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Curtain Call

Forever present, the Auburn High School auditorium waits patiently for students to escape inside. True to mob like form, during assemblies Auburn students seep inside like an amoeba, not wanting to separate and be singled out. During these assemblies, all students do is escape class for a short while and text friends with carefully concealed phones trying to stir up drama away from themselves. But it is when the auditorium sits empty and dimly lit, that it truly offers a way to escape.

After entering from the side door while trying not to trip on leftover stage props and avoid getting tangled in the rows of heavy beat-up curtains, the stage becomes clear. Its floor is black with neon crosses of tape and paint splatters spread throughout. Each step is echoed and spreads to the eaves before ceasing in time for the next. Upon reaching center stage, power surges within. Turning towards the seats, an imaginary spotlight comes down and all is silent; the audience holding its breath in anticipation. There’s a small smile inside before the illusion vanishes.

Sitting on the edge of the stage preparing to slide off, etches in the wood are seen and sometimes felt. A substitute for a tree, students have carved their initials along with their significant other on the edge; it’s easy to see the pencil lead in the sides of the wide and shaky gouges. Around a knot in the wood someone drew a tree, perhaps as a reminder of where the stage came from, but it’s most likely just the result of a bored student skipping class. After hitting the carpeted floor, the echoed footsteps are replaced with a soft pat that’s barely heard if audible at all.

Scoping out the seats trying to find the best one, it’s easy to see that they’re well worn. Some are so worn, that the seat bottom has fallen out and just lies on the floor that’s well past being in need of a janitor’s attention. Other seats are highlighted under the aging house lights; they pop out as if exclaiming, “Pick me! Pick me!” These are normally avoided by the student population if at all possible.

After finding ‘the one’ somewhere in the middle of the Red Sea, a smell is noticeable. Not the smell of desperation and crushed dreams normally found in an auditorium, this smell is musty and seeps from the seats; it’s comfortable and homey, nothing offensive. Shifting to the side in order to curl up tightly, it’s at this point the paintings are normally noticed for the first time. Monuments of students past, they hang proudly on the walls and envelope the auditorium protectively. Class periods can be lost staring into their depths, taking down every last detail in an effort to figure out what they mean.

Escaping from life for a little while is something that many have a strong desire, and sometimes need, to do in order to continue coping with life. While an odd choice, the Auburn High School auditorium is the perfect portal to escape. Whether the escape route is being alone with a good book, studying the paintings on either side of the seats, or lying down on the stage staring at the ceiling, it’s easy to forget life once feet have crossed over the border inside.




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