Welcome to the Masquerade

By Sara Rodgers

 

‘I wish for this night to end…’Blair’s eyes were narrowed as he looked upon the floor, tapping his foot in an aggravated fashion. Arms crossed, Blair stood in front of the main stage of the grand ballroom. He was in the centre of the line up of university professors that stretched across the floor in front of the massive stage. Their job for the night, security. Blair rolled his eyes at the thought.  Of course, it was mandatory for professors to attend (to his utter annoyance), and Blair had been waiting for this night for a few weeks with nothing but dread in his heart.

 

The golden chandeliers shone brightly, since the normally unused ballroom had been cleaned for this particular night. Guests consisting of scholars, professors, academics and students alike began to pour into the room. All the professors stood vigilant in their spot, Blair occasionally shaking hands with an unfamiliar figure. Exchanging polite words here and there, Blair kept his defenses high while silently searching for Paul, his teaching assistant. Since the university was short in participants for the talent portion of the night, Blair had been “politely” asked to take part in the events himself. He was not enthusiastic about it at first, until Paul had spoken up about participating alongside Blair. He wondered what the schedule for the night was, since he had not had a chance to take a pamphlet when he arrived (running slightly late because he had to pick up his mask on his way). He held the bright red object in his hand for now, since it was not mandatory to wear until the announcement of the opening ceremony.

 

Adjusting the sleeves of his formal suit, Blair scanned the crowd once more for any sign of Paul (who was sure to be fawning over the academic figureheads somewhere). Finally, he caught a glimpse of blonde hair, the man narrowing his eyes to confirm if it was Paul behind the simple black mask. He wanted to move forward and greet Paul, but he had to remain vigilant until the opening ceremonies. Instead he tried to listen to the conversation Paul was having with one of the academics, but couldn’t hear the pair speak (as they were a decent distance across the large room). Something seemed amiss however, the assistant rubbing his wrists as he only did when he became nervous in front of the class. But before Blair could observe any further, the sound of a familiar (and awful) voice brought him back.

 

“You, yeah you. Trade spots with me!”The rather animated voice pierced Blair’s thoughts, the noise now coming from beside him. ‘Anyone but her…’the man thought with a roll of his eyes before turning his head to look beside him. The redhead smiled at him through sharper than average canines, Blair looking back to see the line up of disheveled and annoyed professors. Clearly this woman had bulldozed her way through the line in order to stand by Blair. Blair gave the other professor a questioning look, brow rising as he spoke casually.

 

“Doctor Wright…. May I help you?” Blair didn’t know what the chemistry professor wanted from him (although it was quite obvious by this point the redhead had some sort of fascination with him.)

“Oh Blair, I have told you a hundred times that we are on a first name basis. Call me Paris, as in the city of. L-o-v-e!”Paris placed a manicured fingernail up to her lips, scrunching them together with a wink. The man twitched his eyebrow, fathoming all of his possible escape routes and the likelihood of success.

 

“I think I will have to pass, Doctor Wright.”Blair replied simply. This did not seem to faze the chemistry teacher however, since she giggled and shook her head as if she did not believe Blair, continuing to speak in her singsong voice.

“Such a lovely night, don’t you agree? I’m rather exited to see the events unfold. Speaking of events…” The redhead pulled out a pamphlet from her jacket pocket, leaning against Blair as she unfolded the slip of paper to scan it through her red-rimmed glasses. “It seems you’re up first. What excitement! So glad I brought my camera!”She licked her smiling lips while looking up at Blair. The expression soon changed however, red eyebrows knitting together in a dramatic pout. “How come you denied me to perform with your teaching assistant? I play the piano just as well as he could! You know Blair, you’ll only find trouble by pushing me away and trying to hide things.”She purred this in a knowing tone, locking gazes with the man.

 

Blair did not have a chance to reply however once the lights dimmed. A single light shone on the stage, the dean walking across the oak flooring to reach the microphone.

“Good evening beloved guests, I hope you have all gotten a chance to mingle. For this evening, we have prepared a special selection of the finest entertainment the University has to offer. Please enjoy all of the wonderful food, dancing and talent that had been prepared especially for this night by our hard working students.”She cleared her throat, small smile plastered on her face. “I am honoured to open this ceremony now, as the guests have mostly arrived. So please enjoy the music and dancing to come, the talent show following shortly.”

Blair checked his watch, nearly fifteen minutes until he had to find Paul and go backstage. “And I bid you… Welcome to the Masquerade!”

 

The audience roared, clapping loudly at her introductory speech while the woman bowed before walking off stage. Blair fit his mask over his face as the other teachers did the same, the golden lights resuming their shine. The band began to play music, guests already walking to the dance floor to start the introductory waltz.

 

The long night was about to begin, Blair swearing he heard the rumble of thunder in the distance.0

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