Humiliation

A Texty Ladies writing exercise. (Sorry I’m late!)

Humiliation pierced Diane’s gut, filling her mouth with bile. She leaned her head against the door jamb of the stone theater building and felt tears sting her eyes. Inside, the raucous laughter of the audience continued unabated. But this wasn’t a comedy. They were laughing at her.

Two weeks ago, the director had cast her in the lead. Rehearsals, while initially rough, had finally come together. She knew her lines and her blocking. Even her costume, a white satin dress with angel wings, had turned out just the way she’d designed it. And tonight, when the director had told everyone to break a leg, he had smiled at her.

But she had ruined the performance. A moment of panic and her most important line was forgotten. The entire play hinged on those few words and the other actors were forced to improvise, trying to bring this derailed wreck back on its proverbial track.

She knew the glares of her fellow actors weren’t unwarranted, but that wasn’t why she had fled. It was the hoots and catcalls from the audience that exacerbated her mortification.  Outside, Diane wiped her arm across her tear-streaked eyes, smearing her mascara. She didn’t care. If she felt foolish, she might as well look the part.

Footsteps made her look up, face flushing. Great. It was the director. She tried to read his expression but it was neither angry nor exasperated. Diane started to speak but he held up his hand.

“Don’t worry about it.”

She shook her head. What did he mean? Surely he was pissed that she had missed her line.

“You’re not the only one to feel like an idiot.” He leaned against the stones, drawing one leg up and resting his foot against the wall.

She turned away, biting her lower lip in frustration. Of course he’d feel like an idiot. He was the one who’d cast her.

He held out his hand. “Come on. We need you.”

“But I messed up.”

He shook his head. “Hardly. At least you didn’t screw up like I did. I was in a play and had to write the word “public” on a board. I forgot the ‘l.’”

She grinned. “You just made that up to make me feel better.”

“I wish. But if it made you feel better, my job here is done.”

But mine’s not, she thought as she took his arm. Not yet.

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