Despite her foreign and uncomfortable surroundings, Mindie was doing two things that she often found herself doing. She was waiting, and she was wishing that she were more than just merely human.
Waiting, she had become accustomed to long ago. As a child she had waited for her brother to grow up and leave home so that someone would pay her just a little bit of attention. When he had left, and her parents had noticed her no more than before, she began to wait for something else. This time, it was for a handsome young man to notice her, court her and marry her. But she waited and waited, and worried that she would grow old before he arrived. Then her father and died in an accident, and her mother had fallen sick. The doctor thought it might be of a broken heart, though he wasn’t sure. So Mindie had cared for her mother for long years and waited for her to get better, or to die. Neither had happened. Instead, her older brother had finally decided to take her mother into his home, as she had always wished. Although their mother had not fully recovered, she had cheered up a lot being near her favorite and only son. And then Mindie had waited alone in the little house. Waited for something—anything to happen. And when something finally did happen—her house burnt down and her brother refused to take her in—she regretted more bitterly all her years of waiting.
When she was little and nobody paid any attention to her, Mindie used to often think; “if only I were magical—then I would do something amazing and mother and father would care.” And so she had tried to do everything that she had ever heard that ‘magical people’ could do. But nothing worked of course. Because she was merely human. Her parents were both merely human, and so was her brother and so were all her ancestors she had ever heard of. There was no one to inherit any talent from. And so, although she hadn’t truly given up on the subject until she was well into her thirties, Mindie still wished that she had not been born merely human.
And now, as she waited in the cold and damp silence of her underground prison, Mindie wished again, harder than ever before, that she was not merely human. Then maybe she could find a way to escape, or a way to help Eyse.
Falcolm began his search for his wife, (he could not bear to think of what he searched for as her head so in his mind, he only thought of his wife,) in the streets around the opera house. In the pale light of dawn, which barely reached the streets, he searched. There was nothing at all that resembled his wife. An early morning passerby gave Falcolm a confused double glance. He was quite a sight in his strangely fashioned long-tailed jacket and his battered hat, both stained white with bird droppings. But he did not care. He thought of nothing but finding his wife.
The next logical place to look was inside the opera house. After a bit of work, he managed to bang in a side door, revealing a completely dark interior. This did not faze him. He knew the layout of this opera hall by heart—he had, not so many years ago in his mind, had a hand in designing it. Down one dark passageway and into a larger room. He realized that he would need to find something to make light with, or he wouldn’t be able to see what he was looking for in the darkness. He went on a little ways, and walked right into a wall. That wasn’t supposed to be there. Then he remembered that time had passed since he was here last. A lot of time.
He turned to go out and find something to use as a torch. Just then he felt something fly through the air towards him and he began to step away when a person landed on him with a grunt and an unsheathed knife scratching a little blood from Falcolm’s shoulder. Without waiting for further provocation, Falcolm expertly flipped the smaller person onto the ground, placed one of his large hands over the stranger’s windpipe and twisted the knife out of the other’s grasp. The knife fell with dull thud to the ground.
“Father?” said the frightened voice of a child, somewhere behind and above Falcolm. A torch flared into light, and Falcolm looked up over his shoulder to see a young boy standing there, his eyes wide with fright. He loosened his grip on the neck of the man beneath him. The man gasped for air, and rasped, “run… away.”
“No need,” said Falcolm, releasing the man and pulling him to his feet by the clothing around his neck. He tucked the stranger’s knife into his own belt and took off his battered hat (which he was somehow still wearing after having been landed on).
“Who-who are you?” gasped the little man, fear written all over his rugged face. Falcolm was still holding his shoulder tightly so that the stranger wouldn’t run off.
“Doesn’t matter,” replied Falcolm. “Who are you? And what are you doing in the opera house?”
“My name’s Nicholas, and we needed somewhere to stay,” he nodded to the boy.
Falcolm nodded absently. He didn’t care what the man answered. “I need to search the opera house, then I’ll leave you in peace.
“Search it? For what?”
“The sculpted head of a woman.”
“I don’t think I’ve seen one here,” said Nicholas, clearly surprised and puzzled by this newcomer and his strange words.
“Help me search for it, and I promise I’ll do you no harm. The boy can help too. And is there anyone else staying here?”
“No, just us.”
Then began a long and meticulous search of every possible nook and cranny in the huge old opera house. The disrepair of the building that seen, new and sparkling only a few hours before weighed heavy on Falcolm’s grieved heart. Everywhere he turned were blackened paintings, stained walls, broken chairs and shattered windows. The place was a ruined skeleton of a once magnificent building. And there was nothing Falcolm could do about it now because, for better or worse, he had weathered a thousand years of men (although he did not yet realize it had been this long,) as a statue and he could do nothing to alter or fix the missed past—the time he had sat out.
They did not find what they searched for in the opera house and Mindie went on waiting.