What people don’t realise is that the seats might as well be empty. The stage is lonely; you perform to darkness with the echoes of faces. The curve of a nose there, eyes there. I can’t see you smiling, I can’t see you sneering. It’s just us and the noise. I don’t know what Tony can see from stage left, if your faces loom out of the murk, or if Rob really looks at you, just you, only girl in the world, from centre stage.
I am buried at the back, defended. I keep you all steady.
The top left exit door spills out light. All I see are fluorescent yellow and dark green, reflective strips glowing on jackets. They make their way down through the seats, pause in the third row down and push along. Rob glances back at me and I know in his look that it’s you, but I keep the beat, I keep the smile on my face as my eyes watch them carry you, tiny crumbled figure in a flowered dress, up and out.
I shut my eyes and listen.
If I just keep listening.
If I just keep going I’ll finish this.
If I just keep listening then the seats are empty.
I’m just keeping the beat. It’s just us, and the noise.
Identify a powerful and significant personal experience from your past (the birth of a younger sibling, breaking your arm, a family road trip, divorce). Then change the setting, and write a story in which your narrator encounters that experience.