​East Fork:

A Journal of the Arts​​

         The stage lights brightened and the surrounding room darkened, ushering a brief silence across the room. Two black chamois chairs showed themselves. One sat empty whilst the other was occupied by a short middle-aged man with a humorously large red bowtie. He sat straight up with his hands clenched tightly around a small stack of papers. He anxiously shuffled through them as he constantly shot glances between the people staring at him and off into an unseen space behind the curtains, expecting someone. A bead of sweat could be seen atop his brow. The hypnotizing hum of the bright lights was now as loud as ever. The quiet tension only continued to grow and so the crowd began to murmur, pondering and speculating about what was to unfold before them. Many had simply wandered into the theater as the sign outside had encouraged an audience free of charge. But there was no indication about what was to transpire here. Who were they going to see? Was it a famous celebrity? A world-renowned chef? The President? Several small whispers could be heard from the left…later to the right….to the center…and to the left again. Those who didn’t speak were on the edges of their seats, waiting with bated breath. Nothing happened for several long moments.

         And then the footsteps came. They were a thunderous click-clacking sound, reverberating off the hardwood and into the ears of the restless crowd, stealing away the whispers and murmurs. They were slow and with purpose, emerging from the unknowing darkness of the curtains-the exact place the man with the bowtie had been staring at prior. Emerging from the shadows was a very tall man whose suit was dyed a rich navy blue and dotted with gold buttons that gleamed in the spotlights. He had the shiniest of black hair that was slicked back at the top and delicately fell behind his ears. His face appeared freshly shaved, the tan skin glowing in the stage lights. The straight nose, narrow eyes, and straight mouth pulled into the slightest ounce of a smile harmoniously created what many would simply dream of: a work of art. He was what women praised and what men envied. A perfect, flawless human being that drew the attention of anyone who gazed at him without fail.

          Everyone watched as he glided over to the empty chair, his long limbs neatly folding together into a tentative position as he sat down. The man with the bowtie’s voice squeaked as he introduced himself to be the host of tonight’s showing. There was still no clear explanation for what they were about to view. He paused and cleared his throat as if expecting the audience to applaud. However, they were still entranced by the man in the navy blue suit, who suddenly turned his head to look upon them. With this, the audience erupted in whistles, shouts, and cheers. The man said nothing and continued to smile.

         As the noise began to falter, he reached out for the pitcher of water placed between him and the host. Everyone watched in awe as he poured a glass and placed it to his lips. More outrageous cheers exploded. And silence again as he set the glass down. The host rubbed his hands together nervously, a wavering smile plastered on his face as he did so. After praising the man for his glory and receiving more cheers, the host asked him how he reached great success.

​​         With this, the man suddenly stood up and stuck his arms out. The gold buttons on his suit were glowing now due to the direct beam of light from the stage. The audience’s eyes shone with wonder. There were no words that followed. The host asked for no elaboration of this display and could only stare now as if he had lost all sense of self and could only devote every ounce of attention to this perfect man, who could win a thousand hearts just by breathing. His eyes flooded with tears of joy as he stared up at the man standing so tall and grand, with elegant shadows cast beneath his cheekbones and along his jaw and perfect arms that fit snugly inside his sleeves. He needed to know who he was. There was more roaring applause as the man sat back down and refolded his limbs together. The host then asked the man in a timorous voice the question they were all desperate to ask: who was he?

         The entire theater went quiet once more. The people in their seats didn’t shuffle or mutter at all. This driving question so desperately wanted to be answered that the weight of anticipation stood heavily on everyone’s minds.

          The man said nothing. Still smiling, he stood up once more. On instinct, they cheered again, but it didn’t last as long, as with one swift motion the man ripped away the sleek navy-blue fabric from himself, tousled his black hair, and wiped the makeup off of his face. When all was taken away, everyone was staring now at an abnormally thin, unkempt man dressed in torn clothes that were graying with age. The host stopped writhing with anxiety and was still. The audience sat dumbfounded in their chairs, some open-mouthed in wonder, and others rising in anger. They had been fooled by a man who otherwise would have been given no thought or value. To them, he was nothing now.

         Despite the dissatisfaction, the man flashed a toothless grin, gave a generous bow, leaped off the stage, and calmly vanished out into the night.

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Perceptions of Fame 

Rachel Luhn