Does madness often push you beyond yourself? I do not speak of any particular mania or delusion, nothing that entails hallucinations that inspire odd, dramatic outbursts nor the subtlest of ticks. I speak of the madness of living. How living will kill us, should we not consider certain events with a solemnity, or how we will be our own end, if we do not learn to laugh at the absurdity of its duality. Is every moment deserving of gratitude, or are they often too rife with suffering to endure happily? And yet, if mere thought allows us to convince ourselves of one or the other, then, are we fools to ever believe the latter is true? Even in squalor, life is precious. Even in luxury, can it be a burden.
Sometimes I am driven by the utmost purpose, in which I envision precisely who I wish to be, while other times, I surrender myself to the chaos which shapes us all. Why is it that sometimes we hold onto our lives, gripping it as if it is our final hour, and other times, we may as well sigh in relief to watch it all pass in a breeze?
I raise few answers to these questions. Just toss, flip, catch my dagger as I ponder them when I can. As life spreads out like a shuffled deck of cards, I have settled not to decide much of anything, only to make a game of it: to discover the truths that seem immutable. I do hope they are revealed as with prestidigitation, suddenly, after much confusion, and to the utter delight of my senses. As a fool, I can expect little more, only to play into the game with a multi-faced mask, beckoning the mysteries close enough so I may rear a more cunning face, in hopes of seeing reality bare, caught naked after I appeased its arrogant guise.
“Casimir!” a voice hissed through the thick, black curtain in front of me. “The first act is nearly over. Are you ready?”
I stamped my feet, shook my arms, adjusted my belt, and eased my dagger into its scabbard. “Relax Saron. I have done this before, you know.” All of the contraptions attached to my body clinked together as I stepped forward.
There was a sigh, then some ruffling as she shoved aside the fabric separating us. "You're too arrogant for your own good."
"And you worry too much for your own good."
The throngs gave a courtesy applause for the introductory act, but it was deafening all the same. I inhaled the atmosphere of expectation, polished actions, stumbling mishaps, the smell of fresh costumes, makeup, and trepidation. There was just a sliver of vision between the foremost curtains, but it was enough to see the hundreds of spectators. Some were seated in high-arching, stone turrets, others stood just an arm from the stage. It seemed the longer I stood there, staring at them, the less lifelike everything became. An ethereal film of the surreal passed over my eyes. I needed that feeling—that nothing truly mattered, not if I was alone, not if the world was staring at me.
“Your cue, Casimir, the applause,” Saron hummed, now behind me.
I slipped a hand between the curtains and parted them, taking the first steps into the silvery light cast by the spotlights, wherein my shadow gasped and spread itself like a great god behind me, not to be scrutinized, but to observe all those countless eyes staring at me.
Cheers erupted and rose to a crescendo, before silence collapsed in on them and engulfed us.
I fired up the mechanism that rotated the carousel masks on my head and felt the performance within my spinning guises, at long last, take its first breath. I had begun.