Even if the others had known who May was, they never would have recognized her.
Her signature waves of rose gold hair had been replaced with long flowing locks in cerulean shades. The freckles normally splashed across her face and down her arms were hidden beneath thick contoured layers of performance make-up.
But Dom would have recognized her anywhere.
Soul aside, her slight but surprisingly strong body was drawn into a pose that spoke of power and grace. The poise with which she held herself was more confident than he remembered, but still unmistakably hers. Willowy bare limbs were perfectly still, a patchwork of strategically placed scales glittered along her body.
Eyes of deep ocean blue opened and drifted somewhere above – to the fabled heavens far beyond the waters she appeared to be under.
The sound of waves morphed seamlessly into music that evoked the shore. May began to dance. Dom’s breath hitched in his throat; he had nearly forgotten how remarkably talented she was.
She danced like she was exploring, moving with a rhythm that looked like how it felt when the tides pulled at your toes while you swam. It was lively and beautiful – completely engrossing until shimmering silken tendrils of silver began creeping in from somewhere in the still-dark part of the floor.
While the audience gasped and whispered, peering to see where the ribbons led, May danced on without notice.
The music changed as a single, wavering spotlight cut through the sapphire atmosphere, landing only a handful of paces from May.
Pausing, she danced curiously to the light, inspecting it warily. A dainty, pointed toe entered the circle of light, triggering another, slightly larger spot that hit the ground a few feet away. The cycle continued until May was joyously leaping from circle to circle as they appeared, like a child skipping across floating stones in a pond.
From the stands the audience could see the circles formed a spiral. As May made the final leap, the centre of the spiral illuminated to reveal a second figure.
May stopped short in dramaticized surprise. Before her stood – or did she hover? – a woman with black hair that seemed to drift away from a body that glowed and glinted in pearlescent highlights. Her silver gown drifted around her too, the silky ribbons from earlier wafting forward and encircling May like sentient beckoning rays of light.
“Oh, I know this one,” Rue whispered. “It’s the legend of when the Moon fell in love with the Ocean.”
Dom hardly dared draw a breath. He glanced beside him. Jeremy leaned as far forward on the edge of his seat as possible, his eyes wide and unblinking.
The name was different, but Dom knew he was thinking the same thing – it was her.
It was Em.
The Moon reached forward gently and held a hand out to the Ocean; the moment hung like starlight. Gingerly, the Ocean accepted the offering. They began to dance.
At first it was slow – all genteel steps and swirling silks. But as the characters became accustomed to how the other moved – their gazes locked intently all the while – their movements became grander; full of life and passion.
Overcome by the joy of their dance, the Moon did the most extraordinary thing: she began to float. Each step took her higher and higher, leaving the Ocean to watch in gaping, awe-struck wonder. Each of the Moon’s strides took her further, faster, until she was soaring around the ring of the centre stage, dazzling the audience who couldn’t spy the wires or harness no matter how hard they looked.
The music swelled to a crescendo. The Moon circled to the centre of the tent before dropping into a free fall. She dove head-first toward the Ocean, only to come to an abrupt halt when she was virtually nose-to-nose with her. Her hair and gown remained in slow, drifting motion as though she were suspended under water.
The Moon reached out again. This time the Ocean took it without pause. One step and then another; the Moon pulled her gracefully up into the air where they resumed their dance untethered by notions of gravity.
It was all at once beautiful and uncanny. The audience held a collective breath until the very final moments of the performance, when the Moon and the Ocean drew close enough to kiss, wafting silver ribbons completely enclosing around them at the very last possible second. The lights dimmed until all that remained were winking star-like lights which too eventually gave way to darkness.
When the lights came up once more the Moon – no, the Star – and the Ocean were gone. The next act began but the mood in the tent was different now, as though hundreds of people were all waking from the same gorgeous dream.
Dom turned to face Jeremy. The red-haired man stared intently back at him.
“The Moon – that was her, wasn't it?” Jeremy’s voice failed to betray whatever was going through his mind.
“And the Ocean?” Jeremy pressed on. “Who is she?”
Pursing his lips, Dom sighed. He didn’t answer, but he didn’t look away either.
How was he supposed to tell him the love of his life was in love with someone else?