Caliente – Round 6.1: An empty chair

Table of contents

(Characters page: People of Sunset Valley)

Summer was nearing its end, the nights were no longer warm and there were more cloudy days and sudden rain showers. But in the largest room of Sunset Valley’s only theater it was rather hot. The room was filling up with people making Branden squirm in his chair nervously as he felt sweat dropping out of all his pores.

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“Do you need to use the bathroom? If so hurry up, they have almost started.” His sister Latricia said turning to him concerned.

“I’m fine.” Bran responded. “Just a little warm.” His sister nodded sympathetically and said nothing more. Bran  was glad she was here. He missed her greatly, ever since he had started college it was just him and mum, and the house felt empty, he felt alone. Sure he had school, his friends, a girlfriend even but Tricia was his best friend, his sister, he had never spent this much time without her.

And then she didn’t even come home for the summer… She had decided to spend two months in some temple, meditating and finding inner peace, something like that. Bran’s mum suspected it had something to do with Tricia rejecting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal earlier this year. Whatever it was she was here today at least…

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Which couldn’t be said to another person dear to Bran’s heart…. He turned around to his left. The chair was still empty. Due to his mother being one of the central figures for tonight’s show Bran, Tricia and their guests were given the best seats and Bran reserved one for his girlfriend Nan. Things between them weren’t so good lately and Bran knew it was his fault… Which is precisely why he figured a romantic gesture might get back on Nan’s good side. He didn’t think she would actually stand him up…

At least Della was here. Nan’s twin sister was actually the first to catch his eye but after Nan assured him her quiet sister would never pay him any mind he went out with her instead… One thing led to another and now he was dating Nan. It was Nan who told him that Della would love nothing more then to come to this show tonight. It was a memorial concert for Bran’s recently deceased aunt, Nala. They held one every year on the anniversary of her death, other famous musicians played Nala’s famous songs and all the profits from tickets were given to various charities. It was a nice thing, especially for those who loved acoustic guitar and according to Nan Della did. She was also a big fan of Nala Caliente, and even had her autograph.

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So Bran managed to get two tickets for her as well. He was glad when he saw her outside. Even though he and Nan had been seeing each other for a while now his heart would still beat a little faster when he saw her twin sister, something he never really admitted to anyone. Not even Tricia.

Della waved at him when she saw him and even smiled that bright smile of hers. Bran could hardly imagine that at one point of his life he would do anything for her to notice him, and twice as much if she were to smile like that…

Nan had been telling him Della was seeing someone but he never saw her with any other guy at school. He was hoping he would make an appearance here tonight at least but it seemed Della had brought Lacey Alto instead since it was Lacey standing next to her in a long blue dress, not paying Bran any mind.

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Bran watched them talking outside for a while before Tricia urged him to come inside. He was wondering where they were right now… He turned around hoping to spot them but the lights started to fade already. He sighed and turned in front to the lit stage.

The first people that would appear on stage, like every year so far were the stars of the show, Nina Caliente and Riam Gradle. Or that is who they were to everyone else, to Bran it was his mother and Tricia’s father.

He looked at his sister briefly but her face was as a emotionless as a statue’s. He knew Latricia never had a relationship with her father but she had been forced to see him everywhere her whole life, he was a famous rock star after all. People would figure she would have gotten used to it by now but Bran knew it wasn’t the case.

He turned his eyes back to the stage. Riam Gradle was an old man now, his hair had been almost completely white but seeing him standing on that stage it wasn’t hard for Bran to see why girls all around the world still kept his picture on their walls. He aired confidence with every word he said and his blue eyes, the same eyes Bran’s sister had were so full of life that he was sure if one would see just that part of his face he would think he was looking at a much younger man.

Riam and Bran’s mum went on about Nala’s life, and the point of this concert, as they did every year. Both were very relaxed on stage and spoke with a trace of sorrow in their voices, a kind of sorrow that was not a trick for the masses, they had both known aunt Nala for years.

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They talked about the guitar trio they had been in the last years of aunt Nala’s life. At that time they were all retired from the world of music and played only for fun or for charity but now their trio had become a lonesome duo…

Once they finished talking Bran’s mum moved away from the stage leaving Riam Gradle alone there. He smiled at the audience announcing that they were going to start by playing one of Nala’s famous love ballads. He then took out of his guitar and when the room had gone completely quit started strumming the strings.

The song he chose was called “Lost”. It was an acoustic guitar instrumental piece Bran had heard a hundred times before, even in this very same room, just last year but tonight there was something different about it…

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It was a soft and slow song, just something one could expect from a love ballad. The music reverberated across the theater walls and Bran found that he felt every note Riam Gradle hit . It went straight to his heart with amazing power capable of shaking the very foundation of his being.

Overwhelmed by the current of emotions Bran closed his eyes. Instantly images started appearing in front of his eyes, the room disappeared…. He could see Nan. Her pale face, her green eyes sparkling in the lights. There was a smile etched on her lips.. A smile that was there just for him. She reached for him with her hand. She touched his face and pushed away a stray lock of hair. He could feel how soft her hands were…

The images of their time together flew in front of his eyes now… Everything from their first conversation in the dim hallway in front of the school library to the night of the dance… All the while Riam Gradle played…

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Did I really manage to screw that up? Bran wondered as the song finished. A wave of applause rippled trough the room, even Tricia forced herself to clap to the man who didn’t really want her. Bran could hear her but he didn’t look at her. He was afraid his sister would immediately tell something was wrong if she would only see his face and he didn’t want to worry her.

He turned to the empty chair instead. His chest constricted in a painful way. He felt like crying. But he didn’t. He was almost a grown man… What good was crying anyway? Mustering all the strength he had he chased the tears away…But the despair remained… That chair remained empty…

/* I kind of planned to make this concert a memorial to Nala, similar what I did with Blair’s funeral but with fewer people speaking. However when I finished building the stage and dressing up Nina and Riam for the occasion my game crashed. 😥 And since I am too lazy and not so good with time these days anyway I decided to scrap that and make the whole event about Bran’s feelings and stuff… Hope you like it anyway. 🙂

Also I have finished the characters page,  I would edit and update it of course. Take a look when you get the time and let me know if I have forgotten someone. 🙂*/

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