“I love acting,” she blurted out one Saturday as we lay across her bed. My best friend, Keziah Somes, had been bitten by a yearning for the stage during a production of the Wizard of Oz in the sixth grade. She played the part of Dorothy.
“You know that from only one play?” I questioned.
“You’re jealous because you had to play a munchkin.”
“You take that back right now!” I had felt the presence of the green-eyed monster, but she didn’t have to point it out.
Keziah laughed. “Okay, okay, I take it back. I was only kidding.” She jumped off the bed and began to twirl around the room.
“You know your father doesn’t approve of acting. He didn’t even come to see you in the play last night.”
Keziah stopped twirling and sat backwards on her chair. “Tell me, Althea, why would God let me love acting and be good at it if it wasn’t what I was supposed to do? Daddy thinks acting is Satan’s handiwork, but I don’t.”
Before I could answer, she continued her monologue. “You know what? I’m going to change my name to Blue Roses—just like the girl in “The Glass Menagerie.”
I rolled my eyes. “Did you actually read the play? She didn’t say blue roses; she said pleurosis. It’s a lung condition—big difference.”
Keziah shrugged her shoulders. “It can be my stage name.”
Our giggles were interrupted by a bang on her bedroom door. The knob turned and in walked her father. Mr. Somes’ manner told me he was a man to be feared and respected, if only because of his paw-like hands. “What are you girls doing in here?”
“We were picking out my stage name,” Keziah replied.
“Mark my words, girl—nothing good will come of this pursuit.” His clenched fists resembled cannonballs.
“I feel differently, Daddy.” She touched his fists. “This is a gift from God. Why can’t you see that?”
“You’re playing with fire, Keziah.” He walked out and slammed the door.
All through school, Keziah continued to pursue her dream of Broadway. She refused to audition for roles that conflicted with her beliefs. Due to a lack of decent material, she wrote and starred in the Christmas production our senior year. A seat was reserved for her father at every one of her performances; he never came. I prayed for them both.
The day Keziah left for the School of the Arts in New York, I alone accompanied her to the train station. “Well, this is it.” She wiped tears from her cheek. “I wish you were going with me.”
“You know I’m attending the local university to--”
“—to save money for medical school,” she finished. Keziah’s smile faded. “Take care of my dad for me.”
I hugged her one last time. “I promise.” She disappeared onto the train.
That was fifteen years ago. We kept in touch by letter. Keziah sent me the playbills from her off Broadway productions and her stint in the London Theatre. Our schedules kept us apart physically, but she remained in my thoughts and prayers.
One Christmas, I had the opportunity to visit New York City. At hotel check-in, I received two front row tickets to the newest Broadway play, “Roses are Blue”. The performance started the following evening; I needed a date.
The night of the show, I finagled my way backstage. When the door to the dressing room opened, her smile brightened the room.
“So glad you could make it, Doctor,” Keziah remarked.
My tears flowed in abundance when we embraced. I handed her the bouquet in my arms. “These roses represent affection from the giver. Their blue color represents the spirit and grace of the receiver. I’ve missed you, Blue Roses.”
Keziah wiped her face. “You know I’m gonna have to reapply my makeup now.” We laughed. “So, where’s your handsome date?”
“He’s already in the front row.”
We walked up the stairs to the stage and Keziah peaked through a side curtain. When she looked back at me, fresh tears had filled her eyes.
“I know he’s old,” I joked, “but he was the best I could do.”
“How did you get my father to come, Althea?”
“God answered your prayers, Keziah.”
The show made Keziah a household name and her father attended every performance. It hadn’t been easy, but she followed her heart. Now, God’s precious flower had blossomed into her own!
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