The Lights

“It’s closing night. You love closing night.”
“You know why that is?” I asked antagonistically.
“No.”
“Because it’s the night that things go really well, or they go really sloppy.” I jabbed. He looked disappointed for a moment and then shrugged.

“It won’t be sloppy.” He assured me while, more so, assuring himself.

I recalled reading “The Miracle Worker” play in middle school. I had not seen any live productions of it nor had I ever really intended to do so. But, he was the director, he was my friend, and he was bribing me with diner to get me to go (Chinese food. My absolute favorite.) Okay, he wasn’t entirely bribing me to go. He felt bad that we hadn’t talked lately, and he had just found out about my break-up. We both had man trouble. His was a guy he had a crush on who ended up getting married recently, and mine was the right guy at the wrong time.

I offered an ambiguous noncommittal response to his prodding for me to go to the show he was directing.
“I might show up.”
We both knew I was going to show up. But he continued to tell me why I should come anyway. It made him feel good, and my day was so boring otherwise I didn’t have much to say, so I let him ramble on.

 

His conversation steered to his novel. How he knew the first and last lines of the storyline. How he came up with the ending one morning working his third shift plastics factory job. Dream casting with me. Discussing character names and profiles.

“You should write a novel.” He told me matter-of-factly when he was finished talking about himself for a moment.
“Why?” I asked between bites of my fried rice. Why was it that so many people I knew were working on novels? I didn’t understand the appeal. I never would. I enjoyed writing short stories and poems. That was all my patients could handle.
“Because you can. I know you can.”
“Just because people can doesn’t mean that they should.”
“Well, why not? Do you have an aversion to writing a novel.”
“Yes I do. I blog.”
“It won’t be much different than writing a blog.”
“I would never write a novel.” I pointed my chopsticks accusingly at my cashew chicken as if it was the opposition against my conviction.
“Why?” He asked folding his arms leaving his pork chow mien unattended which I took full advantage of with my accusingly pointy chopsticks and agile ninja reflexes. He didn’t seem bothered, so a little deflated I retorted “Novels are things most people leave unfinished. I hate leaving things unfinished. Having a novel lording over my head like a debt to the world would be too much. So I would complete it.” I paused for dramatic effect.
“What is wrong with that?” He asked during my pause for dramatic effect, leaving it entirely useless. I sighed inside.
“In completing a novel I would become accomplished, and that is almost as bad as leaving it unfinished.”
“You’re so backward.”
“I’m okay with that.”
“Me too. Somebody has to be or life doesn’t make for a good story.”

I drove him home. He told me how disappointed he would be if I didn’t show. I responded that I would try. I went home and changed for the evening I was allegedly going to have. Got my makeup on. Did my hair. Contemplated wearing a dress, but didn’t want to scare people I might run into, so I put on a bright orange and hot pink sweater I had in my closet instead. I hadn’t worn a dress in almost a year. It isn’t like I was going to need to impress anyone while I was there.

Next thing I knew I was in seat S1 stage left. A tiny corner of the theater where nearly no one sat. I had noticed it last time I had attended a play here. That time I found myself trapped between a group of charming and chatty lady friends who liked to talk while I was trying to introvert alone in a theater. Sure enough, I didn’t have a single person surrounding me, by at least four seats and a row. Anyone coming near my section was a volunteer for the theater. Singular people sitting in further proximity so as to be discreet when they needed to take their places in the hall during intermission and curtain close. All introverting quietly near me, but not so close as to distract me from the play.

S1. I’ve got to remember that. It may very well be my favorite seat in the house.

The lights went down. The play began. I had forgotten what an intense story it was. Wonderfully done too. Haunting in places. Emotional ending. The combat between Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller was a pivotal moment in the history of education. Taking an almost clean-slate child, thought incapable of much, and introducing her to the world through single realization. I let a tear slip out. I stood and applauded with the rest of the crowd during curtain call.

We met up in the lobby. “Well done sir. Your directing didn’t suck.” I nudged him in the spine as I walked up from behind. I made a point to ignore the actors. What did I care? I didn’t know them, and I’m pretty sure my congratulations wouldn’t have meant much to them. I knew actors. Like all other creative artists they tend to be arrogant assholes. The director confirmed my suspicious as we discussed things afterward.

“Glad you made it tonight. Means a lot.” We both knew I was coming anyway, but it was nice of him to say so. He gave me an awkward side hug before I got out the door. A little less formal that I had expected, considering we hadn’t known each other long, and hadn’t gotten to really talk much since our schedules at work were opposites. It was nice though. Our friendship was taking shape. We were learning each other. We were connecting. Kindred spirits that could actually have a friendship without romantic feelings. Just what I needed post break-up. A strong male character in my story that wasn’t going to make things complicated for the while my heart needed healing.

I walked to my car in the dark. The winter chill nipping at my nose and causing me to shiver. I sat in my car until everyone left. It was only me and the street lights by the time the parking lot was empty. It only took 10 minutes. I threw it in drive and drove home.

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