The curtains came to a close as they had for many nights after. The age of seventeen had been a whirlwind for the young woman… she was hardly that, in fact, her age coming to her in mere days as eighteen soon approached.
It would greet her far more calmly than the infamy had done so before it. The sound of audiences filled her ears like her voice filled the opera house halls. The constant hustle and bustle of the streets were no match for the woman’s fast-paced life of traveling. Performing. Traveling yet again, so on and so forth until the end of each tour would bring her home to her native country of England.
Company came in the form of strangers who whispered her name in high regard in their theatre chairs. In the form of businessmen’s stern voices, and the calls of those on hand to put together such a show, every night for what seemed like months at a time. The high praises of the women that lingered to do her hair. Her makeup. The tailoring on the grand gowns she would slip onto her form for the performance despite the unease in which she walked in them.
The woman's porcelain skin was made rosy by the makeup that she wore, a face framed by heavy black ringlets that fell just past her shoulders, apt to bounce with her stride. The black satin dress she wore covered her down to the floor, heavy in material and overwhelming in size around her figure. Many singers of the time insisted on white, as did the spectators. She suggested highly that she would do no such thing.
Along came a voice.
This tone was different. It started as curious. Soon to be intrigued. Perhaps even comforting among a party that had been filled with strangers merely performing their tasks around her. Slowly but surely… it became something familiar.
The stranger was ordinary among ultimately a sea of strangers. Ophelia knew not even the face of some of the men who worked among the touring party. Merely a tall man, suited properly from head to toe lingering about the back corridors of the theatre’s staging area, midst the open entryways where performers would remain in wait until curtain time. They were all alert like predators crouched at the sight of spotlights that loomed overhead. The young woman was no different to that role.
The show went on.
The spotlights came out as the curtains open, as it was her role… Ophelia would pounce to it. Coming across stage she was greeted with the cheers and whistles of people clapping in the audience, both above and below levels as well as the balconies on either side of the luxurious entertainment hall. The space was decorated with the modernized art of the Romans, with paintings hung depicting figures seemingly from ancient times. Columns lined the major entryways and decorated the edges of the stage area. The sounds of joy that echoed were no different than any other venue, however. The joy of people whom she would never meet in person, nor would she remembered. The cheers would bring her a sense of warmth and happiness regardless, and thus, the show began as her lips parted to sing the first note. The show carried on into the night until the final note had finished. Roses had been thrown. She gave a final bid of farewell as she left the stage.
Footsteps through the corridor came to a pause. The low, accented voice of a stranger was left to linger in the now empty space after the show. The crewmen were hard at work pulling props and getting the theatre space to normalcy. The agented men and business members were crunching numbers to see just what fare they would be granted with at the end of the night. No. This voice was something uncommon. Unheard of. The bottom of the young woman’s dress swept the floor as she turned around. Sparkling blue hues rested on a figure. The man was in his mid to late twenties, it seemed. Dark hair kept neat, light blue eyes settled upon the woman dressed so eloquently from the show. It was a rare trait of a Japanese man, effectively pointing to an American ethnicity it found itself mixed within. His attire was regal. A suit tailored to fit in a manner that suited a tall, well-shaped frame. A sharp contour of his face that seemed to collect shadow. Upon its features was a smile. Warm despite a dark presence that it had taken itself upon. The man gave a subtle bow of his head in polite greeting.
“Vous êtes… monsieur?”
Ophelia’s gentle voice chirped. A small sound from the girl, whom could otherwise fill an auditorium with sound. Her eyes were lit up with a wary curiosity that filled blue hues. Lips pursed as she waited expectantly for an answer to come. She had never seen this man before in her life. She had little reference as to why now.
The effect was a smile. Subtle yet it gave lightheartedness to an otherwise stern, funereal demeanor across the man’s face. His posture upright once again he spoke. The language of French was left abandoned as he tone re-scripted itself to English. Apparent was a Japanese accent that hinted at the words. Seemingly neither one would claim as his native language.
“My name is Akihiro Kei.” He spoke. A name that seemed weathered in his tone as if handed out one too many times before. “Forgive me… Miss Mélodie. For my intrusion into your night. I merely wished to speak with you.”
The young woman’s voice came forth, a sickly sweet smile at the corner of her lips. Her figure dipped in return to his bow. Attempting to pick the bottom of the black satin gown from the floor in kirtsy but it was a battle to not be won. A feeling of ease brought over her porcelain features. How strange… how with the lowering of the curtain it came to be that no eyes would settle upon her. Except for the stranger.
Akihiro Kei. She repeated the name in her mind.
Committing such a thing to memory was a trial among her travels. She would keep it close for the time being.
“Did you enjoy your evening, Monsieur… Kei?” She committed to the name once aloud, a tone of pleasantry in her voice. Much like the man’s name, weathered down from the overuse of said words over time. A sweetness once faked that had latched onto her personality in the end.
“Quite. I did indeed my dear. Your voice compliments your beauty, but perhaps there is more to be said of you than just that.”
Ophelia eyes would light up. Her lips pursed in surprise to such a thing being spoken. Before she would part her lips to speak she had waited too long.
“And what of you. Did you enjoy the evening Miss… Ophelia?” A coy smile danced upon his lips, the corners of his eyes creasing in effect. Just like that, the shadows were ignored and the sternness of the man’s face had melted away.
The young singing found herself smiling subconsciously. It held not the falseness that her shows often presented. Her hands clasped over one another in front of her gown.
The lights left overhead were now of bare minimum. The only lit corridors remaining behind the stage areas being those closest to the door. Within the darkness of the corridor, the two bodies left in the space had not noticed the light’s absence. Ophelia listened as the man spoke of his travels, his work. The places he had visited and those that she could compare to her own traveling. Often the smile would vanish from her lips in realization of the places she had gone… how they were not really places. They were venues. She had visited Venice yet had no opportunity to tour its canals. She had visited within Germany only to see nothing of its culture or monuments. She knew little of the Americas other than the hustle of the metropolis-like cities that she had been ushered through on the way to concert halls.
Finally, she found herself startled at the sound of the man’s voice speaking in a more direct manner.
“You are not smiling. Miss Mélodie.” He stated.
“I… where I travel. Have never seen these places.”
“You will have to visit them, I assure you, my dear. Outside of your performing. Perhaps-"
Ophelia’s eyes fell out of their pleasant daze. She glanced past the man’s shoulders to the sound of someone calling down the corridor. He gestured to give a small glance as well. The crew had packed away the items brought, consolidating near the exit in which they had walked through mere hours before. The rest of the night held more travel in store for her, on to the next city for a hotel stay and a second performance come morning.
Her blue eyes looked at the man apologetically. He shared no such sentiment as he gave a subtle smile in an attempt of comforting, adjusting his coat all the while.
“Goodnight, Ophelia. May we meet again.”
With that, the man gave a final bow and turned to leave. His footsteps rung out in the now quiet venue, walking forth to the exit for the general public. Ophelia would do the same. Out the back door, she made her own departure into the night air.
What the man had stated was not of hope, but of a promise, it seemed.
The string of shows brought Ophelia further and further from her homeland of Europe towards the West, staying mere nights at a time in each place before they would commence their travel to the next. Yet no matter the distance or the entertainment theatre hall she became accustomed to the sight of a shadow in the hallway, every other night of a performance. At first, it had startled her. Even angered her some time ago. The young woman was wary. Where no one else would notice the young singer after the show had ended, Akihiro Kei would do so no matter the distances that stood in the way. He was there with conversations of his travels. Her dreams goals in life. His homeland, and hers. Until after each pack-up at the end of the night meant the two would be forced to depart until the next venue came around, and she would wait eagerly to see the familiar face among strangers in the crowd.
Up until the fated night came around… and the man she had grown to adore kept her waiting.