Saturday, September 24, 2005

BEFORE: All the World's a Stage...And the People Only Actors* (or The Art of Lying)

She lived in two worlds.
The first one was the world of laughter, sadness, tears, love, and hate. The second world was full of imagination, secrets, thoughts, and dreams. And she loved the second world better.
This she realized as she was walking down the street towards school, quietly humming to herself a song that she had remembered from long ago. How did it go again? "If you can't recall the singer, can you still recall the tune?" * Who was the singer? She had forgotten.
The cars were speeding by her, trying to rush on the tiny street.
"Mildred, hey, Mildred!"
And the acting began.
Math class.
The teacher, the students, the clock. The laughter and words came from the humans rapidly, without the thoughts managing to be thought. And suddenly, she was filled with hate. Hate at the students, at humans, at the whole world. And the hate came in the form of laughter and words. this was their field; they were going to win this battle. "If you can't beat them, join them." * Who had said that? A Greek philosopher. What was his name? She had forgotten.
And suddenly, the day was done, night had come, and the man in the moon was smiling down on her. think. Cry. Laugh. Dream. This is your field, your battle. Time for you to win. And she did, in the cover of her pillow. And just as suddenly, the sun was out, and another day had come. "tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow." * Shakespeare. she remembered him. She didn't want to go to school, to act, to hate. She wanted to stay in the warmth of her bed. And she was late.
The Principal's office.
"Is anything the matter?"
"Why would there be anything matter?"
"Your grades are very low. In Math, you have an F. In History, you have a D. The only subjects you're passing are Science and English."
Well, who could understand math? All those numbers...And it was hard to concentrate in the class. Too much laughter and talk. And History. Who could remember all those dates? History was all about wars and people, and what they did to each other.
"Is something wrong at home?"
"Oh, no. Nothing's wrong. I really don't know what's wrong."
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Wake up, go to school, and go to bed. That was her whole life. this would be her whole life through adolescence, adulthood, and age. Childhood had already passed her and the laughter she once knew was gone. How long ago had it been that she had actually laughed? She couldn't remember. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
Doctor's office.
"So, what are we looking at?", the doctor asked the girl's parents.
The mother turned towards Mildred and said sweetly,
"Mildred dear, we're going to talk to the doctor in private. Please behave."
The door shut and whisperings of concern came inside the anteroom. the whitewashed walls looked like a prison to the girl. What was a prison? Her whole life. The real world. Yes, that was her prison. When her parents came out, they had a worried look on their faces.
"Where are we going?" Mildred asked.
"Somewhere fun."
The silence that proceeded was an awkward one, so the mother put on the radio.
"---- And hundreds of our men have died in Iraq, because of the bomb that was launched there. they fought bravely for what they believed in. We pray for them."
She remembered that song.
"Mother, do you think they'll drop the bomb?" * ...
What song was that? She had forgotten. Mildred could almost hear the jets flying above a barren country of nothingness, dropping bomb after bomb but the only things dying were the scarecrows. The pilot was smiling and his fellow countrymen were laughing at the cruel joke he had just made about something. Mildred couldn't come up with a good enough joke, so instead she said,
"but bombs kill people. Why would anyone do something like that?"
"Because of the war", her father answered.
What war? Oh, yes, that war. The war between reality and dream, animal and human, truth and lie. Who would win? Stay until the end of the show.
"Mother, do you think they'll like this song?"...
What song? The song of life. there was no other song.
"Mother, do you think I should build the wall?"
The wall, the wall...The wall of loneliness, of despair, of dreams. The wall, the wall...it was already built. The acting and the lying were proof of the wall.
But she was tired of it. She didn't want to go on with her life anymore. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. The days dragging on, and the lies becoming less believable. and then, her cover would be blown. People would think she was crazy. And they already did. All the lying had been for nothing. And now, she was going somewhere fun. The asylum. She knew. he knew where they were taking her.
And then they were there. The white walls of the hospital glowed in the afternoon sunset. Mildred could see the bars on the windows. The moment she steeped into the reception room, she was escorted by a nurse into another, more simple room. Mildred hardly listened to the review of the rules.
A prison, a prison...
"Hello, my name is Clara. What's yours?"
A girl of 18 was looking towards Mildred. "To act or not to act; that is the question."* Shakespeare. Well, she was in the asylum...
"My name's Mildred. Why are you here?"
"why is anybody here? One time or another, someone does something wrong, and the authorities send them to the asylum. It's like a prison."
A prison, a prison...
"Do you see those cameras watching you?" Clara pointed to a video camera in the corner of the room. "They're watching you."
"Who?"
"The nurses."
How did it go again? "Big Brother is watching you." * Who had written that? George Orwell.
A voice came calling from another room.
"Oh, I have to go take my medicine," Clara said.
"What medicine?"
"the medicine that helps you sleep. Everyone gets it."
"Why do you need sleeping pills? Why can't you sleep?"
"Because of the second world. You know what I mean, don't you?"
"Oh, yes, I know what you mean. The dream world."
Clara smiled and skipped through the doorway.
The wall, the wall, the wall...was down.
* title is from "A Midsummer's Night Dream" by William Shakespeare
* song excerpt from "Dry Your Eyes" by Neil Diamond
* quote from Socrates
* quote from "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare
* song excerpt from "Mother" by Pink Floyd
* parody of "To be or not to be" from "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare
* quote from "1984" by George Orwell

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