by Nicki J. Markus
The room was a little over half-full. There were some spare seats in the front rows, concert-goers preferring the middle section of seating, close enough to the stage to have a clear view, but far enough back not to draw undue attention to themselves. Will had been one of the last to enter and had sunk into a seat in the empty back row, comfortable in the shadows.
He sat, silent and still, in the darkened recess, the vacant rows in front a void that separated him from everyone else. And indeed the others in the room felt distant, as if he were looking through a window, set blissfully apart from the scene. He stared straight ahead, towards the beam of a single spotlight and the young woman who stood beneath it, bathed in its glow. The jewel at her throat reflected the harsh, artificial light. Even at this distance, he could tell the gem was only glass, not crystal, and yet it created a rainbow of colours that danced forth from its many facets as she moved. Then her voice was heard, soft and low at first, building to a glorious crescendo as her aria reached its passionate conclusion.
Will was transfixed. He had heard many singers over the years, often in venues far more exulted than this, but there was something in the timbre of this woman’s voice that called out to him, causing a exquisite and painful tightening in his chest. He thought he would hear her singing in his dreams for many nights to come: the gentle vibrato, the clear bright tones. Had he been prone to such romantic notions, he might have gone so far as to call it a siren song.
When the concert drew to a close, Will joined in the applause, clapping calmly and sedately from his place at the back of the auditorium. The singer dipped into a elegant curtsey, revealing a tantalising, brief glimpse of pale-skinned cleavage; a striking contrast against the deep burgundy of her gown, which clung tightly across her bosom before billowing out at the waist into a full, long skirt.
He watched entranced as the fabric swayed, the soft crinkling sound of the faux-silk reaching him over the clamour of the audience. He gazed at her face as she rose from her bow, and for a moment her eyes met his. A few short seconds stretched themselves into an eternity as he stared at bright, hazel irises framed by waves of auburn locks. But abruptly the connection was gone. She looked the other way, bowing her head once more, acknowledging the continuing applause, and then she left the stage.
Will sat there, unmoving, a statue half-hidden amongst the charcoal shadows. The rest of the audience began to filter out, and snatches of conversation filled the air around him: comments on the performance; discussions about where to eat; banalities about the next day’s shopping list. For an hour the concert had pushed these thoughts to the side as people lost themselves in the music, but now reality was firmly back in place and everyday life resumed as it if had never paused.
Will brushed the sounds away, blocking them out of his mind as he continued to stare at the now-empty stage. It was a glorious performance, but that’s all. I should walk away now and leave it at that. Yes, that would be the sensible thing to do. He was starting to like Adelaide, the quiet little city that barely knew it was a capital, and he did not want to do anything that would jeopardise his continued residency. The woman was intriguing, yes, and her voice had had a profound effect on him, touching him in a way he had not felt in many long years. Even so, he had not lived this long by taking unnecessary risks, and trying to form any kind of connection to this human was tantamount to a death wish. But then what’s the point in living if I do so alone?
“I’m sorry, Sir, but we need to lock up now.”
Coming out of his reverie, Will looked up and realised he was indeed the last one left in the concert hall. He nodded and offered an apologetic smile to the elderly staff member, and then he rose from his seat and moved swiftly towards the exit. He turned and cast a final glance around the auditorium; then he let the door swing shut behind him.
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Nicki J. Markus (aka Asta Idonea) was born in England but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Nicki launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between mainstream and MM works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!
As a day job, Nicki works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.
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