Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 24 of 64

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After Erik left, Christine turned to Meg. Her eyes still held a bit of the day's dreaminess, but it was rapidly fading. Meg pretended to be oblivious to Christine's changing mood.

"He's certainly a talkative one, isn't he?" The jovial tone in her voice sounded forced.

"You shouldn't have come here tonight without an invitation. He didn't talk because you were here," said Christine, snappishly.

"Come on, Chris. Don't be mad at me. I was just looking out for you."

"Maybe you look out for me too much." Christine had curled up on the papasan, her eyes dark and reflective.

Meg knew that look. Christine might be annoyed about Meg's unexpected presence, but that wasn't the root of her dark mood. Best-friend duties required that she get to the bottom of the problem as quickly as possible.

"Maybe I do. What happened, Miss Chris? 'You cain't hide your lyin' eyes' as the song says. Something's got you down. Tell Meg." Meg sat down on the edge of the papasan and rubbed the arm she'd punched earlier.

"If I tell you, you can't get angry." Christine's voice betrayed her embarrassment over what she was about to relay.

"Now, you know my temper. I can't promise not to get mad." Meg saw Christine start to close down and amended the statement. "But I'll try my best."

"It happened on the bus. I went to touch his mask - don't ask me why, it was a stupid, thoughtless thing for me to do. He grabbed my arm so fast I didn't even see him move."

"Did he hurt you?"

"No. But he could have; if I'd been anyone else, I think he would have. I could see it in his eyes. He was furious." Christine felt more ashamed of herself than ever at the recounting of the story. "He got mad because he thought I was trying to take his mask off. And that's why I feel so bad."

"Because you tried to take his mask off?" Meg was feeling a bit confused now

"No!" Christine hid her face in her hands and spoke from between her palms. "No. Because I didn't want to take it off. You have to understand: I could feel his face under the leather - he put my hand on the mask, made me touch it. I felt his face, just the outline of it, and it scared me."

Meg bit her lip, for once at a complete loss for words. This was not what she had expected to hear. If Erik had hurt Christine, she would happily have hunted him down and beat him senseless, but this was something entirely different. Christine continued, since there was no response from Meg other than the rhythmic arm rubbing.

"He made me touch him, and all I could think was how much I wanted to jerk my hand back. I...I'm falling in love with him, Meg. Not just a crush. Really, deeply in love. So shouldn't I want to see his face? Shouldn't I want to look and then tell him it's ok - no matter what he looks like? What's the matter with me?" Christine looked imploringly at Meg, wanting some kind of answer, some sort of reassurance.

Meg groped for words of wisdom, even if they were total B.S., that might soothe her friend. "I don't think there's anything wrong with you, hun. It's just...strange...and you only just met him in person today. Maybe it's something that will fade with time." Hope glimmered faintly in Christine's eyes, so Meg continued, hoping she wasn't talking pure nonsense. "Just let him guide you. Maybe there'll come a time when he wants you to see, and maybe when that time comes you'll be able to handle it. I'm sure you will. You've never been one to judge by appearances. You'll do fine, when the time comes. If it comes."

"God, I hope so. I don't think he's ever had anything but pain his whole life. I don't want to be one more scar." She really didn't.

"Now, don't jump down my throat here, but have you ever thought that maybe you should talk to him about this?"

Christine's incredulous stare answered that question quickly enough. "How? How do you propose I go about that? 'Hey, Erik? I'm falling in love with you, but I'm scared of your face.' Yeah. That'd go over really well."

"He might appreciate your honesty."

"He might disappear down a dark hole and never talk to me again." Christine slumped back in her seat and stared at the ceiling. "Why couldn't I fall in love with some normal guy?"

"You never seem to take to them. Poor Raoul never did understand what went wrong. And let's not even discuss..."

"Yeah. Let's not." Christine looked exhausted. Her tear-reddened eyes were underlined by dark circles.

"Go to bed, Miss Chris. Everything feels easier the morning after." Meg pulled Christine up by both hands and gave her a gentle push in the direction of her bed. "Go on. I'll let myself out and lock the door." She winked. "I have a key, you know."


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 24 of 64

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