Ten minutes to curtain.
I find my seat, but there is a man sitting in it.
"I think you're in my--"
"Oh, yes," he says, embarrassed. "I bought my ticket, uh, last minute. Just one. I couldn't remember which seat was mine."
He is young, but it's hard to tell how young. He's Chinese--
Japanese, my brain tells me, though I can't pinpoint why.
Broad face, square jaw, black hair, the sine wave of his eyelids, dark eyes. He is lean, black leather jacket like a 50's biker, or a punk. Acid wash jeans, tight, clean, and well loved Doc Martins (also clean).
"I have seen this show three times," he blurts out. His English is good, but he stutters and stops occasionally, searching for words. "The, uh, cast...is very good."
He talks about the broadway cast, finding the soundtrack on Spotify. I tell him about my recent trip to England, to see all the shows, and how I was sad this one was opening after I left, and how pleased I was to find another production.
There is a sharp loneliness inside him. I can't pinpoint it. I chalk it up to cultural differences, a mis-read on my part.
Three minutes to curtain.
His hands worry a fistful of kleenex.
"I will cry at the end," he tells me. "I brought tissue."
I hold up my blue and white checked hanky. "Oh yes, me too. I know how this show ends."
He hesitates, and then says, "I could not cry. Something bad happened to me, and I could not cry, and I saw this show, and then I could cry."
"I'm sorry that happened to you."
He looks embarrassed. The lights go down.
The show begins slowly, and builds to a crescendo over a solid hour and a half, slamming into me at the end like a speeding truck.
I cry into my handkerchief.
I give the show the standing ovation it justly deserves.
The lights come up. People are putting on their coats.
The Japanese man is blowing his nose.
I put on my coat, scarf.
Ask for him number. Do something. Say something!
I hesitate before I step into the aisle. I look down at him and his fistfuls of kleenex.
"Well," I say. "Have a nice rest of your day."
He gives me a watery smile. I want to hug him. I want to run away as far as I can.
I step into the aisle and the flow of people, and then he's gone.
Another door closed.