Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fiction: THE UNDERSTUDY by Chantelle Aimée Osman

Anne slipped backstage, walking noiselessly, trying to minimize the reverberating echo of her footsteps. She eased open the dressing room door marked with a large golden star. The moment was chosen well. All the actors and stagehands stood at attention in the wings as the curtain fall on their first night loomed.

Immediately, her senses were assaulted by the overpowering and overflowing bouquets of orchids, lilies and other pungent blooms sent by well-wishers. Cards that should have been addressed to her on the opening night of the play whose starring role was rightfully hers. After all, she was the one it had been written for.

Taking a small envelope from her pocket, she carefully dumped the contents into the pitcher of fresh spring water that sat on the dressing table—one of the many demands she would not have made. Anne sat at the table, trailing her fingers possessively over the pots of makeup and brushes, and glanced in the mirror at her face, illuminated by the bright lights. Sighing, she drew herself up, crept out, and joined the others in the wings. No one had noticed the brief absence of the understudy.

Behind her, the noise escalated. She smiled, knowing the thunderous applause would soon be for her, and her alone.

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