Centre Stage

Emotion. Raw emotion raced through her veins. This was it, the big moment finally here. Time for her to step up and take her place at centre stage. All eyes would be on her and she knew it. She thrived off it, that passion, the only thing kept her feeling alive. She took one last slow glance at all the actors, dancers, set, props, costumes and scenery around her. She marvelled at how all of these elements portrayed a seemingly true reality to their audience. She had seen it a hundred times or more; the audience captured and convinced.

Only the actors and stagehands knew how false it actually was. A perfected smile pulled itself across her face. She knew this moment was real. That’s all that mattered. The royal velvet curtains with trimmings of gold and filled by deep rouge swung open in what seemed like slow motion. All eyes to the stage. Isobelle was seventeen years old, although one would never have thought so to look at her or converse with her. She was wise beyond her years and a favourite with the locals of the town. She was reknowned for her sweet warm nature and brave spirit.

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Ever since her mother had embarked upon a new romance with a young sailor named Joe, Isobelle was forced to take on the key responsibilities of looking after her sickly father, twelve year old brother, Stephen and three year old baby sister, Mary. At one time her father was very well respected and considered quite the wealthy man. His charm and wit sat extremely well within the community. Unbeknown to the people of the town, Mr Jonathan Morris concealed a dark gambling addiction that fuelled his violent and anger-filled strikes upon his wife’s fragile body.

Each time was the same as the last and the times that would follow. Emily loved Jonathan with all her heart. They had met when they were both fourteen years of age and married at just sixteen years old. Jonathan managed to work his way up to being a well-respected businessman. Never had anyone treated Emily like him. He would spontaneously buy her lavish gift such as exotic jewels, fine garments and trips to the theatre. His only aim was to please Emily and keep her comfortable as the lady of his affections. He always wanted more and more.

He would take his weekly earnings and place numerous bets and use the majority of his earnings up. On a good week, he could come home with up to three times his earnings that he would generously divide and spend on his family. However, on a bad week, he would come home with barely enough money to buy a couple of slices of bread. It was on these days that he unveiled his devilish angered side. Emily would be warned of these days when she heard the front door slam with a thunderous echo and his heavy boots being flung sharply against the wall.

Immediately she would hurry the children to bed as she knew what would soon follow. She herself, would run to the corner and sit in her chair, quickly picking up her embroidery pretending to be calm and welcoming while inside, absolutely petrified. The beatings were so severe sometimes; she had to stay in her bedroom for several days on the pretence of being ill. She would lie to her children and tell them they were not to come and see her, as she didn’t want them to become ill too. During those times, Jonathan would be angelic. He would take great care of the children and tend to every need Emily had.

He would make promise after empty promise about how he would change. While with Emily though, he never did change. Emily could no longer bear it for as much as she loved him, he broke her heart with his betrayal of her trust every time. She finally cracked. As she walked away, she made a promise to her children that she would always come and see them as often as she could. She knew they would be better off staying with their father as she couldn’t provide for all three of them as he could. Also, she still had a deep love for Jonathan and couldn’t bear the thought of taking everything he loved away from him.

It would have literally killed him. Upon leaving, she stared straight ahead and dared not look back at the three hurt little faces who watched their mother leave their life. The pain seared through her heart as she turned away. The image of her babies’ tearstained cherubim faces imprinted into her mind. As she approached the door, she was jolted and looking down, she saw Mary at her feet. Her little baby arms trying desperately to prevent her mother from leaving but one big stride was enough to break the baby’s clasp. Not till a year later and they see her again.

Jonathan’s heartache was so overwhelming that he soon grew to be severely depressed and depended on Isobelle for everything. He had to leave his job because of his depression. He handed over all his money to Isobelle in order to aid with the keeping of their home, but that soon ran short and she herself had to work to be able to feed the family. Whenever she went out to the market place, she held her head high even when she inevitably caught all the stares, finger pointing and hushed whispers but she carried on none the less.

Soon she became a much-loved member of the community, always willing to help and never caught without a bright smile or uplifting sense of humour. At seventeen, she had blossomed into a beautiful young woman. Her pale skin had a porcelain glow, her long luscious locks gathered in a low pony tail, her rose stained cheeks complimented her smile wonderfully, her hypnotic apple green eyes framed by dark lashes and her freckles sat across the bridge of her nose and shoulders like kisses from the sun. Boys and young gentlemen adored her and little girls wanted to be like her.

She was also quite the actress too. She had joined the local acting group at twelve years old, back when her father was able to afford such luxuries, and had been enchanted by drama ever since. There was no way she could afford such a price now but the kind hearted leaders let her continue free of charge. A young man named Robert Kinney seemed to have an unhealthy infatuation with Isobelle. At eighteen, he was a year older than Isobelle and a lot more disreputable. At the market place, Isobelle’s dismissive banter toward him once angered him.

He liked what he saw and wanted what he liked. He was seen to suddenly grab Isobelle’s arm roughly and pull her towards him. She grimaced as she tried to escape his grasp. A rush of the crowd concealed what happened next. Isobelle was flustered, and for a good few weeks her usual sparkle was lost and her soul was diminished. She eventually returned to her usual self but was never quite the same. Emily made contact at around springtime and Isobelle invited her to her performance down at the Lotus Theatre.

The performance day eventually arrived. As she tried to steady her breathing, Isobelle glanced around the cutain to catch a glimpse of the audience. Her eyes locked on the front row where her father had managed to come and leave the safety of his dark room for one night. Sat beside him where Stephen and Mary, and beside them her mother, eagerly awaiting her daughter’s presence. Her eyes then shot to a sharp focus as she saw Robert Kinney, sidle in the middle row. She quickly calmed herself, and stood in position for curtain rise.

The stage filled with a red hue, sharp reflections of glass flitted around the audience and the shrill sound of the actors all screaming in unison bombarded their ears. Isobelle completely lost herself in her performance. Halfway through and the time had come. Time for her to take centre stage. She stepped forward and began to deliver an aggressive monologue. She exclaimed shockingly loudly. She firstly addressed a fellow actor then suddenly turned toward the audience. She spat out her speech about a stolen childhood, betrayal and horror.

She stared long and hard at the three people before her. She then pulled a prop pistol out of her jacket pocket and waved it frantically about as tears streamed down her face. She thrust the gun first at her father, then her mother and then sharply At Robert Kinney. She then turned the gun on herself. She gave her last line. The light dimmed. A roaring shot fired. Silence. A few seconds and a loud eruption of applause and a standing ovation from the audience. The hand fell with the curtains. The deep rouge of the royal curtains soaked up the pool of red. The houselights came up.