The trumpet section is warming up backstage. Brass yellow notes drift under the rafters, swelling to orange and red tones before hovering low and dropping to the floor with finality. Weighty, hollow orbs that roll like cannonballs among the tapping feet.
The crew adjusts the lights, aiming perfectly, shifting the lamps with lightning precision, then locking them in place. Behind the curtain, they clear the stage and run cords under thick Persian rugs woven with ancient looms. They test the sound, adjust the mic to her level.
The ornate wingback chair is rolled onstage and lifted by twelve pairs of hands. The inlaid jewels are dusted and polished. The journey was long, the stardust has nearly lost its luster.
In the dressing room, she hums the scales, building resonance. Her once-baritone range has thinned to a svelte, but titanium-strength, tenor.
She smooths her long gown and fastens a white floor-length cape over her shoulders. She ties a gold sash around her waist, accentuating her new curves - curves she always knew were there. She takes a deep breath. She takes another. She curls her tongue.
Her short hair, white like wool, glistens with shea and jojoba, warmed by the mirror lights, and by the light within. Her eyes are bright; her lids opaque with flame-orange shadow that sparkles on her dark skin.
She sits on a padded bench to rest one foot, and then the other, on a footstool made of all things, and buckles the straps on her bronze high-heeled roman sandals. She glances at her manicured nails, and thoughtfully twists the seven rings on her right hand, one by one, as they gleam under her gaze.
She rehearses the lines that live in her, the lines she came to recite.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega…”
They will look on me whom they pierced, she whispers to herself, and they will mourn.
“I have been with you always, even now.”