The rich soprano tones filled the opera house as the orchestra played softly, slowly rising in volume. All the people in the dim rows nearly held their breath in anticipation for the chorus they knew was coming.
That is, almost all the people. I wasn’t one of them.
Who knew than an opera house could be such a difficult place to evade someone? I thought as I army-crawled through the orchestra pit, squeezing between the tightly-packed rows. The musicians frowned at me, but what could they do? The show must go on!
Honestly, I had hoped that I could just grab a seat in the back and blend in with the spectators. Who knew that even now, in the 21st century, people dressed up to go see an opera? Who knew that they even had operas anymore?–
You might be wondering how I got there. To be honest, I was wondering the same thing myself.
Mere minutes before, I had been minding my own business, just strolling down the street like any normal person on the way home from the grocery store.
The first indication that something was wrong was when a man yelled from behind me. Like everyone else on the street, I turned to see what was going on. That was when I noticed that the man was pointing at me.
What had I done to make him upset with me? I couldn’t think of anything! In fact, I didn’t think I recognized the man. It was hard to tell from this distance, and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t feel like waiting around to find out. Though I couldn’t see his face, I could tell that he was bigger than me. In his one hand, he waved something. Was it a weapon of some kind?
I turned and sprinted down the sidewalk, dodging around people and lampposts. Somewhere on the way I ended up losing my grocery bags, but groceries weren’t worth my life. I managed to make it around a corner. Maybe I lost the guy, I thought optimistically. Before I made it far, I saw something that I had never been so happy to see in my life—a police officer writing a ticket for someone’s car.
“Officer!” I yelled, approaching the vehicle. Just then, I heard a yell from behind me. My stomach plummeted. I hadn’t shaken the man after all.
By now, the officer was staring at me. “What’s going on?” he called.
“Stop!” my pursuer yelled.
That was enough suspicion for the officer, apparently. He also set off after me, much closer than the other man.
With only seconds to think, I dashed into an alleyway and sprinted to the other side. Stumbling out onto another wide street, I dashed into the first building I saw—the opera house. And that’s pretty much the story of how I ended up army-crawling in the orchestra pit.
When I dared a glance over my shoulder, my heart sank. The box seats. I had forgotten the box seats. Though the people in the main seating area couldn’t see me, the people far up above could see everything.
Already, a man was pointing down at the orchestra pit, a security guard by his side. I gritted my teeth and hissed in frustration. Or at least, I think I hissed. It was hard to tell with over a hundred decibels of orchestral music blaring all around me as the singers melted into a grand chorus on stage.
With no time to spare, I redoubled my efforts. Mere seconds later, I burst clear of the violinists and climbed free of the orchestra pit. By keeping myself low to the floor, I avoided the stares of the people on the lower level. But now there were security guards hurrying along the outside aisle, approaching quickly. There was no time to waste. Almost without thinking, I hurried through the first door I saw.
It was the door to backstage, apparently. Dozens of singers milled around in various costumes, quietly preparing themselves for their next appearance. Several of the larger singers exclaimed quietly and tried to catch me, but I evaded them by diving into a rack of clothing.
Safe for a few seconds, I devised a plan. Grabbing a long cloak from a hanger, I wrapped myself in it and then made my way out of the other end of the rack. Maybe now, no one would notice me.
Then I noticed a crowd of other people all dressed similarly to me. Perfect! I could blend right in!
Just after I joined the group, however, the people in the front of the gaggle started to move. Then everyone was moving. I hurried along with them, acutely aware that my sneakers were showing below the cloak.
Then I stopped thinking about that as I realized that we were on stage. The bright lights made it impossible to see the audience very well, but I could hear them over the soft music. They were breathing, rustling, anxious for the next part. They probably didn’t anticipate the show I was about to give them.
A dozen voices rang out as the cloaked performers burst into song, somehow combining both low and high tones into a single sound. I lip synced, hoping no one would notice the extra performer. That might have worked if they hadn’t started dancing.
I copied the movements the best that I could, but I was at least three beats behind everyone else. That was probably what clued off the security guards. It was either that or the sneakers.
Before I realized what was happening, three of them had rushed onstage. The first one grabbed my arm, attempting to pull me off stage. I shook myself free and hurried to join the dancers on the other half of the stage.
I could have sworn that I heard gasps from the crowd, but it was too late to do anything about it. I just had to get out of here.
I have to give the singers credit that they didn’t miss a beat, even as their eyes grew wider at seeing the security guards chasing me around the stage. The most impressive part had to be when I dove forward and slid across the smooth floor, right between a guard’s legs.
It would have been a lot more impressive if I hadn’t crashed right into another guard just then. It was only seconds later that all three of them had me by the arms and were pulling me off the stage. They pulled me clear away to the side door and dragged me outside.
Great. The police officer and the crazy man were there. I braced myself for the impending arrest.
“Why did you run?” the man asked me.
“You were waving a knife at me!” Hope rose in my chest. Maybe, just maybe, the officer would believe me.
Sure enough, the police officer raised an eyebrow at the man. “What’s this?”
“What? Where’s that from? I didn’t wave a knife at you!”
“Did you see the knife?” the policeman asked.
“Well, no,” I admitted. “But I saw him from the distance, yelling and waving something.”
“Yeah,” the guy said. He reached into his pocket. I tensed, thinking he was going for his weapon. Instead, he pulled out a wallet.
“Wait, that’s mine!” I exclaimed.
“One of my employees found it,” the man said. “I’m the manager at the grocery store. The cashier realized you left it behind and pointed you out. I was just trying to return it.”
“Oh,” I said. “That’s awkward.”
“You know, you could learn a lesson from this,” the officer said.
“I sure could!” I agreed.
“So maybe you’ll be more careful to see what’s really going on in the future?”
“Oh, that.” I laughed, waving it off. “Sure, that too. I was just thinking that I should probably learn to dance better.”
Based on prompt: Opera and Morals