Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 61 of 64

<< Previous     Home     Next >>

Nadir Khan was sitting in his easy chair, re-reading Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government, and enjoying a cup of dark tea when his phone rang. It was nearly ten o'clock at night, so it could only be one person.

"Hello, Erik. I'm glad you're alive and well. How's the romance going?" Nadir closed his book over his thumb. If the book were open, he'd read it instead of listening to his young friend.

"We're getting married, Nadir. She wants to marry me."

"Congratulations! She's a wonderful girl." Nadir paused, waiting for the invitation. " I allowed to attend the nuptials?"

"Of course. You must attend. You will be the only person there for me." For once, Erik's voice held no bitterness about his isolation, only a little sadness. "Besides, I have to find a tuxedo, and I haven't the first idea how to go about it."

"Are you inviting me to come down and help you pick your tux?" Nadir was doing his best to keep from laughing. The girl had made him happy, but she hadn't done a thing for his social skills - yet.


"Why, thank you. I accept."

"Nadir, there are other things we must discuss." Now there was emotion in Erik's voice; the slightest of tremors, a hint of sorrow. "I have been to see my father, so that he could meet Christine."

"And how is he? It has been nearly a year since I last visited." Nadir tried to keep his tone light and conversational.

"He didn't know first."

"Then he did recognize you?" surprise was evident in Nadir's voice.

"I don't know." Erik cleared his tightening throat in angry exasperation. He had not wept since he was a child - that is, until Christine had entered his life. Now tears seemed always just beneath the surface. She was waking up all the parts of him that he'd carefully put to sleep, and as with any limb that's gone to sleep, there were pins and needles to bear. "He said he loved his son Erik. He said it to us both."

Nadir pressed pressed his fingers to his eyes, then stroked his goatee. "That is good."

"I destroyed my instruments." Abruptly changing the subject was an old habit of Erik's. Abruptly changing it to something equally painful was not.

"Christine told me."

"When? When did Christine talk to you?" Erik sounded confused, not suspicious.

Nadir blinked. He has changed. "The night after your face was in the paper. She was in a panic and needed guidance."

"You always were good for that." Erik sighed. He would have to be more wary of Christine and Nadir in the future. "She saved my life. I suppose I owe you thanks as well."

"She's a good girl. I told you she was." A little smile further creased Nadir's wrinkled cheeks. "And she said the same about you that night."

"Said what?"

"That you were good. Of course..." Nadir paused to sip his coffee, "she's right." He heard Erik take a breath to argue and softly interrupted. "I will be there a week in advance to help you get ready. I am sincerely glad for you, Erik. Goodnight."


Meg and Brenda had had a field day designing Christine's dress. The dressmaker they hired to create the thing smiled when she saw the sketches, dollar signs danced in her eyes. Harold complained that all the money they were saving on the wedding, the two women were trying to spend on a dress and veil that would only be worn once in the presence of a half-dozen people.

Meg dragged Christine out of the house early one morning not long after her cast was removed. The foundations of the dress were complete; it was time for fitting. The dress conspirators were adamant that Christine should not see the finished product until the day of her wedding. The beading, embroidery, and other embellishments would be done after the dress was fitted and tailored to perfection.

Christine stood like a doll on Joan's stand as Meg and the dressmaker dressed her. The dress required a corset, a modified hoop skirt, and the yards of fabric had to be draped over her and laced. Two hours and many hundred pins later, Meg turned her to face the mirror.

"So? Do you like it?" Meg was grinning like a mad monkey - she already knew the answer.

Christine's mouth dropped open and she was at a complete loss for words. She'd been so busy with her music and Erik that she hadn't noticed her body changing. Her clothes had become baggy - true - but it seemed unimportant. Now she realized that all the walking in the park lugging heavy instruments along with a steady diet of Erik's delicious, healthy creations had whittled the last of the excess weight from her body. She was not thin by any stretch of the imagination, but her silhouette was sleek. The corset pulled her waist to a tiny twenty-seven inches, emphasized by the bell of the hoop skirt. The dress's bodice was an off-shoulder style that nicely displayed her pretty shoulders and ample bust. She tried to imagine what it would look like with a veil and train.

Meg was bursting with glee at the stunned sparkle in her best friend's eyes. "Erik won't know what hit him, will he..."

"No, he really won't. But Meg?" Christine had just noticed something.

"What? Is a pin sticking you?"

"No...Meg, I can't breathe enough to sing! I have to sing - it's part of the ceremony we've written."

Meg's brow wrinkled. This was a problem neither she nor Brenda had considered, neither of them being singers.

"Oh, that is no problem." Joan piped up from her hunched position at the hem of the skirt. "I will adjust the stays with a strong elastic. You will be able to sing just fine." The adjustment would, of course, add to the total cost of the dress.

No other changes were needed, fortunately for Harold's peace of mind. The two young women thanked Joan for her help and left in a fit of giggles.

Meg stood with Christine at the door of the apartment. She rarely came inside; Erik's cold glare made any visit a misery. "Do me a favor, Miss Chris?"

"Sure." Christine and Meg had talked a little about the horrible newspaper incident, but they'd never gone into detail. The weight of an old friendship made forgiveness and reunion inevitable.

"Try to make him understand how sorry I am. I really, really am. I mean, I like him, you know, because he's done so much for you. But I can't stand the way he looks at me, like he'd enjoy ripping my head off if you weren't there." Meg twisted her mood ring anxiously.

"I'll try, but I think you two will have to talk that out on your own. I don't think he is used to the shake-hands-and-make-up routine. He might never forgive you. I'm sorry."

They hugged and Meg went on her way. Christine heaved a sigh and opened the door only to be engulfed in the entrancing sound of heavenly violin music. Erik was rehearsing for the wedding. When she joined in on her cello, the only sign that he heard was the smile that flickered at the corners of his mouth.

When they were done, Christine pulled Erik over to the sofa and made him sit with her. "Meg asked me to put in a good word for her. She wants you to know that is sorry."

"So she has said." Like that, his good mood vanished.

"I really wish you would hear..."

"No. I have no interest in anything she might say." He was cold as ice, immovable as a mountain.

"She's sincerely sorry," Christine tried.

"I'm sure."

"Erik, couldn't you just talk to her?"

"I told you no. I have nothing to do with that red-headed terror." Though his volume had not risen at all, the ire in Erik's voice set Christine on the defensive. How long would he hold on to this? Christine found that she was more than annoyed - she was angry.

"She's a person, Erik, she made a mistake."

"She almost destroyed me! Why are you taking her side?"

Christine stood up, her posture rigid, her voice loud and angry. "You act like I've never taken up for you when you messed up. You act like no one has ever forgiven you for hurting them. Well, they have. Don't you think it's about damned time you learned how to forgive someone else? What will you do if I ever make a mistake?"

With that, she ran down the hall and locked herself in the music room and refused to answer when he knocked, no matter what he said. She suspected that she was being childish, but she knew that if he looked at her with those intense eyes and reasoned with her in that rational voice, she would give in. This was not the time for that. Here, surrounded by the evidence of his uncontrolled temper, she was able to stick to her guns. He had to learn.

Erik pounded on the door for a few minutes before figuring out that Christine would not answer. He retired in high dudgeon to the bedroom, where he threw himself on the bed and stared at the ceiling. At first, his mind railed against Christine, angry that she would stand on anyone's side but his. As time passed and his pounding heart slowed, though, her angry words began to take on a different tone in his mind. What would I do if she ever made a mistake? I'd forgive her instantly - of course. She had already forgiven him completely for the sins he'd committed against her. Nadir said she called me "good". Erik felt an overwhelming desire to measure up to Christine's praise, but... If being "good" means forgiving that Irish witch...I don't know. I just don't know. An hour later, he hit on what he hoped would be an acceptable compromise.

Christine's solo cello adaptation of Schumann's Adagio sounded through the door, slow and sad. It cut off abruptly when he quietly rapped on the door.

"What." After all her talk about forgiveness, she did not seem to be in much of a forgiving mood.

"We should not fight. I want to make a compromise..."

"I'm listening." Now she was the mountain.

"I will listen to what she has to say. Whatever her defense of her actions might be, I'll hear her out. After she's spoken her piece, I will decide whether or not I can...overlook...what she did to me. I don't promise to forgive her, Christine. I will not make promises I might not keep."

There was a long silence from the room, followed by the click of the lock opening. Christine cracked the door and looked up at him; her face was solemn, but hopeful. "You promise you will really listen to what she says?"

"Yes." Erik said, only a little nonplussed.

The door opened a little more. "When? Before the wedding?"

"Whenever she is ready."

The door opened the rest of the way and Christine emerged to wrap him in a tight hug. "I knew you'd see reason!"

Erik shook his head. She'd done it to him again. He muttered the same thing he'd said the night she'd forced him to take his medicine, "You're a hard little woman, you know that?"

"I know That's why you love me." She stretched up and kissed his cheek. "Are you making dinner? I have to go call Meg."


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 61 of 64

<< Previous     Home     Next >>