Slowly, he perched the violin on his shoulder and raised his bow. There was a wave of whispers going around the room, but that all stopped when he began to play. The piece was slow,
but didn’t lack depth. I found my head swimming with emotion as the music took over my mind.
I lost sight of his fingers moving and the crescendo of sounds buckled down over my ears until every note reverberated twice fold.
Then I smelled the flowers. Why now? Mason was still on stage, his arm perfectly bent, his dark Japanese hair framed around his face. But the pale haired woman with the beautiful
wings stood beside him, her lithe fingers inches from his strands of hair. Holding my breath, I
tried to move forward to push her away from him, but she only chuckled.
In my head, her words were like air. “I would not harm your shikisha. You would not manage without.”
Then there was applause so loud my ears were deaf to everything else. I closed my eyes
and when I looked up, she was gone. Finding my feeling in my hands, I clapped until my skin felt raw.
There were many more auditions before mine. Dance solos that were both lively and
solemn, violin, flute, and piano pieces. And drama monologues of all kinds. After four hours, it
was my turn, and with weary legs from sitting for so long, I trudged up the stairs.
It was courteous to stay after you’d auditioned, so there were still a lot of students
remaining in the hot auditorium. I could only hope they would turn the air on for the actual
Behind the stage was a darkened narrow space with stairs leading down to where I
assumed the dressing rooms were. The layout seemed common enough for a large stage.
In a daze, I brushed against a guy standing near the curtain. I muttered an apology, but I
could feel his eyes on me as I made my way to the end of the line.
My hand was warm where I’d grazed his arm, but when I tried to look at him, I saw he
was already on stage. He was tall, so I could see he had light brown hair tinged with golden
streaks. He kept his back to me as he crossed over to the piano and clumsily sat down. He looked
more nervous than Nora had.
I’d always thought Mason was the best teenage musician I’d ever heard. But the sounds
that came from the brunette’s fingers drove me into a whole new state of appreciation.
If they did a duet, they would be able to bring people to tears.