Usually, when people talk about “love at first sight,” what they mean is lust at first sight.
This is a tale of love at first sight.
Through perhaps not a tale as much as a memory.
I was younger. I’d received a pair of tickets to a play of some kind from work, but had no one to bring. This… didn’t bother me. Winter is cold and dark, and my heart was its equal in both aspects. Abandoning of the tickets struck me as wasteful, but going alone was more acceptable. At least I’d have somewhere to put my coat.
Through the mists of time and failing memory, I cannot remember what the play was.
I know that it had two acts, and somewhere along the line, a king was involved. He may have been slain by a magical sword or he may have given a magical sword to a hero.
I considered leaving during the intermission. But snow had begun to fall outside, and I was dressed inappropriately for slushy navigation. So I stayed. In the hope that plows and shovels would clear a path that I could not clear for myself.
Act 2 started, as many second acts do, with the heroes at their lowest point. The stage was lit dimly, and the theatre’s heat was turned up to counteract the below-freezing temperatures outside. These combined to have a soporific effect on me. Between periodic heavy blinks, I could see the actors going through their scripted lines and actions, but I could not follow the plot.
I’m sure I fell asleep several times. Or, at least, fell into microsleep. The human body is capable, if pushed, of being asleep for only fractions of a second. Whenever theta-waves dominate the normal background alpha-waves, the brain is considered to be asleep. These can repeat one right after another. I am glad I was not driving or operating heavy machinery.
But I was not. I was watching a play. Or, trying to.
Not even trying to. By then, it had just become my escape from the frigidity outside. People on a raised platform were saying things and doing things, but none of it mattered. It was just sound and motion.
Then, a bright spotlight.
The prayers of the hero were strong and fervent enough that they pierced the veil of Heaven and reached the ears of a goddess. One who used her boundary control to unite Heaven and Earth, if only for a few moments. Long enough to imbue the hero’s sword with the power it needed to banish the darkness.
A goddess descending onto the stage.
A character with only five lines.
A person playing a role. One who had united Heaven and Earth, if only for a few moments. Long enough to imbue my heart with the power it needed to banish the darkness.
Call it a symptom of my microsleepy state, but my mind filled in every detail. Instantly, it was as though I’d known her for my whole life.
The rest of the play flew by.
Days and lives were saved, and evil defeated. The actors bowed and house lights came on.
I sat in my seat for nearly half an hour, trying to digest what I was feeling. I didn’t know what to do. With myself, with my life, with anything.
It was as though countless clouds had raised themselves up, obscuring the paths before me. What direction didn’t matter. Pick one and go.
I sprang from my seat and ran to the house manager. To the person who looked most like a house manager, that is.
Breathlessly, I asked where the actors were kept.
She raised a quizzical eyebrow.
No, no, where do they go when they’re not acting?
Yes, but before then?
Finally understanding what I meant, she drew me a rough map on the back of my program to a bar only a few blocks from the theatre.
I ran the whole way.
Coat forgotten on the seat next to mine, shoes swelling with barely-melted snow, glasses fogging with every breath.
They say that you can’t trust actors; they’re so used to playing characters that they can’t turn it off when they’re no longer on a stage, reading lines.
But she was everything I knew she was when I first saw her. The character was an expression of her inner self. She glowed just as brightly without the assistance of a spotlight, and has ever since.
Genius casting, if nothing else.