Waking up this morning, being a year older didn’t bother him. He didn’t see a difference, didn’t feel different. Today was just an ordinary day for him. He had brunch with his mother and now he would go to work, play his part and return home like any other day. No more, no less. Were there really reasons to celebrate?
Getting ready to leave for the theater, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He seemed hollow, like he could see through himself. He felt empty. He tried to convince himself that it was best this way. Made him a better actor. Being that way only made it easier to inhabit the characters he had to play. That’s what he told himself. That’s what he wanted to believe.
He walked in front of the other actors, not saying a word to them. He heard them whisper, felt them looking at him but never met their eyes. He got to his dressing room. Took his gloves and coat off and closed the door behind him. The room was dark. He didn’t need that much light for now. All he wanted was to lie down on his couch and be alone with his thoughts. His thoughts of her. His dressing room was where he could freely think of her, write poems about her, draw sketches of her, play his harmonica for her .He would read her letters, almost reciting them for he knew them by heart. He put his right hand on the left side of his chest. He felt his heartbeat. His heart that was beating for her. His back against the door, now in the dark he could almost smell her. He did smell her. A soft perfume was enveloping the room. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Breathing her in, like he did the last time he had her in his arms. The pain was instant, the memories horrible…and again he felt his heart break. “Promise me you’ll be happy.”
He quickly opened the light, fearing of falling into the depths of his own broken promise.
Then his eyes caught a glimpse of heaven. All the pain he just felt magically disappeared. He saw in a lifeless form what resembled most his beloved. A huge white rose bouquet in an emerald green vase. He walked slowly towards it, dropped his coat and gloves on the floor. Extended his two arms on top of the flowers and with shaky fingers, gently caressed the soft white petals. His heart almost stopped when he saw that there was a little card attached to the bouquet. He took the white envelope in his hands and held it on his chest before opening it. He couldn’t believe his eyes. There was nothing written on it! Just….just…He had trouble swallowing. Right there on the little white card was a kiss. She had kissed the card and left a mark with her lipstick.
He slowly sat on the floor mesmerized by those lips on the card. He just couldn’t help looking at them. In almost a trance he took the card to his own lips and kissed it gently and tried to hold back a soft sob but couldn’t. A small tear left his right eye, rolled on his cheek and stopped on his upper lip. He was smiling. It has been months since he smiled…He was happy to have been born and was happy to be alive. “Promise me you’ll be happy.”
Three huge knocks on the door, startled him. The crew manager yelled “15 minutes”. He had to get ready fast!!!
The curtain was down. He played his role to perfection, incorporating this new energy to his presentation. Now he couldn’t get off stage fast enough. Didn’t care about encores, didn’t care about the fact that there were people to meet and greet, didn’t care that he was in his stage clothes, all he did was grab a towel, wiped his face and ran to the exit to catch her before he would lose her again. She was there, in the audience, he saw her and felt her. She was on the first balcony on the left of the stage and sat next to his mother. He couldn’t wait to see her, hold her, and kiss her. He never felt so alive but what he saw right at this moment made him want to die. He saw her put her coat on, lightly embrace his mother and walk toward the exit. No it couldn’t be!! Why would she leave and not want to see him??? Why?? Then, as a primeval scream he shouted her name. For the hundreds of people that were in the lobby it was as if Hamlet came back to life to continue his performance but for her it was a sharp stab in her heart. She stopped, turned back to face him, smiled and left the building. He felt that his legs could give out any moment now but started to run through the exit anyway. The crowd didn’t help; he was losing touch with reality and felt his newly acquired sanity slowly leave him. He was stopped by surprisingly strong arms, his mother arms. She was calmingly speaking to him. All he heard was “give her time, she needs time”. She held him in her arms, in front of everybody. Slowly rocking him, like her baby.
They went back to his dressing room. He washed and changed into his normal clothes. He served tea and they sat in silence for a while. Then he spoke first:
“Mother, why didn’t you tell me she was here?”
“She asked me not to.”
“She sent me those roses you know.”
“For your birthday.”
“Why was she here?”
“I sent her an invitation a little while ago.”
“Are you mad I meddled in your private life?”
“No I’m not.”
“She needs time and you need to put some order in your life.”
“Let me help you, please…”
“I love her so much mom….”
“I know my son and she loves you with all her heart and soul.”
She felt she was giving birth to him all over again. Like that night so many years ago, when she first held him close to her heart. Her baby son was now a man.