The lights go down. The curtain closes.
It opens once more. A young Woman steps forward, accepting her bow.
The audience is a shadow, an ethereal shadow. They are all one, no individuals.
She accepts their offerings, the praise and enthusiasm. She knows not who they are.
The curtain closes for good that night. The company disperses.
The finality of the night hits the Woman, still and silent on the empty stage.
Slowly, methodically, she removes the pins from her hair, the pearls from her neck.
She removes the microphone from her dress. Her hair falls in tough ringlets around her face.
The stage and the young Woman look different; both seem empty.
The enthusiasm of the characters brought life to the stage…to the young Woman.
She is not the same Woman she was a mere moment ago.
As she exits the dead stage, she changes. She is no longer the Woman.
She is now just a Girl, insecure and lost. Her composure is broken.
Her eyes are sad and empty, the light of her character completely depleted.
This Girl is disappointing; not to others, but to herself.
She craves the confidence of the young Woman she portrayed. Yet she knows it is gone.
As if in a daze, she removes her costume, the final piece left of the lively, compelling Woman.
It will take time to get that Woman back; for now, she will continue to be the Girl.
Still, she will never be Herself. A smile will always brighten her eyes.
Her laugh will echo through many rooms. Her smile will be contagious.
But none of it is real. She is not real.
She is exhausted; exhausted from pretending to be satisfied.
Becoming the Girl takes work; she must hold together the cracks in Herself every moment.
The Woman is different. She is effortless; she appears without warning.
On cue, the Woman arrives, unfailingly, the minute the Girl takes the stage.
And again on cue, the Woman departs, unfailingly, the minute the Girl leaves the stage.
No one sees the difference between the Woman and the Girl; it is something that is felt, not seen.
But if she were to be Herself, the contrast would be obvious.
So she is the Girl, always the Girl, never allowing anyone to see anything else.
There seems to be no such thing as her other two personas. And that is what she wants.
Her emptiness must not be seen by anyone; she simply cannot handle the questions.
And so she continues. Nothing changes. She is three people.
Three entities which have nothing to do with each other, yet everything at once.
She strives for the moment when they all meld, when she truly becomes the one she most craves.
But that journey is filled with pitfalls and wrong turns. For now, she simply goes on.
The Woman is the stage.
The Girl is her mask.
And she is Herself.