WE WAITED BACKSTAGE, an impatient tapping of feet here and a fluid rush of busy scribing there as our director briefly licked the nib of his pen, then tucked it firmly behind the loyal grip of his ear. All that could be heard was the audience, who was delighting in the sensual displays of the preceding group and cheering while ebullient lights strobed across the entire hall and produced quick flashes against the backdrop of the curtain that could be seen backstage. A tense urgency was present in all that was being done, and our interactions were not excepted from this atmosphere.
If gestures could be terse, such a point was communicated to me when you roused from your sedentary nature and strode to the fading wooden mirror, retrieved a thick horsehair brush, and generously applied the illusory cream of youth to your freckled cheeks, taking care to cover every remarkable feature of your face and leaving behind a soft generic countenance like the invitation of an open canvas. Putting down your brush at once, you then opened a tin of thin pastels and took one that was light blue. With a certain skillful dexterity, you let the pastel graze briskly over the crease of one eye, then the other; likewise you proceeded, painting shapes that framed, colors that complemented, emotions that jumped – until finally, you looked at me with an artful insanity apparent on your features, topped off with a knowing smirk.
It was time. The director now motioned us onward hastily, and the vacated stage was silent, the only sound our long dresses sweeping against the floorboards. Greeted by enthusiastic applause, we stood where we were and waited until floodlights lowered and the stage darkened as a hush fell over the expectant audience.
Violins were lifted to chins and bows were positioned at once. The conductor set it all in motion with a simple flourish of two hands, and the concerto began.
The routine called for a slow and distant circling as aficionados tensely plucked at strings. We locked eyes of fierce volition, each stride placed purposefully and done with a graceful composure. The music intensified and a nearly theatrical suspense was developed, our steps growing faster as a result.
The music abruptly ceased; then it happened. Your feet parted with the floor and you leapt up and forward, gliding through the air with impressive bravado and landing finally in my arms, warping the tired themes of princesses being saved by princes and initiating the beginning of a revolution that tingled through the audience as a standing ovation gradually built up into a deafening roar of approval. The pleasant crinkles of your eyes did not go unnoticed by mine, and as we were ushered offstage, you scribbled your number onto my palm.