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Daughter of Man

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It was when she held the mouth of the revolver against the roof of her own that Christine first heard the voice.

 

She couldn’t say exactly who she had stolen it from, only that the patron, like so many others, was old and drunk. She was quite sure he wouldn’t miss it, when she slipped it from his pocket she had heard a slurred, yet animated, conversation on the subject of firearm collections. What was one iron revolver among, what she presumed to be, tens, perhaps, hundreds? He would get it back soon enough, anyway, should he wish it.

 

The vacant practice room was cold. Whether she was glad for it she couldn’t say, but she supposed she would rather her corpse be putrid and rotting when found. One last insult to the world by courtesy of her own existence, perhaps, or maybe so that her features may be so distorted one might wonder who she had been, why she had done this or that she shouldn’t have. 

 

“Please, child, do not do this.”

 

She was so startled she nearly jumped, swiftly pulling the cold metal from between her lips.

 

“Hello?” She had been so certain there was no one here, not even in this wing. Not even the cleaning staff were here this early.

 

“Christine, is it not?”

 

She twisted and turned within her position on the floor, almost frantic in her search,

 

“Who are you?”

 

“I want you to put the gun down, Christine.”

 

Oh.

 

She hadn’t noticed till then how beautiful the voice was, so concerned she was with finding the person in question. 

 

She slowly placed it upon the floor with a soft thump .

 

“Good girl,” the voice had said, “now push it away from yourself.”

 

She didn’t bother to look down when sliding it away, sending it across the room, entranced.

 

“Who are you?” she asked again. 

 

“Wipe your eyes.”

 

She hadn’t noticed she had been crying. She forced her cold-numb fingers to rub against her cheeks, making the cold trails of tears seep into her skin. She sniffed and looked up, desperate for any hint of whom she spoke to. 

 

“I am the Angel, Christine,” the voice, which had previously been vague in where it came from, found itself next to her, invisible lips tenderly brushing the shell of her ear, “the Angel of music.”

 

“Oh,” was all she could find herself saying, warmth spread from her ear to her face, gasping as she swore she felt kisses being pressed with reverence to her skin, down and down till her toes, for the first time since summer, were not pained with frost.

 

Hands, seeming hundreds of them caressed her, embracing her tightly, holding her every part, lightly stroking the new tears away from her, now, flushing skin. 

 

“Don’t be afraid,” she would have laughed if she were not laying languidly upon on the floor, nearly drunk with unprecedented happiness, her person radiating such comforting heat, “why did you want to do it?” 

 

“No one loves me,” she hiccupped against what she knew to be his own face pressing itself to her own, “No ever has or ever will.”

 

“I will love you,” the voice whispered, “I will love you,”

 

 She fell asleep.

 

.

 

The empty practice room became her paradise from then on. Never again was she without warmth, food, drink, nor love. 

 

She distantly remembered her father telling her that the angel was a teacher of heavenly music, but it never initiated such an arrangement and she was glad for it. As weeks passed of her being in the room, everything else became so much less appealing. 

 

She did not want to sing, and the Angel did not ask her of it. 

 

She tried to be humble, terrified of imposing upon his generosity and risking his leaving her, but he bore her fear no mind. From nothing was born silken cushions and sheets, fine wine and more food than she could ever possibly eat.

 

“Nothing less for a queen,” it had said. She blushed, not for the first time in his presence. 

 

She had, at some point, nervously joked that it was as if he were courting her, though she had little knowledge of such things. 

 

He only hummed, warmly, in response.

 

“Perhaps I am,” 

 

It was then she felt the angel’s touch again for the first time, long, shy fingers intertwining with her own. 

 

.

 

One night he lay before her a blank book.

 

“Come here, my dear,” he said, holding her hands and kissing her palms, hoisting her bare form from the sheets and arranging her so that her sex lay just above it.

 

They both watched as her maidenhood dripped and stained the white pages. 

 

“A marriage,” he whispered against her cheek, “we two are bound, forever,” 

 

He licked up the rest from her shaking, pink thighs.

 

.

 

She knew he wouldn’t be angry, Erik was never angry, not with her, but she knew he would be disappointed. She couldn’t help the hot tears and strangled sobs tearing from her throat as she drove the boy’s head further and further into the grey water of the Seine, holding down his tiny body, just barely beginning to grow, thrashing against her grasp. 

 

He did not have it be children from then on for quite some time.

 

At first, it was, as one would typically imagine, people who no one would miss.

 

“People like me, you mean,” she had said, 

 

“No,” he answered, “people truly no one would miss,”

 

Most were criminals, formally convicted or not. Adulterers, paedophiles, and rapists, especially, were what Erik found most deserving. 

 

It didn’t take long for her to not even have to leave the opera house to do it.

 

It was easier to swallow down the self-loathing when the bone and teeth she crushed beneath her heel belonged to men like that.

 

It was easier to accept the kisses and words of praise and adoration when it was people like that.

 

.

 

The last person she killed was a baron

 

The jeweled handle of the ceremonial dagger tore into the delicate skin of her palm but she bore it no mind, lifting it with both hands, high above her head, wild-eyed and screaming.

 

Shunk! Shunk! Shunk!

 

He was innocent, that she knew, but she cared not. She no longer cared about anything except Erik.

 

There was no God.

 

There was only herself now, and Erik.

 

“It’s time, now,” he whispered lovingly into her ear, “the seventh vial has been poured,” she felt him gesture towards the, now, unrecognizable body below her, “now it must burn, Paris must burn, Christine,”

 

.

 

Paris did indeed burn that night, as it had done so many before and since, but some swore, among the red hellfire they saw the girl, the chorus singer, the madwoman and murderess, dressed in purple and scarlet, adorned in pearls and stones, holding aloft in her pale hand a single, golden cup, held in the loving embrace of the Devil.