DRAMA IN EXILE

BY JANICE LICHTENWALDT

 

Mirain roughly scraped her right cheek back and forth against a piece of blue mark-out tape on the main stage floor. The dried tears had started to itch where they had left salty streaks. The sensation pushed her past caring what he thought. The inflamed blood vessels crisscrossing the whites of her eyes aggravated her blue irises casting a lavender glow when caught by the spotlight. Black smudges of supposedly waterproof mascara veined down the sides of her face. A decent sized goose egg throbbed under her blonde hair just behind her right ear. Mirain’s head pounded out the matching beat of her racing heart. She was fuzzy on what had just happened and was unsure what was coming next.

Cheap manila rope cut deeper into her wrists with each micro movement. The feeling in her fingers began to disappear. She would be incapable of grabbing or holding anything very soon. Would that hurt her chances she wondered. She felt blood beginning to break through raw skin. This was the real deal. Why did he have to torture her like this? He was a sadist, pure and simple. He had been clear. “DO NOT speak unless spoken to. DO NOT move unless instructed. DO NOT try to anticipate my intentions. Just obey me.” How could he expect her to not react to this? What a fucker.

“Turn around, fold your legs back and kneel.”

“It hurts,” she bit back before she could help herself.

“I don’t fucking care. Do it now.”

Mirain struggled from the last position he had demanded, legs out in front, ankles crossed, hands placed gracefully in her lap. She could feel his loathing wafting toward her from behind the spotlight. She lay down on her back, rolled over onto her stomach and, with a grimace, pushed herself up with her bound hands.

 I hope he gets this over with quickly, she thought.

Now on her knees with her hands in her lap, Mirain found herself facing the grand curtain. Her shadow cast a dramatic image on the red velvet before her. Black spots floated before her eyes, either from the whack to the head or the blinding spotlight she’d been staring into – probably both.

Mirain waited for additional instructions, but the bastard was silent. To keep the panic at bay, she covertly assessed her surroundings. The stage apron still had glitter on it from Sunday night’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The cleaning crew did a lousy job, she thought. The silver dust covered the front of her body and mixed with the blood seeping around the edges of the rope.

“Hey, just so you know, these ropes are cutting into my wrists. Can you do something about them?”

She heard a growl of frustration coming from the front of house. Mirain couldn’t help a small smile of satisfaction. Whatever this creep was up to, it wasn’t going to plan.

“What do you want me to do?”

Silence.

“Seriously, what do you want? It sounds like something’s wrong. What can I do to help?” she figured playing nice at this point was a good idea.

“Shut. The. Fuck. Up.”

“I’m just trying to be helpful.”

Mirain heard a faint click, like a cassette door closing, and a satisfied grunt.

Duwies, she thought, he’s filming this.

“Ok, raise your hands over your head but keep your ass on your heels.”

“Like this?”

An affirmative grunt.

Blood started to trickle down her upraised arms.

“Ok, I’ve had ENOUGH. Screw this,” Mirain said defiantly.

In that moment, seeing her REAL blood running down her arm, she made up her mind. She would not do this on her knees, covered in silver glitter dust. She would fight, give it everything she had, or die trying.

She stepped up on one leg and readied herself to fully stand.

“What the fuck are you doing? Get back down. I’m not done with you.”

“Oh really? Guess what, asshole. I’m done with you.”

That’s when she heard the malicious laugh from the side of the stage. Deallus.

“Psst…Mirain…how’s the audition going? How’s the head?” Deallus hissed as she contorted her fingers, interlocking them to create the dadorchuddiospell, then snapped her left wrist to throw the swirling energy at Mirain.

The spell slammed into Mirain causing her body to shudder. Visions of the prior evening came crashing back. Deallus’s unexpected last minute invitation to the Swinging Parrot Karaoke bar, the continuous flow of Soda & Bitters, the unfortunate tumble she took off the bar while belting out the last bars of Bon Jovi’s Living On A Prayer. Thank god the bouncer could see the tragedy unfolding. She only hit her head on the edge of the bar. She could have broken her neck.

Deallus had set this all up. Her half-sister had done it to her AGAIN. Mirain had thought their narrow escape to the Cyffredinworld and need to live as the humans would temper her sister’s need to dominate. While utterly pointless, Mirain couldn’t help it. “Why?” she mouthed. The sardonic smile smeared across Deallus’ red lips was the only answer she’d get.

From the front of house she heard, “That’s all we need from you Mirain. Deallus Brenin? You’re next. Please ask the stagehand to tie your hands with the nylon rope this time.”

——————

The audition had been Friday afternoon. By Monday morning Mirain’s spell-induced hangover had finally been eradicated. She’d spent the entire weekend buried under the covers of her dorm room bed – only getting up to purge the remainder of whatever Deallus had spiked her Soda & Bitters with. Thank the goddess her roommate had been away. She’d never felt so miserable. Deallus had gone too far this time, waiting until Mirain was at her most vulnerable.

Mirain had let all of her protections expire after making it through the first semester of university in the Cyffredinworld. The effort to create and maintain the spell work was significant. Besides, there had been no sign of hostility; no one had followed them through the craciaubetween the two worlds. Why her father had sent Deallus as her bugailwould have to remain a mystery until they were called home. Deallus’ designation as bugailbound the half-sisters to be within a quarter league of each other. It was close enough for protection but far enough for some privacy.

Both women had been provided new identities by their human allies, which placed them at the University of Washington in Seattle on the North American continent. Mirain had won one small concession. The quarter league boundary allowed her to live in Hansee Hall on the north side of campus while Deallus was relegated to Terry Hall on the far south side of campus. Deallus had been angered by what she had deemed “banishment” but Mirain didn’t care. She wasn’t thrilled to be in the Cyffredinworld but she did plan to make the most of it if she had to be here for the near future.

Which is what led Mirain to the UW Drama department. The drama school was located on the north end of campus. Mirain had discovered the beautiful brick building during her first week on the University and feel in love. She also happened to meet, Singer, a Junior drama major. He had taken the time to show her around the school and finished on the main stage of the school’s theater. She didn’t know which she was attracted to more at the time. The flutter of love died out with Singer after a few weeks. The theater consumed her.

Deallus was instantly jealous. She argued with Mirain that it was unsafe to be on the stage (lie) and as her bugail, Deallus had the authority to tell her where she could spend her time. Mirain ignored her and went about her business. It wasn’t really true and they both knew it, especially given Mirain’s birth position.

Finally feeling herself again, Mirain trudged through the snow to her first class, Beginning Lighting Design. As she drew closer to the Drama building her stomach seemed to close in on itself like a black hole. She could feel her throat close up. Air fought its way in and out of her lungs.

“This is SO stupid!” Mirain yelled at herself. “You’re not going to get the part. The audition was a disaster!”

But she just couldn’t help herself. This had been the first play she’d auditioned for. She’d been at school for five months and had finally found the courage to step on the stage. The worse part of the audition hadn’t even been Deallus’ betrayal, although that did sting. It was the understanding that even though the director had been a complete jackass, she still wanted the role.

Disgusted with herself, she entered the main lobby of the building. Students were crowding around the bulletin board, fighting each other to get a look at the bright red paper listing the names of those lucky students who had made the cut.

“Arrrraaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” A blood-curdling scream dripping with disappointment and colored with anger emanated from the front center of the circle. Mirain knew that voice very well. She smiled.

“Hmmm…I guess I got the part.”