I watch from the wings as Damian stands in the centre of stage, illuminated by a bright spotlight. He delivers the final line, and rage stirs inside me. It's the perfect ending to his perfect performance - at least, that's what the audience seem to think. They burst into applause, cheering and clapping. Some get to their feet. Damian bows, and bows again. The clapping gets louder.
I glare at him, my hands clenching into tight fists by my sides. My nails dig into the flesh of my palm, but I ignore the pain. Of course Damian got to play the main role in the play. He's always the hero. Everybody loves him. I auditioned for the role, too, but ended up as a mere understudy.
I can't believe it.
Finally, the applause dies down a little and the velvet curtain begins its slow descent. Damian strides off stage, looking flushed.
I plaster a smile onto my face and pat him on the back as he passes me. "Well done, Damian. That was a superb performance."
He doesn't pick up on the trace of sarcasm in my voice. Instead, he grins back, revealing neat rows of pearly white teeth. "Thank you so much, Peter!" That perfect smile. Nobody can resist his charm - except me, of course.
As he walks away and is quickly swallowed up by a crowd of adoring fans, I hiss, "You don't deserve this, Damian. I am a better actor than you in every single way. One day soon, you'll see that. The world will see that."
That's when an idea strikes me. I call back my winning smile and saunter over to the gathering crowd.
"Sorry! Excuse me! Coming through!" I make my way to the centre of the crush, where Damian is chatting happily with three girls. They gaze up at him in awe, spellbound by his words.
But I'm not fooled. His friendly demeanour is all an act. It must be. Nobody could be so kind, so likeable, so selfless. Right?
"Damian!" I interrupt with a simpering smile. "Sorry to bother you, but I wondered if I could have a quick word with you."
He looks confused for a moment, before his expression brightens again. "Sure!"
I barely stop myself from rolling my eyes. "I meant privately."
"Oh, I see!" He excuses himself and we extricate ourselves from the crowd. I pull him into a shadowy corner.
"Is something wrong, Peter? If there's anything I can help with, please tell me. I'll do whatever I can." He gazes at me, his wide blue eyes filled with concern.
It's fake concern, of course. Why would he care about someone like me? It's all an act, I remind myself. You can't trust anyone in this business.
"Look, Damian." I drop the cheery facade, and he flinches. My voice turns cold, hard, vicious. "You've had the main role in every play for the past three years. Don't you think it's time to give someone else a chance? I don't know who you're bribing to get the parts, but -"
"Hey, what? I'm not - I've never bribed anyone!"
I lean closer. "I wasn't finished! I was saying, this needs to stop. I'm more talented than you, and you know it. Let me get the parts I want, and it will make everyone's lives better."
He just stares. The great actor, never at a loss for words. Until now.
Finally, he shrugs. "You're deluded," he says quietly.
I watch Damian walk back into the bright lights. Seconds later, he vanishes from sight, absorbed into another conversation. Laughter bubbles from the group as stories are shared and friendships strengthened. Damian's voice is always loudest, leading the conversation.
I watch silently from the shadows. My time will come.
This is my entry for The Great Gabs-by's contest, for prompt 3 (#SecondPerspective). Word count: 629