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Clarke's Dream: Tragedy in Three Acts

May 9, 2008

You have the balcony seat for the dress rehearsal. Excitement overtakes you as you realize that your manuscript has worked it's way to the stage. A slender woman in a black dress adjusts her opera glasses next to you, twirling a string of pearls into knots with her fingers. You can't quite remember who she is, but you're extremely honored, nevertheless, that she came to watch.

The inexplicably blue curtain opens on act one and she raises a finger to her lips, in spite of the entire theater being empty.

There's murder to it. Voluptuous and sensational murder. Act One. You flip through your notes and recall that it is entitled 'FEAR'.

Unlucky words and unlucky glances are exchanged. Plans are made to go awry from the start. The three characters (the hero, the heroine and the villain) dance about one another in a jumbled half-love-story, half-political-drama, never realizing how surely they walk the bold path to destruction. Longing... Hope... Betrayal... all the pieces line up perfectly until the trap snaps shut.

BANG.

In the end there's the heroine dead and bloody on the ground, the villain holding a smoking gun, and the hero absent. The spectacle is silent and sublime.

Back in reality, the woman in black smiles broadly at you and puts her hands on yours before you can applaud. You get the impression that you ought obey for now.

The curtain opens on Act II. 'WRATH'.

This is the revenge part. This is where the villain ought get his comeuppance and the hero ought triumph... or it would be if you were the sort for trite morality tales. There's naturally a twist. A delicious twist. You have to replace the heroine, though. It won't work any other way. You made her a little softer, a little smaller, a little more sympathetic than the last one. You're glad they picked a blonde actress. She's on opposite sides this time.

The climactic battle goes off without a hitch. Beautiful. You admire the footwork. The hero closes in to finish his nemesis, when Heroine Mark II makes her unexpected entrance, pleading with her eyes and begging that the villain's life be spared. The moral dilemma presents itself.

But before there is room for mercy, she takes the instant of hesitation to strike. Heroines, by nature of their position often see fit to keep a dagger in their bodice, no? The curtain closes on the now dying hero and the wounded villain. It's the woman who stands triumphant before the audience.

Your mysterious companion doesn't have to motion in this intermission. You remain quiet on her account.

The name of the final act escapes your memory. It's a little anticlimactic all things considered and you remember not being quite satisfied with it. The villain replaces the hero. The heroine from Act II dies off stage. The new antagonist is something out of a melodrama, sinister and cackling. You're surprised he doesn't have a handlebar mustache. No depth at all. You frown a little as the former-villain-turned-hero fights his own battle - a sort of pale mockery of Act Two.

There is no woman now, though. They're long gone... fragile things. When all is done, the curtain finally closes on a confused man, seemly unsure as to who he is or what he has become. He has been thrust into the final act with no title and no name.

You feel a little sorry for him as the house lights turn on. You look to your companion to find her missing, and watch as the audience hirtherto unseen below you explodes into applause. Prince Wright. Keeper Haus. Seneschal Grey. Jay Winslow. Dr. Campbell. Pisces... A sea of familiar and unfamiliar faces sprawls below you, ecstatic at what they have just been shown. The noise engulfs you, wave by wave, and smiling, you flip through your playbill.

The pages are blank.

The applause turns to murmurs Looking up you see the curtain call seems to have gone awry. The actor portraying the hero-villain hasn't moved since the end of the third act. The woman in black is next to him, looking back up at you with an accusatory gaze.

As she lowers the opera glasses at long last, you are met with Aaralyn's eyes.

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