Lily Meagher, Grade 11, Cavendish Road State High School
I poked my face around the curtain and was confronted by a sea of faces. There were talking faces and laughing faces; bored faces and excited faces; watching faces and waiting faces. Round faces and thin faces; harsh faces and kind faces; old faces and young faces. Faces adorned with glasses and studs and caked in powders and colours. Faces framed by blond, brown, black and blue; faces topped with curls, caps and clips. City faces and country faces; rich faces and poor faces; faces from all walks of life and every corner of the globe. Faces that would all soon be turning on me. Every single one of them, focusing on my own pale, terrified face. Any second now.
As the curtains parted, I looked out over that sea of faces and thought I might drown. Focusing on individual faces in the crowd I could see that every single one of them was zeroed in on the same face. Mine.
I tried to shield my face; to escape from the probing gazes, the oncoming surge of strange faces. But there’s nowhere to hide under a spotlight; and as the house-lights dimmed, the faces faded into darkness, hidden in shadows.
But this was worse; all those faces watching me, hidden. Now I could only see them in my mind… expectant faces, anticipative faces; eager faces, excited faces. All waiting for me; with expectations I could never meet.
But I hadn’t come all this way to back out now. So I mustered my courage; and in the instant before I began I could hear the sound of a room full of faces drawing breath. Then I was off.
I let my face get lost in the performance, I let it show my love and my loss, my pain and my passion, my fear and my fury. I let my face speak to their faces, speak of everything that I had always been too afraid to say; I let my face speak for itself.
But as I poured my heart out, I could still see the faces …in my mind… I could see the tide turning in that great ocean, see them slowly losing interest …in my mind… I could see the bored faces and the disappointed faces; the distracted faces and the polite good-try-but-maybe-not faces. There was even a spattering of glaring faces and angry faces …in my mind… as I neared the end I could see the faces sighing with relief.
But as the light seeped back, I looked out over the sea of faces, and I could read every single one of them. I read shining faces and grinning faces; beaming faces and glowing faces. I read awed faces and stirred faces; faces thick with emotion and even slick with tears. I read faces filled with admiration and reverence.
All of them, every drop in that great ocean of faces, was standing and cheering. Every one of them fixed on my own, flushed face.