Eshadi Sharif, Class XI, Section Orange.
Damsel in Distress
The flashing lights reflect off my perfect golden skin. With each flood of light, a new memory is imprinted within these photographers’ cameras. They love me, they want to talk to me, they want to know me. I’m an icon of the little innocence and honesty left in this world. Anything I say with crooked lips brings them to tears and every time I flip my dark and silky hair, men drop to their knees. I carry both fame and fortune in my back pockets.
But, to gain this, I had to pay a price. I made a deal with the devil years ago and Satan was having his fun, playing with whatever was left of my life. My fabricated smile had made faithful men melt and hurt many women’s pride. They call me the symbol of natural beauty and feminism. It amuses me sometimes, to watch the entire world living with this lie: little girls starving themselves because they want to look like me.
“Fame,” said my manager “is what everybody tries to achieve in life. Everybody wants to leave a mark, but the walls are only so big.”
“Money,” Papa said, “is all you need in this world.”
“Pride,” said my brother, “you will gain it quicker than anyone else. You will earn their respect.”
“Love,” said Mama, “you will be loved for all the wrong reasons.”
“What,” I said, “could possibly go wrong?”
It turned out that Mama was right. I am loved far more than anyone could ever even imagine, but it is only materialistic. How could you blame me? I was fed with lies of this life until my stomach was bloated with excitement and curiosity. They constantly told me of the beauty of this life and that I’d get whatever I want. Only then, little did I know, it was the struggle a man overcomes which makes life so blissful. I, on the other hand, can put my feet up on the coffee table with designer clothes on in an air-conditioned room for weeks and I still wouldn’t have to worry about the bills.
As my feet make their way through the red carpet, the marbled floor, the endless stairs, I finally make it to my destination: My dressing room, the only place I can call home. Home. Home would usually mean a place where someone lives but for me, it’s the place where I can shut the door on the entire world and pretend for a while that nothing has changed. Today I pretend as if everyone is proud of me because of who I am, not because of what I’ve become or how many notes are in my pockets. But this anticipated bliss had only been temporary.
“You’re on in five, sweety.” Called out my manager.
I take a napkin to wipe the bit of smudged mascara running down my cheek and right then an orange bottle catches my eye.
“This will do the trick,” I tell myself.
Tonight, I shall perform a show which will never be forgotten. I will reach the peak of my career, the climax of the story of my life. I grab a pen and paper, write a couple thought sentences and place it on the dressing table.
For the first time in my life, I’m not worried before a show.
“I’ve got twenty minutes for the introduction, four for the plot to build and six more to reach the climax.” I think to myself.
Tonight I’m wearing my favorite white dress which lets my long and smooth legs show. My hair is tied up in a tight bun and my eyes are decorated with glitter and innocence. The name of the play is ‘Love and War.’ I play the victim: loved by two best friends who were once soldiers and are now retired. Thus, tortured by the choice of love and sacrifice. My role ends in Act three and I sure do hope the director and audience will appreciate the extra effort and special effects I’ve prepared for tonight.
Act one: I can feel every single eye watching me with awe. The two officers are to fall in love with me whilst they see me dancing with another man at an exquisite ball.
Act two: I am showered with compliments and shocked by two confessions of love. I am torn between two men who I feel nothing for as I’m still recovering from the wounds of a dead husband and I can’t even refuse both proposals as I’m much too young to give up on love. I cannot marry any other man since the rest of the suitors seem to be after my money
Act three: I’ve fallen in love with both of them and I feel horrible about it. Both ex-soldiers promise me happiness for now, tomorrow and forever. I am a mess with eyeliner running down my cheeks. I look to my side and see the director smiling about the fact I could manage real tears.
I wonder how large his grin will be after my grand finale.
The first episode has begun. I’m supposed to swallow chewable tablets and pretend to die, but every actress has an unavoidable habit of making their last scene a bit too dramatic. I let the fake poison go down my throat and start to feel the real one react. I start to choke on my tears. Slowly and painfully the oxygen starts to leave my body. The coughing gets more wild and I can hear the audience holding their breath. The neck of my dress is soaked in saliva and splattered with red. The stage was now dripping in blood. Before I could notice, three men were trying to help me up but I knew it was no use now. How could you rescue someone who wanted to drown? How could you say that you’ve saved someone when their oasis isn’t in the real world? What could you honestly do if death was her only way of coming back to life? What would you tell her while she lay on her hospital bed crying because you killed her, just by letting her breath? Is the act of breathing the definition of living? If that is so, then her life was not one worth living.
I moved the man’s hand and told him,
“There is nothing an audience loves more than the perfect tragedy.”