They were her audience, and she was always gracious towards them. -- Anon Guest
The performance had been draining. Of course it was. She had sweat pooling in places no polite person ever spoke of in mixed company. She had worn her skin thin in other, unmentionable places.
But, because she was the star, people insisted on meeting her after the show. Some to talk, some to embrace or kiss, some to criticise. Some to appreciate what hard work she had done, to be art for them for a space of hours.
They were her audience, and she was always gracious towards them.
No matter how tired. No matter how sore. No matter how much her eyes hurt from the makeup. Their presence meant her rent, her food, her pleasant things.
And even though all she could think of was stripping naked and soaking in a bubble bath until her beloved helped her to bed... these people wanted her time in person. And the public got what they paid for.
One kind stranger pressed a small ampule into her hand. "This should help with your eyes. It helps with me." And then they were gone, before she could thank them.
The faces became a blur. The kind words became incomprehensible. The citiques harsh barbs in her already aching body. She wept without knowing she was weeping. Her lover pressed a reviving drink into her hands. Held her up.
Was she that tired?
Someone fanned cool air on her. Someone else plied her with sticky drinks. Someone put something cool on the back of her neck.
It would be a scandal for some, at a later date. How the star of the show stayed behind to meet her audience until she nearly collapsed from overheating and exhaustion. Some were offended because how dare she be a human with needs and flaws. Some claimed she was drunk, or that her incoherent mumblings before her partial collapse were a clear sign of some kind of addiction.
Some continued this despite the fact that her hospital results that night were publicly available news.
There is only so much a person can give, and some people insist on despising that. Hate is easy. Understanding is difficult.