The stage before him was lit up by hot white light, like a brilliant flower, and the warm rich tones of the rippling wood and varnish of violin bodies, the gleaming silver of woodwind keys, the golden flash of brassy bells thrilled his eyes like a magnificent kaleidoscope. The whole theatre was moving and talking, laughing and alive with noise that sailed into the dark enveloping walls of thick plush velvet and curling golden gilt. The massive ceiling soared above the audience with heavenly arches and rosy angels dancing amid vanilla clouds, vaulted breadth pooling with sound.

Suddenly the lights begun to dim, sending the theatre into rich darkness of shadows gleaming golden, and silence filled the air like soft breath from a sea of people. With the muted echoing tap of the conductor's baton on the stand, the orchestra stilled, and the man's throat tightened with anticipation. The maestro's arms rose, bows poised, breaths indrawn, and slowly, heavily, the first dark poignant notes of Tchaikovsky's 5th symphony filled the hall like the slow fall of night. Like the end of a breath, like the dark feeling that descends when one is alone, utterly alone, and overwhelmed by hidden and savage emotion, the russian symphony wore on, sad and slow and unstoppable. The sound was overwhelming, sinking down and down and down into him, and his eyes slowly closed, his head slowly fell back on the seat, and he felt the music swell inside him.

When the program ended, and lights came back on, when the people clapped and stood, and the time slowly passed, when the theatre languidly and noisily emptied, and the lights went off one by one, the man finally rose and walked alone past the dark rows, steps echoing solely along the aisles, quiet breath rising to the vaulted ceiling engulfed in darkness.

Outside, the night was a soft milky lavender and blue, and the trees swayed gently under the cover of the night, leaves gleaming with moonlight, outlines dim and hazed with yellow streetlights. The last of the crowd still stood before the theatre, talking in soft french voices, eyes and hair and faces limned on one side by moonlight and the other by fuzzy yellow lamplight. He walked away from them, hands in pockets, shoulders and back outlined by his old-cut frock coat, shiny black shoes like beetles tapping the ground quietly in retreat.

He didn't know why exactly he had come here, leaving his old familiar northern skies for these soft mediterranean ones, these rolling green hills and delicately flowering trees brushed silver in the moonlight. Some strange urge had taken hold of him, some dark hand slowly wrapping his body in restlessness, and he had to travel again. These lush and springtime lands, echoing sweetly now with the song of cicadas and wind in whispering poplars, grasses rippling across the fields in shimmering waves, skies darkening to night above—this land had a strange effect on him, a strange pull, an attraction. He had felt its siren song from the cold of his northern snows, and known where his wandering travellers steps would carry him.

He walked through the city quickly, eager to escape its stony walls and return once more to the gently rolling french countryside. After a time, he came to the city's end, and passed from it into the green green night. He knew, of course, that the softly nuanced and infinitely passionate swirl of the french culture would lure him back to it's bustling life; but for now the singing night was stretched out before him, and he immersed himself in its song


The morning dawned bright and misty over the fields, and he watched its warm yellow progress (fledged in pink and eggshell blue) through his second story window. Below him a bird chirped in the green garden, and another hopped about on the uneven red brick courtyard. The infant sun sparkled in the quiet fountain, and a blue mist slowly and inconspicuously relinquished its hold on the sleepy grounds.

He turned from the window and attended to his morning tasks, washing, dressing, shaving, brushing his thick shock of black hair that never showed his efforts, and quietly descended the narrow staircase to the kitchen below. No one in the little house stirred, and he slipped outdoors without meeting anyone, much to his relief.

The peaceful courtyard was all his own, and he seated himself on an old marble bench, feeling the sun warm his winter skin, and listening to the garden's music. Beyond that little gate was a morning world alive and waiting for his footstep; shimmering trees and silver skies, deep green grass chirping with morning life, caressing his legs with dewy fingers as he passed, sighing wind in swaying treetops, layers of shade like warm green double dapples across a sun-softened world. He knew not why the cold north had been his home for so long; now in this mediterranean sweetness he found a new kind of joy that warmed his wounded heart in gentle hands. France welcomed him with open arms.

(--Qu'est-ce que vous appellez-vous?