Rhapsody of Death

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Chapter 48

Saturday morning, Qian got out of bed and began preparations for the day with a great exuberance. Today was one of the rare times when he would be able to meet with Yan-Luo other than at their regular Monday and Wednesday night trysts. The free tickets to the drama class’ performance at the Datong community center gave Yan-Luo the perfect alibi to escape the repressive vigilance of her father. To avoid suspicion, they had agreed to arrive at the event individually and sit in different rows, then meet outside after the performance to start their date.

The community center was in fact, an elementary school that served a dual purpose on weekends to serve as a place to hold special events. The auditorium, normally teeming with energetic school children had been transformed into a calm dignified venue. Theater goers were methodically filling up the rows of chairs and once seated, began studying their program brochures. The front of the proscenium stage was masked by a heavy red velvet curtain which the crowd was expectantly awaiting to open.

In front of the stage was a hand made poster on an easel announcing tonight’s performance of “Queen Elizabeth”. Below the headline was a picture of the starring actress in a splendid British style costume sitting on a sofa in a very royal posture. Behind her were the rest of the cast members lined up in a group. However, the figures were so small that their identities were not discernable. Below the picture was a brief synopsis of the plot and the production credits, listing the director, cast and crew members.

Qian noticed Xiao-Bo already seated and sat beside her. He cast a quick glance over the crowd and spotted Yan-Luo a few rows over. She was preoccupied with reading the plot and didn’t notice him and he did not want to display any signs of recognition to give away their secret. However, they were both very aware of each other’s presence and were inwardly anticipating their imminent reunion.

Soon, the lights dimmed and a fanfare sounded. The curtain was opened and the first scene began with Elizabeth interviewing possible candidates for her to marry. As each petitioner presented themselves to her, she rejected them one-by-one with an almost derisive tone of sarcasm which elicited a roar of laughter from the audience.

Shortly after, Walter Raleigh appeared on stage to give Queen Elizabeth a report on his exploratory expedition to the “New World”. He gave a detailed account of how Spain was reaping great profit from trading products such as potatoes and tobacco. He concluded his presentation by advising the Queen that whoever controls the ocean controls the trade and control of trade affords control of wealth and ultimately the world.

The Queen listened with obvious joy, not only from speculation about the riches to be garnered from new trade routes but also because she had for some time possessed a fondness for his courage and talents.

After Walter Raleigh had left, Elizabeth turned to her maid and said, “This man interests me. Go to him and find out as much as you can about him and then report back to me.”

Through several scenes, the maid developed a relationship with Raleigh and stole him away from the Queen. This unexpected twist in the plot aroused a deep empathy for the Queen within Yan-Luo as if she had been the victim of the double betrayal of friendship and love. She turned and looked intensely at Qian with tears welling up in her eyes. He was startled at what he saw and knew she needed him but couldn’t go to her now. His anxiety did not go unnoticed by Xiao-Bo sitting next to him and she soon guessed the relationship between Qian and Yan-Luo.

The play proceeded through the acts covering the assassination plot by Mary Queen of Scots and the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, culminating in Elizabeth’s monologue which reflected her bitter disappointment over the loss of Walter Raleigh.

“I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls. I would rather be a beggar and single than a queen and married. I am your anointed Queen and I am married to England, common to all. I do not belong to anyone much the same as no single person can claim title to the ocean.”

The audience burst into thunderous applause and the curtain closed. The applause continued punctuated by cries of “bravo, bravo” which elicited several curtain calls and appreciative flourishing bows by the cast.

But Yan-Luo was so emotionally smitten that she immediately rushed out of the auditorium. Seeing her leave so abruptly, Qian started pushing his way through the crowd trying to get to her as quickly as possible. Xiao-Bo was calling his name as he left but he either didn’t hear her or chose to ignore her in deference to a more compelling engagement.

She was anxiously waiting for him outside bursting with ideas and emotions and she felt that only Qian would understand her inner passion for drama. After listening to her new found revelations, Qian responded. “You should change your major from English Literature to Drama and after graduation become an actor.”

“I don’t have any desire to become an actor but I really love drama and would be happy to be a drama critic of perhaps a playwright.” Then her demeanor changed from serious contemplation to sultry playful coyness. “If I changed my major to drama, I would have to transfer to a different campus and you will not have many chances to see me. Can you accept that?”

Her innocent yet provocative look triggered a reaction he had been contemplating for some time. Overcome by emotion, he took her face in his hands and kissed her passionately on her soft lips. She returned his kiss with equal fervor and both could feel the intense throbbing of love that can only happen with the first intimate encounter between lovers.

From that time on, their kisses were as essential to their life as carbon dioxide is to a plant’s existence. And now their parting verbal good bys were replaced by amorous kisses surreptitiously stolen in the stairwell to her house. The possibility of being discovered by her parents only heightened the intensity of their passion.

On one such occasion, as they were reluctantly parting, Yan-Luo overheard her mother talking to their neighbor, Mrs. Wang. She quietly crept closer to better hear them and realized they were discussing her.

“Does your daughter have a boyfriend?”

“I am not sure. You know, children these days don’t really discuss their personal lives with their parents.”

“Well, I think she is old enough now to have a boyfriend. You haven’t forbid her to associate with boys have you?”

“Not really. Everything depends on fate. She is still young and it is good to look around and explore all possibilities available to her. There are many male students at the university so there is a good chance she will meet someone there. By the way, how is your son’s education progressing? I notice that you have hired a tutor.

“He has made great progress lately. His tutor is from the university and has very good math skills. My son thinks he is really smart and knows how to effectively teach him. I think he is far better than the public school teachers.”

“Does your son need help with his English? Yan-Luo is majoring in English literature at the university and could give him excellent help.”

“I think my son’s math tutor and Yan-Luo are going to the same university. They might know each other.”

“Oh, is his major in language also?”

“No, he is majoring in electrical engineering. His math abilities are very advanced.”

“What is his name?”

“Yin Mo-Qian. I heard that his father works in the government customs department at the airport in Taoyuan. He is neat and polite and is quite handsome. I could introduce him to your daughter. Who knows? Maybe it is their fate to come together.”

She didn’t know how to respond to her suggestion so she just smiled. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence and Mrs. Wang suddenly felt that she was too aggressive with her idea of introduction to the point of being meddlesome. She emitted an embarrassed laugh and turned to leave.

Just then her mother noticed her. “Oh, you are back. How was school today? Yan-Luo greeted Mrs. Wang and then they went into the house.

“Mrs. Wang and I were discussing you and she suggested that she introduce her son’s tutor to you as a possible boyfriend. Well, I think you are attractive enough to find a boyfriend on your own. You don’t need the neighbor to play matchmaker.” She noticed that Yan-Luo appeared to be bored with the whole conversation so she added a comment in an almost accusatory tone to get her attention. “Or, maybe you want to meet this Yin boy.”

“No, I do not!” She wanted to be emphatic in her refusal because she knew how opposed her mother was to her dating and didn’t want to arouse any suspicion. In her heart she knew that she and Qian would have to moderate their passion in the future to avoid accidental discovery by her parents and the resulting edict from her father forbidding their relationship.

As the deadline for selecting the play to be performed at the graduation ceremony grew closer, the drama club spent more time together discussing the possible choices for the performance. “We could consider Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.” Jia-Yu was the first to offer a suggestion for discussion.

But Xiao-Bo immediately countered her proposal. “We are short of time and it would take too long to adapt Wilde’s play. We should choose a famous drama that has an existing script like Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Taming of the Shrew. We could start casting immediately and concentrate our time on rehearsals.

“Last year’s performance was Shakespeare’s Mid Summer Night’s Dream and you want to do Shakespeare again this year? How embarrassing!” Qian made his disdain for the suggestion quite obvious.

“What about Greek drama?” Yan-Luo offered. “We all read them in grade school and know the plots. And, the scripts for them are well developed and readily available.”

“But the Greek plays are all about history and military campaigns; too serious!”

Yan-Luo challenged her remark immediately but in a peaceful manner. “We just saw the professor’s drama class presentation of Queen Elizabeth. That was mostly about history and England at war and it was enthusiastically received.”

The club members had seemingly come to an impasse as to how to proceed and turned their gaze expectantly to Qian for direction. Caught off guard, he paused for a moment to collect his thoughts then suggested that they select three candidate plays and request the drama department professor to make the final choice. The class agreed and after a bit of discussion they reached a consensus to select Oedipus, Media and Agamemnon.

After all the club members had left except for Qian, Yan-Luo, Jia-Yu and Xiao-Bo, Jia-Yu, still unhappy about the final selections, insistently tried to persuade Qian to reconsider the Oscar Wilde play for the graduation ceremony production. “All the selections we made are very old fashioned and boring. Most of the students have seen them at least once and some twice.”

Qian listened with indifference and was anxious for the Xiao-Bo and Jia-Yu to leave so he could be alone with Yan-Luo. Xiao-Bo could sense his distraction and was now fairly certain that he and Yan-Luo were involved in a relationship. “You better add the Wilde play to the list”, she chided. “Otherwise who knows when Jia-Yu will leave, Come on let’s go.” She then grabbed Jia-Yu’s hand and pulled her toward the door to leave.

Finally, Qian and Yan-Luo were alone. He walked over to the door and peered out into the corridor to make sure no one was lingering there. Satisfied that they were completely alone, he locked the door and walked back to her, embraced her tightly and kissed her passionately as if they had been reunited after a lifetime of separation.

They were enraptured by the warm closeness of their bodies and encapsulated in a euphoric, timeless rhapsody. She sensed a certain urgency in Qian that she had never felt before. So intense was the feeling that she did not notice that Qian had tentatively put his hand on her breast.

Qian interpreted her lack of objection as tacit approval and quickly put his hand inside her blouse and caressed her breast. She had never experienced any intimate touching in her life and was momentarily startled; unsure of what would happen next.

Qian did not withdraw his hand but instead kissed her lips more passionately. When he felt her resistance subsiding he gradually focused his kisses on her ear lobes and soft white neck. Amidst her lightheaded ecstasy she hadn’t noticed that Qian had opened her blouse to expose her firm soft breasts until a burst of cool air on her chest startled her and caused her to open her eyes.

But the chill was quickly replaced by a warm, moist sensation when Qian buried his face in her breasts and began softly licking her nipples. This aroused an instinctive desire to give her self to this man and triggered a wave of heat in her body that descended to the tips of her toes. She could sense a wetness building between her legs and an aching desire consumed her.

They pressed their bodies closer and began grinding their thighs together in a slow erotic undulating rhythm. Their passion continued to build, ramping up to an inevitable conclusion when suddenly Yan-Luo was overcome by the uncertainty of the unknown and trembling, tried to push him away.

But Qian’s raging desire would not allow her to resist. He instinctively knew that if they stopped now it would be almost impossible in the future to gain her trust enough to move beyond this point. He grasped her tightly and kissed her lips again with renewed passion until her heard soft moaning whispers emanating from her throat as she exhaled.

He slid his hand between her thighs and began exploring her wet body until he found what instinctively felt like the path to mutual gratification and the ultimate consummation of their love. In the heat of passion, they rapidly removed their clothes and Yan-Luo eagerly waited for her lover to probe her body and merge their souls into a single existence.

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