A Brightly Lit Stage

Question:

How does a train eat?

Punchline:

It goes chew chew.

 

 

A blue mustang with the top down parked in a driveway lined with flowers. A cold glass of lemonade dripping onto the asphalt. The glistening blue water filling the pool. A white French door opens from the kitchen a woman in a green dress steps onto the patio. She places a platter of teacups and finger sandwiches onto the wicker table and sits in the matching chair. The wooden gate opens to her left and she looks over her shoulder, expecting company. A man in a cream-colored suit and lavender shirt walks through with his coat over his shoulder. He smiles in the corner of his mouth at her and she stands and takes a step backward- cutting from the frame as she falls into the pool. The smile widens to his eyes and he runs to leap in after her. They tumble ever downward, impossibly deep for a common swimming pool.

An open marble doorway suddenly rushes up to meet them and they step onto the tile flooring, completely dry and presentable – the pool water and rushing wind seeming to have had no affect.

I know what you’re thinking, really, I do. When I was told to record this story I was skeptical. It seems so fantastical that it’s almost – unbelievable. However, dear reader, I can assure you that I am a reliable narrator and that this account is completely factual. My advice is to not worry so much and just sit back and as the cliche goes, “enjoy the ride”.

“Maya, Charlie – so glad you could join us this evening,” the voice comes from a tuxedoed man off to their right who presents them a silver plate supporting two champagne glasses. Charlie takes the two glasses and passes one to Maya at the same moment she takes his arm and they follow a rapidly unfurling green carpet in front of them. After many minutes of walking the two share a furtively loving glance and step out onto a vast, wooden stage from the right wing. An interlaced grid of faces look up at them- conversations halted, phones fallen to laps, babies cheeks dry. Have you ever seen an audience like that? An audience so completely enveloped by the scene unfolding in front of them that they become completely unaware of themselves self? No? Yeah, me neither. Charlie sits at the grand piano as Maya climbs a ladder to sit on a swinging bench, high off the stage.

Now this is where things get tricky, try to keep up. Oh here, this tip will help: try to imagine these character blurbs as if you’re watching through a camera lens – you know, the one that swings and pans around that they use for films. It’s like you’re tracking different characters who may be of great importance or maybe they are completely insignificant. Either way, it provides different viewpoints. Now pay attention.

Following the show, the couple is met by adoring audience members in the opulently decorated lobby. You are pushed to the back as fans more rabid than you elbow ever forward as if physical closeness to the pair is all that is required to share in their success. You watch Charlie throw back his head in laughter and Maya cover her mouth in mock surprise. Soft heel clicks on the marble flooring and the calling out of men’s voices to their wandering wives. You push out the double gold-gilded doors to the cobblestoned courtyard. Snow quickly coats your hair and shoulders as you hurry to unlock your small, brown flatbed truck.

You push towards Maya and Charlie, elbowing people who clearly don’t want it as much as you do. Your hands push open into the open space just in front of them, close enough to smell Charlie’s cologne and to hear the delicate swish of Maya’s silk dress. Someone tells a raunchy story and Charlie throws back his head in laughter and Maya covers her mouth in mock surprise. You shake their hands politely and compliment them on yet another incredible show. Feminine eyes glaze over to either side of you as Charlie begins to tell a story about their first performance together. You lose focus and are slowly cajoled into the back of the crowd by people who apparently want it more than you do. You push open the heavy door where the fresh snow rushes down to meet you and see a small, brown flatbed truck pulling away from the curb. Your heel slips into a crack between cobblestones causing you to fall onto your knees.

After the show, you head towards the concession stand where you purchase a large bouquet of pink candy floss. You pull webs off and eat while you watch the hordes surrounding the performers with amusement. What were their names again? You can’t remember. Too many shows in too few nights but the one thing that remains the same- candy floss. That and the crazed fans; always eager to observe, to please and to be viewed. A woman pushes past you to reach the stairs to your left, most likely hoping for a better view of the show-ponied duo. After a few more moments of watching, you push open the gold-plated door and see a woman fall to her knees- puncturing the white lace blanket of snow.

Well I hope that little segment wasn’t so bad for you dear reader, I really did try to make myself clear but critics have said that my ideas are too runny and messy to be held on a page. That’s why I’m providing this commentary, see? I’m trying to be generous and kind and to make sure that you get “it”.

Maya and Charlie make their exit through the wooden, backstage doors and stroll toward a gently bubbling fountain in the center of the cobblestoned street. They perch on the lip, resting their feet on a small mound of snow. “You were incredible tonight,” Maya says, leaning in towards Charlie. “The black and white keys are nothing without the painted rainbow of your voice, my love,” Charlie responds and places a soft kiss in Maya’s snowflake-laden hair.

“Charlie, I know you were hesitant but I am very glad we decided to do this show. I could see it in the audience’s eyes that they needed it.”

“I agree completely, I just worry about how much it takes out of you. You are stunningly talented and watching you question that… well, it just darkens the softest corners of my heart.”

“I know sweetie, I know. I am working on it.”

“I’m so glad to hear that. We just can’t lose you, Magnificent Maya, we just can’t – the last time was much too close for comfort.”

“I know, I know. I really am trying”

Charlie smiles and leans in to delicately kiss her cheek.

Maya’s dimples deepen and she asks, “Where to next?”

“Let’s go home.”

Maya smiles and nods, gripping Charlie’s hand tighter as the pair fall backward into the shallow base of the fountain. The two fall much deeper than the meager inches of the ceramic fountain, leaving the shining layer of copper undisturbed in their wake.

Sunlight cuts through the water of a surface they are rapidly falling towards. A surface quite far from the one they tackled minutes before. The world inverts and they walk out of the sea, hot grains of sand like a thousand tiny needles on their feet. The beach is devoid of beach towels and neon swimsuits and people altogether. Water drips from them like the shedding of a second skin. Warm sun licks their skin similar to a dog welcoming a much-beloved owner home after a long trip. They ascend the concrete steps to a waiting blue mustang with the top down. Yes, it’s the same Mustang that was in their driveway when they fell through their pool. “How’d it get to the beach?”, you might ask. At this point, I would like to remind you of what I suggested earlier- to worry less and “enjoy the ride”.

They drive along the coast on a highway seemingly deserted until they reach a small street past a white wooden fence. They turn into the flower-lined driveway of a small yellow house. Charlie shuts off the car and goes around to open the passenger side door. Maya takes his outstretched hand and the pair head up towards the bright red front door together.

Okay, so you know how I swore to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God? Oh wait, no that was at my court hearing last Wednesday. Well, either way, I said I was being factual. So maybe I wasn’t being completely honest with you, reader and I am truly sorry about that, truly I am. But maybe people can’t actually travel through water but the truth is that it’s not about the water. Maybe it’s about the travel and the weightlessness and the purity of it all. Or maybe it’s about nothing at all.

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