Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 27 of 39

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'A single lifetime lays behind her,

As she draws her final breath,

Just beyond the door he'll find her,

Taking her hand he softly says:

For the first time you can open your eyes,

See the world without your sorrow,

And no-one knows the pain you left behind,

And all the peace you could never find,

Is waiting there to hold and keep you,

Welcome to the first day of your life,

Just open up your eyes'

Open up Your Eyes by Daughtry


Two days after Meg left to return to France, Christine decided that it was time to swallow her sadness and pay a visit to Madame Giry. Up until Meg had come to stay, the ballet mistress was still working and keeping a tight leash on the dancers, but since her daughter had left she seemed to have deteriorated quite badly. As if all of the energy she had somehow kept in reserve had disappeared when Meg did.

Christine never found the courage to ask Erik what he thought might be wrong with her and knowing him, she suspected he didn't want to answer her questions anyway. Ultimately, she had been neglectful of the woman who had become almost a mother to her in her teen years and now she was feeling guilty about it.

Instead of knocking at the front door she made her way around to the back. She knew that Madame Giry was now incredibly unwell and knew she would probably not quite have the strength to keep getting up and down to answer doors. The back door was, however, usually open and this was how she found it then.

The house was quiet and as she made her way through to the living room she felt a cold prickle of something along her skin, whatever it was made her hairs stand on end and the feeling wasn't altogether pleasant. She wasn't quite sure what the sensation was but she did not like it and, try as she might, she simply could not shake it away.

On entering the living room she finally realised what the feeling was.

Antoinette lay on the bed that now stayed in the room but her eyes were closed and she was completely still. Christine stared for a moment but could make out no rise and fall of her chest, no movements of sleep. Erik sat to the left of the bed in a chair, shrouded in shadow and surrounded by sadness.

In the silence and calmness of the room he sat staring up at her as she now turned her eyes to him. She opened her mouth to speak but no words would come out. Her throat had completely closed and her eyes began to sting with tears.

She wondered what would happen now.

'She must have died in the night,' Erik said but his voice sounded strange. It was a thick, clogged tone that she had never heard before. She could make no sense of it but she could not take her eyes away from him either and through his utter stillness, he moved her. She felt her heart cave in on itself, the little crumble that she could almost hear as if the edges were giving way under the pressure.

When she looked at Erik his mask stood out clearly from the dimness but the rest of him was black. She could not even see his eyes.

Christine swallowed the lump in her throat and asked, 'What time did you arrive?' as if it mattered, as if any of it mattered, but it was all she could manage.

She saw his shadow shift in the corner of the room. 'I have been here only minutes,'

'Could…' she was glad when he cut her off mid sentence because she was sure she was about to ask a incredibly silly question. Despite this words were flooding her mind, swimming in and out but in no coherent order and she felt like she should speak, but she had no idea what she should say.

'Would you mind getting me a glass of Antoinette's freshly squeezed oranges? I find I'm feeling rather thirsty,' he said, ending her dilemma.

He rarely asked her for anything, let alone for her to wait on him, and so she simply nodded her head, not knowing what to do or what to say. She turned her back and walked to the kitchen, leaning on the wall as she did because she could no longer trust her legs to keep her upright.

She was unsteady with the realisation, the shock, disbelief.

Antoinette Giry had died in the night.

Christine found the jug of fresh orange juice and began hunting around for a clean glass. She was fumbling and ungraceful but she didn't really care. She could barely think straight. When she located a glass she poured the juice towards the container but found that her hands were quivering so much that she barely got any into it.

She took a moment and rested her palms onto the cold countertop, trying to regain her composure. With deep breaths she managed to get her trembling under control and actually get some orange into the glass. Sure now that she would be more steady on her feet she lifted the glass and walked back to the living room. When she stepped inside, Erik was kneeling by the side of Madame Giry, her hand clasped in his, his face down cast.

Christine was about to speak when she noticed the tear roll along the edge of his mask and drip to the bed. In that instant she knew that whatever words she might be able to conjure would simply not be enough. They could not ease this burden or lessen the hurt.

Instead, she placed the glass onto the ornament cabinet and walked gingerly into the room. Erik did not turn his face, he did not look up. When she knelt at his side, he did not flinch. When she wrapped her arms around him, he did not recoil.

Completely motionless they both knelt there, she held him tighter than she had ever held anyone in her life and he let her do it. He did not sob, he did not shout, he did not move. They quietly stayed still and although he did not stir, she felt his pain radiate through her. She was not quite sure how long she sat there with her arms around him but it was he who stood abruptly and brushed her aside.

His eyes found hers as she pushed herself to her feet. 'I'm sorry, Erik,' she said, because she did not know what else to say.

'It's hardly your fault,' he said sharply.

She swallowed. 'Don't be angry with me, Erik,'

He blinked. 'It isn't you that I'm angry with,'

'Then who?' she asked because he was angry. She knew his anger.

He let out a low sound, almost like a growl, his eyes shimmered a murky grey, 'Everyone, everything,'

She did not know what she could say to him. She wanted to offer words of peace but she could see in his eyes that peace had left him long ago.

Erik glanced at Madame Giry and then turned his gaze back onto Christine, 'Tell me how it is just that a man like me should live and woman like her should die?'

A sharp jab of sadness found her heart, 'We all die, Erik,'

His eyes hardened on her but he didn't say anything and momentarily she felt completely lost. The sadness that she felt at losing the ballet mistress, she suddenly realised, was barely a star in a wide sky compared to Erik's loss, Erik's sadness. When she looked at him then, she could see it all.

She reached out and touched his arm, hoping that the softness of her touch would give him at least some comfort. At first, he did not move, but she left her hand there all the same. He would push her away or he would accept the gesture, either way she would not be the one to withdraw it. Finally, Erik's hand moved and found hers.

'I'm being selfish,' he said, his voice laced with sorrow.

'You're not,' she assured him and she believed the words. Erik had been selfish in his life, but never deliberately. The only selfishness she had ever really witnessed in him was that born of naivety, as hers once was. Time had moved and things had changed, neither of them were quite the people they were a decade ago and yet as she stood there, their hands pressed against each other, she realised that little had changed.

She would forever be drawn to this man and he would forever love her. Even in his grief he thought of her and even in his grief she could not leave him alone.

Finally, he released her hand and moved to the door. 'You should go,'

'I want to help,'

He looked at her, his eyes his mask of sadness. 'There isn't much you can do,'

She noticed the softening of his voice and she walked towards the door.

'I will do what needs to be done here,' he said, a sureness returning to his tone, 'I think you should inform Meg,'

She nodded. It wasn't much but it was something. It would hurt to tell her friend, it would hurt to know the pain that she was in, it would hurt to know that she could not be with her and that Meg could unlikely afford to return.

When she made it to the door he did not move aside. She knew the awkwardness he felt because she felt it too. So much had crossed between them over the years, so much had happened to them and yet so little of it seemed to matter in that moment. Swallowing more tears she said, 'I will go then,'

He nodded and the sorrow in his eyes made her want to wrap him in her arms and block out the world. As she stared in his eyes she saw Benoit, she saw the innocence of a child and she wished that she could somehow make things better. It was impossible, of course, the only thing that could make this better would be to discover it was all a horrible dream.

It was not, though.

She brushed past him as she walked through the door and for a minute she thought he might stop her, perhaps she even hoped that he would, but after a second of hesitation he let her go without another word.

The night on the balcony months before was not forgotten, and never would be, but it was forgiven. Her anger with him was gone and she found that she could no longer blame him for what he had done. She understood it, even if she did not agree with it. Over the years she had learnt that no matter what, bearing grudges never helped, and so she simply let it go.

As she left Madame Giry's house she glanced back over her shoulder and she could make out Erik's dark shadow in the living room window. He was still but she could not tell if he was looking at her too. She turned her head and continued to walk.

As she did she finally allowed the building tears to flow freely from her eyes. She made no attempt to hold them any longer. Madame Giry had been a good, strong woman with principles and firm beliefs that she worked hard to always adhere to. Values that she instilled in the work she did and inspired in the people she knew.

Though strong, Madame Giry would always be remembered by Christine for her softer side. The side that nurtured Christine's teenaged years, the side that loved her daughter wholeheartedly, the side that had blessed her marriage to Raoul without a moment's hesitation and the side that had loved a ghost.

She always managed to find the good in people.

Christine would often wonder if Antoinette Giry was the only friend that Erik had. She knew of Nadir but did not know the depth of their friendship or where he was now, leaving her to assume that Erik was now without a true friend in the world.

She felt a chill just thinking about it.

She had commented to Jack that she did not know if Erik even knew what love was. How wrong she was.

Erik knew love like no one else.

He knew pure and unbridled love, the kind that makes you do crazy, ill thought out things. He knew the kind of love that brought you to your knees, the kind that lifted you up again, the untouchable, unbreakable kind.

Not only this, Erik also knew the love of a friend.

He knew how he felt to have the love of that one true friend that takes you through life, who is your confidante and your guidance, your advisor and your conspirator. That one friend who you know your secrets are always safe with, who you know will fight for you, lie for you and potentially die for you.

Christine could not help but think that everyone longs to be loved that way.

After all, she was one of them.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 27 of 39

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