Another multi-part story. This one will probably only be 2 or 3 parts at most. I had to cut it off here for reasons that will become obvious next week.
I start counting the names on the wall. There are probably close to fifty years worth of autographs up here. Most are written in marker or ballpoint pen. There are a couple scrawled out in nail polish and lipstick. One signature is almost certainly written in mustard. I stop counting at forty seven and start looking for names I recognize. Most are completely illegible. I stop trying to read them and start looking for empty spaces. Some small patch of wall that I can write in later.
I check my tie knot again cinching it slightly tighter to my collar. Suit is clean, shoes are shiny. Fly check. Fly is up. Good.
I resist the urge to hum my set list. These dressing rooms are pretty close together and the walls might as well be made from cardboard. Better safe than sorry.
I do a quick spin in this Ikea office chair, pushing off with my heels and tipping my head back. I take in all five oddly angled walls of the space in a second and a half. The dressing room is tiny, but a comfortable sort of close.
There. Right there. That might be a good spot for a signature. Yeah, that little blank space beside the lamp. That will work. Later though. It would be bad luck to sign the wall before a show.
Three gentle raps on the door. The stage manager says something I can’t make out, and then I hear my name and “two minutes”.
“Thank you” I fire back reflexively keeping my voice as flat as possible. I hear her march off quickly, no doubt dealing with some crisis or other. Seems like it might be something about lighting. I fix my attention on that small empty space on the wall.
I rub my hands together and blow warm breath between them. It isn’t cold in the dressing room, but I shake off a rising shiver. I used to keep count of my shows. I often think I should have jotted them all down. Like a diary or something. I didn’t, and now the time and place of all my past engagements is completely lost to me. This feeling though, is exactly the same as my first performance. I can recall that much. The chilling tension between my shoulder blades. The anxiety and a sort of low level dread. I tell myself that I have become better at shaking those feelings off, but I also know that is a complete lie. I’m terrified.
I stand quickly, shake my arms from my shoulders down to my fingertips and step over to the door. One long slow breath in and out. I reach for the door handle and walk through.