Not Who You Expected

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Ophelia’s insouciant behavior, dramatic as any character except the kind I play.

I, the understudy.

How I’m thought of by each audience on the star’s night off. “I don’t think we came to see her.”

Thoughts race around feigning interest at Shakespeare’s incarnadine creation of skirts with blood stains. Behind a blushing face she thinks, instead of her lines, about modern washing machines and how bad the body odor Lady Macbeth must have smelled.

In my corsets tight with bones in bloody like a ribeye steak, I am Ophelia now. Was she addicted to Hamlet’s pathetic immaturity?

Codependent perhaps she wasn’t thinking that day. Her ragged heavy skirt caught on a craggy rock in that shallow stream her screams go unheard.

Hamlet, too busy in his own thoughts as her last words silently raced in her mind.

This isn’t what I had in mind. It’s not what I thought of my own death. She bubbles a breath beautiful and leaves behind a body.

It’s my body tonight. I’m the understudy. You’d rather see the stars. You mind your playbill has the name no one knows.

I think you’ll remember me not for my performance but who I am not – who I’ll never be. A clean lady of a live husband or a girl getting married to a prince. The three of us are guilty of overthinking everything.

And I beg you pardon my entry on the stage. To believe frugality is wise when going to the theater. Such is the fool in the audience of a Wednesday matinee.

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