Give Me Your Hands If We Be Friends

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #152 for April 23rd, 2010

A segregated audience at a school play leads to a town revelation.

The stage lights focused on the solitary actor positioned just off centre, seated on a cardboard boulder.  The actor’s face strained, trying to remember his lines, his thick tongue protruding slightly.  A quiet prompt caused a wide smile to appear.  Short hands and stubby fingers repositioned the ivy wreath on his broad forehead and began.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.

Louise stopped scrawling notes for The Hopetoun Chronicle’s entertainment blog.  She had come along to the opening night at the invitation of the director, in order to spruik the performance.  She scanned the list of players’ profiles and found the actor playing Puck.  Andrew Davison.  His first performance the program stated.  The glossy black and white photo showed a smile that somehow captured the essence of life and innocence.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:

Shuffling back in her seat, Louise replayed the earlier mental conversation with herself.  Attending the play would probably mean she would miss seeing her favourite band; at best, catching the last few songs of the set.  But it was work and some things were needed to be done to move up the journalistic ladder.  Amateur theatre.  Louise had scorned the black skivvy and beret brigade at college, concluding that it would be appropriate to use a silencer should you need to kill a mime.  School theatre was a rung below that.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;

Puck continued his delivery with the slightly slurred delivery of a person with Down Syndrome, yet its timbre did not clash with the metre of the Bard.  Louise scanned the audience and saw the attentive faces of fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters.  She saw in their faces a distinct pride, a connection with the actor on stage that Louise did not share.   The faces in the program all had family in the audience, all who had come to watch a play.  They did not see physical impediment or intellectual disability.

Else the Puck a liar call;

It pricked at Louise.  This was a world that she had avoided.

So, good night unto you all.

They were the forgotten ones; the shadows around the periphery of community, held at arm’s length like the lower castes.

Give me your hands, if we be friends,

Yet, here was life and love and acceptance.  Louise realised that it was her hands that retreated, firmly pushed into metaphorical pockets.  Now they were applauding, not as Puck requested, but because Louise was busy writing notes to show the town one more barrier to overcome.

And Robin shall restore amends.


5 responses to “Give Me Your Hands If We Be Friends

  1. Segregation immediately evokes ideas of racial prejudice, but that is not something that I am familiar with. I am more familiar with people’s attitudes towards people with disabilities, another area of segregation.
    I struggled with this prompt for ages, and somehow struck upon the final lines of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a means of tying some ideas together.
    It’s a draft and I’ll leave it at that.

  2. I enjoyed this piece and went back to read it a second time. The first go-around left me feeling as though Louise was in an uncomfortable position seating among families intently watching their children.

    the second time around I saw it as a more acceptance rather than her feeling awkwardly and uncomfortable.

    I like it, very thought provoking as you analyze what could be going through the characters mind as things unfold.

  3. This one touches home for me. My grand daughter is four years old and has down syndrome. This is beautiful. Thankyou…

  4. I was really impressed with the description of Andrew. As I was reading it I thought that I wasn’t getting it, but then you said he had downs and it fitted really well. It was very thought provoking. Good work 🙂

  5. Ooh interesting take on the theme. I suppose you instantly think that the theme is going to involve some kind of racial, or even sexual, prejudice, but as usual, you’ve pulled off something awesome by thinking differently. I really love your work!

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