Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 32 of 64

<< Previous     Home     Next >>

After taking a double dose of his pain killer, Erik attached his TENS unit and sat down, trying to ignore the searing ache in his face. Kissing was something he would have to learn how to do without hurting himself - the intensity and pressure were too much. While he waited for the electrodes to dull the remaining pain, he logged onto the net to check his email. To his confusion, there was a private message from Christine - and the time stamp was eight o'clock that evening. He was entirely sure she'd been with him; they'd been locked in a musician's embrace at the time. Warily, he clicked on it.

minorchord: Hey. This is Meg. :-D I want 2 talk 2 U about C. If shE goes back 2 thE

conservatorE, they will give her thE degrE. They've offered that all shE has 2 do is play her final concert. WE have 2 convince her 2 go back. She won't listen 2 mE, but I think shE'll listen 2 U. Call mE. 555.5555. Don't mention this 2 C, please.

Meg had used her spare-key privileges again. Erik seemed to appreciate Christine's talent; Meg hoped he would be willing to ally with her to help Christine get over her past. Soon, Meg would have her B.S. in Environmental Sciences. She would move on to the coastline and hopefully get a job working to save Washington's gorgeous wetlands. The notion that she might have to leave talented Christine behind at the dead-end job in the coffee shop tore at her. It was her Holy Grail to get her best friend back on track with her life. The exhortations of friends, relatives and school officials had all been for naught - but Erik already had her singing and performing. Maybe he could work a miracle.

After sending the message, Meg carefully rearranged the mouse and computer desk as she had found them. She walked home slowly, hoping with each step that her cell phone would ring. She needed Erik to call so they could conspire to get Christine back into the conservatory. She needed Christine to call so she could find out when the happy couple's next park date was. Devious by nature, but only in the most benevolent of ways, Meg searched for opportunities to use her skills in subversion to better the lives of those around her. She wasn't the sort of woman to ask permission from those she intended to benefit - she just went ahead and did what she thought was right.

No calls came in that night, but the next day, Christine was simply bubbling with information. She was percolating faster than the PerkMaster (TM) coffee pot.

"So then, he said, 'How long will it take you to get here?' and I just left and went over. He's a great kisser, Meg. Great! And he's strong...he picked me up like I was nothing, and that's saying something. And then we played music together - I know I've played with him before, but this felt like nothing I've ever played before. It was..." Christine leaned in close to Meg to whisper the next word, "sexy!" She resumed her normal tone. "But the most exciting thing and the reason we were doing all that kissing and so on is that I accidentally told him I loved him...and he just looked at me and said - calm as you please - 'I love you, too, Christine. I have for a long time, now.'" Deepening and smoothing her voice, Christine did a passable imitation of Erik. "And we kissed. Did I mention that yet? And then, after I'd played and he'd sung and we kissed, then we danced..." Christine grabbed Meg and began whirling her between the tables. "until we fell down from exhaustion. Or was it dizziness? Oh it was wonderful!"

Meg was grinning so hard her face ached. She halted Christine in her mad swirling to point out that it was nearly time to unlock the doors and let the first wave begin.

"That sounds like two perfect evenings in a row. Maybe this guy really is your Prince Charming. I am so happy for you! You deserve this more than anyone I know. He's a very lucky guy." She unlocked the door and took up her station beside the espresso machine. "But, did you schedule another date with him? I mean, going to his apartment is great and all - but you can't become a recluse just because he is."

"Oh! I totally forgot to tell you! We are going back to Interlaken on Saturday...we're going to meet at one in the afternoon and have a little picnic and then play something. He drives a hard bargain though: to get him to go I had to agree to sing. Can you imagine that? Me, singing in public? Whew..."

"No. I really can't. But then, you've been full of surprises recently. One, huh? Broad daylight again." Meg was muttering to herself over the machine, trying to get the ground coffee into the stubborn thing.

Christine was humming happily to herself, pouring coffees and cocoas with joy. Had her head descended from the clouds, she would have realized that Meg was not being her usual self and on closer examination would have suspected that a Meg-plot was afoot. As it was, she missed her first break entirely, and would have missed lunch, had Meg not dragged her out by the hand.

Erik called Meg at three-thirty. He did not expect Christine for more than half an hour, so this seemed the best time.

"Hello?" Meg's brassy voice boomed in the headset.

"Hello, Meg. This is..."

"Erik. Who else could it be with that voice? I'm glad you finally decided to call me."

"You think I can convince Christine to go back to the Conservatory." His dubious tone suggested that this might be a harder sell than expected.

"Of course you can! She's absolutely smitten with you." Given Christine's breathless babbling from that morning, Meg felt safe declaring this to him.

"And what makes you think I would want to do that?"

"Ummm...because you care about what happens to her, I thought? Because you want to see her succeed..." Meg's temper was starting to rise. She could feel her muscles tense.

"Oh. I do, more than you can possibly imagine. But what makes you think that's the best way for her to succeed? She told me what they did to her there. She told me about the humiliation she suffered. I know humiliation, and I love her too much to...."

"It's not like it will happen again, Erik. Seriously."

"No. But what will she feel walking through those doors again? What will she feel as she mounts the stage? What if she freezes? What if she is so overwhelmed by being back in the place that she forgets the music?"

"What if you stop inserting your own fears into her life and help her best friend who has known her for more than twenty yearsget her over this funk she's been in and put her in the spotlight where she belongs?" Meg's voice had taken on a frustrated stridency.

"You don't know what it's like..."

"I know because I. Was. There. I was there picking up the pieces." Meg struggled valiantly to hold onto her temper. "Don't tell me what I don't know! When you decide to get over yourself and help her, you call me back. I'll be waiting."

"You'll be waiting for quite some time."

Meg lost it. She didn't yell - she became cold, and her voice carried no emotion. Erik cringed on his side of the line. "Fine then. You claim to love her, but you won't help her. Fine. But the next time you watch her perform, you look in her eyes and tell me she doesn't need to be on the stage."

Not willing to hear another word from Erik, Meg hung up and thrust her phone into her purse. Why were men always so difficult? He would come around eventually, she was sure of that. The only question was, would she let him live until he did...

Erik stared at his suddenly silent phone. "Irish..." he muttered, and returned the headset to the receiver.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 32 of 64

<< Previous     Home     Next >>