fiction

Those Who Can’t Act Sweep

Those Who Can’t Act Sweep

The last note hung on the long rust colored curtains, the applause weaved through the upholstered seats as darkness slowly filled the auditorium.  The excited cast members spilled out into the cold winter night as flakes of snow clung to their hair and winter pea coats. Their laughter could be heard from inside the theatre as they piled into frostbitten cars eager to celebrate the success of their renowned production. The headlights filtered through the freshly cleaned windows of the auditorium before they began their journey down the icy paved roads.

“Ah, it’s my time to shine” he said bitterly to himself as his calloused hand reached out for the rough wooden handle of his favorite coworker.  The thick wiry bristles dragged across the worn well used stage as he drug his work boots across the platform that never ceased to mock him. He stared up into the lone beacon of light that shone scornfully at the stage. The dust particles drifted like lost dreams in the stagnant air as a lone moth began to flutter dutifully towards the artificial sun that looked upon the theater.  The moth flinched as it continuously struggled to bathe in the glory of the highly watted bulb. The man let out an ominous chuckle that although short in length rang throughout the auditorium and echoed through the halls that lay just beyond it. “It’s addicting isn’t it” he said aloud to the severely confused and brain damaged moth. “We all want it don’t we, to bask in the spot light, it will only mock you, bout time you give up, trust me.” The moth paused for a second as if to head the worn, defeated man’s advice, but continued on its road to self destruction. “Suit yourself” he sighed, scratching his head before sweeping once more.  The wide bristles of the broom stretched across the stage pulling back all the unwanted contents back to its master.  The clock ticked slower with each sweep and the silence continued to grow in intensity. The arena was hushed except for the tired twittering wings of a diligent moth against an unforgiving light bulb. The man looked up in anger and in a deep sharp tone the moth heard, “Is that really what you want? Do you like what you see? Look at what the light did to me!”  The auditorium seemed to stiffen, the already stale air clenching in surprise at this uncalled for boisterous disruption. After this outburst the man laughed a little too loudly at himself. He looked upon the empty seats and began to sink into memories that he thought would never surface.

The snowflakes fell ethereally from the sky as the theater filled with laughter and anticipation, auditions were starting. Each red velvet seat within the first four rows was filled with an ancy body waiting to bear their soul upon the stage. In the second row sat a boy with twinkling brown eyes and a gray polyester hat. The chair beneath him squeaked with exhaustion as he rocked back and forth waiting for his turn. He stood up with alarm when the syllables of his name finally made its way across the auditorium. The mahogany floor yelled in pain as the young adolescent charged up the carefully polished stairs and took his place at center stage. He belted his lines with pride and confidence, delivering a performance that would certainly be remembered. Due to childhood ignorance he found himself dubious of reality when the casting sheets were listed. The boy’s once twinkling eyes became drenched in tears after a rough wooden oblong object was placed in his expectant hands.

He looked down at his companion of eighteen years with disgust as he continued to sweep glitter, dust, and flower petals into a pile. He began to vigorously in attempt to distract himself from his own thoughts but more importantly the unrelenting sound of the moth’s futile efforts. With anger as his puppeteer, the broom managed to cascade through the air, make contact with the edge of the stage, and ricochet into the audience, causing a whirlwind of dusted disarray to trail behind it. His shoulders dropped as he counted the seconds his lapse of sanity had cost him.  He climbed down the recently polished steps and grabbed the rickety abused broom by the handle and took center stage once more. The broom’s bristles disgruntled symphony echoed throughout the auditorium. After minutes of diligent work the elegant mahogany managed to shine with the success he always wanted, the curtains hung with the persistence that had deceived him, and the stage shone with supremacy he always wished upon himself.

Pleased with himself He took center stage and slowly took a bow as he did every night. His cerulean eyes looked upon the silent invisible crowd. He smiled at the imaginary spectator’s soundless applause and relished in the blinding spotlight. Taking one last nod to the unseen audience he slipped behind the red tarnished curtains and placed his leathery fingertips on the switch but before flipping the switch down for the night he looked at the tired, frustrated moth and chimed, “You’ll never get it you know, but perhaps tomorrow will be different”.

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