I try not to notice.
At night the actors leave. The stage is cleared. I turn the lights off one by one—house, backstage, stage right, center, stage left, spotlight—each switch lands like a heavy footstep, echoing in the spreading darkness. I check that all the seats are folded—not as a rule, but because it comforts me to know they are uniformly shut, like birds sleeping head under wing. With only the hallway light to guide me I leave the theatre, locking the door behind me.
I have the only key. I made sure of that after the last play, when I discovered actors hanging out in the space after hours. Someone was even sleeping in the back, although I can’t imagine soundly. Now the locks have been changed, and I’m there for every performance and rehearsal, locking and unlocking the space. It deprives me of time outside the theatre, but at least I’m assured nothing is happening unbeknownst to me.
I pretend not to see the seat lying open in the center of the audience. It’s there every morning, sticking out like a dead tooth in the rank of closed seats. The stage is untouched, the lights, off—nothing else has changed. Just that one seat.
The room bristles like a cornered alley cat. I am as unwelcome as the revelers I kicked out.
Today I turn on all the lights—house, backstage, stage right, center, stage left, spotlight. Every day, I fight the urge to sit in that seat. Today, I lose.
The house goes dark. Something hisses.