A Night at the Fifth Avenue

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Midnight was two hours old before I could finally peel out of my costume. The prosthetic nose and glue-on beard tore at my skin as I tugged them off, and they quickly joined the clutter on the bathroom floor: a tired pile of mismatched robes, rags, and a decrepit old wig. I stood in my boxers and scrubbed at the layers of pasty make-up until forty years were washed down the sink, until finally a look in the mirror revealed my own face, clean and raw. It was the first time in the last six hours that I had confronted a reflection that told the truth. My own face.

The disjointed memory of a vibrant evening began to tickle my mind, whizzing around my brain like an insect trapped in a jar. Everything that evening had felt somehow monumental. A sea of people, and a white blaze that consumed my vision as I stood on that enormous stage. There was the elaborate music cue; the song performed in the violent shine of a spotlight; the applause that seemed almost too thick; and finally the award, handed to me by that black-bedecked woman. I remembered the podium and the clutter of notes that the announcer had left there. I remembered saying "thank you" into the microphone, and wishing I could think of something else to say....

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