so beautiful is not for me. I am not nearly deserving of it. I am the product of pain and grief, the fatherless child of his inferiority and my mother’s inability to be flawed. I break through the curtain, the darkness behind me suddenly and horribly gone. The light tears across my skin, the blemishes of hate and envy and pain highlighted for the audience to see. This is where I finish what I started. This is where I’m going to fix the mistake I made so long ago. My performance ruined in the last moments, my mother’s grief stricken face as she stared at the silence of the audience. I saw her stare at me sadly, and then I saw her smile and clap, hiding her disappointment for my sake. Committing the suicide of her true feelings and hiding them so that she could comfort me. She was flawed. She was not quick enough, and I saw her pain. My failure and her pain gave to birth to the tragedy I’ve become since then. The horrors of so long ago stab into my mind like the light stabs into the shadows of my flesh. The roar of the audience and the sharp thrill of the stage ring in my mind brilliantly! The light eases, my eyes adjust slowly, my pupils closing so I can look into the audience. The audience’s cheers die down, not from my ears, but from the corners of my mind, a forgotten memory. The seats are empty. The audience is only in my mind. I stand in the light of the stage, with an absent audience, pervading the glory and tearing the last dignity the theater had left. The lights dim. The shadows close like curtains behind me; I sing her name softly to the empty seats.


The seats are cold, frozen in place by their legs, entrenched in the floor. The rain on the outside pounds soundlessly on the windows, each drop leaving a trail on the face of the window, only to be wiped away by the drop above it. The lights are off, the windows let a dull blue glow enter the room, but the stale, dead shadows surround most of the corners. I sigh, my breath coming out in quick, shallow rasps. My head is light and empty. The corners of my mind echo a painless ringing that occupies most of my thoughts. I struggle through my disorientation, finally standing on my feet off of the dusty, threadbare chairs. I step across the torn, ruined rug, feeling my way across the room with the splintered handrails. The door to the lobby is large, once illuminating window panes shattered into pieces long ago. The rusty door hinges crack open as I walk through, my head slowly clearing, rationality rushing into place. I am alone, cold, my tattered clothes scratching the broken wooden tables. I am alone; I am utterly deserted by warmth or company. The door to the theater opens, instead of the dawn breaking in as I hoped for, all that appeared was the vain blackness of night. The nearby street lamps perforate the darkness in penetrating bursts. I wander aimlessly down the cracked, lusterless marble steps. As I walk away, the dilapidated old theater crumbles from my memories and fades from my emotions. The piercing lights accuse me openly; I find no solace in the now meaningless and lifeless shadows. What used to be the center of my hate and anxiety is now lifeless, void, and indistinct from its surroundings except by vague physical appearance. Instead of troubling myself with the phantoms of my pain I reposition myself against the condemning beacons of light tearing into my path.


A blank, empty, lifeless and unoccupied bench sits on the sidewalk. I am walking towards it, excruciatingly conscious of every step I take. I seem to be hollow; I can not feel anything beyond the dull beat of my own footsteps. I can reach out and touch the bench now. A bright yellow sign announces the bench as a bus stop. I stretch my hand forward, and seize the guardrail on the side of the bench. The sensations of the cold, inert metal melt away before they even reach my awareness. I lower myself into the seat, and relief shoots through my body. A brief moment of numbness follows this sudden relief. Then with a sudden and extraordinary clarity, my senses collapse. The light and dark congregate, fading into each other, obscured by a pinpoint of feeling. The bench and the soft air touching my skin are no more. The sounds of bugs and cars and life are suddenly and inexplicably gone. All my physical senses are pointless now, a more urgent feeling replaces them. A single impression is all I am aware of. Something beyond the insignificance of life is oppressing my senses forming around me. The last memories of life surge out of my body, the laughter and the pain and the bright, vague images of smiles pour out in shuddering bursts. The little subtleties of life explode outward like tiny particles of dust. The security and the rhythm of society depart, leaving me with an awkward feeling of discomfort. My childhood, the little nooks and hidden places that only children have flash past me. Then the unbearable moments of love suddenly freeze in place in front of me. A single instance of feeling burns away in the intenseness of the force around me. Then it’s gone. It flies high above me, soaring forward in all directions except my own. A feeling that surpasses the human body and mind flows through me. The next moment, there is only a single empty bench. Alone and abandoned, an empty bus stop with a single street lamp sit futilely.



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half.noteThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Feb. 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm
Wow. I have never read any of your fiction stories before, Breece. Amazing. You're a fantastic writer. :)
 
Breece6 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 28, 2013 at 2:35 pm
:D Thanks, I never saw this comment :)
 
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