The school auditorium had been built before the Great War and in that time our town was rich with the sales of coal and timber and there were men who reaped great benefit and yet stayed here in this tiny place and built great homes and raised families. These were the men who organized the churches that still stand on the corners in town. Buildings of sandstone quarried from the hill above town with high-ceilinged sanctuaries and arches and pipe organs built in Europe that no congregation here could ever afford to replace. These were the men who contracted for the design of the school auditorium and thus it was grand in a way that nothing in our town had ever been grand since.
There were great, arched casement windows on the east wall and heavy, scarlet drapes that stayed open on schooldays but were drawn closed for evening performances. On this morning I had hidden there to escape a Geography test that I had not studied for and I sat in the balcony, beside the stairwell, ready to slip inside the door if another entered this cavern of a room.
The morning light angled through the east windows and onto the first rows of seats and the very front of the wide stage. She came out from behind the plush green stage curtain with sheet music in her hand. She was three years older than me and would not have known me from Adam, but everyone knew her. She wore a deep blue dress. All the girls wore dresses to school in those days. I ducked down into my seat, hidden behind the chairback in front of me.
She arranged the sheets on piano’s music stand and lifted the cover from the keyboard. She brushed back her hair and looked down into the keyboard for a few moments and then played some piece that I had never before heard but somehow remembered. I have never heard it since, but I would know it if three notes carried to me on the breeze.
The light was on her hair and her skin was radiant. This was Beatrice. This was what the knights died for.