AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story about a Thespian rehearsal was written for Thursday Tales. A familiarity with Jean-Paul Sartre's play No Exit is helpful for this story, but not necessary.
She called herself Miranda. Banquo wasn't sure if she had renamed herself from Shakespeare, like he had, or if that was her given name. Such things hardly mattered, though, since the pandemic. Everyone in the Thespian tribe had re-formed their identity; that's why they had joined in the first place.
He looked at her in her odd leotard of stripes and spots. "The line is, 'Fear was for before, while we still had hope.'"
"But it makes no sense. We have no hope and we're afraid all the time."
Banquo sighed and cast a glance toward the director, but the boy who was in charge of this particular production was busy sucking on a bottle of green liquid that looked like absinthe. Sartre would've been proud, or at least found it ironic.
"I know you're into method acting," Banquo said, "And that's cool and all, but you can't go changing the lines to where they don't even mean what the playwright intended."
"Just try it." Miranda brushed a lock of dark hair out of her eyes. "It'll make the play better, I promise." She returned to her spot and motioned for him to stand where he had been before. "Now go on. Give me my cue."
Banquo stifled a sigh and repeated his line. "You're not afraid?"
"Of course I'm afraid. There's no more hope."
"There's no more hope, I know, but we're still before. Whatever is to be, it hasn't begun yet, you know."
Miranda beamed, no longer in character. "See? It makes more sense this way, doesn't it?"
Banquo gave a small shrug. What did it matter, really, if they changed their lines? There was no exit for any of them, save the way their elders had gone. The virus was ruthless, and anything they did in the meantime was just a temporary diversion from the reality of their own future.
Banquo cast a glance toward the director, then straightened his shoulders and went back into character. "I don't know," he said, understanding in this moment how Cradeau felt in his oddly appointed hell. "I'm just waiting."
Pic by Katja Faith