He paused behind the curtain and listened to the room beyond. Dishes clinked, voices murmured in conversation. The elevator music was simply a backdrop to the forks against ceramic, the cadence of inflection and laughter. Some of them were here to see him. Some were here just to hear SOMEthing. But, it was for all of them that he would perform.
He cocked an ear to backstage. His string quartet players were making last minute changes to their instruments, his wife stepped up to his side and put her arm around his waist. They both looked out on the stage to gaze at the lone microphone, dark under where the spotlight would soon be. She traced a finger along his jaw and tiptoed up to kiss him gently. "You'll be wonderful," she whispered. "You always are."
He smiled against her lips and embraced her tightly. He loved this woman... always supportive, always at his side. He couldn't do it without her. "I hope so," he murmured into her hair, and then watched her disappear into the darkness of backstage to herd everyone to where they needed to be.
It was time. His players walked out to their places. The house lights dimmed, but the conversations continued. As the first notes began to course through the room, the spotlight illuminated the microphone. His microphone. He rubbed his hands together, took a deep breath, and stepped to his place. Eyes lifted to him. Some returned to their companions, some stayed fixed. But, as he opened his mouth and let the sound pour forth, forks were set down. All eyes turned.... and they stayed.
He smiled inside. They would return home and, tomorrow, go about their lives. But tonight, they were his to do with as he pleased. And that was very good.