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Copyright by Gregg Liebgold

Chapter XI

     Not knowing the way to get backstage, I decided
to follow the other actors that went behind the curtain.
Stepping up the wooden stairs with my damp shoes, I
climbed onto the stage.  With each step across the stage,
my feet seemed to bounce, the floor giving way with some
type of cushioning.  That must be how all the actors  moved
in the dark so quietly before the lights came up on each
scene.  I turned around when I got to the center of the stage.
The lights from above shone down on me, in pinks and
yellows, warming my face.  I smoothed out my dress and
stared out towards the empty seats.  To my surprise, the
lights in my face made it impossible to see the audience,
everything was dark beyond the stage.  I felt a feeling I
hadn't felt before.  It wasn't quite excitement, it wasn't
exactly feeling anxious, it was, well, I just felt right, right at
      I smiled, turned around and searched for the
opening in the curtain.  It was velvety-soft to the touch and
soon I found the opening and peeked to what was on the
other side. The back-stage area was full of people.  Some
were taking pieces of the set off the stage, others were up
on ladders unhooking lights off the ceiling, while others
were carrying off the backdrop with the painting of the two
castles.  They were taking all the magic away, packing it in
huge crates and black cases, to move it to the next small
      Most of the noise was coming from this hallway to
the right, so I followed the sounds.  Turning the corner, I
saw the crowds of people, most of them huddled around the
actors.  There seemed to be as much energy back-stage as
there was a few minutes ago on-stage.  Everyone seemed
very excited, with lots of hugging and drinking going on.  It
made me smile, they really had put on quite a show.  All of
them together helped create something magical.  Some
added lights, others added costumes, others added sets, and
with the actors and the words, they all had created a play.
Each night, they were really giving a gift to the audience.
What a special thing to be able to give to someone and
what a wonderful way to spend your life.
      I spotted the actress who had played Juliet.  She had
long, beautiful, black hair and was still in her costume, a
light, blue dress of silk that flowed to the floor in one even
pattern, tied in the middle with a matching blue ribbon.
How elegant and beautiful she looked, I thought, as she
smiled at a girl that was helping collect her belongings.
      "Excuse me," I meekly interrupted.  "I just wanted
to say how wonderful you were."
      She smiled even wider, her teeth sparkling between
her red, shiny lips.  "Thank you.  And thanks for coming.
We were lucky to have anyone here at all with this storm
you're having."
      "I wouldn't have missed it, storm or no storm.  I just
feel bad that you didn't have a full audience."
      "That's okay.  We've had packed houses every night
up until the last two nights.  And for me, I'd perform in
front of two people or two hundred."
      "Because you just like to perform?"
      "Not like.  Love!  I love to be out there.  I can't wait
each night to put on my costume and get out there on-
      "It sounds like a dream."
      "That's how it feels."
      I got up my courage to say what I really wanted to
say.  "I also wanted to congratulate the actor who played
Romeo.  Is he here?"
      "That'd be Joshua.  He should be over there in that
room," she pointed to another dressing room, the door half
ajar.  "He usually gets real quiet after a show, but I'm sure
he wouldn't mind if you popped your head in and said
      "Thank you.  Once again, you were great.  Nice
talking to you."
      "Same to you.  Thanks for coming," she said as I
shook her hand.
      Joshua, I said under my breath.  What a beautiful
name.  My heart began to beat faster as I got closer to the
door.  Once again, I smoothed my dress and ran my hands
through my hair, trying to calm the frizz.  I took a deep
breath and slowly pushed the door open.
      Joshua was seated, still in full costume, staring at
himself in the mirror.  His deep blue eyes seemed sad, I
could tell, even from this far distance.  I didn't even know
him, but I had this sudden impulse to just walk up to him,
hold him tight, and make him feel better.  It was as if I
could feel his sadness and I wanted to make it go away.
But I couldn't move.  In fact, I wasn't sure if I was even
breathing.  He was so stunning, so angelic, so handsome, he
literally took my breath away.
      His eyes caught mine in the mirror, frozen there for
an instant.  As he turned around and looked directly into
my eyes, suddenly all the sounds from the other room
vanished.  I couldn't hear or see anything, not even him.
For a moment, it felt like the room had slipped away.  I felt
the same warmth that I had felt on the canoe, filling me up
again like a warm waterfall rushing over my body, going
through every fiber of my being.  I thought I would burst,
my body not being able to contain it, but the warmth
continued to rush over me and through me.  It felt like
hundreds of people were holding me, hugging me and
caressing me all at the same time.  It felt like love.
      Tears began flowing out of me, not of sadness and
not of joy, they just seemed to be releasing themselves out
of me, across my eyes.  Opening my eyes, I found I was
still in the room, but the warmth stayed with me.
      "Are you an angel?" he spoke, his words just like
on-stage, ringing through me, his eyes locked on mine still.
I imagined I could swim into them and dive into his very
      "An angel? No, I'm not an angel," I finally spoke,
wiping my eyes.
      "You're just so very beautiful.  I'm sorry for staring,"
he said, not taking his eyes from mine.  His makeup was
gone, but he looked even more handsome.  He had thick
dark eyebrows that curved from the sides and then lay flat
across his deep blue eyes.  His nose seemed carved like a
statue, majestic and strong.  His lips were almost feminine,
full and red, making the shape of a heart as he smiled this
brilliant smile.
      "You think I'm beautiful?" I asked, surprised I was
still standing, yet alone speaking.
      "Yes.  Very.  Who are you?"
      "My name's Jessica, but everyone calls me Jesse."
      "Jessica," he said out loud.  I don't know why I had
given him my true name, I just felt compelled to.  Maybe I
just wanted to let him know the real me, and this was the
first step.  Hearing him say my name sounded like pure
music.  Each word out of his heart-shaped mouth made me
more and more mesmerized, like they were drawing me
into him.  "Our names sounds alike.  Mine's Joshua," he
said reaching for my hand.
      I decided to curtsy just like I saw women do in the
movies.  He seemed to bring out the lady in me. When he
touched me, it felt electric.  I could feel each of his four
fingers on my palm, touching my skin and his touch made
me dizzy.  I clasped his hand harder to steady myself, and
then he pressed his lips to the back of my hand, something
no one had ever done, something so tender, so like a
gentleman.  I could feel the warmth in me, flowing through
my arms, to my hands, flowing into his hand and his lips.  I
felt the warmth flowing through the two of us, connecting
      Jessica and Joshua, I thought to myself.  He's right.
The two names did sound alike.  I liked the way they
sounded together, like they fit together just right.
      "Will you forgive me?  I really must get out of my
costume.  They need to pack everything away tonight.  It'll
just be a moment.  Would you please stay?  I would love to
talk to you more."
      I felt I would do anything he asked me to.  "Yes, of
course.  I'd like that too," I said taking a step back, letting
go of his hand, but not of the feeling, the feeling of being
      "I'll just be one minute," he said as I went to leave
the room.  Looking over my shoulder before closing the
door, I watched him reach his hands up to his hair.  He
began to pull his cropped brown hair away from his head,
and suddenly, this cascade of brilliant, glowing, wavy hair
fell across his face and over his shoulders.  His hair.  His
eyes.  It was him.  Joshua was him.  Joshua was the man
from my dreams!

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