7:30pm

Cropped header image by Sharnikarnikhil88.

I arrive at around half seven; The lights in the lobby are still dim as are the lights in the ballroom, though it’s still a welcome reprieve from the snowstorm raging outside. I can still see it through the semi-reflective glass doors, and if I were any closer, I’d probably hear it howling too. Ava and Ayame had encountered travel difficulties along the way, so they told me to make my own way to the event.

I took a moment to adjust my eyesight and glasses before signing in, and again afterwards. Walking into the ballroom, jacket draped over my left arm, I look around. 

A quick glance to the stage, there are sound checks being carried out; nothing terribly interesting.  There are chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, currently the most radiant lights in the room – it still isn’t enough to illuminate a room this tall, however. Though the Belladonna Ballroom has always been multi-purpose, it seems almost like it was made for tonight. But perhaps that’s just because I don’t spend a lot of time in ballrooms. Looking at the ballroom floor there are already several groups of people here, though most of the tables are still empty; many of the tables with people at them don’t yet have a full complement of people sitting around them. Many of them are just chatting the time away, some are having animated discussions about unknown topics, while the rest were thumbing at their phones, presumably waiting for others to arrive.

Lily and Zeke are already there at our table. Zeke is reading what I assume to be the programme for tonight, focused. He briefly breaks this focus to say hi. It seems Lily has only just sat back down, red drink in her hand. “Hey. Aren’t the others coming?” She asks. I hang my jacket from my seat and sit down. “Oh, they will. Ava and Ayame got held up in traffic due to the blizzard. I don’t know where Rose is, though. She isn’t answering her phone, either.” She takes a light sip of her drink. “Tell me about it. I’ve been ringing her all day with no answer. “She’s probably just left it at home. Maybe she’s gone back to get it?” Zeke says, briefly looking up again. “Hope she’s okay”, I say, “Who knows what could happen in a snowstorm this bad.” Lily sets down her drink, likely to avoid using it to gesture too much. “She’ll get through. Even if I can’t help but worry, I know she’ll be fine.”

I sigh and prop my head against my hand, elbow on table. Things often went wrong for us, and we always found a way around it, but public transport around here gets cancelled almost as soon as the first snowflake falls. They couldn’t miss tonight either…

“Hey.”

Lily has already caught on to what I’m thinking.

“They’ll be fine, don’t worry. Even if they end up not coming, we’re all still here, aren’t we?”

Zeke takes this as a reminder to be a little more social, and sets his programme down on the table. I’m not even particularly worried right now, but it doesn’t help to at least feel a little better, especially tonight. He speaks in his standard cool tone, as if he’s carefully and actively thinking about what to say. “We are early. They’ll probably be here in an hour or so. You just have to be patient.”

I suppose I am worrying too much. But still, doubt lingers. I was nothing at this time last year. It’s thanks to them that I was noticed. But the thanks can wait for another time. And anyway, worrying has always never been my role anyway.

Lily’s phone buzzes. A text message.

“It’s from…Ava. She’s with Ayame. She says they’ll probably be late, but they’ll be there.”
Zeke smirks slightly and makes a satisfied “hmm”, raising his head slightly as he does so. He was back to reading his programme, but I can still see it. “Looks like almost everyone will be here after all.” He comments.

No word from Rose yet, but I wasn’t so worried any more.

I pick up my own programme. I’d be going on at 10pm, Zeke at 9:15pm, and Ava, Rose, Ayame and Lily at 11:45pm.

This would make or break my career. I only had one chance here.

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