“What’s wrong with you? You look like you’ve just seen the opera ghost,” Tessa teased, her dark hair blowing in the wind. She knew how much I loved Phantom. However, this time, I paled as she was totally right.
“Nothing, nothing… Let’s go.” We had decided before the show to go out for coffee afterwards.
As we walked down the footpath, Tessa dragging her cello behind us while blabbing on about some usher she had seen that apparently looked like Gerard Butler, I realized there was something missing…
My hand somehow felt amazingly blister-free…
“Oh, shit!” I screeched coming to a halt.
Tessa stopped in alarm “Hmm? What’s wrong?” We moved as Melbourne Peak Hour People Rush started banging into us.
“I left my violin back at the theatre!” I whined, I tried to keep the panic out of my voice.
“Hey, hey, kill the motor dude!” she said soothingly. “We’ll just get it tonight,” she said flippantly “I honestly don’t know why we drag these things around every day…” she sighed.
“No, no – you don’t understand! I left it in a place someone could find it…” I said, my voice going abnormally high as I thought about some freak with a hook for a hand ripping apart my beloved instrument.
Or worse… Ben; now wasn’t the time I wanted to explain my performance. Or ever, for that matter.
“Hey, um, you go ahead and I’ll meet you there!” I said taking a few steps backwards towards the theatre “You know what I like…” I said simply.
“Sure do,” said Tessa with a seductive wink.
I rolled my eyes and turned on my heel practically sprinting up the footpath towards the theatre. My feet hurt, as I was wearing black dress pants, a black V-neck shirt with sleeves that went slightly further than my elbows, and black heels. Typical orchestra attire.
Typical pain-in-the-ass attire to run in.
I didn’t have a watch, but it had been at least ten minutes Tessa and I had been walking. Whatever Ben had needed, he could have easily accomplished and been on his way.
Hopefully in a different direction… maybe in the direction to the airport… to catch a plane to Canada, or a mind erasing institution so he could forget he ever heard me sing!
I wanted to groan as I finally reached the theatre. It may have been out of mental anguish – what if Ben hadn’t left?!
Or it could have been from physical pain as I thought my heels would break off and my thighs would break with them.
Racing up the gold staircases, I rushed into the foyer before they could lock up, “Hey! What are you-” began Richard, a friend of mine from the souvenir counter.
“Gotta go!” I called as I ran through the room, “No time to explain!” I chimed as I ran to one of the backstage doors.
The lazy stage managers were now fumbling around with set pieces and getting them back in their proper places for the show tonight.
I stayed out of the way and managed to slip into the left wings, snatching up my violin case and escaping without anyone giving me a second glance. Apparently musicians snooping around backstage after a performance wasn’t unusual.
I wondered if I should worry about that…
Fifteen minutes later, I was slumped into a seat outside a Brunetti’s with a bored Tessa and an Italian Hot Chocolate in front of me.
Thank God I still got discounts for working there for two years. It meant I could always treat my friends and myself to half-priced goodies.
She looked up from her own drink, “Crisis over?”
“Crisis over,” I confirmed. Placing my violin by my feet, I grabbed my Hot Chocolate and gulped down a massive mouthful, my throat parched. I winced as it burnt my throat.
Tessa leaned forwards and took a sip of her latte, a mischievous smirk on her lips.
Doing my best to ignore the feeling of impending doom, I took a sip of my drink and closed my eyes to actually taste it this time.
These things were like liquid chocolate bars, very rich and strong; almost like wine in the fact that you had to take it in sips so you wouldn’t overwhelm your taste buds.
I sighed and opened my eyes, wrapping my palms around the steaming cardboard cup. A few peaceful moments passed before Tessa’s voice pierced it.
Uh oh. “So,” I responded.
I wasn’t going to give her what she wanted, not right now at least. She may be my best friend and one of the people who made my depressing life worth living, but sometimes she could be very nosy.
“Are you going to tell me what the hell happened?” Here it came.
“I never said anything happened,” I countered, defensively.
“No, but something did.”
“Says your facial expressions and the fact that you’re denying it,” she grinned.
I sighed. She wouldn’t let me keep this to myself, and telling somebody might help… maybe. “After the audience cleared out-” I began.
“So something did happen!?” she screeched leaning forward as she excitedly placed her hands on the table.
“-And if you want me to tell you, you better keep your mouth shut!” I snapped.
Rolling her eyes, Tessa leaned back and made a zipping motion over her lips, “You have my full attention,” she smiled, “Or as much of it as I can give with that serving latte’s three feet away from me!” she said leaning out of her seat to eye something behind me.
Turning around I followed her line of sight to see an attractive male serving another table, “Do you think I could take him to go?” she asked.
“Tess, focus!” I said turning back to her with a serious look.
“Sorry,” she said apologetically, turning back to me. Taking another sip, I continued, “I was all alone. The theatre was totally empty. I don’t know why, but I got on the stage-“ Her eyes widened a considerable amount, “-I just stood there for a little bit, just…” I couldn’t finish, I didn’t know how!
“…imagining the career you could’ve had?” Tessa finished for me with a smug smile.
I glared at her, and she nodded, zipping her lips again.
“Fine, whichever. Anyway, I just started… singing” I burst out.
“You what?!” she screeched. Tessa knew how much I loved singing. She also knew I didn’t do it anymore, “Are you insane? What if someone heard you?” The look on my face told her the rest, “Oh, God. Someone did hear you!” I nodded, “Alright then, out with it – who was it?”
I sighed, running my fingers through my hair as I practically oozed stress, “B-Ben Lewis…”
If it was possible for human beings to explode at will, I’m certain she would have.
“You’re joking,” she accused.
“You have no idea how much I wish I were,” I said feeling utterly hopeless.
“Wait, is this for real? Like for real, for real?” she asked.
“Unfortunately, yes,” I sighed.
She was silent for a moment, leaning back in her seat, “Oh my God,” she whispered, “Oh my god,” it was getting louder… “Phuket Thialand!” she said.
I rolled my eyes. Trust Tessa to say something completely random to defuse the situation.
“You know, shockingly, this isn’t making me feel any better,” I grumbled.
“So…” she began evenly, “what did he do?” she asked eagerly, her eyes lighting up like a Christmas Tree.
I didn’t get it. “Huh?”
Tessa rolled her eyes “Ben Lewis! What did he do when he heard you singing?”
I shook my head, this was so embarrassing. “I was kinda… getting into the music.” She gave me a blank stare, I rolled my eyes, yet again. “I was acting the part,”
“Oh,” she said, “So you were doing this?” She held her head up and made grand sweeping motions with her arms, as Christine does while singing the aria.
“Yep, and it was extremely embarrassing when he caught me,” I sighed. “I can imagine,” she sniggered, I kicked her foot under the table in aggravation, “Continue,” she grinned.
“I finished it,” I said simply. “I was singing Love Never Dies – and I heard clapping.” I said, wincing at the memory.
“Aww! That’s sweet,” Tessa cooed. I gave her a stern look – this was hard enough without her commentary, “Right, keep going,” she said, realizing her cue to shut-up.
I cleared my throat, “I couldn’t really see him, he was standing by the stage door and it was dark over there. But when I did see him I ran”
“You ran away from Ben Lewis?” she asked.
“As in ‘Run Forest Run’?” she asked seriously.
Why did everything I do sound stupid coming from her mouth? “Yes, I ran away from Ben Lewis,” I clarified, sighing.
“I think he tried to chase me, but I got out through a backstage door.” I looked up at her. “And… that’s it. The end”
“Wow,” she said, taking a sip of her coffee.
Not the word I would use. How about ‘embarrassing’? ‘Mistake’? ‘Mortifying’?
The silence lasted a moment before Tessa broke it. “So you left your violin on the stage?” she asked suddenly.
Instinctively, I touched my toe to the case at my feet to reassure myself it was still there. “Yeah… and based on what I heard I think he tripped over it too,” I blushed.
Tessa giggled, “He was chasing after you, huh?”
I groaned and put my head in my hands, “Why does everything sound weird coming from your mouth?”
“Talent,” she grinned, I rolled my eyes in return.
Remembering my precious instrument, I was suddenly worried. “Hey, you don’t think my violin…” I gulped, “is damaged, do you?”
“Only one way to find out,” she replied, moving our cups to one side of the table.
Worriedly, I lifted the bulky case onto the metal table, suddenly very nervous. I fumbled with the zippers and clicked the lock, and lifted the lid. By now, Tessa was standing beside me.
I carefully lifted the velvet blanket and let out a breath I hadn’t realized I had been holding when I saw my beautiful instrument still in one piece.
I plucked the strings which sounded restrained with the leather string holding them still and smiled that they were still in tune.
I did a quick once-over of my two bows, when something caught my eye. Frowning, I made to grab the small piece of folded paper tucked under one of the ribbons, but Tessa was quicker.
She snatched it out from under my hand in one second and was sitting across for me in the next.
“Ooh a love note,” Tessa teased as she began to open it.
“Give it back!” I whispered sternly, reaching across the table.
She pulled it out of my reach.
“Why so secretive? Got a new secret admirer I don’t know about?” she asked seriously, though there was a playful glint in her eyes. I sighed and leaned back in my seat, giving up instantly.
If Tessa wanted something, she would most likely get it. And I was in no mood for games.
“Let’s see…” she said, her voice oozing mystery as she unfolding the note carefully. Clearing her throat dramatically, she began to read, “’Your voice is beautiful-‘” she began.
I instantly blushed and paled at the same time – if that were possible, as I realized who it was from. “’And I’m wondering why you’re in the orchestra instead of on the stage…’” Tessa paused, glancing over the top of the paper at me for a moment, then she went back to the letter, “’I would love to hear you sing once more’” she said folding the note
I smiled slightly at his use of the lyrics from one of his songs… it was romantic in a way. Very, for lack of a better word, Phantom-y.
“Well, then,” Tessa startled me out of my reverie, “It seems you have your own Angel of Music,” she grinned.
“I’m not above killing you,” I threatened.
She simply smiled.