The Opera Singer


Sheryl Keiper

On the bare table in front of her was a slip of paper. She trembled as she picked it up. One word was on it “X.”

She put her head back on the comforting pillow and tried to remember the significance of the “X.” She closed her eyes halfway, and she got very quiet as she desperately tried to picture the “X.”

Yes, her mind was still working. She recalled her college years when she was cast in her first major role as “Lady Macbeth.” She smiled as she recalled that the cast could never utter the word “Macbeth” while in the theatre. They had to refer to the show as “that Scottish play.” If they forgot, they had to contribute $1.00 to the cast party jar. It was just an old superstition dealing with bad luck from the Elizabethan times with productions of Macbeth.

As her head continued resting on the pillow, she had the epiphany. The “X” marked the spot where she would stand to begin her famous Act V sleep-walking scene soliloquy, where she mustered all her acting skills to convince the audience of her insanity over the guilt of murdering King Duncan. 

As she lay in this bed with the high bars on the sides, she knew her mind was still intact as she could recall standing on the “X” with her dramatic delivery of “Out, out damn spot. Who would have thought the old man would have so much blood in him”?

How did she get into this bed? She had stood on other stages marked with “X’s” in a lifetime of performances.

In fact, she recalled the height of her career was delivering that superb aria from “The Marriage of Figaro” at the Metropolitan Opera House. She could hear her audience roaring with “Brava” accolades.

Then as her fingers clenched the paper with the “X,” her mind was silent. She vigorously tried to recall the circumstances that transpired to put her in this bed.

Bingo!  Her son Adam’s face suddenly appeared. She was at home, walking around in her favorite blue silk pajamas singing opera arias in her living room with the stereo music playing. Her wild red-gray hair was cascading down her back as Adam, her son, entered the room.

“Hi, Mom,” Adam said.

She ignored him and continued to sing.

She then vaguely remembered a trip with him to a doctor’s office.

After the doctor’s visit, Adam began asking strange questions about her possessions and money. 

Then, he took her to this place with blue walls and side bars on the bed where the food tasted terrible. Even the coffee tasted like weak water filtered.

She then crumbled the paper with the “X” on it and began singing an aria from “The Marriage of Figaro” as loud as she could.

The nurses and the staff on her corridor called Sunflower Meadows stopped their work momentarily to appreciate her beautiful song.

So did the other residents and their afternoon visitors in the other rooms down this corridor.

She heard someone in the distance yell “Brava,” and she knew then that she was still a star, despite the crumpled “X” paper and the blue walls and the weak coffee in this strange and new place.