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Act 1.
She recited her lines like a seasoned musician would strum their guitar.

A familiar song,

speaking to the audience before her

in a melody known only to those with the score.
As the scene commenced,
the characters joined her place on stage,

reciting their remembered melodies.

The soft laughs that responded to her written comedy

became crashing gaiety

with every sentence and movement from her companions.

She bit her lip but continued.

What else was she to do?

Act 2.

Her big moment was approaching:

the monologue written that was sure to bring hilarity.

She knew

this would bring their ears to her.

Smiling widely, arms rippling in the waves of the air,

the instrument of the stage

commenced the climax.

Laughter grew louder, energy heightened: she felt the reaction.

The final notes ceased.

Not a sound from the onlookers.

Another joined her onstage, quipping and flailing in response.

Her stalwart smile fell slightly.

Why did one line merit more mirth

than her twenty line piece?

Intermission.

Set changes, costume changes, scene changes.

But she stays.

Her character never switches into anything more

than a different scarf

while the others receive new garments of every shape and colour.

Nothing else for her.

Nothing to aid her

in her voyage.

For

all the days of memorizing her three hundred lines,

all the hours practicing her exits and entrances,

all the moments placing her props and devices,

Nothing is her reward.

“I give, yet I do not receive,”

she mused,

breaking character.

Onstage, she was in the background,

yet spoke the most.

What does a lead mean anymore?

Act 3.

Big finish.

Large ending.

A dinner party, a prayer, and a family party.

She spoke her final line,

keeping the same stalwart smile the entire thirty minutes.

Fade to black.

The lights fell.

It was time for curtain call.

As the cast each ran up, some together and some not,

bowing to the onlookers.

She grasped hands with her scene companion and ran to the front.

He went first: the crowd cheered.

She went second: the crowd clapped.

Strike.

She watches as her study, her dining table, her bookshelves

all tumble on the apron of the stage.

Tear down.

Everything she worked with is crumbled and broken on the ground.

While the rest of her stage mates celebrate their final show,

she sweeps to the dressing room

with leaden sails and a heavy heart.

Her dress falls

to the ground as

her jeans and white tank top fall

over her body.

On top of her creased, yellow-highlighted script, is a letter.

Crisp, white, with her name in cursive.

The actress picks it up,

slicing the top of the envelope open with her thumb,

pulling out the folded card.

“Thank you for bringing us your immense talents each night!

You have given such an honest interpretation of a mother figure, both onstage and off.

What an anchor you’ve been for this show!

Sincerely,

Your Directors.”

Outside of the dressing room, she can hear

the collapse of the house’s walls.

They tumble to the ground, crashing into the wood of the stage.

Her frown softens

with each sound.

Folding the letter, placing it neatly into her back pocket,

she walks onto the stage,

covered in the debris.

No one is helping the stagehands pick anything up.

She shakes her head,

sailing over to a fallen wall and bringing it upright.

Arms strain as the heavy beam rises with her body,

but her legs refuse to bend.

She carries off the remnants of her sunken vessel, proud at her strength.

“I’m the anchor,” she breathed,

“and I’ll go down for my ship.”