• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 05
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Theatre lights

I remember, as a child, peering over the edge of a theatre balcony down on the black and white beetles in the orchestra pit and the nodding, bouffant hairdos of the audience. I remember letting my gaze rise, reluctantly, reaching across the vast void, past the bars of light specked with motes to the monumental ceiling light.

In a tangle of wrought iron roses and tulips, studded with softly glowing light bulbs, its inverted tiara hung in the centre of a nest of dorures and moulures and baroque stucco. Gaze floated free, I followed, to grip a dusty iron rose, a slowly unscrewing light bulb, feeling only the howling of the empty space beneath my swinging legs. Above the grating of violins, all eyes fixed on the stage, I hung in the loneliness of a child’s imaginings. Head spinning, I pushed back from the rail, deep into the musty, enveloping safety of my seat, reeling from the touch of the néant.

Stars blink. They look different, are different. They glitter ice-fierce and random, no comforting constellations here. This is their place, not mine. Vertigo whirls and stomach roils. I close my eyes, press back in my seat, but the great glowing tiara of light falls away and I am nowhere, not floating – a falling point falling? – with nowhere to land.
It’s so cold.