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I stand quaking. Shaking, almost shivering with fear. Why am I so afraid? I have done this before. I have stood on the hard, charcoal floor, pushing through to the foundations to let my voice take wings and soar over the audiences’ heads. I have stood, the gentle buttery light massaging my back and face, while sweat beads trickle down like dew-drops on a spiderweb. But let’s back up, the stage is my safe place, backstage is my terror. The Blackness hovers close around you, whispering doubts into your mind. He points to the window of Light, telling me how I will fail. You are not Joanna I defiantly tell myself. I am not myself anymore, I am my character. It’s okay. Breathe. Focus. You know what you need to do, so do it! The music swells, lifting my confidence and dashing in my face. The director comes up to me.
“Bring on the energy Joanna. We need you to be focused. You got this.”
I nod slowly, as I try to smile, and fake confidence.
“Oh, Joanna! You are going to do great! I know you will!”
`Apparently my acting is not that believable. Perfect. Definitely a step in the right direction.
She leaves. I am once again alone in the Dark. His stealthy wings choke the hope from my soul. He tells mean all of the what ifs I don’t want to hear. What if you forget your lines? What if they see that you are nervous? What if you are not believable, or what if you talk so fast that they can’t hear what you say? What then? Those are petty fears, and I brush them aside, like an annoying fly. Obviously, the Darkness doesn’t like the fact that I am trying to ignore him. So, he starts again, trying to play with my heartstrings. His touch is too rough, it starts to hurt. His chilling voice breathes down my shirt. What if you fail? What if when you fail the director is disappointed? What if she wishes she never casted you as that role? What if you let down the cast?
The Darkness stop for a bit, surprised. He starts to continue.
“No!” It’s a little louder this time.
Now he is angry, fiercely trying every trick he has to overpower me.
“No!” It is almost audible for someone else to hear.
He now grabs for anything, just anything for me to listen to him. He opens the chest that is my past, digging for something, and then he finds what he is looking for. He holds it up to my face. His face glimmers in the dull light, his eyes hidden, but his smile mocking.
“No.” I quietly breathe. It is so simple, why won’t he listen? “My mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of now. They have helped me to learn. They have helped me to overcome you. So no. No, I will not be scared. No.”
In his hands my mistakes start to melt away. He screams in horror, as I move to the light. I breathe. The cool air refreshes my lungs from the heated breath of Dark. I am no longer Joanna, I am in character. This character that I have worked with for months, this character and I have become close, friends even. She is a part of me now, and I am a part of her as well.
I only have one step left, before the honey colored Light envelops me, before my friends, the other players and character appear, and before I give the humblest gift I can give, the gift of a story. I step out of Darkness, and into Light. Light is different than Darkness, she loves to encourage and gift others with confidence. I open my mouth, and speak my gift.