Some people think it was some sort of publicity stunt. Others think it is simply an Urban Legend, kept alive by rumor, gossip and innuendo. A few think it was a miracle. Some who think it was a miracle have gone so far as to worship the Theater where it took place. Some Believers going to the extent of building shrines shaped like little replicas of the Theater itself, and making offering to it in their homes. Some believe it might have been an Alien probe, or a visit from the Hereafter.
It was none of those things.
And all of them.
I know. I was there.
The Theater was packed. Standing room only. Believe me, there wasn’t much standing room either. The Fire Marshall would have cleared the aisles, and forced folks standing on the stairs on both sides of the Auditorium to either find a seat…or leave.
The place wasn’t packed because of how good the Play was. In fact, it was rather mediocre. Nor was the place filled because of the Talent on Stage. Oh sure, the two leads could belt out a reasonable interpretation of a Broadway Show Tune- they had nice voices, but they weren’t great singers. Just a tad beyond matching pitch in vocal quality.
The Dancers all had lithe supple bodies, and great legs. Almost a Universal when it comes to Dancers- male or female. Eye candy galore, open to the looks wishes and sometimes lurid stares of the audience. They were a talented enough group to actually get most members of the audience to applaud their technique, timing, and flowing athleticism. The costumes they wore- some barely more than a few strips of well placed cloth or bangles- left some members stiff and embarrassed.
The Scenery was above average both the physical dancing kind, and the stage backdrops. Whoever was the Set Designer was either a genius, or someone who had come down from the Big Leagues of Theater in the West End or Broadway, to slum for the summer in an Historic Theater in an Midwestern Steel Town. The Sets, were marvelous. Ingenious. Artistic. They often got a well deserved round of delighted applause on their own.
None of those things, either individually, or taken as a whole, was the reason the place was packed. No. No. No. No way. The place was packed because on each of the three previous weekends- something strange and beautiful had happened. Or something strangely beautiful. No one was able to accurately able to tell which.
It started with a light.
Have you ever seen a sparkler from a distance? You know the kind of sparkler you give a kid on the Fourth of July to wave in dizzying loops and streaks as it burns a trail of light in your retina. Just picture that sparkler in pitch black space- stationary. Place it just above MainStage, but below the rigging for the Scene Sets.
Have it drift in different directions in lazy unfocused patterns like Ball lightening
tangled in the ropes of an old Clipper Ship. If you haven’t seen Ball lightening in the tangled ropes of a Clipper Ship, then picture a glass globe, crystal clear, where the lightening inside touches your finger tips. Now, have that ball of lightening touching your finger tips, float around your home in the dark.
That was the first sign.
People thought it was part of the Play.
The technical people thought it was a glitch in the lighting.
The Actors thought it was the spirit of some ancient Stellar Singer who died tragically in the Theater during her most potent Aria. Even though there was no such singer, and no such tragedy. Which makes it all the more remarkable that the Actors were actually closer to the real reason that ball of light circled the Theater Ceiling during the entire play than any of the more plausible explanations.
No one knew (at first) that the sparkling ball of light was alive.
Or at least, intelligent.
When the lights in the Theater went down.
The light floating around went up.
People swore it was friendly.
They were right.
The sparkle. More properly, as the News and Social Media called it: Thee Sparkle appeared every show. Sometimes for the whole show. Other times for the First, or third acts. Other times, well, it kind of hung around until the Show started or showed up when the Show ended. After the first week Thee Sparkle seemed to become more comfortable with the Audience. Playfully swooping down to hover just over their heads or chase a single patron down the row of steps to the Concession stand. A maneuver that brought claps of delight from the people watching, and a false sense of bravado to the person being “chased.”
Word got out.
Videos went Viral.
The Theater was sold out.
Picture Tinker Bell. That’s right. Brightly colored, small, with tiny delicate wings. Give her blue skin and a figure that would turn heads is she was full size. Put her in a crazy fig leaf outfit that accented both her figure and her feminine nature. Skip the wand and tinker bell dust. Now place her carefully in the center of a ball of light that looks just like a sparkler seen from a distance on a moonless night.
Now picture that same Tinker Bell like creature stepping out of the ball of sparkle to flit about a fully packed Theater before returning to the stage to sing. That’s right, sing. People often put their hand up in the air, like you would hold your hand out to let a pet parrot or parakeet perch. Sometimes, she would flit over and float just above your fingers- as if tempted to perch. Then she would give you one of the Tinker Bell smiles- lighting up the people near you, and filling your heart with joy- and flit off to some other part of the Hall.
Once the whole Theater (including all the Technical Crew, Stage Hands, and Cast) were enthralled and the Play was supposed to start- she took Center Stage, bowed, raised her head and began to sing.
Not just sing.
The Theater went dark, as if by Magic (and maybe it was) all anyone could see in that pitch blackness was the glowing sparkly Tinker Bell figure - your eyes stayed glued to her tiny (but perfect) form, your ears, heart, soul, and mind were stuck on the sound coming out of her tiny body.
A form of Singing that was ethereal, heavenly, angelic, and very very very apparently not human. She scaled up octaves with the ease of a trained singer arching just one note. Her voice brought shaded echoes of soaring through the horns from the Sax to the Clarinet, then piping up to flute level, and then reaching double C’s that bordered on the extreme top end of the human ability to hear them.
If sound could be crystal clear, then she built a scaffold of clarity. Rainbow colors of crystalline delight split out from the sound to puncture your preconceived notions of what good singing was. The best rendition of Over the Rainbow you ever heard wouldn’t have even made her opening notes.
If you could be blinded by sound, you would have been. It was that glorious.
Hearts broke. Lives changed. Prayers were offered. Gratitude and thankfulness poured out with tears on almost every face. Some couldn’t cry with pleasure, only with the release of all pain that they had bottled up in a lifetime of bad decision. Her music brought both responses. Her voice elevated you to what you might be.
Your ears licked up every bit of sound- hungry for more- knowing that there would never be seconds. And still she sang.
She finished singing. The entire audience stood as one. The applause was thunderous, ongoing, and sincere. She seemed to soak it all into her tiny body, blushing not red, but a bright shiny blue. She bowed in every direction. Then she waved like a Queen on a float at a parade in a big city.
She flitted just over the heads of the audience seeming to visit each and every person to give a quiet thank you- a puff of a kiss on her tiny palm, and a light flutter of her wings to push it in your direction. You couldn’t help it. Your hand reached with childlike joy to snatch the offering from the air. You held it tight in your palm before placing it in your pocket or purse- like a real thing.
After everyone had received their Sparkle Kiss, the Tinker like being flitted to Center Stage, just above the Orchestra Pit. Waved one last time, opened a door that couldn’t have been six inches high, and two inches wide, and was just hanging in the air as natural as could be (even though it wasn’t) and stepped in.
She was gone.
The audience lost it.
Pandemonium rampaged as people tried to clamber up on stage, set up ladders, and find the door. Everyone trying desperately to bring that creature, and her voice, back again.
Scientists came. The Army came. Architects, Engineers, and even Psychics came. All left empty handed. Bereft of results, or findings. After a while, they all left. A year or so has gone by. The sparkle like creature has never returned.
The Lobby has a small figurine for sale, and some T-shirts. They bear her name: Sparkle.
Every show is sold out. Even Movie Night on Wednesdays ( a crass concession to the Reality that Theaters have to make money like any other business) if full. Full of people... and hope.
I know. I go every night the Theater is open, like so many others. Straining my eyes to see a flicker of light, like a sparkler you give kids on the Fourth of July seen from a distance.
My ears too, perk up. Hungry to hear that voice, those sounds, the trills.
It has been a year. A year where all the people who were here a year ago- lived a fuller, richer, happier life. It was a side affect of having heard and seen her. You marveled at life. You made a difference. You had to.
I wasn’t the first to see the flicker. Or the flit. Sparkle was back. Her tiny form unchanged. She still looked like a full figured Tinker Bell packed into a six inch blue body locked in a ball of Fourth of July Sparklers.
Just like last time, she didn’t sing those first few weeks. Just flitted around making contact with folks by hovering just out of reach, looking down, and blessing you with that smile that forced every good feeling you ever had to surface.
She was preparing us. But for what?
It had been three weeks. The Theater was Full to overflowing…and then some. The Fire Marshall would have had a stroke had he bothered to turn his head and look back at the throngs in the aisle. He did not. He sat comfortably in the middle of the third row watching Sparkle flit from place to place, making her rounds.
The lights went dark. Sparkle took her place as the sole source of light, ears tried to pull themselves out of skulls to try and get closer to the music they knew would soon come. Everyone leaned in, then leaned back with a gasp.
Sparkle didn’t start singing right away. Instead that little six inch high two inch wide doorway appeared. The door opened. The little Tinker Bell Figure flitted over to it, beckoning some one, or some thing to come out with little encouraging waves of her tiny perfect hand. A moment later a hand, then an arm covered in a shiny silver suite, recached for her hand. She held it, tugging gently to pull the rest of the suit and the body in it, out.
People clapped at the absolute cuteness of it all.
There she was a bright blue fig leaf covered Tinker Bell, holding the hand of a shy and just a bit taller male Tinker Bell like creature. A creature just as blue as she, but wearing a sliver suit that didn’t clash with his blue sparkle. For a moment , maybe a minute, maybe longer, who knows when your senses and sensibilities are stunned beyond comprehension- they stood hand in hand, bowing in every direction.
Delight was a full blown emotion for all of us. Like looking out at the world through cotton candy, or a root beer float. Just pure pleasure.
One final bow from the two creatures caught in a ball of sparkle, and they opened their tiny throats to sing. Love poured out in every octave, every scale, every note. Her voice alone made us all come back every night for a year, their voices together would make us come back every night for life.
The Video went viral- and breaks its own record every second. Forty eight billion views in three days. And counting.
I was there. I didn’t need a video (but I have watched it). Like many others, I think next year she might open that door again. I think that it is just their way ( The Sparkles as we all call them now) to introduce themselves to us. We don’t know exactly how the did it (exactly? We don’t know at all how they did it, or do it), but only the people that were there the first year, and came back every night, can get in the Theater when they show up - again.
We think we are being prepped to be worthy of meeting them all. Because every year those of us who were there get a little more kinder, gentler, inclusive. We think of Earth as one place not a bunch of arbitrary lines on a map. We think of each other as fellow beings, not races, religions, or nationalities. And it is spreading out from us too.
If the Government tried to shut down the theater…well they wouldn’t govern anymore. And if any country tried to stop the videos from going viral, well, they couldn’t. Everyone has seen it, and everyone wants to see it again.