Same Old Scene

Through his fingers, Henry stared at his pallid reflection. He instinctively lit another cigarette, now thoroughly emboldened in his disdain for the house rules. As smoke wafted into the unlit void of the rafters, his inner monologue continued.

Just a role. Great role, yes, played by greats, but just a role on a stage.

The fuck? Gielgud, Olivier, Barrymore – Burbage, for Christ’s sake – might as well resurrect them all and spit at their feet. For every great, a thousand useless hacks -

But they would have sooner chosen a death on stage than the sacrilege of not even trying.

“Henry!” Mary the stage manager hovered in the doorway, radiating daggers. “No damn smoking, and five minutes!”

Henry indulged with one more drag. He crushed it in the ashtray, its smoke and acrid smell more intense in the throes of death, letting his breath out slowly. Through the cloud, he saw the reflection of every old bruise and insult, and for a moment could feel each one again.

For the first time, the strength was real.

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