The opera house lobby was gorgeous. The vaulted ceilings, painted murals, gold embroidering everywhere, and the magnificent shimmering chadeliers gave it a soft yet regal ambience. Patrons of all kinds were dressed in their best suits and dresses. Friendly smiles graced their faces. A smile was set onto Sowon's face as she clutched Wonho's arm tightly.
Sowon turned to Wonho, a question suddenly coming to thought. "Do you know what this play is about?"
Wonho shook his head. "No. My mother just told me it was a love story."
Sowon turned towards the front again, slowly shuffling along with the crowd towards the entrance doors to their seats. She was excited. This was unlike anything she ever experienced. She had her opera glasses in hand and the playbill in the other.
They settled into their seats quickly enough, right in the first row of the box seats. The lights flickered after about five minutes of idle chit-chat and the venue went dark.
The opening scene was in greyscale, in what seemed to be the old remains of what was left of the Grand Ole Opry. An auction was taking place for items that were recovered from the fire.
It seemed normal enough, until a monkey playing the cymbals and an enchanting melody came on. Raoul, the male protagonist, perked up at said item. He had to have it!
Once the melody started to play again, all the sudden the lights on stage went up, and color returned to the stage. A haunting tune filled the venue, and a grand chandelier rose to the ceiling.
It was mesmerising to Sowon, and even Wonho was taken in by the whole thing.
By the time intermission came, Sowon was completely entranced with the play. The vocals were phenomenal, the acting was moving, and Sowon really felt for the Phantom. She herself felt that way as well. The Phantom, so misunderstood, only wanted to be loved.
He wasn't "whole." He was a "monster," and who could ever love a monster?
In Sowon's case, who would ever want to love someone who wasn't viewed as normal? Who would have the patience to stand by the side of someone with autism? To endure the ridicule and hardships that come with the disorder? The stares, the comments, the bullying?
She hurt for the Phantom.
Wonho looked over to see a few tears falling down Sowon's cheek. He gripped her hand in his and gave it a light squeeze.
Sowon smiled gratefully but didn't dare look towards Wonho. She thought of her own stuggles with love, and something resonated inside her with this Phantom's powerful voice.
Wonho didn't let go of Sowon's hand the rest of the play. Mostly because he didn't even realize he was still holding her hand until they went to stand up from their seats.
"Oh, um, sorry. I didn't even realize..." Wonho scratched his neck sheepishly. "It's okay. I really enjoyed that musical."
Wonho smiled and followed the crowd slowly out of the opera hall. He listened to Sowon explain what she liked and disliked about the play and her favorite actor and actress. He smiled the whole time, enjoying being around her. He didn't see her as someone who was autistic. He saw her as a really smart and funny girl who just needed a true friend.
His cousin had autism which not many people knew, so he understood what autistic kids go through and ho