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I stood in the crowded dressing room behind a clothes rack. I could hear the other girls twittering away in their underwear while putting on make-up and changing into costumes.
"Did you hear about George and that girl from PG High? Oh this color looks great on me! Hey, can I borrow that eye shadow? Oh, it’s stuck!"
I slipped into my black nylons and zipped up the pencil skirt.
"Oh, that girl was freak dancing last night at the club. Did you hear Alice and Matt broke up?"
I pulled on my turquoise turtleneck and grabbed the black suit jacket from the hanger. It was a cramped space to get dressed in, better than the other side I figured. Here I was quite perfectly invisible.
"Oh, and Catherine … she and her boyfriend are finally going steady. Heard about it from Tom."
Gossip, gossip, gossip. I was rather glad they didn’t know I was listening. Here I heard all of their secrets and everyone else's too. I stepped out from my hiding place and faced the mirror. So many faces. I checked mine and pulled my hair into a French twist. Okay – I was ready.
Leaving the room, I headed towards the stairs. Laughter and the murmur of voices faded from the Green Room as I climbed higher and higher. I made my way between the scenery and props over to my favorite stool. I perched upon it gently with one black high heel resting on a rung. I could hear the audience mingling and chatting softly. It’s Intermission.
Slowly the lights dimmed back down. The voices stopped and all grew quiet. The stage lit up and the two girls entered from the other side of the stage. I watched the overhead lights change as I listened to their dialogue. Red. Green. Blue. Yellow. I knew the colors by heart from tech week. My breath was a steady rhythm of breathing. "I’m not nervous. I’ve done this before. It’s just the same old routine."
My cue line was coming up. I rose from my meditation and stood by the dusty green drapes. My feet were inches away from the stage lights. The two actors were still talking. And here in the wings alone, it was just me. Completely invisible.
My cue line. I squared my shoulders, tugged on my lapels and then marched smartly onstage. I focused on the click of my heels as I moved into the spotlight. The warmth from the glow was comforting. I now looked out at the audience. I could barely make out the faces, but somehow I managed to see a few familiar ones – my parents, my history teacher, two best friends. This was it. "I can’t believe I’m not nervous."
I felt in control, powerful. My mouth started moving and the lines came out. I knew them by heart. I didn’t even have to think of them. My mind felt free and thoughts rushed in uninvited. "OMG – all those people are watching. I wonder if Sandi came? Oh, I hope this mic tape doesn’t come off. Speak louder. Boom my voice." I almost couldn’t believe that Ms. Schmittgens wasn’t yelling at me "Louder, Catherine, louder!" I was used to it. But now, it was just the stage, me and the audience. The actors around had had their moment. Now it was mine. "I’m no longer invisible."
The monologue ended. Footsteps echoed around me. I moved along with them in a trance. The magic of the theater had me enchanted. The audience laughed. "They laughed. Oh wow, I was hoping they’d find that funny!! Gee – I guess I’m doing good up here."
The scene picked up pace. Faster and faster, until suddenly, it was time to exit. The lights went out and the actors rushed towards the wings. I tried to not get run over or end up hitting the sets as I moved along with them. The stairway was dark and I carefully stammered down the stairs. At the bottom, the lights of the Green Room greeted me and the murmur of voices and laughter rang in my ear. I was no longer in character. I was back in the real world backstage. Completely invisible.