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Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Float. By John von Daler

                        Like lost balloons, she thought, My feelings are like lost balloons. I'm a kid in Tivoli who loosens her fingers just for a split second and stands there crying while her balloons drift away into the sky.

                 She looked at herself in the mirror. Her hair was stylishly short in unruly tufts, practical for putting on wigs. Her face was lined with creases from anger and laughter, sorrow and joy, from husbands and lovers, and, most of all, from roles she had played: cute debutantes and wily whores, stodgy wives and wicked witches, career women and homeless hags.
                Where do feelings come from when you don't have a script? I'm tired of having to dream up plays for my own life. My dialogues are heavy and obscure and crazy. Can't you pay someone to write a script for your life? Some great Playwright in the sky?
                   The diva dressed carefully. This particular play, her fiftieth anniversary on the stage, had been chosen especially to feature her: Elizabeth the First from teenage years to death. She played all the various ages of Elizabeth. The critics had acclaimed her for being so believable in all the stages of the queen's life. Now she had reached the last scene, the old queen, wigged, gowned and painted, bold-breasted and ornately crowned. 
                Afterward, it would be curtain calls, flowers, standing ovations and then a quick shower and home to her seventh husband. He has a name, she giggled to herself. But what is it?
                It never works when I try to play the role the men want me to play. At some point, I forget whatever emotion I was acting out for them and the balloon slips out of my fingers. Sometimes anger creeps in like a pin and punctures the balloon and it falls down and is trampled. Lately, I get nervous at home. Acting out my private life gives me stage fright.
                   She took a last look at herself in the mirror. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.
              Then she stepped through the wings toward the stage. She could hardly wait to go on. Acting steadied her nerves. In front of all these people she felt comfortable, disguised, and camouflaged; it was her one last hiding place.
              Her invisible balloons carefully in hand, she glided elegantly out onto the stage, losing herself once again in the crowd. Afloat.

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