For weeks before opening night, posters had appeared on walls, in windows and on poles trumpeting the arrival of the nation’s most noted actress.
Of humble origins, she had worked hard to earn such acclaim. This play would mark another high point in her career.
But there was also a decision to be made, and it had to do with a young man who had entered her life. If she were true to him, the social status and money and fame would disappear.
Nonetheless, the play went on that night, and she performed flawlessly. The cheers and applause from the standing-room only crowd gave way to the chant of an encore.
Momentarily immobilized by the outburst of admiration, the stagehands, scene painters, supporting cast – even the musicians from the pit – began scurrying about in search of the actress.
But she could not be found; she had left the building.
Minutes later, some folks said they thought they heard the clatter of a horse’s hooves on the old red brick road that wound its way past the theater and through the hamlet.
Others outside the theater commented they thought they saw the hint of a petticoat from beneath the hem of a red cape cloak as a rider and someone else left the theater.
These individuals were right.
After her performance, the famed actress had acted on the decision. She left the lights of the theater to embrace the life of a family where – unlike the stage – love is lasting and laughter is real.
As the horse charged down the road and out into the countryside, the actress’s eyes crinkled with joy as her young son clung tightly to her waist.
In the years that followed, she only once returned to the theater. When she did, it was dark and empty.
She did not approach the stage.
Rather, she sat down in the center of the front row seats in the balcony.
She did not recall the crowds, the swirl of skirts, the music, the standing ovations or the giving of autographs.
No, the now-forgotten actress only remembered the greatest accolade she had ever received: “Love you, mom!”
Now a man shaped by her decision, her son possessed the virtues which stood out resplendently against the dark and fleeting backdrop of national acclaim.
That calls for an encore.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.