En position, a Phantom of the Opera narrative

Chapter 12

And here I was, standing in a large backstage area, surrounded by dozens of people I saw every day. Yet, however, when I looked around, I didn't seem to know any of them. The people around me were… well, real people. They socialized, talked, laughed, drank, some even kissed. I found it difficult to comprehend that these were the same people I practiced my routines with, ate my meals with and said 'bonjour' to when I encountered them in the hallways.

To be honest, I felt quite out of place. I did not socialize, talk, laugh, drink or kiss. Frankly, I didn't even know how to do any of these things. Sure, I was able to have a polite conversation with my fellow ballerinas while stretching, or commenting on the weather when I met one of the stagehands. But these people were nothing like my colleagues at all. They talked about fun things, they laughed and shared personal stories about things I couldn't even dream of doing. Not that they didn't try to involve me in one of their conversations. No, Adrienne literally tried to drag me everywhere she went for the first hour or so. But when she'd finally noticed I felt just as happy standing alone, as when I was trying to take part in a conversation – or perhaps even more so – she'd given up and indulged to my numerous biddings to just leave me be.

She, however, had only been the first of many that would come and try to get me in some decent conversation, most of the time including a glass of alcohol that made me turn my face up.

Finally, after what seemed ages, but actually was only an hour or so, I saw my chance and slipped out of the room, when all the others were too busy watching a drunken stagehand tap dance on the top of a table. I quickly rid myself of the glass someone had given me by placing it behind some unfinished sceneries and rushed away before anyone would drag me back in there.

It took me a while to realise where my feet were taking me and as soon as that realisation set in, I stopped in mid-step. I doubted it would be wise to roam the corridors alone at night, especially with all those drunk men walking around.

I started to turn, but then something made stop again and stand frozen. What it was exactly, I did not know, but my heart was beating so rapidly and so loud, that I was quite sure the entire city of Paris could hear it. I listened closely, but aside from my own speeded heart rate and heavy breathing, not a sound was to be heard. The shadows around me were impenetrable, but also motionless and in that I found the courage to move again.

Quickly, swiftly, with steps that hardly made my feet touch the ground, I scurried through the labyrinth of hallways. Twice I hit a dead end, before I opened a door and came to a halt. How did I end up here, I wondered as I sucked in a large amount of air and leaned against the closed door.

When my eyes had finally adjusted to the darkness, I took in my surroundings a bit more closely. The small area I found myself in was decorated in an elegant, but simple manner. The curtains that partitioned it from the rest of the auditorium were made of a royal-looking, crimson red fabric and hung a small 10 feet long. In the middle of the area stood a single comfortable chair in the same crimson red as the curtains and at the left side of it, a small, ebony side table was placed.

I took a step forward, and another, until I stood against the wooden railing. Here it was, I remembered. This was the box where I had seen the white flash after the performance. Goose bumps rose on my skin and I felt a shivering go down my spine. I backed away from the railing, from the magnificent view the box had, and made for the door. Here, I froze again. It was open. If I hadn't been so high-strung, I probably wouldn't even have noticed, since it was only on a small crack. I turned around and scanned the box. No one. Calm down, Angèlique, I told myself and straightened my back. As I walked out of the room, I was sure to have heard a soft chuckle coming from the shadows.

pagebreak ~That night, I awoke even before the sun began to rise. For the second time in twenty-four hours, my heart was beating abnormally fast and it took me a while to calm down again. It had seemed so real. Not at all like the strange, incoherent images your dreams mostly consist of.

In my dream, I had been back in the auditorium, in the box of earlier that night. On the stage, singers and dancers were in the middle of an to me unknown opera, but the auditorium was completely empty – beside myself. Yet, I heard the sound of the clapping and whispering of hundreds of people emerge from the empty seats below me. Suddenly all sound in the room fell silent and a young girl came to the centre of the stage. A long, white dress hung from her petite shoulders down to her delicate ankles. She was quite beautiful, with her lily skin and frail figure. Her dark brown curls were pulled back in an elegant braid and revealed a young, innocent face with gorgeous doe-like eyes. Then, all of a sudden, the music started again and she opened her mouth.

At that moment, everything changed rapidly. I was no longer in the box, looking down on the stage, I was now actually on the stage. In front of me lay the auditorium, along with its numerous chairs, each occupied by some sort of noble man or his wife. When I looked down for a second, I saw the same delicate arms and lily skin, partly covered by the white dress. Then, the music set in and I took a deep breath. To my surprise, I was not at all nervous. I knew what was coming and what I had to do. But then, the most angelic, most perfect voice filled my ears and I knew I could only surrender to it.

That was the moment I'd woken up and found myself safe in my bed again. With the voice still occupying my every thought with its sound, I tried to sort things out. With no use, of course. It was just a dream, I told myself, but I couldn't quite shake it off.

It was only now, that I realised where I had heard the melody before. It had been stuck in my head for weeks, but never did I realise that I'd never actually heard it before, I had dreamt it. And even more peculiarly, it had been the same dream over and over again, but I was never able to recall it when I'd woken up. Never had I heard this man sing, though. It was always the same dream, but it had always been just a fragment. Being in the box, on the stage, hearing the beginning of the song and then, I would wake up. I wondered why this time it had been different. Was there even a meaning to it? And whose was the angelical voice I'd heard?

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