The curtain rises and swords flash as cheers ring out, the characters have just begun. My eyes flick to each movement, gazing over the heads in front. I recognize the actors’ faces; eyes glimmering as they dance across the stage, oohs and ahs following their every step, hundreds of spectators waiting for them to soar to the sun or to crash and burn. There is no script; each one is left to their own skill. Two sides ebb and flow, glancing blows and rushing into head-on confrontations while metal clangs. I feel the tension like a vacuum as the deciding point approaches, ready to explode the moment it is sealed. A crushing weight is held in my stomach, getting heavier by the second; waiting for the explosion before it scatters into stars or becomes lead. These characters are my friends, and they fight for the skies. All eyes are on them, and nobody dares break the magic of the moment.

I have been watching this play for years, in this same dusty seat, this same echoing theater. The dim lights over the audience are familiar, and the air is stale and stagnant, as much a spectator to the play as the people below. The bugs swirl in these lights, in this air, but do not dare flicker into the colored ones and the bracing, cheerful air of the stage.

My hands clench the armrests and my face tenses. These very actors were selected from this row of seats. What would it be like to climb the stage, hold my ground and fight by my own hand while a benign monster condones or condemns my every action? I can feel the colored lights on my skin, the brisk air through my clothes as I hold a saber in my hand. The crowd can roar its approval, or shriek is judgment. I just want to wield it, have a chance at flying into the sun, even if I take the fall of Icarus. This seat is a prison made of hesitation and elusive opportunities. It is a restraint in all directions.

I slowly stand, tense against what holds me in my seat. The pressure increases as I move forward, stepping into the aisle, my shoulders set forward. My mind races as I approach the barrier that surrounds the stage. What role shall I create? Lines whirl through my head as I imaging slamming through the barrier, seeing my friends’ faces all around, and turning to face the crowd as I hear the beat of my heart match the boom of the hall.

I am still walking, momentum pushing through the aisle as I head for the stage.