I awoke in the middle of a play that had already begun.

I knew it was a play because we were on a stage. There was a large audience and lights and props. There were other actors on the stage dressed in costumes that made no sense unless we were in the middle of some kind of performance.

I wondered what the play was. I wondered who my character was. I wondered what my role was.

I panicked. I instantly felt ill. I could feel the lights over the stage upon me. I didn’t know the play. I didn’t know the first thing about the story. I didn’t know any of the characters or any of my lines. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to be. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know if my role was a major or minor one. Did I even belong there? It felt as if everyone knew that I didn’t didn’t belong and didn’t know what the fuck I was doing.

I looked to my fellow actors who kept on performing. None of them paused to help me find my bearings. They kept right on with the show, whatever it was. Perhaps they couldn’t detect my distress – my gut-wrenching anxiety. I was an actor on a stage, after all. I was an actor, I sickeningly realized, without any reason for confidence in my ability to act.

I didn’t know anything, so I wandered aimlessly around the stage, between the actors and the props without uttering a word. I felt that if I’d awoken onstage, in the middle of the play, I needed to do something, but I had no idea what. If I’d awoken on that stage, there must have been some reason for me being there. But what? There was no telling, so I just wandered anxiously, desperately hoping for some sort of sign. Hoping something would be a trigger for what was happening and what else needed to happen. I wanted. I hoped. I needed. I had no idea if, in my silent, aimless, dreadful meandering, I was wrecking the production or not.

Finally, I looked off stage. The director was furious. Furious at me, I presumed, for ruining the play.

I panicked even more. I was terrified. I’d ruined everything, for everyone. I was ruining it for the cast and crew as well as the audience. It was a big production with lots of actors and props. The maroon, satin laced auditorium was glorious. The audience was glamorous and packed.

I tried as hard as I could to recall what the play was and how I fit into it. I tried but nothing at all came. Hysterically, I began scouring the stage for any notes or a playbill to tell me what I was in. I found nothing. I looked for somewhere to hide. Again, I found nothing or nowhere. The pressure and anxiety was overwhelming, so I began scouring the stage for any sort of weapon to kill myself. I looked all about but there were no weapons.

I was petrified. I was sick. There needed to be a weapon. I needed it to extinguish the anguish of being stuck on that stage. I thought maybe, without being consciously aware, maybe that was my role in the play. Maybe that was it, without me even knowing it. But there was no weapon to be found.

I looked into the audience to gauge their reaction. I saw someone I knew. He pointed at me. He was smiling. He began talking with the children around him. They all looked too.

I shook my head “no” to call off the attention. I ran my finger across my throat to tell him to kill it. Kill the attention. I needed out. I needed off the stage. I needed time alone in some dark corner to be able to think. To be able to understand what was happening.

I needed the time alone and away from the world to understand what I was there to do. Maybe my role was to just be there. Maybe I was just a prop. Conversely, maybe the subject of the play was my forthcoming and complete meltdown. Perhaps I, as a calamity, was the spectacle. Maybe I’d been assigned that central part. Maybe I was supposed to carry the true-to-life story of an idiot’s cataclysm. Maybe the play was about my hysteria, leading to suicide. Or, maybe it was about me, in my anxiety, finding the fortitude to say “fuck it” to the other actors, the director and the audience and marching confidently off that stage. After all, my role wasn’t anything I’d accepted. It was simply foisted on me without any due preparation. In other words, if I wasn’t living up to the expectations of the actors, director or the audience, the disaster wasn’t my fucking fault and maybe I shouldn’t accept it as so.

Without some understanding of the production I was stuck in, I couldn’t know who or what I was. I didn’t know anything other than I was stuck in the Hell of that play.

I didn’t know. I could only feel. Feel the panic. Feel the terror and humiliation. All that I knew was that I wanted to be dead.

I awoke in bed to realize it was only a nightmare. I was relieved.

I realized it was only a dream, but it seemed to reveal some deeper truth, nonetheless.

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