A Theatrical Romance
by Linda McMullen
In the spectral glow of the ghost light, he kissed me upstage and down…
By day I fed him lines; by night, strawberries; he declaimed my infinite variety. He bore a charmed life as the sole survivor of every tragedy. I knew him as Horatio.
He trod the boards for a living, but treated the whole world as a stage. On our dark days we still trod a primrose path. Every parting was such sweet –
I was adored once too.
Miranda joined the company; she was built of such stuff as dreams are made on. She came to that great stage of fools, and each told her idiotic tales to win her affections. She taught her lip no scorn. Instead she welcomed their spirits in her ear, and made mouths at her reflection in the glass.
Horatio concluded a brilliant performance at the matinee, strutting his hour upon the stage; I sought him, after, to drink down all the audience’s undeserved unkindness before the evening show. I found him in his dressing room. With Miranda.
She had her greatness thrust upon him.
What a piece of work, that man.
I bid farewell to his fair cruelty.
The players and technicians perceived my wintry discontent as we re-readied the set.
Kent, the director, whispered, “The play’s the thing.”
It sounded like cold comfort.
I called places, knowing we had a full house; everyone had to play their part, and mine a sad one.
Horatio caught my arm backstage, complaining that he was more sinned against than sinning. But his cries of havoc failed to register in the face of my sound and fury.
I had loved not wisely but too well…
I had dreamt of a star-crossed romance. But in the end, it was much ado about nothing.
Linda McMullen is a wife, mother, diplomat, and homesick Wisconsinite. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in over forty literary magazines, including, most recently, Arachne Press, Luna Station Quarterly, Ripples in Space, Write Ahead/The Future Looms Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, Storgy, and Newfound.
She tweets occasionally: @LindaCMcMullen.