With apologies to any Realmgard fans who may be Opera aficionados…
The Family Darkstone descends the stairs of the Porthaven Opera House, emerging into the early dusk upon the conclusion of the Royal Aurorean Opera Company’s performance of The Accursed Gold — and Dunstana Darkstone isn’t sure how to feel right now. Opera happened, and she is still trying to figure out how to react to it.
She thinks her brain broke somewhere around Act 3.
“What was that?” she exclaims. “Do people actually like this stuff?”
She looks up at her parents, hoping for an answer. She begins to worry about their brains for brief minute. They’re sniffling and dabbing their eyes with handkerchiefs.
“That was the greatest thing ever put to stage,” her father tells her. “Such a beautiful tragedy.”
Are they crying? she wonders incredulously. Why? How?
What is going on here?
Dunstana clearly doesn’t understand grown-ups, and a cold chill runs through her at the prospect of her own adulthood turning out like this — being reduced to tears by a completely ridiculous music-play… thing.
Dunstana wants her afternoon back.
Trying to make sense of her parents’ current state just breaks her brain even more. Why are they crying? Why does an opera take five hours? Why was everyone singing all the time? Why couldn’t they just talk?
Why did everybody die at the end?
And worst of all, why, why, why did she have to wear a dress?
Dunstana indignantly notes that she is a pirate. And pirates do not wear dresses. However, she feels somewhat vindicated by the fact that Kat was also forced into a dress and share in the suffering.
Clearly, Opera is just a cruel joke that parents play on their children. Just like antiquing. Or artisanal cheese shops.
“Can we go home now?” Kat asks urgently, shifting uncomfortably under the ruffles of her dress. “I don’t want anyone to see me like this.”
“But you look so beautiful, Kat,” Estelle assures her daughter.
“I look like a tablecloth,” Kat mutters.
Personally, Dunstana thinks she looks more like a lampshade, but knows that she doesn’t the right to say anything. Her own dress makes her feel like somebody should be using her as living room curtains.
“That wouldn’t be a problem if you owned more than one dress, Kat,” Estelle notes.
“Ugh,” Kat groans. “One dress is too many.”
“You can’t go the Opera without a nice dress,” Dorian says.
“But why?” Kat and Dunstana ask simultaneously.
“That’s just the way it is, I suppose,” Dorian answers.
“It’s Opera,” Estelle notes. “It’s supposed to be classy. Honestly, I don’t understand why you’re so upset about this. We’re just trying to teach you a little culture. Is that really such a bad thing?
Kat and Dunstana share an uneasy look and make an unspoken agreement not to say anything.
“I can’t wait to see the rest of the story,” Dorian declares.
“Rest of the story?” Kat repeats.
“There’s more?” Dunstana asks in terror.
Estelle and Dorian nod.
“How much more?” Kat asks cautiously.
“Five more parts,” Estelle says.
“But everybody died!” Dunstana notes. “How can there be more?”
The Family Darkstone begins the walk home. Kat and Dunstana keep several paces back, out of earshot of their parents.
“So,” Kat asks her sister, “how dumb was that?”
Dunstana rolls her eyes. “Oh man, so dumb. Opera stinks.”
“Yeah,” Kat agrees.
On the plus side, Dunstana notes, at least the Opera has provided her something to bond with her sister over.
This is the first one I actually struggled with. I had a couple false starts, but when I settled on what was going to happen, it actually came together pretty quickly.
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