The wooden stage shrinks and becomes grass, lush and green, white flowers peek over the unkempt blades and move with the whine of the music. The bright stage lights meld into one and rise high overhead shortening my shadow. The darkness of a theatre fades into a brilliant blue sky dotted with fluffy clouds. The stage end is where the cliffs begin. The slope is practically straight down, cut from years of water running past. The deep green water bubbles over a lazy fall into the valley below vanishing in the mist.
I know a rainbow blooms here.
With every passing note the memory gets more vivid. The air starts to heat up as I cry each note. Soon it shifts my dress around me, swirling stray petals into the air. The microphone melts in my hands, scattering with the new wind. Without the support of the stand, I collapse to my knees. My designer dress turns to a soft white tunic with blues highlighted in golds. My hair pulls itself free of the clips and claps it was bound by and starts whipping in the wind.
Memories of friends wash over me. The tempo slows but I can’t help my voice from getting stronger. They start to surround me, one by one.
Their faces become vivid in a land filled with snow. Their voices laugh, but the sound is only the melody I’m following. I feel the cold seeping into my bones.
Then – too fast, heat, the blistering sun, the sand beats upon my face! Someone calls out, they shield me from the whipping winds.
Alive, real, standing on this cliffside with me.
The lyrics break for a moment. I lose myself in the music, the whine, the tempo. Women with bows a good head taller than them, pan flutes that play the song of the wind as commanded by their masters, men carrying weapons of all sorts. I’m offered a hand to get up; I’m given hugs in strong arms. Words of congratulations are whispered in my ear. Women start braiding my hair. I feel a tear run down my face as my voice returns to the lyrics.
In reality, I’ve let go of the microphone stand trying to fill the audience with the life that’s burning inside me.
In my memories, I’m being fawned over by familiar voices. They stop when someone stands in the sunlight. For a moment they look divine. More voices start. Louder voices! The air picks up the celebration of sound and plays it through the cliffs.
He walks up to me in long strides. His face is as familiar as my own. He takes my hand in his, lifting it high into the sky. Our friends cheer, raising their possessions into the air. He sings to me, he sings to me the melody I’m following.
My voice is almost screaming, hoarse, and out of key. These aren’t his words, those never reach my ears.
The music gets fierce; I can’t stop now. Every passing second flashes memories too real to be just my mind playing tricks on me. I scream the words, I beg the memory to stop. Still, it plays on like it does every night before. Without warning, a creature, a beast of giant proportions charges at us, people helpless to slow its progression. It knocks me clean out of his hands and over the cliff. It clutches to my dress as time slows.
I remember the sound of the water echoing on the cliff, the sound of the wind desperate to slow my fall. The beast stiffens, his claws shake me free, and soon it too is heading into the darkness below. The mist of the water blurs the cliff edge where he is screaming, crying out a name I cannot hear. I can’t scream back, all I can do is watch him shrink. My hands grasp for him even though he gets further away every second. His silhouette vanishes for a minute before it comes diving after me. It gets darker and darker but still he cuts the mist reaching for my hands. Right before they touch, the world goes black. I’m still falling but no longer can I see.
I finish my song, my eyes stinging from tears trying to escape. The house lights come on, my memory is over. I curl back the hand outstretched to the audience. That’s all I can remember. The crowd, like all the crowds before, stand and cheer me on, shouting my name again. I take a deep bow and thank the audience for listening.
I sing to share my story of the distant world that must be true. As I cross backstage, someone is always there, handing me a tissue for my face. I refuse, every time.
The question burns in my mouth. I wonder if he too has ended up here. I wonder if he hears his song.
I sing to that distant world to share that precious memory, to beg for destiny to twist and for him to hear his song. I sing to sing to you this song. I sing to you, our song.