Yes, there was a body found, but contrary to the beliefs of many, it was not Erik. It is what I supposed to be the body of one of the poor souls who wandered down into the cellars of the opera a bit too far.
As for the ring that matched the one Erik had given to me, all I can say is that person must have had one very similar to that of mine. It doesn’t really matter who it was, only that it wasn’t him.
The day I saw the line in the paper, “Erik is dead.” I knew that it was wrong. He was not dead, could not be dead. I would’ve felt something in the depths of my spirit had he been.
Raoul and I had married at a little chapel near Perros-Guirec, where we had met as children. Our first few months together were the happiest of my life, up until that point at least. Things seemed to be so perfect. I couldn’t imagine what was to come.
The weather had become very cold and the fireplace in our little cottage didn’t heat the entire house properly. Raoul developed an awful cough and had to stay in bed for days. I sent for a doctor, though he would hardly hear of it, and he was diagnosed with pneumonia. The doctor didn’t give much a thought to it, Raoul was a strong man he said, and could withstand this as long as he was kept indoors and warm. I fixed him hot tea with a little honey, to help soothe the pain in his throat, and kept hot irons, wrapped in cloths at his feet and sides, to aid in keeping him warm. As the days went by, his cough seemed to worsen and the doctor prescribed a medicine for it that did help for a while. One night, I could tell his breathing was becoming more stressed and he had developed a fever. I sat by his side the whole night long, trying to cool his forehead and comfort him. I awoke the next morning to find him holding my hand.
As I tried to gently extract mine from his, I realized how stiff his was. Raoul was dead.
Though I don’t remember much of what happened after that moment, I have been told that I went into hysterics and then didn’t speak for days. I stayed in bed, crying and repeating his name over and over to
myself. I was in no condition to attend his small funeral, but the day I left to return to Paris, I did visit his grave, where he lay beside my father. Somehow I had gotten roses, from where I do not recall, though I would find out later who they were from, and put them at the top of his grave. A little card was attached to it that read: Love Forever, Your Angel. It was in a very fancy script which I was certain was not mine.
Neighbors I have spoken to since, said that the day I left I was unusually calm considering the circumstances. I packed up everything in the cottage and went back to Paris by train, to the Rue Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, where I resided with Mamma Valerius only a few months before. Here rises the question of her supposed “dissappearance”. She had gone to Perros with Raoul and I to attend our wedding and decided to stay with an old friend for about a week. It was not long after my marriage that she died peacefully, in her sleep. She was then buried on the other side of my father. Raoul and I knew she would’ve been happy with this, since he had been such a good friend of hers.
I contacted all the former servants who had worked for Mamma and told them of everything that had happened. Not surprisingly, most of them returned to work.
Rumors began to fly the minute I arrived in the city. Some, who had only glimpsed me in a crowd, swore I was the ghost of myself, walking amongst mortals. Others thought that the whole disappearance had been for publicity. Needless to say, I made most every gossip column in the city. It wasn’t until one night, about a week after my return that I did anything truly daring enough to get attention. That night, I dressed very elegantly and had my driver take me to the Opera House. Appearing at theOpera would be enough to spark a fire, but I decided to take another chance. I begged the ticket woman for seats in Box Five, of course, she wouldn’t hear of it so I asked to see one of the managers. The Monsieurs Ricard and Moncharmin were very surprised to see me, though I was sure they had probably heard of my sudden appearance either by word of mouth or through the paper.
“Mlle. Daae!” M. Moncharmin exclaimed. At that moment I debated on whether or not to correct him and say “Madame de Chagny”, but decided against it. I thought then that it would be better if no one knew of my marriage.
“M. Moncharmin, how nice to see you. And you too, M. Ricard.”
Recovering a bit of his composure, M. Moncharmin spoke again.
“Mlle. Daae, how may M. Ricard and I help you?”
“I wish to be seated in Box Five for tonight’s performance.”
They exchanged nervous glances.
“Mlle. Daae, you do know that it is reserved for the Opera Ghost?” asked M. Ricard.
“Monsieur, I of all people know that it is reserved for the Opera Ghost. I’m sure he will not mind my presence there.”
“As you wish. But, shall we escort you?” queried M. Ricard.
“No, monsieur, I will be fine.”
I ascended the stairs that led to the boxes very slowly. I knew that much of the future depended on what occurred tonight, and by sitting in Box Five, I was tempting fate. I opened the door to the box to
find it empty, not that I really expected there to be anyone inside.
As I watched the dancing, my mind went back to my own days on the stage. I smiled briefly. I had loved it. I had been a child then, hungry for fame and fortune. And Erik had made it possible for me. Erik-
I remembered the present. I determined once again to find Erik. I tried to think back to my days in the theater, which had become a faint haze. I thought I could find my way to his underground lair. If he was anywhere, he would be there, working on his Don Juan Triumphant.
As suddenly as it had started, the play was over, and I stood and walked silently out.
I started to push back the curtain that served as a door to the box, then I paused. Christine… The words seemed to float in the air next to my ear. It chilled me, but at the same time it brought comfort.
I walked quickly into the hall and down to the stage area. There was the backstage door, just as I remembered it. I pushed it open and walked through, only to be pushed back out by a stagehand. “Sorry, miss. You can’t go back ‘ere,” he said with a thick accent.
I brushed him off and walked past him. “If you have a problem with my being here, take it up with M. Ricard and M. Moncharmin. Tell them that Christine Daae just wanted to look around a bit. Nostalgia, you know.” He gave a quick nod and stepped aside.
I went down to my old dressing room. Since some claimed that it too was haunted, it had been locked tightly months ago. I laid my hand on the doorknob and twisted. Surprisingly, it swung open silently. I stepped inside.
Cobwebs and dust covered most of the furniture. I pulled aside a few webs and made my way to the far side of the room. Christine… There it was again. I turned and looked at the dressing mirror. Using up the hem of my dress, I managed to wipe off most of the dust. I stared into the glass.
Erik. I could hear his voice now. It was just like it had been. I could hear him, distant, but somehow right beside me. Christine. I love you. You are the only thing worth having in my life.
I turned, looking in vain for that man who had made my voice what it once was. “I’m here, Erik! I have come back!”
“Erik!” I cried again. But the only sound was my own voice, echoing in the room eerily. “Erik, I-I am here!” I tried once again. But nothing. He was gone.
I took a deep breath and headed into the labyrinth.
Suddenly there was a sharp knocking on the door. “Miss Daae!” I heard a voice call. “Miss Daae, are you in there?”
I jerked myself away from the mirror, trying to stop the foolishness of my situation. I composed myself and went to the door, it had closed, I guess, but I didn’t remember doing it.
Opening the door I saw an old man standing at the door, “Miss Daae? M. Ricard and M. Moncharmin would like to see you.” He took my arm gently and led me back to the main building.
I was ushered into the office. “Miss Daae. We realize that you are enjoying looking around,” I held back a laugh, “but we must insist that you stay away from your old dressing room. It’s… well… you know…”
I looked at M. Ricard. “No, I don’t.”
He reddened. “It’s also… er… haunted…”
I tossed my hair to the side. “Very well. I shall be on my way, then.” And I walked briskly out the door.
Instead of heading left, to the lobby, I veered right, back towards the dressing rooms.
Back in my own, I looked again into the mirror. The image there was no different than the one I’d seen every night in my theatre days.
Insolent fool, this brave young suitor, sharing in my triumph…
Angel, I hear you. Speak, I listen. Stay by my side, guide me. Angel my soul was weak. Forgive me. Enter at last, master…
Flattering child, you shall know me. See why in shadow I hide. Look at your face in the mirror, I am there inside…
I turned to the mirror and let out a cry of happiness. The image in the glass swirled, and a dark silhouette appeared…
“Erik!” I cried rapturously, stretching out my hand to touch him. But he remained behind the mirror, untouchable. But I could hear him.
“Christine,” he said softly. “It’s you.”
He wore his mask.
“Erik, you can take off your mask,” I said. He silently shook his head, but I pursued the matter. “Erik, I’m sorry for everything that happened, I was such a fool in those days, I-”
“No,” he said sorrowfully. “I was the fool, thinking I could love someone like you.”
My heart ached for him. “Raoul is dead.” I didn’t mean to say it so abruptly, it just came out of my mouth. I knew it was the wrong thing to say.
“So, because your previous lover is gone, you come back for a replacement?”
“It isn’t that way at all!”
“I don’t know that, Christine,” Erik whispered quietly. I tried to explain but before I could even manage to think of anything his image had faded away.
I couldn’t help it, I began to cry. I was so close, so close to things being the way they used to be. “Angel, please come back!” I begged. The name sounded strange to me. When was the last time I had called him my angel? Not since-
“Mlle Daae.” I whirled around, expecting to see Erik again. But it was M. Ricard. “I thought we asked you not to come here.”
“How would you stop me?” I snapped, still angry that Erik had scorned me.
“Mlle Daae, there is something we have not told you about what happened when you left.” He paused. “Come back with me to the office and I’ll inform you.”
He escorted me back to the office, where a nervous-looking M. Moncharmin sat in his chair, rubbing his hands.
I sat down in an overstuffed chair. “All right, gentlemen. What is this about?”
M. Ricard sat on the edge of his desk. “Well, you see Mlle, right after you left… something seemed to happen to our company. The singers weren’t as good, tickets didn’t sell, and everyone was so
spooked by the Opera Ghost, that they all have stayed far away from here.
“We assumed that it was because of the fiasco with your friend Raoul and the murders. But M. Moncharmin and myself have come to the conclusion that it has to be the Opera Ghost.”
“Call it what you will, Mlle.”
“He has a name, you know.”
“As you wish.”
“Now, why do you think that Erik would do all this to you?”
“Because of you, my dear.”
I was taken aback. “Me?” I asked increduously.
“Yes. We all know that the Phantom has taken a particular interest in you…”
“Yes, but I would think that he would never want to see me again after what what happened…” I trailed off, sighing. I told myself to stop thinking about the past. All that matters now is the future, I thought, all that matters now is finding Erik.
“Mlle?” Ricard’s voice drew me back to the present. “We believe the Opera Ghost is cursing our business and…” He swore angrily. “It is ruining us! Ruining us, I tell you!”
“Mlle…” Moncharmin began.
I stopped them. “Madame.”
He seemed puzzled, but continued. “Madame… Could you think of anything you could do to appease the ghost?” His voice was controlled but I could sense he was desperate. “Start singing again, or… anything?”
“No,” I said strongly, “I haven’t sung a note since I left.” I looked at my hands. “I plan to keep it that way.” Suddenly I stood up and started to put on my cloak, “I’m afraid I cannot help you, gentlemen, I don’t think I shall be seeing too much more of you, so good day.”
I began to walk out, but was stopped by M. Ricard’s voice, “Madame? Does this happen to look familiar?”
I turned back around, ready to snap at him to leave me alone when I saw what he was holding. In his hand was a very familiar, and very old, simple gold ring.
“Where did you find it?” I asked.
“It was found near a body; I daresay you have heard that the body of Opera Ghost was found?” Ricard’s voice was calm and self-assured.
I began to laugh nervously. “If the body was found, then how could it possibly be hurting your opera house? You gentlemen are really too much.” I opened the door.
“You know the answer, madame,” Moncharmin said, standing in my way. “The body was not that of the man who is haunting us.” He puts his face only inches away from mine. I wrinkled my nose at his bad breath. “We want you to find the Ghost. You will be highly rewarded.”
“We will see he is…” He tried to phrase it lightly. “…taken care of.”
“In an asylum or a police station? No. No, I won’t betray Erik. Not now. Not ever.” The words surged out of my mouth, shocking me with their truth.
M. Moncharmin looked startled. “But you see, Madame…” he stuttered.
“Who are you to tell me what I see and what I do not see? I see that Erik, or my Angel of Music, or the Phantom of the Opera, or the Opera Ghost, or whatever else you wish to call him, he has made me sing beyond my wildest dreams. Now you want me to turn him in, like a common criminal?” I almost choked on the words.
M. Ricard tried to persuade me. He put a hand on my shoulder “Madame… we understand, but…”
“You do not understand at all! Leave me alone!” I shook his hand off and ran out of the room.
“Madame! Come back!”