Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 29 of 64

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Christine sat on the bus, chewing slowly on her rabbit sandwich, deep in thought. She was sure he hadn't meant for her to hear those last three words. She had kept running because what he'd said earlier was absolutely true: they'd both had enough for one night. In fact, since Erik had first decided to appear on his webcam, things had become decidedly intense. It was like trying to swim in rough surf; she never felt as though she had completely caught her breath before the next wave came and knocked her flat. But like the ocean, she could look beyond the breakers and see cerulean peace. Getting there was the trick.

Christine sat staring at the washer, cell phone in hand. She wanted to call Meg and tell her about her day, but she had no idea how to explain what had transpired. With a mental shrug, Christine pressed "SEND."

"Hi, Christine."

"Hey, Meg. What are you up to?"

"Well, I was heading to bed, but now I'm sitting here waiting for The Story with bated breath. So...get on with it. Dish the dirt, let no juicy detail be over looked, give me every sordid..."

"Jeez, Meg!" Christine giggled nervously. "Well, the first thing he did was give me flowers. He had candles everywhere. I'm pretty sure he disabled the smoke alarms in his apartment. There was even music playing in the background - Vivaldi."

"Flowers - check. Candlelight - check. Music - Check. He must have read the "Sweep Her Off Her Feet Manual" by Gotta Getsum."

"Don't make fun, Meg. He really put a lot of effort into it. He even made dinner - but get this: he made rabbit in wine sauce. It was possibly the most exquisitely delicious thing I have ever put in my mouth."

"Rabbit? He cooked up a bunny?" Meg listened to the washer sloshing on the other end of the line. "Seriously, though. He can cook? This guy suddenly went up many points in my esteem."

"Then we danced. I brought Strauss's waltzes..."


"and taught him to waltz. We danced the entire CD. He is a wonderful dancer, now, too. Add that to musician and cook and I think you have the portrait of the perfect man."

"Awww. Well, I wouldn't say that. There are certain other things that have to make that list if we are going to say 'perfect.' Ok. So you sniffed flowers, listened to music, ate, and danced. And?"

"And that's it." Christine turned the speaker phone function on while she transferred the wet clothes to the dryer."

"Liar." Meg shook her head at her friend's continuing denseness. Didn't the girl realize by now that after a score of years Meg could almost read her mind? "Dreadful liar. You didn't call me from a laundromat at nine-thirty at night to tell me you guys danced and ate Peter Rabbit. You would have told me that at shift tomorrow. So, I'm going to remain calm, assume you are still a virgin..."

"MEG!" Christine shrieked, snatching up the phone and turning off the speaker.

"And wait for you to tell me what else happened today. And if you are still recalcitrant, Miss Chris,I will come in late tomorrow morning and let the zombies eat you."

"Oh. You wouldn't."

"Oh, I would. I unclogged the milk steamer. I have a 'get out of jail free' card." Meg was absolutely smug, knowing she had won.

"I shouldn't tell you at all, just for threatening me like that," Christine sniffed.

Meg made no verbal response; she simply began making zombie-moaning noises.

"He kissed me."

"I knew it. Is he a good kisser? Wet or dry? Did he try to slip you tongue?"

"No, no. Nothing like that. It was a perfectly sweet peck on the lips."

The disappointment in Meg's voice made Christine bite her cheek to keep from giggling. "Then what's the fuss? Why the late-night call? No way. I still call you a liar, and a keeper of juicy secrets."

"You may be right." Christine looked at her reflection in the glass pane of the dryer door. "I saw his face." She tried to keep her tone even, but her voice broke slightly on the last word.

Ever aware, Meg realized she had to drop her joking demeanor. "That bad, huh? I'm sorry, girl. What's wrong with him?"

"Bad surgery when he was a kid. Botched operations. They destroyed his face, even some of the nerves and muscles." Christine heard her voice shake and then thicken with tears. She couldn't describe his face to Meg; no matter how wonderful she was, there were some things she just wouldn't understand.

"Can I ask an awful question?"

"Sure. You're good at that." Christine blew her nose noisily.

Meg ignored the snub. "Did he kiss you before or after you saw him?"


"Brave girl. Remember what I told you? I knew you'd be fine."

"That's what he said." Christine had regained her composure. Her laundry was nearly dry. "He called me brave and kind. I'm neither, Meg. I'm just in love. It's changing me into an entirely different person."

"You're a better woman than me, that's for sure. Jay has a big mole on his neck that I've been trying to convince him to get removed for the longest's almost more than I can handle."

"Yeah, but he can't carry a tune in a bucket. And he called my cello a 'big fiddle.' So I guess it's each to her own, right?"


"Ok. The clothes are done. I've got to get them folded and get some sleep. G'night Meg."

"G'night, girl."

Christine lay in bed that night, trying to clear her mind enough to fall asleep. There was so much talking left between the two of them, so many issues left to be ironed out. Once a week was not going to be enough in-person time anymore. She wanted to date, to go to concerts and movies, and to do all the normal things couples do. Instinctively, she knew that his mask would attract less attention if he went out with her, but she needed to convince him of that. She needed to introduce him to the world outside her apartment, and make him love it. She needed to make herself get used to his face. All of that paled in comparison to the difficulty of what she needed to do first; she needed to tell him that she loved him, and make him believe her.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 29 of 64

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