With my violin in my lap and my bow in my hand, I sat in my seat under the stage and applauded as the cast took their final bows, earning yet another standing ovation.
Another few moments and the audience began to clear out. Relieved I flicked my dirty-blond hair out of my face as I loosened my bow and opened my case to the right of my seat.
I took my time, and delicately laid my violin in its crimson and black case tying the leather string around its neck. This instrument was precious to me; I never once treated it as if it was made of anything less than gold.
It was practically all I had left.
I felt a tap on my shoulder bringing me out of my meditation, my friend Tessa was behind me, “Felicia, it’s raining outside,” she complained.
“What did you expect?” I asked with a smirk as I continued to pack away my instrument, “It’s been raining all of this week,” I said pointedly.
“Man, I hate Melbourne!” she grumbled pouting out her already too full bottom lip. Her dark curly hair was already escaping the bun she had placed it in.
I sniggered; she tapped my shoulder once again and pointed her thumb in the direction of the door that would lead to the foyer where the toilets were. I nodded understanding exactly what she meant as she hauled her cello away.
Sighing, I finished packing up my instrument and its various parts, before flipping the book of music on my stand back to the cover in preparation for tonight’s performance. And the next night. And the next night, and the next night, and the next night…
I was second violin in the orchestra for Love Never Dies, at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne. I didn’t hate my job. Sometimes I felt as if it was the only thing keeping me afloat in a sea of uncertainty and depression, ever since my parents had died.
I was twenty-one years old, and my parents had died a few months before my seventeenth birthday in a car accident.
My ambition had been to become an actress, much like the ones on stage that I was playing for, however their death had crushed me, sucked the musical passion right from my chest… from there my life had just gone downward.
I had decided not to go to college and get my degree in musical theatre. Instead I stayed at my Grandparent’s house while working as a barista at the coffee shop, Brunetti’s.
When my grandfather had died two years later, leaving only my Grandmother and Aunt, I had promised myself I would do something. Life was too short- my Grandfather taught me that.
I wasn’t quite so healed that I could do something as crazy as audition for a musical, but I did the next best thing I was capable of: I auditioned for orchestras.
My violin was my voice for so long, ever since my parents’ death I hadn’t sung. But with my violin, I had the fleeting feeling I was whole. Like I was back in the time before my parents died.
Everything was right in the world. There was no Boogy-man, no taxes, no death. Just happiness and music.
It had worked, and I now played for musicals, the current one being the sequel to the Phantom of the Opera. I adored the music. It seemed to penetrate into my very soul, and my soul began to soar every time I placed my violin on my shoulder and began to play the haunting tunes.
As the other musicians began to leave and obviously some of the stage managers had decided they would reset the stage later, I found myself sitting in the orchestra pit, totally alone.
Savouring the solitude, I decided not to take the door and instead stood on a chair to heave myself into the audience; landing with a barely audible “thump” on the red, velvet carpet.
I looked up at the ceiling, half expecting the giant chandelier to come crashing down the way it did in the Phantom of the Opera. I looked to the sea of luxurious seats, now totally deserted.
The stage was empty, as it had been for the last scene, and the “pier” was now back at the ceiling. I looked back to the stage again… totally empty…
I don’t know where the idea from. It was more on an impulse than a thought… with a firm grip on the handle of my violin case, I climbed onto the stage.
I was alone on a stage in a theatre. And for what I did next, I was also insane.
I walked to the center of the stage and looked out at the seats staring back at me. This had once been my dream, to stand here and perform, having those seats filled with onlookers cheering as I performed.
A small smile found itself on my face as I got lost in my daydream, only to frown again as the empty red seats remained empty.
Feeling spontaneous or finally losing my mind, I wasn’t sure. I placed my violin against the very left side of the stage, out of view.
Walking back to the center, I played out the introduction in my mind, finding my fingers tapping out the notes on my thumb after playing them again and again, twice a day, for three months.
When at last it was Christine’s time to shine, I took a deep breath and began softly mumbling to myself, with my head down.
Then, as if it had been waiting in my chest all these long years, dying to escape…
I closed my eyes and opened my mouth and did something I hadn’t done five long years.
“Who knows when love begins?” It was barely a whisper; my voice wasn’t used to being used this way, “Who knows what makes it start?”
Remembering when I was a young teenager, and how I would wait until the house was empty to sing, and always never fully letting out my voice out of fear there was someone in a room I hadn’t checked.
I didn’t have that fear now. Or more my voice had taken on a mind of its own, it was no longer scared. And I had no choice but to open my throat more and lift my head slightly, opening my eyes so I was now staring at the conductor’s stand.
“One day it’s simply there, alive, inside your heart…” I closed my eyes tight, and recalled every kiss my parents had ever given me, or my sweet little brother before he had perished along with them.
“Try to deny it and try to protest… but love won’t let you go… once you’ve been…” I took in another breath through my abdomen as I had been taught in choir, and smiled as the lyrics escaped my lips with ease, “Possessed…”
I had finally told my parents what I wanted to do after ten years of hiding it from them, a few months before the accident.
They had said they were proud, and after hearing me sing for them, told me I would go far if I worked hard enough. But after they died… I couldn’t do it. It was as if my voice had left me.
But now it was back, and I was tired of holding it in, taking a deep breath I let it ring, “Love never dies…”
The feeling of my voice echoing off the walls was exquisite. Despite the fact I hadn’t let my voice out truly in so long, my voice still sounded glorious in the expanse of the theatre.
Ignoring the tears trickling down my cheeks and dripping onto the skin of my chest before running into my black v-neck shirt, I forced myself to finish the song for myself… and my parents.
As I neared the finale, I walked towards the edge of the stage, as Christine did in the show, and spread out my arms to the empty audience.
My voice choked with emotion at how true the final words were, “Life may be fleeting, love lives on! Life may be fleeting… love… lives… on!”
I felt like jumping off the stage and flying, and like I could actually do it. However, my arms weren’t halfway back to my sides and my eyes barely crinkled with a rare smile, when I heard clapping from my right, bringing me out of whatever dream world I had cast on myself.
Gasping, my head snapped in the direction, where I saw a man standing in the shadows by the stage door, barely in my view. I could tell he was smiling, however, and as he stepped forwards into the light, I gasped yet again.
We locked eyes for a moment. His chocolate eyes, staring at me with an emotion similar to awe and amazement, but mostly there was happiness.
My blue-green eyes stared at him in absolute shock, embarrassment and fear. I must have looked like a deer in the headlights, because that was exactly how I felt.
Blushing the color of the thousand empty seats I had just sang for, I turned on my high heel and sprinted backstage. My foot caught on something invisible in the dark – I had never really realized how dark it was backstage until now – sending me sprawling on the ground.
I saw the smile instantly drop off the man’s face and his brows knitted as he stepped forward, making to go after me, “Wait, I was –”
I never heard what he said with that dark, beautiful voice of his, for I had snapped off the floor and was out the backdoor of the theatre and racing down the footpath.
Once I was sure I was out of range, I flattened myself against a deserted wall of the building and tried to calm my breathing.
That. Did. Not. Just. Happen.
I let a long breath out.
But it so did! Oh My God!
I felt my cheek burn up as I bent down and put my hands on my knees, bracing myself. Counting to one-hundred, to make sure my breathing was normal, I stood up and calmly, or tried to look it.
Then, I walked outside to meet up with Tessa who was holding her cello and obviously out of patience.
Beautiful. Absolutely, beautiful.
They say in life that when you least expect it, something amazing happens. It was so true.
I had been simply walking along, intent on finding my good luck ring given to me by my parents when I was fifteen. A ring I had worn through every performance, but it had come off…
That’s when I heard it, it was so beautiful it stopped me in my tracks.
An Angel singing.
Silently, so not to disturb the melodic voice I walked into the theatre. On the stage were possibly the most beautiful women I had ever seen.
She was dressed in simple, formal black – probably a member of the orchestra – with natural dark-blonde curls falling mid-way down her back and over her shoulders.
But more beautiful than her physical appearance was her voice.
I’d been around talented singers – I was considered by most to be one – but this singing… it was like nothing I had ever heard! It was amazing!
It was indescribable! She sang… she sang the way my Christine would sing.
It took me a moment to realize that she was actually singing Love Never Dies, as I was so caught up in the magic of it all.
Once the ending notes sounded, echoing off the walls I clapped. What could I say? I didn’t know what to say.
So I clapped. A voice like that deserved to have millions more in my place.
Her eyes snapped to mine, beautiful, piercing blue-green eyes.
We stared at each other for only a moment before she did the most unexpected thing I could imagine… she ran away.
Panic flooded through me as I practically flew towards the stage. She could not leave! I couldn’t let her leave. Not without knowing her name, or some way to contact her again so that I might find more about this creature with the angelic voice.
I managed to heave myself up onto the stage, and then chased after the young woman. I didn’t know why she was running, her voice was marvellous.
Perhaps a little rusty from disuse, but the natural talent was there. A little more training and she would be perfection. She was marvellous, nonetheless.
Trying to yell at her to stop, I didn’t see the violin case as I proceeded to trip over and fall flat on my chest with a grunt. Stumbling back to my feet I ran backstage to try and see her, but she was dressed in black and had a few moment’s advantage.
All was still and silent, I had no inkling of which way she had gone. I sighed, “Damn!”
Walking back onto the stage, I noticed the case that was now on its side and about to tip into the pit, onto the timpani drums. I walked over and picked up, placing it down on the stage with an ominous loud thud.
Slightly concerned for the instrument inside, I unzipped the sides and clicked the lock, lifting the lid. The case was black, with red trim, and, tucked under the red ribbons behind, the two bows, were photos.
Photos, of a young girl, who looked in her teens, with – who I assumed to be – her parents. She seemed happy and cheerful, with a little boy in her arms. He had to be about six, I decided. A typical family photo.
Most of the photos were of this family, except for two of the same girl, now a woman, with a friend. They were smiling, however she now seemed saddened, there was a faraway look in her eyes that seemed…broken.
I vaguely wondered what had happened in between the times the pictures were taken that could have destroyed this young lady’s life.
I was about to shut the case, when the woman singing came back to mind and I gasped, thrusting the case open again before I shut it. Looking at the images again, I noticed it was the exact same girl.
An idea sprung to mind, and fifteen minutes later, I placed the violin case back in the exact position she had left it in, and walked away smiling, for once eagerly awaiting the next show in four hours’ time.