I found pressed flowers in the attic during a clear out and these dusty first few pages of a novel that look at the power of a flower in a theatre.
A closer view of the stage can be found here!
The school Jack once studied at stood in Edinburgh like a tombstone in evil grey stone. None of the stone in Edinburgh seemed to want to cheer up. He doesn’t remember laughing since he first knew school existed. Always there seemed to be a worry in his mind when he needed to return to Scotland. His mother would not pack enough uniform to see him through the term in spite of their wealth. He knew he could never do enough to please his mother or to turn himself into an acceptable addition to their small dynasty. His father is a distant figure who always spoke to Jack through the third person. Jack owed his love of theatre to this trait in his father; he had worked as a surgeon saving men from shell shock after the Second World War. The only way to stay happy was to create an imaginary world around his father and fill in the gaps created by the many uncertain silences his father would dish out. Looking back Jack decided maybe his father too had suffered from seeing the trauma of all the pilots he treated.
Ella discovers she must burn the favourite Hermes scarf with the lion on it to be part of the Theatre group in school. The scarf had hid face from the world for too long to be fashionable. The guru Ganesha is sitting in the centre of the room with people sitting in silence on bean bags around him. Heavy breathing is the only sound to break the silence and Ella feels relaxed by the fact there is no need to speak; it is not necessary or encouraged. Ella has not thought her own thoughts since before drama school. As an actress she is used to being indoctrinated by everyone from voice coaches to the pointing hand of the director who would rarely speak and often grunt. Jack directed Ella in her first show and soon they would meet again under more testing circumstances.
Ella takes the time to engage in eye contact with everyone in the room. They seem placid and well mannered and open. Ella runs her life like a small business. She is open for work and opportunities at the drop of a hat and adjusts her skirt to give her best leg angle. After seeing herself on film countless times she cannot leave the set. She has a fixed memory of cameras pointing at her from all angles. She feels free and more herself with the concept of being over exposed. There is a safety in having no privacy she thinks to herself as she waits for the session to begin.
When the guru Ganesha asks them to reveal what has brought them here today Ella’s tongue gets stuck. She has never known a direct question be thrown at her. Usually suggestions were proposed by the group and she would field most of them. She cannot explain herself, her Drama School advised her not to do this. At that moment she realises she has been on autopilot for 55 years and thinks that this maybe the same as having a career. But others in the room are successful bankers and lawyers in spite of their hippy tie-dye tops. Some of them have lost everything in the property crash, others have destroyed others in getting their money and in the worst of all cases, their own families have done OK without them for so long and now it is too late. The most poignant story is of the Chief Executive who wants to lose it all for he is so totally numb from the medication he has to take to work 20 hour days he can no longer feel a pin on his skin and his mind cannot think outside the office space. Ella does not admit to it but feels this same thing. The numbness takes over at night and she pretends to sleep but really it is exhaustion from holding her emotions so tight.
The stories shared by the group, especially Jack, move her but she leaves the beautiful healing room not knowing if she truly can let go. She is late in life and with no family or real friends just fans and loyal agents. Everyone in her life wants a piece of her and this gives comfort for it is at least honest and she appears to have some control. She can quit if she wants, unlike poor Jack who tells the same story over and over about the sadness of his school days. Jack vows to make changes but If Ella lets go of working this way she is terrified everything will collapse in pieces and no one will be able to put it back together. She stares at the paper bag with a dried flower inside the guru Ganesha gives them to leave with. It is a beautiful flower but it looks fragile and she is not sure it has the power to rebuild her life with, if it falls apart she will be stuck. She places the flower on her windowsill but cannot stop staring at it as she does her daily chores. Unlike the dirty kitchen floor not everything will change in one morning.
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Other posts about leftovers from other writers are here and below