Theatre, darling.

The chorus stands in wait for its cue, watching the scene as it unfolds, while the audience perch on the edge of their pull-down seats.

“What do you mean?” a woman says to her lover.

She’s tall; Nepali (second-generation); beautiful. This is her tale.

“What does it mean?” the chorus sings behind her.

(That’s their role, you see. To mirror the drama and make it melodic, because everything is better when it looks and sounds beautiful.)

“Infidelity!” the chorus sings. “Infidelity!”

The woman falls to her knees.

“Why are you lying?” she blubs.

The lover is tall too with luxurious hair, and a few tattoos from a trip to Bali. The chorus twirls into the woman, huddling around at her shoulders. It strokes her arms in a melee of fingers.

“I looked at your phone,” she sobs to the lover.

The chorus whispers into her ears.

“Lies and deceit and deceit and lies and lies and deceit and deceit and lies.”

The lover shakes their head, saying it isn’t true. That she’s not listening.

“Then explain!” the woman shouts, folding her arms. “What am I not getting?”

The chorus falls silent. It steps back as one. Each of the five members fold their arms in canon. They get to their knees so she’s not alone, and look up at the lover as if in prayer. The lover is standing in front of a row of painted wooden trees – uncanny really that the prop forest be made from wood – and bright lights shine down onto the scene from above.

“Well?” the woman says.

The lover shifts from foot to foot.

“Something’s wrong,” the chorus sings.

“What’s wrong?” the woman says.

“I know,” the lover says.

“Know what?”

The chorus gets up and steps back, each member curling into conference like smoke tails. They form a circle and start to hiss. Their words are indistinguishable at first.

“The lover knows,” it whispers. “They know. They know. They know. They know. They know.”

It gets louder.

“They know. They know. They know. THEY KNOW. THEY KNOW.”

The woman stands up and puts her hands in her hair.

“I know you fucked someone,” the lover says.

The prop trees creak.

“Lies,” the chorus whispers.

“You’re talking shit,” the woman says.

“Lies,” the chorus whispers.

“And don’t turn this round on me. This is your fault.”

The lover looks at her, saying nothing. The woman glances into the trees behind at the dust suspended in the spotlight’s beam. The chorus glances at her too, one pair of eyes at a time. They shift in her direction like a slideshow projector.

“Danger,” it whispers.

“Have you got nothing to say?” the lover says.

She shakes her head.

“Bullshit,” the lover snaps. “You’re a slut, like the rest.”

The chorus member with the highest voice sings the highest note she can reach.

“Slut,” she sings.

The rest of the chorus cascades down the scale from high to low.


And then again, from high to low.


It’s a waterfall of sound. The spotlight on the woman is thick and blinding, like a halo.

“Don’t call me that,” the woman whispers.

“You did this,” the lover snaps.

“You. You. You,” the chorus sings.

The lover steps forward, away from their spot by the painted wooden trees and into the woman’s light. The chorus jumps into action.

“Don’t touch her!” they screech, no longer harmonious.

Their hair lifts and twists, strands slithering over each other and snapping for space. Their eyes stain with blood – big red rubies staring dead. Then they burst into flames and blaze around the stage, lashing at the lover.

“Lies and deceit and deceit and lies and lies and deceit and deceit and lies.”

The fire turns to water, running red with rage and fury and pain. The lover flaps, drowning as the water rises, pulling the woman into the current. The waves hit the ceiling and the bulbs of the stage lights burst. The audience gasp, plunged into darkness.

Moments later, the lights come up. It’s time for the bows, but the stage is empty and stained with blood. The audience exchange nervous glances. Then a trapdoor bangs and the chorus reappears, a group of six.

“Vengeance,” it whispers.

The audience applauds, loud and rapturous. It thunders through the floor. Some stand in ovation.

“Vengeance,” the chorus whispers.

The audience whistles; they scream. Then they throw roses into the bloodied stage.

by Gemma Doswell

Gemma Doswell is a London-based, mixed-race writer, originally from Birmingham. Her fiction and non-fiction work has been featured in Restless Network, The Curiosity Club, The Flock Magazine, AZ Magazine, Litro Magazine, Reflex Press and Vestal Review. She currently works in tech, alongside working on her debut novel.