Step on up to the stage, you won’t believe the show we have gathered for you this week! Performances from all quarters to shock and delight your senses!
Writers took their performances to the page to give imaginative response to the different kinds of spectacles and every day acts that can drive a story.
The following are based on the December 7, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write that features a performance. You can interpret what is a performance any way the prompt leads you.
Change the World by Reena Saxena
“Change the world”, she said.
He did not have the heart to confess that he was an ordinary mortal. He conjured pink smoke and gave her a different lens to see the world. She believed every vision that he generated for her.
There had been many who were teaching her to survive – the killer disease and life thereafter. She had eagerly awaited the arrival of a healer and transformation agent, till he arrived.
It was the performance of a lifetime for the young medical intern appointed in the cancer ward of the hospital. He had seen her medical reports.
Holiday Storytelling by Frank Hubeny
Each year Peter told the grandkids how he killed the monster. They believed him, but children grow up.
Sylvie was nearly grown-up. She quietly went to Grandma Alice to get the truth, “Did Grandpa really kill a monster?”
Alice told her, “Your Grandpa’s getting old. He wants you to be happy and so he tells stories. He’s feeling better now but he has protected me from his nightmares for many years. I only know this. What he fought was not exactly what I would call a ‘monster’.”
“I didn’t think so.”
“It was the meanest dragon that ever lived.”
Flash Fiction by Pensitivity
Everyone had had so much fun, and it was nice for the family to be together.
After her guests had left, she put the borrowed tea things to one side, they would be collected later.
The leftovers could be put in the fridge, even though she’d turn it off along with everything else. They’d see her over a few days as would the edible family contributions to the table.
Her bedroom would stay warm the longest. It was where she spent most of her time anyway huddled in a blanket. Damn government cutbacks.
She hoped her performance was convincing.
Command Performance (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
Jane wipes her palms down her jeans, picks up the blue marker. Since when do grownups have to do class exercises on the board? The professor smiles encouragingly but she can feel all the eyes boring into her back, her sentences wandering uphill and downhill while every nuance of Spanish sentence structure goes out of her head. What is the word for “T-shirt?” She settles for “blouse.”
Back in her seat, her hands are still shaking as the man next to her…Rico?…leans in. “Grand performance. I’ve been noticing you. May I buy you a coffee after class?”
Take Five by Pete Fanning
Jan set the cake on the table. She lit candles, grabbed her phone, and pressed record.
“Happy Birthday, to Logan…Happy birthday, to Lo—”
Jan popped up. “Tyler, why aren’t you singing?”
Tyler rolled his eyes. Logan leaned forward, ready for cake, but Jan held out a hand. “No sweetie, not yet. Hang on. Tyler, sing. Avery, smile. Okay, ready? Smile!”
She pressed record. “Happy Birthday, to you…Happy—”
Jan cocked her head. “Tyler, try to look happy, so I can post this.”
“Shh. Okay, let’s try again. Smile. Baby, not yet. Okay, ready?” She pressed record.
Performance by FloridaBorne
“Mom,” Noelle said, her voice lilting. “He looks just like Joel!”
Ralphina scampered over to her 13 year old twins.
Try not to scream … breathe, she repeated inside a mind that wanted to run from the handsome face staring back at her with Joel’s green eyes, remembering snippets: Backstage. Drugged. Hand over her mouth. Searing pain. So much blood. LifeFlight.
“He served 13 years for raping a minor,” Ralphina said. “She almost died from it!”
“He’s a big Rock Star!” Joel said. “Is that our father?”
“No,” Ralphina replied, relieved she’d not listed the bastard on their birth certificates.
Escape Artist by Chris Mills
My husband insists on a dress rehearsal of his escape routine. He was a failure as an illusionist, so he’ll try Houdini’s gig.
I snap the padlocks. Believe me, it’s an honor. He sinks onto his back in the coffin. As his assistant, I kneel and kiss him, passing a key into his mouth from mine. I lower the lid.
From the coat closet, I retrieve a suitcase and pause at the front door. The real key lies on the locked lid. I hate to miss the performance, but it will be a long scene before the curtain drops.
Drama Performance by Michael
My senior drama students faced a final performance exam presided over by visiting examiners.
Scott and I rehearsed for months, refining his character and his performance. He worried over every detail, and there was nothing we hadn’t rehearsed.
Exam day arrived, and the performances were under the control of the examiners, I could only sit and watch.
A nervous Scott went into his performance. Half way through he forgot his lines. The look on his face was devastating. He looked at me, but I was powerless to help him. He stumbled defeated to the end and left in tears.
A Five Star Performance by Joe Owens
When you are so well known you cannot go anywhere without turning heads it can sometimes be a drag. So Erwin chose to sneak into the Belikin Community Theater in disguise so he could be in the Christmas play he loved as a youth. Only his dear childhood friend Elyse, the director had any idea a Hollywood star graced the stage.
“Well?” she asked after the play was finished.
“I miss this,” Erwin said.
“We could make it a regular thing. I am happy to have you.”
“If my agent finds out she will go berserk!”
“So, don’t tell.”
First Performance by Bill Engleson
“NO! I WON’T! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.”
I still see him, still hear his awful silence. Eyes darting. Like the condemned. Tears desert-dry. The pain is too much for waterworks.
Nine he was that Christmas. He shot up by thirteen but that year when he was nine, he was a waterless shoot.
Pale, as if exposure to the sun would shrivel him.
He had two lines. “He is a beautiful baby.” And “The donkey is sad.”
The moment overcame him. He scampered off the stage into his mother’s arms.
The play, as plays do, went on without him.
Nativity by Ritu Bhathal
“Come on children, nice and loud now! Please no shouting – it’s singing we want to hear.”
Mrs Keeble started the intro on the school piano, and nodded to the class in front of her.
As usual, there were the performers: the children who thought they were born for the stage. There were the skulkers: the ones who stood at the back, heads down, hoping no one would notice them. And then there were the stunned: the ones who stood there, gawping, no sound leaving their mouths, eyes scanning the audience for family.
Welcome to another infant Christmas performance!
Nativity Play by Kerry E.B. Black
In the church nativity play, Matthew portrayed Shepherd Two, though preferred staying close to his best friend, Buddy, who was cast as Joseph.
The boys fidgeted.
Matthew chewed his headrail. “Who’s Baby Jesus?” Their Sunday School teacher remained sketchy on casting details.
Buddy shrugged. He stepped into the lead of the procession with the girl cast as Mary.
Matthew took his position behind shepherd one and three sheep. As the choir sung, curiosity overtook him, and he ignored the stage blocking. He edged closer to Buddy. “Who’s Jesus?”
They leaned over the manger and giggled. “Jesus is a doll?”
The Stage by Allison Maruska
I take my seat in the front row. As Corina’s biggest fan, I wouldn’t miss this concert for anything.
Bouncing my leg, I wait for her to appear. She’s late. Is something wrong? There – she’s just offstage. Her deep breath lifts the long beads she wears.
Finally, she takes the stage, and I cheer as she poses. The music starts, and Corina performs a song I’ve heard a thousand times. When it ends, I offer a well-deserved standing ovation.
Corina smiles and twists, biting her nail. Then, still in her place on our coffee-table stage, my little girl bows.
Ol’ Red Eyes by Juliet Nubel
‘Your daughter danced beautifully.’ The other mum stared at my red-rimmed eyes but didn’t mention them.
‘Yours too’, I lied.
I hadn’t noticed her daughter or any of the other girls. I never do. They are all just a blur of pale legs and lacquered hair, moving around the edges of my own beautiful child.
The tears spring forth whenever she flies onstage. I smile from the heart, but my eyes weep freely from a well, deep within my soul.
Where that well originates will be a lifelong mystery. Her beauty, her grace?
Or just pure, undiluted, crystal-clear pride?
The After Party by Geoff Le Pard
As the lights went up, Mary gathered her things. A woman she didn’t know stopped by her seat.
‘Are you Penny’s Mum? She was excellent.’
‘Thanks. Sorry, have…?’
‘Millie’s Mum. Amelia. We lose identity with kids don’t we?’
Mary smiled at this nervy woman. ‘Mary. Penny mentioned a sleepover?’
‘Oh she did? Thank heavens. I wondered. You have an airbed?’
‘Of course. How many…?’
‘Thirteen. Gray thinks me mad.’
Me too, thought Mary.
‘It’s our first since we moved here. I want it to go well.’
‘Being a parent is just another performance, isn’t it? Only without a script.’
Performance by Rugby843
“Which one should I wear”, holding the multicolored bow tie in one hand and the shimmering blue in the other. Joe was getting dressed for the Christmas concert and wearing the proper tuxedo coat and pants, but couldn’t make up his mind about the tie.
Usually not nervous about the orchestra’s performance–he always practiced well; tonight was a bit different. His new girlfriend would be in the front row observing him.
Joe fumbled with the bow tie and glanced in the mirror, luckily no zits this night. Rushing out, he forgot to change from his sneakers to dress shoes.
Christmas Lights by Norah Colvin
A two-day city visit is never enough, but they were determined – trekking the city, visiting in-store Santas, viewing Christmas-dressed windows, watching street performers, even attending a pantomime, with just a brief playground stop for lunch. The light show was the day’s finale. The tired parents and niggly children collapsed onto the lawn in anticipation. Suddenly the littlest began to perform – crying, screaming, stamping, flailing. Nothing would soothe. The eldest observed, zombie-like. Soon the light-show distracted, occasionally interrupting the performance. Only when the fireworks began, drowning out his cries, did he give in to sleep, sprawled indecorously on the grass.
Performance Anxiety (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Standing in the darkened wings, Danni stretched her hips. She arched her back, clasping her hands overhead. On the stage, Evelyn prepped the audience.
This was her moment. She couldn’t see faces, just the heavy beam of overhead stage lights. Her professor taught her tricks to overcome performance anxiety when she realized that as an archeologist she’d occasionally have to give public presentations.
The Sandpoint Theater was packed, and Evelyn was already giving introductions. “Without further ado, Dr. Danni Gordon…”
Walking out into the lights, Danni conjured the friendliest face, as if she were performing just for him – Ike.
The Red Devil by Robbie Cheadle
The red devil danced with abandon, and the little girl watched, her attention riveted on the stage. The dancer wore red tights and a red leotard. She had a pointed tail and horns on her head. She even had red ballet shoes. The little girl stood there in her own costume; she was dressed up as a ladybird; and dreamed of being a red devil. She dreamed of dancing like that, all alone on the stage, a wild and uninhibited dance. This memory remained with her as she traveled her chosen path. She never got her own devil outfit.
The Audition by Anurag Bakhshi
Helen went on to the stage, bowed towards the judges, and started dancing.
She danced as if no one was watching.
She danced as if her feet were on fire.
She danced as she’d never danced before.
She danced as if she would never dance again.
She kept dancing till her feet bled, and she collapsed on the stage.
Getting up, she bowed towards the judges again, and said, “I wish you’d agreed to give me a chance.”
And then, with a withering look at the corpses of the judges on their seats, Helen left.
Her performance was over.
Curtain Call by Lisa Listwa
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Visualize. See yourself in front of the room, comfortable, confident, smiling as you go through the motions…
“Rubbish,” she muttered.
It never works. You can’t deliver a convincing portrayal when your heart isn’t in it. Not really. The words you say are just a script to fool the world into thinking that you actually want to be here.
It’s time for a curtain call and an exit, stage left. But first…one last show.
The first period bell rang and the hallway filled with students heading to classrooms.
This would be the performance of a lifetime.
Oh What a Night When She Performed by Lady Lee Manilla
Oh what a night when she performed
Standing room only
From a place that’s always so warm
Crossing the seven seas
Proud of herself, she cried in joy
From the Philippines she’s the envoy
Proud of herself
Proud of herself
As “Miss Saigon” we all enjoyed
Oh what a night when she performed
She was only sixteen
Theatre was full and people swarmed
Marvellous in her scene
Through her journey we felt her pain
Celebrated with her with champagne
Through her journey
And through her journey
We don’t mind watching her again
Oh what a night when she performed
The Gales of November (a haibun) by Colleen Chesebro
I watched from my perch upon the beach as the November gales arrived early this year. North winds filled with an anxious rage howled across Lake Superior. Frothy white-capped waves erupted in a crescendo of deafening sounds, pounding for attention against the agate strewn sands. The spray splashed against my face like tears falling in a sorrowful refrain. Amidst the roiling of the storm, a quiet and gentle acceptance surfaced within me. I acknowledged my loneliness knowing that this too shall change. The show must go on.
Storm born, birthed on barren shores,
Remind me of home.
LIGHT; messaging (reverse haibun + two words) by JulesPaige
the cursor blinking
waits to advance – the curse,
blessing; advances –
As the cusser and controller of the keys, the writer walks
that odd line through. I stand watching the squirrels out the
window like acrobats unafraid of tree limb heights. Spying
on the line up of birds taking turns at the feeder. Woodpeckers,
Junko, Mourning dove, mockingbird… pecker, junk, mourning,
mocking… is there a secret message from nature? That present
darkness, swooning like a lost love. As dawn breaks and the
sky turns a faint blue, who else is looking for the light of the
bright sun to shine?
The Show Goes On by D. Avery
A long running show, somewhat predictable, though performed live; it could go off script, could still surprise the players as well as the audience, something she used to enjoy.
She was well respected for her roles, yet, despite her experience, her pre-show jitters were getting worse instead of better. Onstage, if the tempo slowed at all, she was aware of a persistent anxiety, always ready to prompt her from behind the curtain, whispering to her of her inadequacies.
“Good morning, how are you?”
She smiled. “Fine.”
She had gotten through her first act, had given a convincing performance.
The Performance by Irene Waters
Fatigued, Jessica lent on the counter yet still she smiled as though they were the centre of her world. She had the same conversations with different people all day, every day; their families, their hopes and dreams, the weather. The weather loomed large but it was so boring. Everything was boring. They didn’t suspect. They talked at her, thinking she cared. Her genuine, eye crinkling smiles made them think they’d made her day.
She’d had an authentic smile this morning when she overheard, “When we drop into the shop it brightens Jessica up.” Yes her performance was very good.
Training, It’s Draining by Neel Anil Panicker
Two days, seven hours, thirty-one minutes and still counting. There’s no signs of the torture ever coming to an end. From his secluded perch in the far right hand corner, I watch with eyes as dead as of a dodo’s at the ‘actors’ and their ‘performances’.
The powers that be had even thought out a name for this form of extreme sadism, grandly christening it as ‘ANNUAL SKILL UPLIFTMENT SESSION’.
My foot! The only skill upliftment was that the hapless trainees had by now learnt how to fall into deep slumber with their eyes split wide open.
Sideshow by TellingStoriesTogether
“Observe,” said the showman, pointing with his cane. “This bizarre creature is so fragile, even the slightest variance of temperature causes it distress.”
He turned the valve with one of his myriad tentacles, and the glass tank lit up red. The creature within balled up its pathetic appendages and howled in anguish.
“Hear how it passes air over flaps of flesh within its throat to make sound?” said the showman. “A primitive, but effective form of communication.”
He bowed and doffed the top hat from atop one of his several eye stalks. “Ladies, gentlemen, larvae… I give you, man!”
Yoko’s Performance Deconstructs the Male Gaze by Anne Goodwin
Come, you know you want to! Haven’t you done this a thousand times in your mind? Forget it’s me up here, under the lights, with the power of my reputation. My name. Imagine a moonless night, a drunken stagger in a too-short skirt; she can’t remember where she left her friends, her bank card, her phone. She’s asking for it, can’t you see? As I am, now. Look how easy I’ve made it for you with the scissors. No need for savage clawing with your hands. I won’t struggle. I won’t protest. Won’t speak. Come, cut away my clothes!
My Mouth-Watering Performance by Liz Husebye Hartmann
“All I remember,” I pause, heaving a shuddering sigh, “Was walking into the downstairs parlor. It was dark, but I smelled swampland. I stepped in a patch of something wet and my feet flew out from under me.
“And then I came to and saw your dear face hovering above me,” I grasp his brawny bicep, offering up a shaky smile. “But your fiancée, Melanie, has been…eviscerated.”
“Murdered by the Swamp Thing!” Lawrence clenches his fists. “I swear I won’t rest until it’s destroyed!”
“Of course, Dear,” I murmur, picking a strand of swamp grass from my teeth.
Performance by Lisa Rey
Shane was at the murder scene. A young man lay there dead. Twenty at most. He surveyed the scene with emotionless eyes and gathered the details from witnesses, fellow officers and the forensic team. He was known in this macho world as a guy who got the job done. No sentimentality.
But when he got home, he wheeled himself into his flat. He sat down with his husband Alan and admitted he was rattled by today’s events. He secretly couldn’t get used to the destruction people caused. But acting unsentimental was the way he felt got results. And justice.
Viva la Diva by D. Avery
“Told ya Pal.”
“Told me what?”
“All the world’s a stage.”
“Yep, s’pose so. Hey, do you dance, Kid?”
“Jist the can’t-can’t. Why? Hope Shorty’s ain’t plannin’ some sorta ballet here at Carrot Ranch.”
“Naw, her dancin’ lessons are of the 99 word variety.”
“Gotta tell ya, Shorty’s a tough act ta follow. Such strong performances every week.”
“Yep, Shorty’s writin’s a gift.”
“Pal, ta say that diminishes the fact that Shorty’s sharpened her skills an’ honed her craft through perseverance an’ hard work.”
“Kid, I meant Shorty’s writin’s a gift ta all us.”
“Oh. Now I’m readin’ ya.”