Madame

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a story written for a short story contest hosted by NPR. Obviously, they weren't quite impressed, as I didn't win, but I think it's interesting enough to share here.

  "Madame"

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to leave the room. It had traveled with her daily for over thirty years, yet she would no longer need it. It was, after all, merely a crutch to rid her of her nerves, the stage fright even the most seasoned performer is prone to experience.

They would not have to demand her exit in the rough fashion to which she’d grown accustomed, offend her with the indelicacy so pervasive she could barely move for fear of contact. Likewise, never would they have to drag her toward the place that would be the setting for her grandest performance. She was merely an actress, ascending the stage. Each move was perfectly choreographed. She would not stumble, or faint, or tremble in fear like those before her. Each line was memorized, each gesture perfectly timed. It was the part of a lifetime, and she would play out each dramatic moment with pride.

It was this pride that could not be forgiven, symbolic of all that human nature should not be allowed. At well over thirty, she was no longer young, no longer pure, no longer beautiful, yet possessed a rare dignity that kept her so. Although she wore only the simple bonnet and flowing dress of an uncultivated country girl, her pride radiated in gemstones and fur stoles, the opulence of the world’s most celebrated performer.

She did not understand she was there to have this pride broken, stripped from her for all the world to see. When she would not bring herself  to this indignity, she would be forced to her knees, thrust into submission. Like so many before her, she would be made to bow her head and endure her fate. She would do so with grace and beauty, the grace that forever condemned her; the beauty that earned her no mercy.

Her pride was her greatest gift. The humiliation of the public injury she was made to suffer left her oblivious to the man behind her, brutish and bent on violence. Like so many, he felt it his birthright to conquer the spirit of a mere woman. He did not just demand acquiescence, he craved the power of dominance, a longing that something inherent in her personage would never allow him to experience. She was above debasement, yet a mere woman.

There were no pleas or tears or affected ornamentation, just an actress delivering her final lines, ones that would earn her adulation and admiration for centuries to come. Within the echoes of the jeers and obscenities, she already heard the sound of thunderous applause. This was a moment that would never be forgotten.

Her pride beamed at this knowledge, even as her eye caught a shadow, the glint of the axe striking the nape of her much admired, delicate neck.

A final thought passed, her eyes focused on the strength of a delicate bird, as she flew past the mayhem, ascending to something greater. All was once again resplendent, transcendent; her performance immortal.
 


Submitted: April 17, 2012

© Copyright 2022 LadyGuenevere. All rights reserved.

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