past lives

I was misunderstood from a young age. I remember staring up at my parents, begging and pleading, quite clearly, I thought, but all they heard was babble. All anyone ever heard was babble. I eventually stopped trying and resorted to silence. People were afraid of me, I suppose. When the hysteria began, I tried to stay away, keep my head down. But fingers found me as if equipped with magnetic tips and I was the opposite pole. They didn’t even need a reason to burn me. I was guilty at first glance. I remember the flames licking my skin, until I don’t. It wasn’t all that bad. 

I remember waiting by the door like a little kid. Every time you left, I was sure it would be the last. But when I’d lost all hope, there you’d be. My tail would wag and wag, and despite my full bladder, how happy you made me was all I could think of. We’d lay in bed late on the weekends. No matter where you went, you were always home in time to take me out, fill my bowl, and rub my belly. I want you to know, I didn’t feel any pain. The last week was the best of all. All the steak and chicken I could dream of. You even gave me a piece of chocolate before they put me down. I always wanted to know that taste. I’m grateful to you for that, for everything, forever more. 

I can hear them talking through the door. I’m sitting at the top of the stairs. I’m not sure how long I’ve been down here, but I don’t think it’s been a full day yet. They lock me down here any time they want, really. Whether I yell or punch or sit entirely still, it doesn’t matter. It’s quite cold down here today, and I’m scared. I can feel bits of hot air coming through from under the door, where I can see light and hear voices, too. I huddled against the door because it’s the warmest spot in the basement, but I’m still shivering. I really hope they come to get me soon. I learned not to pound on the door or shout because it only makes them angrier and they leave me longer. So I’ll wait here. Maybe I’ll nap. 

Above all else, I remember the lights. And the achy feet. Every night, after I hobbled home, I’d run an ice bath and eat a frozen dinner. Ice ran through my veins. Every casting director and producer and desperate playwright wanted me. It seemed like everyone wanted me. I remember the stray hands and foggy nights and confused mornings. I can count on my fingers how many people I slept with who I was actually attracted to. It wasn’t as glamorous as it looked. You start to forget where you begin and where all the people you pretend to be on stage end. I died how I lived: Acting. Before an audience of 1,200 people, a small eruption occurred in my brain, and I met my fate. Black out.