Friday, 19 February 2021

The Moonlight Ingénue (A Short Story)

The Moonlight Ingénue

Tonight, we lost another major star of the stage…

Eloise walked gently up the pathway.  The flowers to either side of her entranced her, communicating something that only she could hear and feel.  She subtly moved her fingertips to her lips (the lips that had been her trademark, her motif during her working hours).  She amazed herself that the white foundation remained intact on her face.  A protective mask for the other colours that she applied or were forced upon her face by haggard hands, not her own hands which she kept covered when not on stage.  Her make-up artist who smoked roll ups and often apologised as she coughed in unison with the twittering of her associates who made up for the future silence by spewing forth their nocturnal activities, their indiscreet fumblings with minor celebrities and businessmen.  Their eyes on a lifetime of luxury, once the audience tired of the performers and their lithe and piquant movements across the stage.  Eloise reached up towards the moon with one hand and gently caressed her shoulders with the other hand.  She bent forward and her blue velvet dress followed her motion like an eager suitor.

Larry the Lost sat at his dressing table and pondered when he could leave.  One more set tonight.  He gazed at the waxy gunk on his face.  His face and body, a roadmap of endurance, prat falls and careless slaps (they were supposed to miss but Pogo always hit him with force.  Maybe, he was slowing down?)  Eloise and the Miraculous Mimes had completed their set.  He put on his oversized red shoes and ugly red nose.  The green wig and bowler hat were fine accessories for a wasted life.  He threw himself onto the stage and faced Pogo.  Pogo dressed in a fine suit but still wearing the clichéd accessories of clown wear, big brown shoes and a stupid red nose.  Their routine was now a complex critique of the class structure with the odd barbed comment thrown out at the audience, ‘You pay to watch a poor old clown get hurt by a rich man, what does that make you?  Ha ha’.  When his set was finished, Larry the Lost left the stage and promptly removed his make-up but left on his costume.  He left the theatre and entered the park outside.  From a distance, he saw Eloise…

Eloise turned around and saw Larry the Lost, the sad looking clown who she had secretly admired for some time.  The sheer physicality of his performance had enthralled her on more than one occasion.  Her own routine, a mimed interpretation of Goldilocks and the Three Bears or any number of other fairy tales, although well received by the audience were essentially mild titillation for older men with a liking for virgins.  She had tried her best to make them more than this but her outfits undermined her best intentions and the emphasis upon her luscious red lips in the promotional material for her shows left her feeling objectified.  She longed to star in something more substantial.  She no longer talked as she had nothing worthwhile to say and her publicist felt that unnecessary communication would fracture the public image of the ‘Silent Ingénue’.  She turned back to the pathway and headed towards the stairs.

Larry the Lost walked clumsily forward and called out, ‘Eloise, stop a minute, I need to talk to you’.  She stopped half way up a staircase and looked back, tilting her head down towards him.  A chain of light fleeing from the moon above flowed down the concrete steps that held her firmly to the ground.  She longed to float up towards the moon.  To be a particle of the vibrant portal to the heavens above.  Larry the Lost reached the stairs, clambered up a dozen of them and sweat fell profusely from his face.  He grabbed desperately for Eloise.  As he fell backwards, Eloise mouthed ‘I love you’.  The path broke his fall and his heart now out of control, beat away to the end of his life.  A drumroll for a fallen clown.  Eloise silently screamed and as the tears flowed from her eyes, the moon continued to gaze down as she joined Larry the Lost.  She removed his nose and wondered why he had kept his costume on yet removed his make-up?  She kissed him and put on his large red nose.  Pogo would have a new partner, only she would wear the suit.

We are proud to announce the birth of a major new talent…

Barry Watt – Monday 15th February 2021.      

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