The court of public opinion had finally left the building. Minivans were packed full again and headed away. Trashcans jammed with confetti waited on the curbside. The snow was dumping as I shut the doors to my theater. There she was, my sweet solitude. The one who makes my toes breathe. She smirked from the back row as if she had been here this whole time. I know she dodged the fiasco. She knows in the madness of the season. A rising bog of mumbles creates a gas no one can escape. The same anecdotes play on the wall from obligation’s projector. Pulsing beams broadcasting my manners on display for best in show. My attention is minced into snippets. Silence us slumped in the corner and slowly choking. Above his poor head I see sanity’s chips falling like snowflakes from my ceiling.

But the madness is gone now. Nothing left but the sticky popcorn crunch under my feet. I smile back at my sweet solitude as we rekindle a quiet candle. I imagined her on the roof this whole time, tickling the stars with her gaze. She was always so good at disappearing over the company. And just like that she disappeared again as robotic footsteps broke through our moment. A lone spotlight lit the stage. Mr. Guilt stood in the center wearing a brown derby with matching vest. His back was straight. His arms bore a pile of spent costumes. A small metal strong box dangled from his pinky like a monkey. He cleared his throat and said, “I’ll be leaving now.”

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