The Fall of the Playwright

Written by Kareny Zhong

Earned an Honorable Mention in the 2021 Scholastic Art and Writing Competition

It was the end of June, 1613, and it had been a few hours since John Fletcher started staring at the little ink spots that imprinted his paper. The paper is a part of Henry VIII that is about to be performed tomorrow morning. John crouched-down shadow shivered under the dim candlelight. London had become a blemished sponge with no water left to be squeezed, and night time was far from over. He hated when the city was like that.

He sighed. William Shakespeare’s words yesterday was like the slow and scorching fume of a long-ceased flame:

“Too many try to imitate me. They think they can understand my ways. Fletcher, have I been wrong from the beginning? I probably should be the person they say I am: a greedy old pantaloon who writes everything except his own words.”

Regarding the blackness under his companion’s red eyes, John tried to convince himself that it was just another insignificant battle that William thought he had lost, but he couldn’t.

“Sturdier, Will. Just take it easy. You have a show tomorrow. Henry VIII, remember?” John comforted his friend, but the great playwright just stared glassily at the crimson glow of John’s candle. However, John felt that his soul seemed so much more sorrowful compared to that carelessly shuddering fire atop his candle. Eventually, William stood up a little in the small hotel room, an injured and weary beast that suddenly found itself trapped in a dungeon.

“But watch. Tomorrow, there shall be fire and blast! I do not wish to see my show ruined.”

“That theater. It is a part of me.”

John seemed to hear the sound of a closing door. He lost focus on the ink spots and tripped into an unsettling drowsiness.


He was choked awake by smoke in his lungs.

It took him a while to adjust to the daylight, but it wasn’t long before he realized that it was not the hotel that was on fire.

“The play! The Globe!” John scrambled up from his chair, ran down the stairs, and out onto the streets. The flame had already lit up a huge part of the London sky, its fume spreading to nearby houses. The fire burned steadily, engulfing the huge theater without much effort, like a colossal serpent trying to swallow a lion. John felt their fiery breaths swept his body.

The powerful lion growled, a growl that used to shake the whole theater industry, and with no more strength left, collapsed to the ground.

John closed his eyes and knew. The theater, the play, they were all part of William, and they were burning together.

It was just a prop cannon.

Published by haringeyunchained

Haringey Unchained is a collective of students aiming to show case the creative talent of Haringey Sixth Form College in Tottenham, London. We think that through the promotion of our creative thoughts, we can educate our community, bringing to the foreground the critical and creative consciousness of a vibrant school in a deprived part of London. We are endeavouring to provide this blog as a platform for our community, giving the space to those whose work otherwise might not be seen or read. Being that the cuffs are off, we are able to express through our photography, art, short fiction and poetry, what’s really on our minds. We are free.

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