I saw the musical Phantom of the Opera on stage a couple years ago. It gave me a couple of random ideas for a story. So, here it is. And as always, the characters belong to their creator, Gaston Leroux. I don’t own them at all. Just borrowing them for fun, but not profit. 🙂
The Phantom stared at the diamond ring in his hand for five whole minutes before pitching it into his lake. “Arrrgh! Why? Why does this keep happening to me? All I want in life is a beautiful soprano that I can train and keep for my own. Is that so wrong?”
“It is your doomed destiny.” muttered the ballet mistress.
He turned sharply and glared at her.
“You need to lower your standards. Instead of a beautiful soprano, look for a plain but elegant mezzo.”
“I hate mezzos.”
A pained look came over her face. “Then, you need to stop chasing after sopranos who are named Christine. They are always involved with a posh gentleman.”
“And he always wins. Why? Why can’t I win for a change?” His eyes filled with tears. “Of course. I know why. This face…This hideous face drives them away.”
The ballet mistress agreed with him, but she didn’t want to further hurt his feelings by saying so out loud.
The Phantom ran over to the nearest full length mirror and knocked it over in a fit of angst. He then proceeded to stomp the heck out of it. “I’ve had it! I’ve had it! I’ve freaking had it!” He ceased his stomping and darted to the bed with the black tulle curtains. He reached under it and pulled out his suitcase.
Panic fluttered in the ballet mistress’ chest. She hurried to his side. “What are you doing?”
He plopped the suitcase onto the bed and furiously unzipped it.
“No.” He marched over to his closet, which was filled with freshly ironed black capes. “I am sick and tired and furious.” He yanked an armful of capes off their hangers and carried them back to the bed.
“You don’t have to do this.” she implored.
“Oh, yes I do.” He stuffed the capes into the suitcase.
“But I just ironed those.”
“I don’t care.” He marched over to his dresser and opened the top drawer, which was littered with a disordered combination of white half masks and white full face masks. He gently picked up a half mask. “It never fails. I meet a beautiful soprano and get her under my spell. I train her already beautiful voice into something grand and magnificent. Then, I harass the leading soprano into leaving, Christine takes over her role, and then the stupid childhood sweetheart shows up. After years and years of minding his own blasé business and generally forgetting all about her, the lousy nerd shows up and ruins everything! Next thing I know, Christine unmasks my hideous face and runs off with the nerd! It never, ever fails! Arrrgh!” He ran over to the lake and threw the mask into it.
The Phantom ran to his dresser, grabbed a handful of masks, stuffed them into his suitcase, and returned to his dresser.
“You don’t have to leave.” she said.
“You don’t get it.” He yanked the second drawer out of the dresser and carried the whole thing back to the bed. “If I stay, this pattern will keep repeating until the day I die.” He dumped the drawer’s contents into his suitcase.
“You just need to find someone who is unattached.”
The Phantom looked like he wanted to throw the drawer into the lake so she took it away from him and returned it to the dresser.
“You make it sound sooo easy. Yes, just go out there and find a beautiful, unattached soprano. She’ll love me right off the bat, won’t she?”
“If she could see you the way I do, she would.”
“With this face? Ha! No, Madame. It is impossible. No one can love me. I’m too ugly.”
She pushed the drawer back into its slot. “It’s not as impossible as you think.”
“Yes, it is. I’m an ugly man. A monster. A gargoyle. A yucky, ugly carcass man. I have a face that horrified even my mother.” He sat down on the bed and started to cry.
The ballet mistress returned to him and patted him on the back. “There. There. Life’s not that bad.”
“Yes, it is. I’m ugly and no one loves me.”
She looked down at the top of his head and wondered if this was the right moment to tell him. It felt right, but she was afraid that he wouldn’t return the sentiment. She decided to wimp out. “That’s not true. There’s someone for everyone in this world.”
He laughed bitterly. “I’m sure that’s true for people who don’t look like—” He looked up at her. “—this!”
She wanted to hug him so bad, but she knew that he would push her away. Or, even worse, he would just think of it as a motherly hug and nothing more. “No. It’s true for everyone.”
“Not for me. Never for me.” He zipped up his suitcase. “I know someone like me can never find true happiness, but I certainly will not find it here. This place is haunted with memories of Christines. Too many Christines – all determined to break my heart for some foppish nerd boy. I offer them my trust and my love and they betray me for the foppish nerd boy. Every single time. It wouldn’t hurt so bad if the man they chose was worthwhile. No. They are never worthwhile. They’re nothing but simpering little tea pots who can’t even fence properly but they still manage to steal Christine from me.”
He threw the luggage onto the floor and stood. “I will not be betrayed anymore.” He took her hand. “I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I don’t know what I would have done or where I would even be without you.”
“You saved me from a lifetime of public mockery and daily humiliation.”
“Any reasonable woman would have done the same.”
“No. Only you did. My dear old friend! If it weren’t for your kindness, I never would have met her. My Christine.”
Her heart ached, but she said, “I did what I knew was right and I would do it all over again.”
“I will never forget you.” He released her hand. “Good-bye, Madam.” He grabbed his luggage and walked towards the secret exit.
She looked down at her hand, her thoughts all jumbled and twirled. “Where are you going?”
“I know a hunchback who lives in a church’s bell tower. I’ll visit him. Maybe he knows where someone like me can live.” A wistful look came into his eyes. “I need to be near beautiful music in order to live, to breathe! But not an opera house. No, never again.”
She stepped forward. “You don’t have to go by yourself.”
“Well, who in their right and sane mind would want to travel with me?”
She hesitated, the fear of rejection making the words clot up her throat. She took a deep breath and forced the words out, “I would.”
He frowned. “Why?”
Her mind froze up and hoarded all of the words she wanted to say. So, she said nothing at all.
He shook his head. “No. You are this opera house’s ballet mistress. You can’t leave. They need you here. Besides, what about your daughter? You may be immune to this horrible ugliness, but she sure isn’t. I will not have her yelling and screaming at me every time I try to join you for breakfast. Goodness knows, I’ve heard more yells and screams than any mortal man should ever hear. I’m sick and tired of it all.”
“You’ll be alone.”
“I don’t care. Quite frankly, I need some alone time to sit down and think things out.”
“I’ll…” She could feel her face turn redder. “I’ll miss you.”
He stared at her, his bewilderment plain on his deformed face.
“Please don’t go.”
He took a couple of steps toward her as if in a daze, but stopped short. “I’m sorry, but I have to leave. If I stay, I will surely go insane. Good-bye, Madam.” He turned around and left.
She whispered, “Good-bye, Erik.”