a director's muse

Written in response to: Start your story looking down from a stage.... view prompt



Nothing will ever make for the show that the spectator imagines.

In her demoralizing ballad, Thea fell to the floor gracefully, one hand over her chest and the other tangled into her hair. The opera house was rapt in her performance as the crestfallen goddess, muddled within her futility and visions of monsters bent to look as she currently is. Doleful, and hungry for more of something that never had existed for her. She could never fall in love with a mortal, she would never be able to die, and all those she had considerably liked were now gone. Away from her insignificant grasp. 

The audience would never get their eyes off of this - staring in awe at the perfection that was radiating in front of them. Never in life would Thea disagree. She ducked her head, glazing her eyes over the throng of philanthropists before her. They all returned the gaze at her in anticipation. Those in the opera boxes watched closely through their spectacles, fishing to know of the details of the actress performing in front of them. 

The flare ends of her dress unfurled at her kneel, golden flowers loosening from the aureate fabric by her shins, now exposed to the spectators. The wealthy women purse their lips bitterly, watching as their husbands ogled at the actress in prurient interest. Thea was known as a sex symbol to those of great ignorance and salacious mindsets. May their tacky lives funnel through the ground and sprout weeds out of the hellhole that they've made for themselves.

Amid her poem, she scrutinized the director in the audience, who held partly stoic as he mouthed the lines. She averted the gaze to his indecent friends smirking in the direction of the stage, who recognized what their theatre friend was making. Thea then understood that she would be targeted for every mistake made in this portion of the play. The theatre critics would not pass up a chance to ruin her name. Especially the director, who chose for the position. He'd dare to wreck the name of his most shining starlet.

Her lips quivered as her whole body succumbed to the character's passion in this scene, and she sheds a tear from her right eye. Raising a shaky hand towards the ceiling, Thea says, "Est-ce une question de moralité? Est-ce que vous ne viviez pas pour voir les étoiles disparaître?" A bit quiet at the start, like a phlegmatic lady's retellings of a past lover. 

Is it a question of morality? Is it so that you don't live to see the stars disappear? The line never made sense to her, but it was as melodramatic as it needed to be.

Her eye twitches as she stares into the chandelier above her, nearly dimming her vision. It was for a few seconds before she could continue, and the opera house remained ghastly silent in that short period. Another teardrop is slipping from her control. She swallows before all hell breaks loose, trembling in her frailty.

Thea exhales and repeats her line. A crack in her voice took her off as more stupid saltwater streaked down her face. Like a scream, a bloody outcry with tears splotching the makeup that took an hour to put on. She slams her hands into her lap. Firmer; walking the bridge between reality and insanity. "Est-ce une question de moralité? Est-ce que vous ne viviez pas pour voir les étoiles disparaître?!" The audience members closest to her flinched at her clamor.

Is it a question of morality? Is it so that you don't live to see the stars disappear? If it was already said once, it should never be the same again.

Thea sniffed, pulling her palms under her eyes to clear away stray tears in hopes no more comes right after. The fiery words and their aftertaste spiked like pins into her tongue. Her fingers were shaking at her intensity, and her throat was scratchy now. She possibly lost her voice.

It didn't matter if her acting was lousy in the rounding finishes of the production, as no one will remember it. The guests will solely remember that the ending turned out that a goddess will live in torment and agony for the rest of her days, having a full view of the world withering up into flames. And her name will remain untouched, like a prized piece of artwork unless someone dares to steal it.

But don't all stolen gems get returned to their proper placements?

Like a gun, she shot her bullet and let out an explosive weep, stooping her head once more. Her shrieks of misery even punctured her own and perhaps of those in the front row.  

Three dancers appeared from the wings in white feathered costumes, resembling swans, with gold lacing adorning the corsets. They did a bit of a routine - pirouetting around with elegant and dynamic movements. The orchestra pit matched the mood exactly. Somber, with brief undertones of anger.

The dancers approached her, two hoisting her by the arms. The other stood behind her, pulling Thea up by her waist. She made no eye contact with any of them. Lights had finally dimmed as she exited the stage, sneaking a final glimpse of the viewers because this would be the last.


As Thea returned backstage from her act, she eyed the flock of actors hiding behind the wing, waiting for their chance. Anxious for their bit, mumbling inaudible phrases and notes on the previous performances, they surveyed the actress with a discontented stare. She quickly turned away, over to another actor, Victor, who had been up on stage before her. They backed away from the flock of acidic people in a wordless agreement, and soon enough, he started speaking in a hushed voice, leaning closer into her ear.

"Salauds." Bastards. 

Thea nodded in response with a slight grin forming on her lips. She tilted her head to one side, swishing loose strands of hair out of her face, adding, "Ils sont horribles dans leur jeu d'acteur, vous ne trouvez pas? Ils ne font jamais attention à leur travail." They are horrible in their acting, don't you think? They never pay attention to their work. She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth in disapproval at the thought, and then glanced at Victor who didn't share the same sentiment.

Victor shrugged. “Pourquoi as-tu l'air nerveux?” Why do you look nervous?

 “Je ne suis pas.” I am not.

Tu es nerveux. Et tu devrais être.” You’re nervous. And you should be. 

“Pourquoi?” Why?

Victor pulled out a cigarette, unlit, and paused for a moment. “Vous avez continué à regarder le public. Tu l'as exagéré et tu criais comme si le monde brûlait.” You kept looking at the audience. You exaggerated it and you shouted like the world was burning. He scoffed, inserting the cigarette into his mouth, ignoring Thea’s vexed facial expression. Nothing beats egocentric criticism like a comical grip on a cigarette. “Avez-vous un briquet?” Do you have a lighter?

Thea pointed a finger at him defensively. “J'ai fait mieux que tu ne pourrais jamais faire dans ta stupide vie. J'ai été choisi pour une raison.” I did better than you could ever do in your stupid life. I was chosen for a reason.

Directly after her scathing retort, she leaned her head up, biting the inside of her cheek to simmer down her irritation before looking back at him. “Je ne vais pas vous donner un briquet ici.” I’m not going to give you a lighter here.

“Ensuite, vous pouvez me donner un briquet après le spectacle.” Then you can give me a lighter after the show.

"Amuse toi bien à manger le mégot de ta cigarette pour l'instant," she fired back, straightening her posture. Have fun eating the butt of your cigarette for now. Petty arguments between a narcissist and a celebrity are fitting for the solemn play.

Silence hung in the air between them, though filled with the mesmerizing sound of the orchestra. Actors and dancers shuffled back and forth in the backstage area; one, in particular, arguing with a crewmate. 

 “J'ai fait mieux que toi,” Thea whispered, crossing her arms over her chest. I did better than you. 

"Quel point essayez-vous de prouver?" What point are you trying to prove?

"Vous n'êtes pas meilleur qu'un autre." You are no better than anyone else. 

"Je n'ai pas dit que je l'étais." I did not say I was.

Thea huffed a bit, kicking off her heels before rocking back and forth. 

Victor raised and lowered one shoulder with, "Le réalisateur n'a pas été impressionné." The director was not impressed.

"Pourquoi m'en soucierais-je? Toute la production théâtrale est un sac à merde." Why would I care? The whole theatrical production is a bag of shit. 

Victor frowned. "Il peut ruiner votre nom et le mien. Il n'hésitera pas à le ruiner pour nous tous." He can ruin your name and mine. He will not hesitate to ruin it for all of us. 

"Je le sais, mais je suis le meilleur de son groupe," Thea replied halfheartedly. I know that, but I'm the best in his group.

Victor took the cigarette out of his mouth, offering it to Thea. "On ne sait jamais ce qui peut arriver." You never know what can happen.

Thea took the cigarette carefully and twirled it around her fingers. She glanced up and watched as those on the stage rounded up their performance to its finishing steps, before gesturing over at him. "C'est votre signal - " This is your signal -

"Je sais ça, bien que." I know that, though.

December 05, 2021 22:20

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Alex Sultan
21:37 Dec 08, 2021

I think this was really cool to read! I'm not fluent in French by any means, but I'm half of the way there, and the translations are fine - I understood them all well. There are one or two issues that I'll point out below. Otherwise, this is a great concept. It fits your writing style well. My favourite part is the beginning, I like the imagery and how you introduce the story. Here is what I have for line-by-line notes: Nothing will ever make for the show that the spectator imagines. - Such a great first line. She could never fall in lov...


Dorsa S.
19:08 Dec 09, 2021

thank you! i was a bit stressed about the coherence of this piece, especially regarding the dialogue, so i appreciate the pointers that you gave. i changed some of the dialogue to what you had suggested, and it helped greatly. thank you once again for the feedback! :)


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Dorsa S.
22:23 Dec 05, 2021

feedback is greatly appreciated. and i might be changing a few things in this. :) i don't speak french but the story is set in a french opera house. (i did use a few translator websites, i'll admit. those who speak french, please don't hesitate to help me correct a few things.)


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