The first half of Anya’s performance went off without any further interruptions. Sergei and Heath were seemingly everywhere, silently dragging anyone that even vaguely looked like they might be trouble off into the darkness. The night wore on as the aeriol - a piano-like instrument that played itself - played haunting melodies, and Anya’s voice eerily echoed in the small, but accommodating, club.
Anya finished a piece entitled “Echoes of Old Berlin”, taking a bow before exiting the stage as the curtains gently fell. Closing the door to her dressing room, she took a seat before a tall mirror encircled with dim, bare lights.
“Mm…why do you do this to yourself?” She asked herself this every time she performed. Was it worth the strain? Was it worth the privacy that she was giving up more and more as she became more well known? Was it worth losing her husband? Well…she hadn’t lost him yet, but it seemed like it might any day now.
“Dear sister…do you always talk to yourself in the mirror?”
Anya turned to face a figure that was seemingly enveloped by the cushions in the large beige chair hidden in a shadowy corner. She peered into the darkness, and couldn’t suppress the grin that was making its way onto her face.
“Eleanor! Where have you been!?” Anya jumped out of her chair and into the arms of her tall, golden-haired sister. They embraced for a moment, then Eleanor took Anya’s hands in her own.
“Oh, sister…” Eleanor’s accent was vague, and unless you knew her you wouldn’t be able to place it. The two sisters were born of two different mothers, in two different countries, almost two different worlds. Eleanor was born and raised in a part of the world that seemed untouched from the Soviet Expansion - northern Europe - and it was apparent. Standing nearly six feet tall, with the strength and beauty that was almost trademark to that region, Eleanor’s blonde locks were almost a halo around her soft features.
She went on to describe what had transpired since the sisters last met, several years ago. Anya cried upon hearing much of it - her sister had endured much, at the hands of cruel and unrelenting people - but Eleanor shushed her. It was, as she said, over now, and they were once again together.
A knock came at the door, and it opened slightly. Heath spoke from the dark hallway to let Anya know that it was almost time for the second half of the show. “Extend the intermission, Heath, please. I need some time to gather my thoughts.” Heath nodded and closed the door.
The sisters wept tears of both sadness and happiness. Their lives had not been easy, surviving hardships not unlike those of many in the world of United Russia. The night crept slowly into early morning, sisters reminiscing in each other’s arms. It was far too late for Anya to finish her song list, but little did she know this was, in fact, for the best.
As the patrons of The Velvet Cooler were herded out quietly into the street, one such patron lingered at the door for a moment. Touching the hard wood with a gloved hand, he looked intently at the smooth curtains at the stage. He shook his head. The opportunity had been lost tonight, but the request had been very clear, and he always completed a job. This one would be no different.