By: Supriya Bolla

It always starts as a clear spring day.
Serene curtains, murmuring crowds, warbling musicians.
“House closes in five.”
Here, time gets to stand still.

I tighten the laces of my boots, usher in stragglers, and click the entry firmly shut.
Creak open a side door, slide gently into my seat,
and push aside tangled mics to assure I’ve taken my cue.

“House to half.”
a sharp crackle in my ear, and

Every time the grand opens,
I welcome the darkness,
steady my too-shaky hand,
Without warning, a new world is born:
Shabby frames turn into portals,
something akin to magic takes hold,
standing watch in a dark room

there’s a moment.
to tousle through my too-short hair,
set my too-tight jaw, fill my inhale, and . . . Click.
Sharp beams set scraps of wood aflame,
a fourth wall shatters.
I’m telling a story without words,
knowing no one will ever realize I was there.