Archive for the 'Emily Setle + Julie Fergusson' Category

Closing Night


The sound of the applause is hardly audible from her dressing room, and it quickly fades away altogether as the audience puts on their coats, picks up their bags and leaves the theatre, empty but for small pieces of discarded rubbish and folded programmes across which the crumpled word Artaxerxes can still be made out. She stands alone, surrounded by vibrant bouquets of flowers and congratulatory, handwritten notes.

Closing night.

She can still feel the adrenaline circuiting her body in frenzied laps. With restless legs she paces the room, randomly picking up cards, not reading them. Snapping the stem of a rose and holding the deep red flower to her nose, pausing to savour the tickle of its velvet petals, the scent of its luxurious perfume.

She glances at the card. It’s signed ‘Arbaces’ – the on-stage love to her part, Mandane. His real name is David, but she understands.

David can’t send her two dozen red roses.

Naomi’s dress feels suddenly tight and she twists to untie the lace down the back of her bodice, the crushed flower slipping from her fingers. Her hands move to loosen the fastenings of her panniers, letting the bulky outer skirt drop heavily to the floor. Instant relief.

Feeling lighter, less substantial, she drops into a chair, propping her elbows on the dresser and resting her head in her hands.

No more shows.

No more resting her voice, obsessing over food, drink, cigarettes.

Naomi pushes her chair back and pulls open the top drawer of her dressing table. From underneath show programmes, sheets of paracetamol, more cards she pulls a packet of Marlboro Lights, with the plastic wrapping still intact, and a cheap looking red lighter. Looking back to make the sure the door is firmly shut, she quickly retrieves one cigarette and hides the pack back in the drawer.

She lights up and takes a long, slow draw, watching her reflection in the illuminated mirror as she exhales the thick smoke.

No more denying herself this little pleasure.

And no more David.

What did she think was going to happen? That he would leave his family for her? No, she wasn’t so naive. But just in case, he had sent her those flowers, the little card a signature from his character to remind her that they couldn’t exist outside of the opera.

He was done with her.

She stubs out her cigarette and reaches back into the drawer for another, letting it hang from her lips as she delves into her handbag for the secret bottle of red wine.

The liquid pours straight into her mouth and Naomi hunches over in her chair, petticoats pulled up above her knees to allow her to stretch out her legs. Either the cigarette or the wine is constantly at her mouth, while the other arm dangles lifelessly to the floor.

What now?

She had known that it couldn’t last. Nothing ever does.

Through narrowed eyes she watches a ribbon of smoke unwind and dissipate. She finds herself humming, gently, a song from the opera. Two hundred and fifty years old.

Well, maybe some things last.

Naomi settles her tired body deeper into the chair.

It will be OK.


University of Edinburgh Privacy Policy and cookie information