Opening Night

opening-night“Michaela, curtain in five,” came the voice from behind the door. Callie stared at her reflection in the mirror with a tense look on her face. She could hear the reprimanding tones in any utterance of her given name, one she hadn’t heard in years.

Michaela Ambrose. The family lineage dictated by her surname meant one thing. She would be a lawyer, just like her father and grandfather before him. Her brother had accepted his fate graciously. Callie was the black sheep, obstinate and unyielding to the ploys of her shepherding parents.


Callie hadn’t known what she wanted to do with her life. She was only a junior in high school. Why should she be pressured into a decision so early? These arguments fell on deaf ears until Callie became a reclusive and rebellious teenager.

“Michaela, put something appropriate on. We need to leave in five minutes,” scolded her mother.

Another evening at the theater. Just great, thought Callie. More pompous and high falutin snobs, overdressed, and clapping ceremoniously at all the proper moments. It was all so fake. She hated everything about it. Callie knew she’d be forced to dress accordingly. It didn’t stop her from pressing her parents’ buttons. It was the tiny bit of control she seemed to have in her life.

It was about midway through the second act. Callie was disinterested, arms folded, scowl on her face. The actress was dancing delicately across the stage, belting out the signature note of her solo performance, when it happened. Whether it was the glint of bright lights off the reflective brooch in the front row, or simply a lack of concentration, she faltered.

The voice of the actress cracked as she fell to her knees, just a moment of imperfection. As quickly as she stumbled, the actress regained her poise. The collective inhalations from the crowd, however, were deafening. It was such a powerful misstep that even Callie found herself with a need to catch her breath. While everyone else had gasped in dismay, Callie had been drawn into her performance for the first time that evening.

Everything always felt so contrived about these productions. Now this? This was real. It showed the imperfections in humanity. There was a sense of authenticity and vulnerability in failure. Although Callie wouldn’t wish this type of misfortune on anyone, she had to admit that she felt fortunate that it occurred that evening. For the first time in her life, she could identify with someone. With something bigger than herself. The standing ovation awarded by the crowd at the completion of the performance was consolatory in nature. For Callie, however, it was genuine.


That actress had ruined Callie’s life. In her parent’s eyes, at least. The spark ignited on that evening so many years ago, however, allowed Callie to reclaim ownership of her young life. Michaela. She whispered the name to herself. The apprehensive face in the mirror morphed into a grin. It was opening night, in more than one way.

11 thoughts on “Opening Night

    • davecenker September 23, 2015 / 10:38 am

      Thank you Brad 🙂 The tiniest occurrences can make the biggest difference when we open our eyes to them! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  1. Don September 23, 2015 / 10:58 am

    The real and the unreal. That’s the question. Beautifully written Dave and as someone described – clever.

    • davecenker September 23, 2015 / 11:22 am

      Thanks Don, sometimes the real can seem unreal, in the best way possible, of course 😉 Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I always appreciate your thoughts!

  2. heraldmarty September 24, 2015 / 7:04 pm

    Oh I LOVE this piece Dave! Okay, before I forget yet again, let the artsy fartsy side of me compliment you on the book images you’ve been using for your posts. Creative, innovative and distinctive … can’t think of anymore adjectives, but you get it, I like them. 🙂 Anyway, wonderful life lesson illustrated in your story, and one that far too many people never realize until much later in life as evidenced by the #1 deathbed regret “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, instead of what others expected of me.”

    • davecenker September 25, 2015 / 8:17 am

      Thank you Marty, I really appreciate your kind words, and for sharing my story. For some, such as Michaela, the pressure is overt and obvious. For others, it is a little more subtle, and not always intentional as it was portrayed in this story. However, regardless of how the pressure is communicated, it’s paying attention to the voice within that ultimately allows you to break free, in so many ways. Thanks again, and have a great weekend!

  3. Mari Biella September 25, 2015 / 7:52 am

    Very nice, Dave, and very true – those small failures and imperfections are what make us real and authentic!

    • davecenker September 25, 2015 / 8:19 am

      Thank you Mari, your observations are very astute 🙂 My message in this piece was twofold. First, be yourself, no matter what others tell you. And second, never be afraid to show those small imperfections. Not only will they help you grow, they may just inspire someone else to do great things also 😉 Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment, I sincerely appreciate it!

  4. roughwighting September 26, 2015 / 4:23 pm

    Fascinating story – I love it because it subtly, yet suddenly shows the value of imperfection, and how releasing and revealing not-being-perfect can be. The ending makes the reader want more – what is the adult Callie doing now?

    • davecenker September 27, 2015 / 5:21 pm

      Thanks Pamela, I agree that imperfection can often be more inspiring than perfection, depending upon how it is handled, and hopefully embraced.

      As far as what Callie is doing as an adult, she refers to herself as Michaela now. She’s comfortable with her name, her past, and the infinite possibilities for her future 🙂

      Thanks, as always for taking the time to read and comment. I sincerely appreciate your kind words and thoughts Pamela!

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