Continuing Tales

Binary

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 6 of 64

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Binary

Christine was late because she was terrified. He didnít intend to use a webcam, but since she had one, she did. Sheíd spent an hour in front of the mirror, trying to decide how she should look. AngelofMusic did not strike her as the sort of man who cared much for make-up or fancy clothes, but she still worried about her frizzy hair, her freckles, and the few extra pounds on her hips, waist and chest. What if he thought she was ugly? Sheíd beaten her hair into submission with anti-frizz glosser and a round hairbrush. Sheíd spread a little powder over her face to camouflage the freckles. There was nothing to hide the fact that she was a little plump. What if he thought she was fat?

The cello was next to her on its stand and the music was in her head - she needed no sheet music for this piece. The microphone was set at the perfect angle to pick up her voice; she would have to readjust it before she began to play. The camera was attached to the computer monitor. She stared at it with trepidation. What if he thinks Iím ugly? The nasty little thought would not leave her. She was not worried he would not like her performance; she was fire on the cello, and she knew it. She was only afraid that he would take one look at her and lose interest. The webcam was my idea. What a stupid idea! "Stupid, stupid!" she chided herself.

Her computer proclaimed the time to be twelve past four. AngelofMusic normally logged on at four. He would have been expecting her since then. Summoning her courage, Christine leaned forward and signed in. She turned on the camera and stared into its dark eye. Until he opened the window for a webcam session, he would not see her. She made horrible faces at it, just to relieve some tension.

AngelofMusic: I was beginning to think you werenít coming.

minorchord: I almost didnít, to be honest.

AngelofMusic: You are angry with me?

minorchord: No. Thatís not it.

AngelofMusic: What is "it" then?

Christine sighed. Sheíd never felt the need to lie to him before. For months sheíd told him everything she thought or felt without reservation. Now, though, it was about him and that made it different. "Why break a good habit?" she muttered.

AngelofMusic: Are you still there?

minorchord: Itís that I am a little nervous.

AngelofMusic: Why would you be nervous? This was your idea.

minorchord: I know, I know. No need to rub it in. Look, itís really silly. Letís turn on Voicechat

and get going. Iíve got my cello here, all tuned and ready.

AngelofMusic: Not so fast, Little Latte. I want to know - why are you nervous?

minorchord: Iíve got the webcam on, because I said I would.. If you click to open the webcam

session window, youíll see me. Iím nervous because, well, what if you donít like

how I look? Iím not pretty.

It was Christineís turn to wait for a response. Erik was dumbfounded. She was worried about what he would think of her appearance? He found himself laughing; an action so rare he startled himself. The irony was delicious. He clicked on the window to open the webcam session. She was sitting, staring at her screen, her anxiety evident in her face. She looked to be about twenty-five, a decade younger than he was, or more. He found her round face, sharp green eyes, and full red lips adorable. minorchord was right: she wasnít pretty by modern standards, though she was far from unattractive. Erikís normally flat, cold expression softened.

minorchord: Look. If my looks are going to be an issue, then we may as well not even do this.

AngelofMusic: Iíve turned on the webcam. I can see you, though the resolution leaves something

to be desired. Your looks are not going to be an issue, I promise. Now, I agree

with you. "Letís turn on Voicechat and get going. Iíve got my violin here, all tuned

and ready."

Christine took a deep breath and opened Voicechat. How should she interpret his message? He was looking at her, he knew she was nervous about his opinion of her, and yet heíd offered no clue as to what that opinion was. Normally, she hated placating answers like, "Of course youíre pretty, every woman is beautiful!" or the eternally-despised, "Men like a little something to hold on to." But this total neutrality, this lack of response was far worse. She was beginning to sweat over it, when his voice came through her speakers and shook her world.

"Can you hear me?" was all he had said, but the words raised goosebumps on her skin. His voice was deep, rich, full, powerful, masculine, smooth...the adjectives kept flowing through her mind.

"Yuh...yes." she stopped, cleared her throat, steadied the palsy of her nerves, and tried again. "Yes. You are coming through loud and clear. Can you hear me?"

Erik smiled. She sounded exactly as he imagined. Her voice was clear and sweet. He had not missed the false start or its implications. On the camera, her face was a blank O of wonder. .He had developed his voice over years and years of experimentation; he knew the effect it would have on a sensitive listener.

"I can hear you as well. Wonderful. Now, I suppose we should introduce ourselves properly. I am Erik." he smiled to himself, taking delight in her expression as she tried to pull her thoughts together enough to answer.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Erik." Christine smiled into the camera. His voice was relaxing her, easing the tension of the last week. "I am Christine."

There was a silence that was not entirely uncomfortable. Erik could see the scroll and fingerboard of her cello. "Well, Mademoiselle Christine, what will we be hearing from you today?"

"Wait, wait! Who said I was going first?"

Erik laughed for a record breaking second time. The sound carried clearly and Christine felt her heart melt. She tried to keep her face from showing how something as simple as his laugh affected her and failed miserably as red tinged her cheeks.

"Go ahead, Little Latte. Play for me before you blush any brighter."

Her blush deepened to crimson. She didnít trust her voice at all, so she simply slid her chair back and pulled her cello to rest against her thigh. Her nervousness and embarrassment floated away into the music, as did her awareness that he was listening, or that there was an outside world at all. There was passion in this piece and she played with controlled ferocity. Her hair defied her attempts at control and fell over her eyes. She broke a sweat on her brow. The bow flew over the strings faultlessly.

Erik leaned towards his screen and touched the blurry image of her face. He recognized the look in her eyes: it was the same he would wear in his own minutes from now. She was gone into the music. No, Christine wasnít pretty. He stared at the passionate expression that even the pathetic resolution of her webcam could not obscure. She wasnít pretty, but while she played her music, she was beautiful.

Binary

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 6 of 64

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