“That’ll be all for today. I’ll see everyone here on Monday and don’t forget that your proposal for which play you’ll be analyzing is also due.” The professor said dismissing the class for the day, ignoring the collective groan that echoed through the students.
Christine lingered behind as the rest of the class quickly put everything in their bags and hurried out to start their weekend as soon as possible. Once the room was mostly empty, Christine gathered her own things into her bag and went to the professor, who was just closing his suitcase. When he spotted her, he stopped.
Biting her lip, a nervous habit she had never been able to outgrow, she asked, “I was wondering if there was a possibility for me to have access to the auditorium after class?”
The professor thought about this for a moment before eventually nodding.
“That’ll be fine. We have staff that works there during the night so as long as you don’t get in their way, I don’t see the trouble.”
Christine let out a breath that she hadn’t realized she had been holding.
However, just as she was about to leave, he added.
“Just be careful if you hear some singing with nobody there.”
She turned back to him with a confused frown. “What do you mean?”
The professor put his index finger to his lips in a fake dramatic motion.
“Don’t you know? We have a ghost in that theatre. See you on Monday.” And without waiting for a reply he sent her a wink, and then walked out of the room.
Christine stood there for a few moments wondering if he was trying to scare her since she knew that he knew she was an only a sophomore who had only begun her degree’s classes this current semester. Eventually, she brushed it off as just that and exited the building to make her way over to the theatre.
The theatre was a little ways from the main campus, and was a huge building. The auditorium itself could fit up to 1,000 people and the backstage, while half that size, was filled with rooms and corridors of all kinds to help make each production sensational. The building was an old one but in Christine opinion that just gave it character. That and along with the architecture making it appear as if it had time traveled from the colonial period. She made her way around the looming building and once she made it to the back of the theatre, she found the door that led to the backstage. Using her student ID to open it she walked inside.
It was dark inside, which wasn’t surprising as the classes that used the theatre were all done for the day, only soft lights allowing her to see in the walkways back stage. It was almost eerie since she has only ever been back there with others. Feeling alone, she remembered what her professor said about a ghost…quickly Christine shook her head to get rid of those thoughts. As she made her way through the labyrinth that is the backstage of a theatre she had to admit that it wasn’t the most comforting place to be when you were by yourself.
Soon as she got closer to the stage she began to hear a voice singing a melody. Her pace slowed as she listened to the sound. The voice came to her through the halls as if beckoning her forward. Almost in a trace, forgetting everything except that voice, she walked towards the stage where she was hearing it come from.
Insolent boy, this slave of fashion,
Basking in your glory!
I gnorant fool, this brave young suitor,
Sharing in my triumph!
She recognized the words from her favorite opera, one that had come out when she was a child. It was the reason she had decided to major in theatre in the first place, well, other than her father. In her opinion, the voice singing expressed the aggressive emotion of the scene perfectly. It was expressing anger but both for its own expense and that of the character the voice is speaking to.
Angel, I hear you. Speak, I listen.
Stay by my side, Guide me.
Angel, my soul was weak, Forgive me.
Enter at last, Master
The voice had abruptly changed to a higher pitch to fit the role of the other character who was supposed to sing it. Again it sounded flawless, the voice elegant but beseechingly. Dazed, Christine walked onto the stage where she saw no one. Somewhere in her mind she knew she should feel uneasy at not seeing anyone, especially after what her professor had just told her. However, the voice was loud and clear around her, washing away all those precautions. The voice turned smooth and tender like velvet for the next verse.
Flattering child, you shall know me.
See why in shadow I hide.
Look at your face in the mirror.
I am there, inside!
Almost without realizing what she was doing, Christine opened her mouth and sung.
Angel of Music, guide and guardian,
Grant to me your glory.
Angel of Music, hide no longer.
Come to me, strange Angel.
Christine let the last word fade, once stillness enveloped the theatre she blinked, the sudden silence engulfing the partly lite auditorium. She turned this way and that, looking for the person who had sung so beautifully in the shadows of the theatre, waiting to see if they would sing the last part. When the voice didn’t continue, her lips tightened, starting to think that just maybe her professor hadn’t been lying to her after all. Eventually she gave up trying to hear it, placing her backpack on the ground next to her so that she could begin warming up her voice.
Suddenly she heard a crash over her and her head jerked upwards to find the source of the sound. What she saw made her draw in a sharp breath.
Above her, on the catwalk, was a floating face as pale white as a ghost, two blazing golden orbs piercing her.
She let out a yelp and started backing away, almost tripping over her own feet in her haste to get away.
“Wait!” a deep male voice called out.
Something about the tone in his voice made her pause.
Christine paused at the edge of the wing of the stage and squinted up at the catwalk again. She saw that a rope had been thrown over the side. She watched, amazed as a tall, shadowy figure jumped off the side and slide down the rope easily landing their feet before straightening to face her.
In front of her was older man, perhaps in his late twenties—early thirties, in fitted black slacks and white dress shirt that was covered with a penguin tail coat that looked like it was from the Victorian era. His black hair was slicked back and he was wearing leather gloves, which was what had allowed him to slide down the rope so easily. The white face she had seen was actually a mask that almost completely covered his face except around his mouth and of course his eyes. Those eyes, ones that blazed like melted gold, burning in its brilliance, and taking in everything they beheld.
Those same eyes that were currently regarding her now with concern.
“Forgive me for startling you, I had accidently dropped my flashlight as I was making my way out.” The man then turned his gaze upward. “Though, to be fair, I am the one who was startled first, so maybe we can call it even.”
Christine could only stare at this strange but attractively dressed man at first. Eventually, she found her voice again.
“You…that was your voice earlier? The one singing?”
The man nodded. “Yes, I sometimes like to sing while I’m working.”
“What do you do?” Christine asked, eyes drifting up again towards the catwalk, finding herself wanting to know more about this odd man with such an alluring voice.
“Oh, little things here and there. I see something that has a problem and I fix it, though it drives the other staff insane sometimes.” He replied, grinning at the last part causing Christine to relax a little. “But I mostly keep to myself. Playwriting. Composing.”
“Yes, that little piece we just sung is one of mine.” The man answered offhandedly.
“You…” Christine voice trailed off in doubt. “You composed that?!”
“Composed, wrote the play, was the lyricist.”
Christine gawked at him, there was just no way…
“You’re O.G.?!” she squeaked out, oh how embarrassing!
O.G. had taken the world by storm when his play Don Juan Triumphant made Broadway and was an instant hit. What caused even more stirrup was that no one knew anything about the creator, except that the creator had done all the work from composing, writing, lyrics and choreography and that the initials ‘O.G.’ was a pen name. Even now after twelve years people still watch it in multiple countries. Her dad had taken her to see it when a traveling theater company came to their city to perform it and Christine had fallen in love. The scenery and effects, the costumes, the plot, and especially the music. It was also the last event she and her dad were able to go together because shortly after he had died, making the play all that much more special to her.
“Erik would suffice. Not many people know that fact so I would appreciate it if you were not to tell anyone.” The man, O.G.—Erik! replied almost teasingly. “And might I be able to acquire your name as well?”
“Christine!” Christine blurted out, realizing what she had done she cleared her throat self-consciously before continuing. “Christine Daae.”
“Well Miss Daae, now that we have introduced ourselves, I must ask why you have come here. The theatre does not usually receive visitors this late.” Erik inquired.
Christine felt her cheeks heat up and bite her lip. “I’m, ah, I’m here to practice my singing.”
Erik eyes swept over her as if assessing her, causing her to warm a little bit more and her heart to pick up speed.
“Do you have any prior experience?”
Christine nodded. “Yes, when I was a kid, my dad taught me…”
She broke off, not being able to meet his eyes. “He died a few years after he began teaching me. After that I hadn’t really sung, so I’m trying to get back to practicing.”
“Certainly from what I just heard, your father has taught you the basics well, but if you wish to excel, you have much still to learn.” Erik replied bluntly.
Christine gripped her hands together tightly. “Yes, I know.”
“We best get started then.”
Christine gaped at Erik as he began making his way to the piano that was kept on stage for the music rehearsals.
“We?” she questioned hesitantly in case she had misheard.
“Of course.” Erik answered. Stopping at the piano next to the bench, he turned back to her. “I had liked what I heard earlier Miss Daae and if you would allow, I am confident I can bring your voice to perfection.”
When she didn’t say anything, Erik waved a hand to encompass the stage behind her.
“I am sure you came to practice on your own, but having another is always best when trying to practice singing. If you are unsure, we can do something simple today and have that help make your decision. One lesson is all I ask.”
Christine considered what he said for a few moments. This strange, but interesting man! This man that dressed formally and had a strange mask, but a voice of a siren and enthusiastic eyes. He’s also the man who had written her favorite opera, which had been her inspiration to what she was doing now. Somehow, the very same man was standing right in front of her, offering to teach her! It was almost too good to be true. But…
“Okay.” Christine replied and the smile Erik gave her made her stomach fill with butterflies.
Later when Christine was pulling into the parking spot in front of her apartment, she was beaming. The lesson with Erik had gone fantastically! By the end of it she had felt tired but elated. She could tell Erik was going to be a strict teacher but already she was eager for their next sessions which they decided would take place three times a week. There was also the man himself…
Getting out of her car, she locked it and Christine entered her apartment.
She looked up and saw her boyfriend Raoul coming towards her with a smile and when he got closer, placed a sweet kiss on her lips in greeting. He too looked like he had gotten back recently since his riding jacket was still on, hair a little flat from the helmet he wore.
“Raoul.” She suddenly breathe out pushing against him and claiming another kiss. This one longer and far more fervent.
When they broke away for breath, Raoul was smiling curiously.
“Not that I don’t a random make out session every once in a while but what’s up?”
“I found him!” Christine declared resolutely. She grabbed Raoul’s hands and began dragging him towards their bedroom. Raoul was more amused than anything else at this point.
“Oh? And who is this him?” he laughed as he was pushed down onto their bed.
Christine settle on top of him, licking her lips, she looked down at Raoul and leered.
“I just found our third partner.”
Raoul became too preoccupied to say anything else.