She ducked behind the set of a stage waiting for actors. I live behind a facade, she told him as she scurried out from behind a painted two-dimensional shrub and away toward a tall papier-mache tree. You don’t know who I am, she taunted, and I don’t want you to. What you see is not at all what you get and what you get may not be me.

Face, form, story, flow – an illusion twisted like rope intended to hold a young sapling tall but eventually becoming a tether to stunt its growth. Anchored to the dock, then set free to sail, the illusion becomes the wind that blows the boat forward, until the midnight hour, when all winds stop and all voices come to rest.

The privy few who live real and honest like an open wound, not hiding behind myth, not doubling back, their stories clear and parallel and full of metaphor for anyone who cares to read them.

She came back on stage. There were no lights shining from above. The crew had long left for home. The show was over. Somewhere, she heard the piano keys playing and she ran to discover them but kept finding dark alleys.

Why was he there? Perhaps hoping for the real her among the shadows, among the memories of actors who had long since shed their costumes for street clothes. Was he digging for a glimpse of actual instead of the perfect form she showed him?

Please? He realized he was begging and it was not a becoming state. If just once, he could touch her and feel her tremble, just once…

She darted behind another painted facade and another and then she was spinning to the edge of the stage. He ran with his arms extended to catch her as she fell but he misjudged the angle and she landed on the ground.

She laughed. I wanted to see what you would do, she said. And then she was running again, running away, running toward dreams that would never become her days.

Hands in his pockets, he turned away from her and walked up the lonely aisle, the seats echoing in their emptiness, pushed open the door and headed for home.

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