Act II in response to mindlovemisery’s menagerie prompt 58: A Necessary Change of Scenery.
The wood cutter after receiving his payment faded into the crowd on their way to mass. She took her mother’s rosary out of the pouch tied to her waist. She should be in that crowd. Mass then confession. “Do not think of that now. The numbers need checking.”
Concentrating on the ins and outs of money, the knock on the side of the wagon and her name being called barely registered. It was the woodsman, with a bunch of wild flowers from the lea outside the town. “Oh, this is one of those moments her mother talked about.” What did accepting the flowers indicate? What if she refused? What . . . He called again. Feeling she had no choice, she emerged onto the stage, remembering the blushing and the shy demeanor (that wrapped a backbone of granite).
She accepted the flowers and thanked him for adding beauty to the stage. “Not as beautiful as thou, maiden.” She was ready to scream, pull her skirts over her head and run, when Gerome returned from the market with a live chicken and chicks. The caterwaul of the birds, Gerome’s large size and protective nature saved her from an undignified retreat. “Good-day, then. I look forward to your performance.”
She leaned over the edge of the wagon and whispered “Your help again in two days?” He smiled widely, his eyes lighting up. “Why yes. I shall be here at mid-day with flowers.” She tried to smile sweetly though it hurt her cheeks, and waved a maidenly good bye. Gerome worried about her, but understood he was not to pry into her doings.
“The backdrop is drying.” “Thank you for the flowers.” “That will be one pence, mistress.” “Hang it back up here.” “Yes, it would be pleasing to see you in the front row.”
Once hung, the colors were more vivid, the figures more life-like. All commented on that. But only she seemed to see and sense the movements, smells, and noises; the backdrop was now a living being.
Figures travelled up and down the dusty road, never in the same place twice. Iris and flock bloomed by the gurgling brook, their sweet smells filling the wagon. Bees buzzed around the flowers, seeking nectar. Bees and brook in a competition as to who could be the loudest.
She kept the changing nature of the backdrop as yet another secret. All would think she was daft; some already did. She wondered if the shriveled old man in the strange old shop would still face the market square. Of good or evil?
Perhaps, once she got accustomed to it’s aliveness, her remembering grounding her to the alternations, she would become comfortable with the backdrop. She would see it as simply a change of scenery. A necessary one as it would never need repair or repainting again.