The makeup room is crowded and hot.
You fight for a spot in front of the mirror
and pile on thick white foundation,
crying while your director teases your hair,
and you watch yourself transform
from a plain, ordinary girl
to an old woman or a rich man.
Today you’re a dark-eyed zombie.
You slip your uniform over your head
and pull your stockings over your legs,
lace up your boots and hold your breath
while someone stuffs you in a corset.
Your director appears to tells you it’s time.
You hum your way backstage and join hands
and bow your head to ask for God’s help.
Then you silently slip behind the set and wait.
You wait for seconds that seem like years.
You run your lines through your head
and realize you’ve forgotten all of them.
All you hear is the pounding hearts
and stiff breathing of your family around you.
The lights go down. The audience grows quiet.
The judge’s pen is poised against his spiral.
Red lights fade in on you at the sound of the music,
a few ominous booms and cautious chords.
You stand up and face your audience.
- MELISSA RENEE