So, without further ado, I present the Actress' performance. Enjoy.
"Hark!" went the stunning woman in the equally stunning white dress and head veil. She sprang from her large, four poster bed with ornate carvings on the head and front wood. Her gloved fingers lightly hovered over her heart while her other hand reached toward the window and its translucent curtains. "Can you not hear it?"
The vast room that was her prison was dark as all prisons would be. But it had rich carpets and furniture so expensive that a chair could have fed a family for years. Sunlight was the only light that would be coming into the room at this time. And the gas lamps would stay dull until night came and the servant was scheduled to light them.
She kept her face away from the window, but strained her ears for sound. There was barely a tiny whistle of a bird's song reaching the ears of the audience. The trees swayed to the wind. And just barely audible was the sound of horse shoes clapping on dirt ground, the jingling of the metal that bound the creatures to the carriage.
"He's here!" the woman cried out in glee, suddenly slammer her back against the door, her hands clasped over her chest. The biggest smile anyone would ever see was playing on her lips. "He's finally here! Oh, listen! Do you not hear him coming? DO you not hear the birds singing him praise? At last, he has come!"
She rushed to the giant wardrobe of rich wood and master craftsmanship, throwing out most of its contents until she came back out, wearing a different white dress and a different pair of elbow-length gloves. She slammed the wardrobe shut and then hurried out the room in light prances along with the sound of a solo flute performance.
"Oh, happy day!" she said as her feet danced down the left staircase that curved down. With its counterpart on the right, the stairs made a U-shape. Like her room, like the rest of the house, it was dark and dreary from years of neglect. "At last, my prince has come to liberate me of this horrid prison. However luxurious it may be, I would rather lay in filth forever than stand one more day in this living nightmare orchestrated by my captors who desire only my wealth, whilst my prince desires only my love!"
She laughed and danced. Her graceful movements were testimony of her high birth. Totally alone, she pranced in celebration of her coming liberation. Her coming happily ever after.
"Listen to the birds singing praise for him! Hear the songs and ballads of the great hero who has come to save his princess!"
She twirled around in the main lobby, her skirt sweeping in the air around her ankles. Her movements had the grace of a ballerina. And she swayed as such. Then, she stopped, straining her ears again as she leaned one side to the graying double-doors.
"Oh! I hear the horses stop. My prince is here! Now come, my hero! Burst through the doors, sweep me off my feet, and carry me to my happily ever after!"
As timed perfectly, the lights went off, plunging everything into black. When the lights came back on, the woman's dress was black. She was on her knees weeping. Behind her was a black coffin with black roses atop.
"But it was not meant to be," she says, looking up to the heavens, tears streaming from her eyes. "Oh, cursed fate! Oh, unforgiving cruel fate! Why must the heavens forsake me in my most dire hour? Why must it be that I must spend my days alone in suffering?"
She raised her arms, looking over the audience. She was elated to see how captivated they were with the performance. This was what she lived for.
"Oh, can you not hear it now?" she asked. "Can you not see the sorrow? The birds do not sing this day. No. They cry for the loss of their prince, my prince. My hero. Oh, how he swore in his dying breath that he would save me. A promise that he cannot keep."
She got to her feet and mimicked sword fighting with her empty hands. Her movements were the wild, untrained swings of an amateur fencer.
"He came demanding the release of his bride, the noble man he was," she said. "He fought and fought, and fought to his last. His swordsmanship was impeccable. Many had fallen to his blade. But alas, even he could not defeat them all."
She plunged the imaginary sword into her self and fell in portrayal of her love's death. Then she got back up, faced the audience and raised her arms again.
"And now, I must spend the rest of my days in utter misery, utter undeserving misery."
The woman broke down to more sobbing. The lights dimmed to total darkness. After a short pause, the lights flared brightly.
The smiling actress stepped forward to the audience, took a bow, turned around and took to admiring her own stage. Her big performance was at an end. She turned again to face her audience once more.
There was no one there.
There was a scream of madness, and then the woman, too, was gone, forever . . .
OR IS SHE?
(The above image was actually used for the cover of my Shadow Slayers book, another of my horror stories.)
So, what do you think? Leave comments!