They stare up with their naked faces and observe the long-haired, round-faced young woman, her hands shaking with nerves, shuffling through pages, squinting through the bright stage lights and sweating under their heat. The expressionless faces waiting to be encouraged this way or that, a frown, a smile, a gasp, a giggle, a tear; just one will do; it will make the multitude that the young woman has poured over her paragraphs seem a little less useless. All they want is content. Coherent content that they can soak up and process, through those brains, between those ears, behind those eyes; that glare up with so much focus; gazing through the young woman’s naked soul.
A pair of lungs get cleared and the sound echoes and rumbles through the room, deafening for the young woman, inaudible to the audience.
She lowers her focus to the pages that she shuffles through her hands and she tries to think. She knows what she must do. She must deliver herself from this moment of stomach wrenching pause. She must transport the audience away from reality. She must bring them on the journey that she once traveled in a dream life. She must show them the butterfly effect that caused these organised smudges to form letters, that formed words, that now crawl from her mouth, and grow wings, and flutter through the air, and perch on each of the ears in the room.
For a moment, they smile; a momentary indication of delight at the sight of words that metamorphose. But this pretty exhibition of pixie magic is not enough to satisfy their demonic appetites as they grab the butterflies from above their ears shove them between their teeth and munch on them like dragons on horse bones, preferring to feed on the girl’s pain and labour than to gaze upon her creations with awe.
She returns from her pages to the polite applause of the audience, their facial expressions still unstirred, no smiles, no frowns, no tears; not one. She descends from the stage and returns to her seat amongst her demons.
It was the content. It was too sweet. She shouldn’t have sugar coated the butterflies. It’s a lesson learnt and another dagger through her heart. That doesn’t matter now. It’s her turn to throw the daggers.