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April 2014, vol 10, no 1

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Steven Carter

Out, Out

Christmas we foster kids put on a play for the parents in the Big House, a rich family’s residence back in the day.

I forget what the play was, or which role I had, but I remember the rehearsals and the performance as some of the happiest days of my life.


We performed on a broad landing beneath the winding stairs to the upper floors, and sat in the darkness awaiting our turn to go on. This was terrific, because it allowed me to exchange kisses with my girlfriend, unseen by housemothers and Mrs. Sloane, who directed the play.

When I went onstage, feelings of bliss washed over me: suddenly I was someone else, whisked to a voluptuous dimension featuring neither past nor present.

It doesn’t matter that I can’t remember my role, since au fond I was No One—strutting for ten minutes back and forth on stage, half-aware of smiles and nods in the audience and fully aware of darkness beyond the tall, beveled living room windows. (I avoided stage fright by speaking my lines to the darkness not the audience.)

Everyone commented on my excellent performance.

Pale moon—pale
Face in the window
Ghost of my father