Masked Longing (Part 4)
What kind of prank had the Phantom played?
It was the question everyone whispered throughout the opera house. Had it only been last night I had spoken with him in Box 5? It was as if it had all been a dream and never truly happened in the waking world. In the early morning hours, the phantom’s prank was all that was spoken of.
A pin of some kind had been taken from Carlotta’s mirror. She had cried as if it were made of solid gold. Some said it had been. All the music sheets of the orchestra were replaced with other music sheets. Act 1 of Romeo and Juliet in the place of our intended Opera. Faust had been searched for relentlessly, for the entire time we had been trapped. They were all found in the hollow part of the opera house, where ancient relics were stored in insignificant rooms.
The managers and company now had the task of replacing the sheets for the musicians. They insisted on reviewing them all and arranging them correctly. They had scarcely begun the task.
The pianist was passing on the first rehearsal, leaving the room quickly. I walked towards the instrument with the impulse of running my hand over the keys. I looked at the sheets placed above the piano.
I recognized his handwriting.
The large thick black lines with a fluid motion were unmistakable. My eyes flickered through the room. I surely had found a music sheet that he had written. My hands carefully took the sheet, as I took note if I was watched. I folded it gently and stowed it between my leaflet.
I put it away in my things.
The next morning it was all as it had been. Some of the music sheets had been replaced. Some believed they had never been taken in the first place. One remained missing. A Single sheet that was never found. It was thought to have been misplaced.
I believed it to have been taken far below the opera.
It frightened me what his plans could be? I knew he had freed me from his claim. What frightened me was the knowledge that he could quite easily disappear? There were things in the opera house worth a fortune, an effortless task for he to have simply taken them. Not that he would need to. His abode was full of items that could only be described as treasures, worth a fortune to flee with or disappear.
I walked to the scribe and opened the gate. I could only see what the quarter of the moon allowed. I was frightened of the lonely hour. I had told the carriage driver to wait for me, nevertheless I still was to meet a phantom in this dark place. I approached the familiar stone seat and slowly rested. I lowered my hood. I had not been frightened then, when I had heard his music in the cemetery. I took his letter from under my cape. It had been his request to see me. It had only been three days, and yet I felt like it had been an eternity since I read it. Would this truly be the last time I ever saw him?
I opened it gently. I craved to keep it.
My dearest Christine.
I will find relief in the knowledge you are content in the life you have chosen. I wish only to look upon you one last time to say goodbye. I desire your happiness. For myself I will take the memory of your voice and your eyes. For the rest of my existence until I am no more. Should you grant me this last request… it will sustain me. It is only a request. … a plea to your kind heart for one last goodbye. I no longer wish to interfere with your engagement. I do understand if you refuse this meeting. I want for you what a kind soul of yours deserves. After that I will disappear never to be seen again. It shall be the last time you should ever have to tolerate my presence. Your acquaintance has been a treasure to be cherished in my life. I Thank you Christine for having bestowed such a gift.
I tied it closed and waited. My eyes scanned the dark. I shuttered at the thought… what if he did not come?
His quiet footsteps broke the silence of the lonely night. He must have chosen for me to hear him, other times there were moments I could not hear his steps at all. I looked up at him. His mask hid his expression as well as his face.
He appraised me without words…and I found I could not say all the things I had wanted to say.
“I am glad you are here.” I whispered.
He sat on the stone by my side, not too close. “You have made me infinitely happy. I shall miss your company.”
“Why did you still want to see me?” I asked.
“To wish you well Christine. I shall always treasure those moments of our music, we spoke of many things, those moments of bliss will be cherished. I wish us to part as friends, and desire happiness with your marriage.”
“You are not angry?”
“I no longer condemn your engagement with Raoul.”
“Then we need not part.’’ There was a part of me that knew my suggestion was utterly absurd. I did not know why I offered it?
“It is a choice you made that will no doubt bring you happiness and husband by your side.”
There was silence. I said nothing. I could see so much would change. What would happen? There was such pain. It was too cruel, I pitied him.
“Christine.” He inquired from my mind gently.
“I do not know what to do?” I said.
His eyes held mine in his for a moment.
“What will you do?”
“I wanted to write a letter…” I began without finishing. I felt it improper to tell him what my letter was to say to Raoul and afraid to tell him that my intention was to break our engagement. “….and I wanted to speak with you… as well.”
“So, you have. We may part with one lasting memory to be treasured.”
“We will not see each other?”
“I do not see how that is possible.”
“No.” I Shook my head. “Even if it is for only once. One more music lesson.”
“Very well. I will think on it.”
We said nothing. He watched me quietly in the dark. I listened to the soft echoes of dark night, comforted by the shimmering moonlight.
He made to stand. I did not know if it would be my last chance to tell him.
“I enjoyed the music we sang…our lessons and your music. I also will always treasure our time together.”
He smiled, a rare thing to see on his masked face. His eyes glowed, but they were not frightening. He took my hand gently in his and placed the ring in the palm of my hand.
I looked at him in shock. “You found it?”
“Keep it as a memory of what we shared.” He closed my fingers over it. He held it in both of his for a moment.
“Forgive me.” I said.
“There is nothing to forgive.”
My eyes blinked not allowing them to cry. He ran the tips of his fingers down the side of my face.
He turned and disappeared just as quickly as he had come. Into the night just as a phantom. I stood as I carefully adjusted my hood and walked into the darkness.
The tears fell freely.
I came in. The light still burned, illuminating the room.
“Did you see him dear?”
“Yes, he said our memories were to be cherished.”
“Perhaps your heart may regard the feelings it holds for him as generously as he does with his.”
“Goodnight Valerian.” I said.
I looked in the mirror. I could never utter what my heart felt. Music... only music released freely the emotions of the heart. I took note of my bridal finger as I held what he had given me. I took the ring and placed it there. I held it up and saw the reflection of the ring upon my finger in the mirror. The candle flames danced allowing the jewel to twinkle. I shook my head and closed my eyes, removing it quickly. After a moment I blew out the flame.