Shadows, Playing

A black-and-white image of the interior of a theater. It is intensely detailed, with carvings and decorations all along the walls and domed ceiling. A closed curtain hangs over the stage.

Let me paint a picture for you, traveler.

It is an opulent affair,

at least it used to be.

Every burgundy seat occupied,

gilded opera glasses at the ready,

candles burning away at their sockets,

ready to flicker life into our unorthodox performance.

Our puppeteer would bow before the crowd

of dyed silk fans and blooming boutonnieres.

Taking her place behind the scrim, pulling our stakes,

the show would begin.

Our show, shadow puppets with a mind of our own,

snapping the stakes held by our puppeteer

as if they were twigs, the crack whisper-thin, tender.

There was a pull between us

that went beyond script and scenery,

beyond the domed candlelit theater.

I wondered sometimes, as we merged and separated,

flitted and fluttered against our tanned hide playing field,

I wondered whether we used to know each other

back when we were patches of night sky,

before we were performing for a glittering audience,

I wondered if we used to occupy the space around the same star.

Our joint darkness knew us,

recognized each other as unique counterparts.

At least for a little while.

The same candles that once allowed us to exist

one day set our home aflame.

One minute we were performing our own love story

for the world to see, the next we were torn apart,

the panicked spectators rushing to the nearest exit,

the fire licking the walls where we used to write each other poems

with our whole bodies.

I raged together with the flames, thinking everything was over,

but of course, this is not how these things work.

If you visit the former theater, traveler,

if you happen upon our rundown playground

ravaged by crawling vines and stubborn weeds,

when the moonlight pours silver wine

through the holes in the flame-kissed ceiling,

you will find our shadows

still chasing each other across velvet and marble.


Avra Margariti is a queer Social Work undergrad from Greece. She enjoys storytelling in all its forms and writes about diverse identities and experiences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, The Forge Literary, Baltimore Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and other venues. Avra won the 2019 Bacopa Literary Review prize for fiction. You can find her on twitter @avramargariti.