Continuing Tales

Binary

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 7 of 64

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Binary

Christine finished playing and sat limply for a moment, catching her breath. When she raised her head, the sound of applause flooded out of her speakers. Sheíd played with passion, without mistakes. Sheíd impressed herself with her own performance. Apparently, sheíd impressed him, too.

"Brava! Well-played. Haimovitz would be proud. If only I know the supporting pieces! You said you could play, but that was more than I expected."

She could hear the sound of a bow lightly testing violin strings. He continued speaking, "Your performance was extraordinary. Letís see if I can avoid embarrassing myself entirely. I donít know if youíve heard this piece. Itís called "The Lark Ascending" by..."

Christine interrupted him and gushed. "Williams! Oh, I love that piece. Itís one of my all-time favorites!"

There was a pause as Erik adjusted to the concept of being interrupted - and not minding. He settled his chin into the chin rest and began playing. At first, he thought heíd watch and see her reaction to his performance, but the music took him too quickly. His eyes drifted shut as the music took him out of himself and gave him wings.

Christine had a hard time believing it was Erik playing on the other side of the connection. If she had not known the piece well enough to recognize Erikís unique interpretation of it, she would have suspected that he was simply playing a recording. As it was, she began to suspect something very different. When he stopped playing, she raised her hands to clap, but found herself wiping away tears, instead. "Oh Erik," she breathed, "did you say you were an editor? Are you sure thatís all you are?"

Silence greeted this remark. He didnít understand the statement - he barely heard it. All he could see was the small, sweet smile and the glistening tracks of tears on her face. He had done that. Ugly, reclusive, abrasive Erik had brought those tears forth with his music. She was speaking again.

"Erik? Why arenít you a performer? Why arenít you in some symphonic orchestra, or taking center stage in Carnegie Hall?"

He almost made a biting retort, but then he realized that she was entirely sincere. She didnít know what he was. He had made very sure that she should not know. He pondered over his reply for a moment.

"I will never perform onstage." It was an insufficient answer, he knew. She wouldnít accept it. He winced, realizing that a gate had been opened and it was too late to close it.

"But thatís ridiculous, Erik! You...youíre a genius! Theyíd love you! I canít believe youíre not a performer."

"Believe it, Christine. Letís not talk about this. Please." his voice had grown quiet. Christine couldnít decide if it was pain or fury she was hearing.

"Why not? I tell you everything. Now that I think of it, I donít think youíve told me a single damned thing. This is obviously something thatís important to you. Why wonít you talk to me about it?" She knew she was pressuring him dangerously, but didnít seem to be able to stop herself.

For his part, Erik was warring with fury and sorrow. How dare she push him so? Why did she care? He felt as though he were strangling. "...important to you", sheíd said. But she didnít know the half of it. Erik would have given anything to perform, to share his music with the world. He felt as though he were strangling. He wanted to scream at her and tell her exactly why he wasnít a performer, but that would frighten her away. That would make her hate him and that would be...well, that would be dreadful.

"Erik?" Her voice was cautious and soft. "Please talk to me."

"Iíll say this one thing, and then I wonít talk about it anymore, so please donít try." She could hear him draw a deep breath before continuing. "Why wonít I use a webcam? Think about it, Christine. Draw your own conclusions."

Binary

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 7 of 64

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