Thursday, September 24, 2009
Two people are on a stage. A man. A woman. They don't know one another in the true sense of the word. They are actors. He plays an army general to a king he later murders and replaces. She plays his ill-advising wife. Night after night, in their roles of husband and wife, they exchange words, glances, touches, as all actors do. At curtain call, the cast members all file back on stage to the thundering applause of their admiring audience. She takes her curtsy. He takes his bow. He catches the flower bouquets hurled from the audience and gives them to her. She curtsies once more and lays the bouquets at her feet. Then, he reaches out his left hand to clasp her right hand, and together, they move forward to the front of the stage for a final round of appreciation.
These intersections are meaningless, a part of their nightly routine. Undisturbed. Unbroken by the merest interest in, or attraction to, one another. They know, without its ever having been processed or verbalized, that beyond their thespian endeavors they lead separate lives. He is no flustered, guilt-ridden King of Scotland, and she is no hallucinating, sleepwalking Queen. What they do not know is that tonight, after curtain call, while the rest of humanity is eating or drinking or sitting in the waiting room of a hospital or playing cards or arguing over politics or making love, after she has taken her curtsy and he has taken his bow and caught her flower bouquets for her, and she has laid the bouquets at her feet, he will reach out his left hand to clasp her right hand, just as he does every night. But, this time, involuntarily, he will reach out just enough for their fingers to brush, fumble, seek. And somehow, this floundering whisper of a connection will trigger an arching thirst, a sensual fever, in his core. A bullet of white passion will shoot through his arm and trickle over his body like icy water. To have had her all this time, so near, her mystery hovering, and yet never to have seen her... What had he suffered from?
Amidst the musty parchment smell of the theater and the heat of the intensely burning lights directed at the stage, he will drift, drift into the devouring world of his senses. He will smell the captivating fragrance of amber coming from between her breasts and the dips in her collarbones. He will hear her shortness of breath despite the crazed babble of an intoxicated audience. He will feel... something. An arithmetic will happen inside his head, followed by the crashing realization of the gravity of his emotion. He will turn his gaze to her, their eyes will meet, and in her cavernous eyes he will see everything at once. And with his eyes, Have you discovered my mind? And with her eyes, I have uncovered you, heart and soul. She will reach her right hand out further, just a breath, just enough to let him know. And oblivious to audience and applause, his now fearless left hand will reach further and clutch her right hand firmly. His fingers will intertwine with hers. And he will close his burning eyes and take deep breaths while slowly counting to ten as he tries to calm his quickening heart.