15 May 2011

Secret stage: short short story

The gun rubs its rigid barrel against my bare belly in a cold embrace. The park bench presses into my back and buttocks, biting at my nervous flesh.

I expected a furtive cloak of darkness, but great globes of light, suspended like full moons, are strung along the park path. Their brilliance pins me to the spot like a museum exhibit. I sit exposed and sweating on a cavernous stage. There are secret eyes in the shadows of the trees, I know. I can feel their waiting, focussed, patient presence. I imagine them, this secret audience, smoking to pass the time but ready in an instant to lean closer, hungrily, still in their shadowy anonymity, expectantly awaiting my soliloquy.

Under my shirt my finger plays gently with the trigger, biding my time, delaying the final act. Will they clap in a glove-muffled silence, those bright eyes in dark faces? Will they turn and murmur each to the other, a tide of sound blending with the cicadas’ drone? Will the lights mysteriously extinguish when the show is over? Will my performance be a success? Or defeat? And who is witness enough to judge?

In the end it is only the flying foxes, disturbed by the sharp finale, that wheel and screech at curtain call.

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