I closed the trap-door because I couldn’t take it anymore, hearing their inane conversation. Their pretend engagement. I closed it and ran away, up to the rooftop, the only space safe for me to be outside. The only place I can breath in fresh air. The only place I can breath at all.
He would leave soon, she promised me after our heated arguments in the last two days that she was with me. She would make him leave and then we could be together in peace, she said. She swore she was only pacifying him until he left for the North-pole and then she would be my wife.
In a desperate attempt to be as far away from the world, and as close to heaven as I’ll ever will be I climb higher, up Apollo's Lyre. Close to heaven and hidden from view, the way I have been living ever since she came into my life. The strange angel and Hades rolled into one.
But that will all end tomorrow, as that will be the day I finally step into the light! As tomorrow she will come to me and we will marry!
It feels hard to believe, hard to believe it can be real. An angel like her that swears she will be with me.
Oh, how can I doubt the woman who has burned my mask to show me she can look at me without fear. That has showered me with kind words and even allows me to hold her hand. I should not doubt such an angel.
She promised to return to me! Return to me of her own free will, and stay with me as my wife.
I am loved for my own sake. At last after all these decades of pain on this earth, I am loved!!
What joy it will be: with her by my side I can finally leave the darkness behind me to live in the sunlight. With the money gained from my life as a ghost I will buy us a house filled with nothing but sunlight where we can be happy forever, together. We will sing, walk in the park … perhaps … perhaps one day we will kiss. Oh, to have hope for such bliss …
"Soon we shall go farther and faster than the clouds, to the end of the world, and then you will leave me, Raoul.”
Who says these words? Why are my dreams shattered by voices? Two voices … one of these voices hers …
"He is a demon!"
Christine!! Christine … and that wretched boy!!
I panic and try to merge myself with the statue I am clinging on. How despairing, I cannot let her see me here. I can not let him see me. So I press myself against the statue, resigning myself to the fact that there is no escape and that I am forced to listen to them talk about whatever they want to talk about.
Very soon I find that what they are talking about is …
"What compels you to go back, Christine?"
"If I do not go back to him, terrible misfortunes may happen! ... But I can't do it, I can't do it!”
What … what is she saying? She promised me … She sounds so strange, as if afraid of me. But she said she was not. She swore to me …
“He will drag me with him, underground, and go on his knees before me, with his death's head.”
I hear how her voice shakes as she talks about my face. Does Christine still fear my deformity, despite what she said? Despite how she acted in front of me? Why lie so? For a moment I think of stepping into view after all. Make her tell me the truth, the boy be damned. But the second I prepare to reveal my presence new words from her lips hit me like broken glass:
“Let him hear me sing to-morrow evening ... and then we will go away.”
I stop and stay in place. She is planning to leave me? For some reason my chest now has a hole in it and I have to use every bit of strength I have to cling on to Apollo's Lyre and not fall down. Even though the more I hear her speak, the more the urge to let go and end it all overtakes me.
I hear Christine, as she tells that damn boy, the one she said would leave us, everything about what happened. Achingly slowly I hear her reveal what she truly thinks of me.
“And, suddenly, a hand was laid on mine ... or rather a stone-cold, bony thing ...”
“A hand that felt like death ...”
“I am not an Angel, nor a genius, nor a ghost ... I am Erik!'"
“Erik ...” I hear myself repeat dully in a broken voice. She has betrayed the secret of my name.
I am vaguely aware that they both hear my whisper, but Christine refuses to let the boy look for the source of the echo. She knows it is me, I am certain, yet she keeps talking. Does she want me to hear her? Does she enjoy the torment she brings over me?
"Before answering that," said Raoul, at last, speaking very slowly, "I should like to know with what feeling he inspires you, since you do not hate him."
"With horror!" she said. "That is the terrible thing about it. He fills me with horror and I do not hate him.”
So there it is. I fill her with nothing but horror. Christine Daaé does not love Erik. I … cannot believe I dared to hope for so much for so long. Oh Christine, I can accept you do not love me, as you still have shown me kindness and friendship, as you have accepted my face. My heart is broken, but if you want me to release you, I will.
I am so tired, I want to go back down below now and hide. Hide away from the world in the dark again. But still she has not finished and I have to wait as my muscles start to ache from the position they have been forced into for so long.
Nail after nail drives into me as she talks openly about her time with me: the first morning, the breakfast and our tour through my house. As she throws all my secrets at the boys feet, reveals to him every part of my life, my body is overtaken by pain. Slowly my safe space becomes the place of my utter humiliation. My breath is taken away and forces me to take great gulps of air. Soon my breathing becomes a painful moaning when my angel reaches the part of our story I dread the most.
We have reached the part of my total degradation.
"He was Othello himself. Suddenly, I felt a need to see beneath the mask. I wanted to know the FACE of the voice, and, with a movement which I was utterly unable to control, swiftly my fingers tore away the mask. Oh, horror, horror, horror!"
Suddenly I am aware of tears that are slowly finding their way from out of my eyes to under my mask. "Horror! ... Horror! ... Horror!" I sob, repeating her words. Oh it is the truth.
As she continues it is as if I can only hear her from far away. As if somehow I am not fully there anymore. My body feels as if it is made from cotton. My neck seems extended as if reaching far above my body. I see stars and my mouth is dry.
She … she talks about my face with disgust ...
“Death's heads, when they have been dried and withered by the centuries ...”
“The hideous thing that was his head ...”
Oh, I tell myself. But that was only on that first moment. Of course I scared her with my anger. Soon, soon she will tell the boy that once she knew me she begun to enjoy my company and forgot all about my face.
“'Erik,' I cried, 'show me your face without fear! I swear that you are the most unhappy and sublime of men; and, if ever again I shiver when I look at you, it will be because I am thinking of the splendor of your genius!' Then Erik turned round, for he believed me, and I also had faith in myself. He fell at my feet, with words of love ... with words of love in his dead mouth ... and the music had ceased ... He kissed the hem of my dress and did not see that I closed my eyes.”
She … she … pretended at that moment? The moment where I dared hope that my music had made her see me in a new light? I shake my head to will the dread away. It matters not. It was only the first day! Only the first day. She will tell him. Soon! She will tell him that beauty does not matter. Now, at last she will reach the part of her story where she tells him that once I proved how honest and just my behavior was she begun to like me. Oh please. Please let her tell him that at least her fondness for me was real!!
"What more can I tell you, dear? You now know the tragedy. It went on for a fortnight—a fortnight during which I lied to him. My lies were as hideous as the monster who inspired them; but they were the price of my liberty. I burned his mask; and I managed so well that, even when he was not singing, he tried to catch my eye, like a dog sitting by its master. He was my faithful slave and paid me endless little attentions.”
Like a dog …
There it is, spelled out plainly for me to see. That was all I ever was to her. All I have ever been to anyone. But oh, this time it feels so different. I have been abused, spat on, whipped, caned, stabbed. Tortured in every way imaginable. But no one, no-one has hurt me the way she has.
I thought I was loved by someone for the first time ... and it was a lie!!
She has hollowed me out, crushed my soul and filled the gaping wound with glass.
My ears buzz so much I cannot hear what else she says to that boy. It does not matter. I know the truth now: I am a monster and always will be.
A strange feeling is overtaking me. It is as if my brain is turning all the grief I have ever felt into a strange, icy anger, which in turn changes into a cold calm I have never known before.
Very well Christine. If you see me as a monster, then a monster I shall be. A monster that will never set you free. You might have lied about everything else, but you shall keep your promise to me. Tomorrow you shall be a monster’s bride!!
A cry that releases the last of my anger escapes me as I see the dreaded couple kiss below me. I stand up and face them, my eyes blazing in the night, my cape billowing behind me. I laugh as I see them run from me in terror.
Yes, yes. Run from the monster!!
While you still can!!!