A Story by Mark

A long-overdue sequel to last year's "The Angry Mountain". DO try and remember, it is a PARABLE, thus not really about dancing, okay?




     The newspaper was not very enthusiastic in its advertisement of the upcoming casting call. The entire article was barely three inches, and buried deep within Section C. But as it had long been his habit to read the paper thoroughly, to occupy those many hours when there was so little to do, he was able to make his plans to attend.


    As a professional dancer, an occupation that his parents both swore would never bring him wealth or happiness, he had a considerable amount of spare time. He spent but little of these past six years in acknowledging the rightness of their pronouncement. The majority though, he spent improving his craft, and helping others to improve theirs. For his was not the petty, obsessive mindset so prevalent among practitioners of the arts. He wanted only to do a thing which he enjoyed and did well, which brought him joy, and hopefully also brought a few moments of gladness into the hearts of those around him, who seemed so often dejected and dazed.


     On the appointed day, at the appointed time, he showed up at the appointed place. Instantly, he was seized with a mighty, nearly overwhelming fear. “How is it possible, that an audition so lightly advertised can have drawn such an immense crowd?”, he wondered. For there were thousands, no, TENS of thousands of leggings-clad dancers, all heights, weights, hues and genders. He nearly turned on his heel and fled. “What possible chance have I?”, he moaned, quivering, as the ad had plainly said that many would be called, but few chosen. “Why, there’s…and there’s…and, oh, NO!, he’s not here, too!”, he lamented, recognizing the stars of the dancing world, some of whom he had competed with (and lost to) in other auditions.


     Presently, a Production Assistant raised his bullhorn and began herding the impatient, milling mass into the theatre. Queerly, it seemed larger on the inside than on the outside, but he occupied but few ganglia wondering how this could be, or why. Eventually, they were all on the stage, a truly massive stage. he could not, in fact, even see either end. But by some fluke of perspective, he was able to see, over a sea of intervening heads, the very small audience: one man situated stage center about eight rows back from the orchestra pit, and two more in the row behind him, flanking Him and leaning over His shoulder. There was a vague impression of a large, fluttering crowd behind these three (who he deduced were the Producer, the Director and the Choreographer) but they were of only  tangential importance. The man in the front row spoke:


      “Welcome to the most important Audition you will ever attend. You are all familiar with charts, so I will not waste your time explaining this, other than to say, as some of you have apparently already noted, that it is suspended in front of the stage, slightly above eye level. The difference here is that you shall not be permitted to view the entire chart at once, let alone memorize it. For you see, the criteria we are seeking…”, whereupon one of the men in the second row tapped his shoulder and whispered something in his ear. “Ah, sorry”, he chuckled. “I almost revealed a bit too much! Just read that portion of the chart you can see at any moment, and comply with its directions. If one of these fellows here behind me”, and here he waved an arm across the indistinct mass behind the Three, “approaches and taps you, you will kindly leave the stage, with a minimum of hubbub. That said, the audition will now commence."


     Instantly, the houselights came down to five percent, and a small blue key light silhouetted the Three. At the same instant, the stage mains came on full, and a bright pin spot illuminated a minute section of the suspended chart. As there was no Orchestra, hence no overture, and as the stage was very crowded, there was immediately some confusion as to when to start, and at what tempo. The bunched dancers, novices and seasoned pros alike, trod upon one another’s feet, smote their neighbors with flailing arms and lifted knees, fell, lost their place. In mere moments, the fluttering from the audience increased, and the dancers were interspersed with a flurry of the insubstantial Messengers. And the chart rolled on, the key light steady, what went before and what came after invisible.


     For what seemed like an eternity, but was in fact probably somewhat less than that, the Audition continued. Dancers fell, and either arose, or sat weeping in their bitter frustration. Dancers enhanced their parts, the better to draw the attention of the Three. Collisions occurred, shoulders were tapped, dancers retired, but the stage somehow never seemed less congested. The majority strove, despite the incursions of their neighbors, to follow the Chart, though its pace was inconstant, the preferred tempo being still in question. Sprains, contusions and even a few gashes were unavoidable. Yet our man danced on, to the best of his ability, despite the annoyances and interference he received. It came as a surprise to nearly all when the stage lights went down, the houselights brightened, and the pin spot on the chart was extinguished. “That’ll be all, the Audition is concluded. My translucent associates will continue among you as before, but their tap is now a summons to the front of the stage, not the wings.” And among the dancers they did indeed glide. When he felt his shoulder tapped, he was certain his day was at an end, his time wasted.


     When the small percentage of attendees were gathered stage center, and the balance dismissed into the outer darkness of the wings (where, he thought grimly, he heard weeping and gnashing of teeth), the Three stood, and spoke, now as One.

“It is doubtful that any of you understands even why you were here today, let alone what we expected of you, and are therefore puzzled as to why you were among the Selected. I see shuffling feet, dropped eyes, and nervous hands. The real purpose was NOT to ascertain your skill levels; these We knew. Those who added to or modified their roles within the Chart, or skipped parts of it they deemed unworthy of their supposedly exalted skills; those who interfered with their neighbor-dancers; those who fell and preferred to weep in self-pity than to rise and resume: these were not the dancers we wished to cast. For Our purpose was to ascertain NOT who COULD follow directions, but who WOULD! Who among you was willing to persevere, to assist, to carry on, even when he could not see the purpose or the destination, even when he doubted his own skills or his abilities” (here it should be noted that the female tryers-out heard feminine pronouns rather than ‘he’s and ‘his’s’) “yet carried on. Thus, though so many thousands were summoned to the Audition, only you few have been selected to join the Grand Dance. I do so hope you will consider your time to have been well-spent!”


     And so our lad, shaking his head in stunned amazement, walked out and mounted the bus to destinations and futures he could not begin to imagine. What he had considered his humble ability had in fact turned out to be superior to that of many who had sneered, jeered, scoffed at and trounced him at previous auditions. How bizarre it was to realize only now, at the end of one phase and the beginning of another, that not knowing where you're going might be the best way to get there, and not knowing how to do it might be the best way to accomplish that goal! He felt certain of but one thing: he'd fit in there far better than he had here!

© 2010 Mark

Author's Note

This spilled out of me at a single sitting, though it had been caroming around in my spirit for nearly a decade. Therefore, if you perceive any flow issues that might by additions or deletions amended, please feel free to bring them to my attention.

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Featured Review

Interesting metaphor Mark. Two things I noted, which others have failed to mention: I appreciate the signifigance of the capped words - they add great meaning to the story and the allusions to the language of the Bible, for example, "gnashing of teeth" and "only few were selected." Yes, wide is the path but narrow is the gate. There are many important parallels contained within this text. Troubling it is that only few can pick them out...but again, I say, wide is the path but narrow is the gate. Well done, sir...

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


The audition of life, I wonder if the teaching goes on for the rest who were ask leave? I found this to be an intriguing metaphor Mark, an audition rather than a test…And I really loved the play on the Scriptures as the “chart” and how we don’t follow blindly there are instructions, and faith will guide us.

I really liked this Mark…

Great Write!

Posted 10 Years Ago

A single sitting? WOW! LOL
This is great love!
You have a talent for setting the scene well and your vivid description is inspiring!
Excellent work

Posted 11 Years Ago

Interesting metaphor Mark. Two things I noted, which others have failed to mention: I appreciate the signifigance of the capped words - they add great meaning to the story and the allusions to the language of the Bible, for example, "gnashing of teeth" and "only few were selected." Yes, wide is the path but narrow is the gate. There are many important parallels contained within this text. Troubling it is that only few can pick them out...but again, I say, wide is the path but narrow is the gate. Well done, sir...

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Great work brother, you've always had the gift.
Love you, Happy Birthday


Posted 11 Years Ago

Funny, when I first started to read this, the song, "Lord of the Dance" started rattling around in my head. lol What a lovely parable or parallel to life. So often we can miss the mark by trying to guess the next step rather than making the best of each moment and giving our all to each step. There's a lot of food for thought in this one, my friend. Well done, Mark!

Posted 11 Years Ago

it is amazing sometimes how a story like this just leaps on the page, truely I loved it

Posted 11 Years Ago

Oh I loved this (I read this one first)

Posted 11 Years Ago

I'm a bit surprised that you used dancing as a framework or setting for this, but it seems to work, although I had a little difficulty embracing the whole thing due to my total lack of familiarity with the subject. (When I'm so unfortunate as to find myself on a dance floor, I'm like a drowning man who desperately tries to stay alive until the music stops) Your writing skills are excellent as always.

Posted 11 Years Ago

Hmm...interesting. I truly was hooked from the first paragraph. Seems that you've improved with age old friend. GOOD to be back and even more so in knowing you have carried the writing torch in my absence. GOD bless! Great write!

Posted 11 Years Ago

What a wonderful story .. and how well the lesson is given!

Although I found the first paragraph rather muddled, from the second para your parable flowed, explaining the man's character and how he approached things in his life. As you described that the theatre's interior was bigger than expected I began to think .. something's going to happen. When the main character recognised faces amongst the throngs I realised that the famous were there for a reason and when the Man briefly asked the gathering to obey the Chart I understood what was

We've been told what to do, to succeed we need to follow completely .. and that you describe with great feeling, Mark.

You've asked for constructive criticism tho I appreciate this is a draft .. and I'm hardly expert but, I do find quite a few sentences too long. Maybe its sudden arrival inspired you to write too quickly .. with time this will be one of the most beautiful posts I've read in the Cafe. Thank you so much for asking me to read it

Posted 11 Years Ago

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11 Reviews
Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on August 21, 2010
Last Updated on September 3, 2010
Tags: parable, audition, dancer, stage, Three, One



Las Vegas, NV

Writing, for me, has always been the friend who brought out the best in me, and who would never argue with me, except when necessary to point out my many obvious inconsistancies. Writing and.. more..

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