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Excerpt 1: Poetry and longstem roses.

continued... Each letter of my name carefully etched in perfect calligraphy.

I see Divan's curious face, refelected in the shimmering backstage mirror. His eyebrows are questioning me. I shrug a - I-don't-know-who and I-don't-know-why - answer. I place my Guard helmet next to the little purple box of sweet delights and my sixteen year old hand pry's open the envelope. I unfold the two pages and frown. I read the words. Intimate words. Poetic words. Words filled with longing and words filled with desire. I read the name at the end. I look up at my own reflection in the lightbulb-framed mirror and I can see myself blushing right through the thick layer of stage make-up.

Divan looks at the name that has been signed at the bottom of the letter. We both recognize it as belonging to the guy who works here as a Dresser. It is his job to care for costumes and to assist dancers with quick-changes in between acts.

He's mad! Who does he think he is? Does he think I'm gay?

After a while he appears. The Dresser with the hook nose and the large hands.

"I hope you don't mind the letter. I'm not trying to upset you or anything. Please just take it for what it is. A guy who thinks you're beautiful. A guy who can't get you out of his mind. A guy who will never hurt or harm you."

I smile nervously. He leaves.

Now, twenty four hours later, coming off the stage again, I place my Guard helmet down next to a bunch of longstem roses. Tied onto them is another envelope with calligraphy. More words. More decalarations of love. More desire.

Divan rolls his eyes and he laughs nervously. The request is straightforward. The man with the hook nose and the gentle eyes wants me to spend a weekend with him at his apartment near the airport.

Is he totally insane?

I can't do that. I'm not gay. I like girls. They like me. I'm straight. Or am I?

Why does he choose to do this to me? Does he know something that I don't know? I mean, yes, it does feel great to get this kind of attention. The words that melt into me. The eyes that worship me. The finger that runs across my knee ever so slowly.

No. Forget it! He must leave me alone and stop confusing me like this.

Romeo and Juliet's final act is being played out on the stage above me. Prokofiev's music rolls down the stairs, through the door, filling my ears. Notes filled with passion. Violin strings that edge Romeo forward into opening his ring and swallowing the poison. Kettle drums that stir Juliet to be roused from her drug-induced slumber. She finds her lover, her friend, her husband. Dead. Close to where they laid her.

Flutes, harps and tambourines explode in a cacophony of madness. A cello helps her to find the dagger on his belt. As she raises it, all the instruments fall silent. Pregnant, with bated breath. She plunges it into her chest, the instruments all scream out. A collective sound of outrage. Every musician, every mother, husband, friend and child stare at the scene, wide eyed. The conductor waves his arms in huge circles. Summoning spirits of grief to descend on the tragedy of passionate love.

The curtain doesn't drop, it crawls down slowly, carefully, so as to not disturb the dead lovers. In each other's arms they lie. Better to have loved and died, than to never have loved.

Inside my mind, over the screen of my imagination, a curtain is slowly rising.

I see ideas of love. Ideas of longing. Ideas of hands touching. Ideas of dreamy eyes coming closer.

I rip off the ridiculous Castle Guard costume.

I run outside. I need to get away from Prokofiev.

Away from those roses. Away from that calligraphy.

I need a smoke.
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ZAR 160-00
A Journey of Recovery from Sexual Brokeness