That following morning, I could barely recall the dream I'd had. Most of it had vanished along with the dark shadows of the night and only a few glimpses I could actually remember clearly. However, one thing had not disappeared, or even faded a little. Even when I tried, I could not help but think of the mysterious voice from my dreams. It was so perfect, so powerful and so compelling, it was.. simply unlike anything I'd ever heard before. It was unearthly beautiful and even the Garnier Opera's finest singers, such as monsieur deLaque and even Clémence Dampierre herself, seemed unrefined and impure next to his.
'Angèlique? Angèlique, are you listening?'
Meg gave me a peculiar look, one she gave me quite often the last few days, actually. 'I asked if you'll go with us to the market this afternoon?'
'Oh.. I don't know, really..' To be honest, I could already feel my stomach turn at the thought of the traveling fair alone. 'I think I'll just stay here and practice the routine some more.'
'How are we supposed to find you a suitor if you stay in all the time?' Adrienne laughed, then gave me a meaningful look. 'Or have you already found one inside the Opera House?'
'Dear God, no,Adrienne,' I cried out laughing.
'Alright, well, don't blame us if you have no one to go with to the Masquerade.'
'Don't worry,' Anne said, smiling comfortingly. 'There's still half a month left until it'll be held, so we've got seas of time left.'
I nodded and couldn't help but think about what Adrienne had said. A suitor.. What were the odds I would actually find someone? And why were my thoughts and hopes aimed towards the man from my dreams?
pagebreak ~'Are you sure you're not coming along?' Adrienne asked me when we reached the front doors.
'I am, that routine doesn't practice itself, you know? Besides, seems like we'll get some nasty weather this afternoon, don't want to get all soaked.' I winked at the little girl and then watched as my friends walked out the doors.
Without much haste, I strolled back to the dormitories and sat down on my bed. Everyone was out, to town or paying visits to relatives. Wealthy, noble relatives mostly, who owned large estates and gigantic houses in the centre of Paris. How much they all differed from me. I sighed, as I knew that there would come a day that I would have to tell my friends about my life and how I was not related to some royal or count. 'Ah well..' I rose again and searched my wardrobe for a comfortable dress and a pair of tights. I settled for a simple, white dress and quickly changed, after which I started my way towards the auditorium.
I shortly stretched in the backstage area and then walked up to the stage. As expected, the auditorium was completely empty of people and I closed my eyes contently. I took a deep breath and, with my arms raised in the air, started dancing. As I swirled, spun and leaped across the stage to imaginary music, I noticed with much discontent that right now dancing wasn't the anaesthetic I knew it to be. Not the anaesthetic I wanted it to be and very much needed it to be right now. It was as if my head wasn't connected to my body anymore and as my body danced across the stage, my mind still wandered.
I stopped in the middle of an arabesque penchee, and lowered my leg with a sigh.
Suddenly, as I aimed the gaze towards the sea of chairs, I forgot to breathe. I closed my eyes again and I could almost hear the hundreds of people in front of me, holding their breaths, waiting for the song to begin. It didn't take long, as I now heard the all too familiar melody start in my head, but this time it was different. Words formed in my mind and softly, carefully I began. 'You have come here… In pursuit of your deepest urge… In pursuit of that wish that 'till now has been silent… silent.' I swallowed. 'I have brought you…' As the song proceeded, I grew more and more confident and completely forgot about myself and my surroundings. The words came effortlessly, naturally, as if I'd never done anything else but singing them. Looking back, I can't even recall anymore the exact moment, but all of a sudden I was brutally interrupted and fell back into reality.
Meg stood in the middle of the sea of chairs, her face a ghastly pale white and a look of utter terror written all over it. For a moment, I thought she'd faint right then and there, but then she spun into action and ran up to me. 'Angèlique, where did you… how do you.. it doesn't even matter. We have to go. But first, promise me you'll never sing this again.'I just stood there, probably looking like an completely imbecile, not understanding at all what she was making such a fuss about.
'Angèlique,' she insisted 'promise me.'
'I don't understand.. why.. what?'
'I'll explain things later. For now, you must promise me you'll never sing this again, alright?'
I looked in Meg's pleading eyes. I had never seen her this upset, not even when I found her on the roof. 'I promise.'
She nodded, then started pulling me off of the stage, mumbling something along the lines of 'Now let us pray that he hasn't heard you.'
pagebreak ~That evening at dinner, Meg still hadn't explained about what had happened in the auditorium. In fact, she hadn't said a single word to me at all. I wasn't quite sure why, but I was afraid I had deeply upset her.
Ever since that time I'd found her on the roof, she had had episodes of gazing off into the distance and not hearing a word of what we said. Now, as the other girls told about their afternoon in town, she was like this again. The only difference was that she'd been like this for the past five hours and it didn't seem like it would change in the next ten. I was quite sure the other girls noticed it too, but they never really showed it. Perhaps they knew more about it, than I did.
I waited until the others had finally finished their meals – I was too uncomfortable to eat myself – and then, when we walked towards the dormitories, pulled Meg with me into a corridor at the left. 'Meg.. I'm so sorry, I… I don't know what exactly is it that I did, but I'm terribly sorry I have angered you.'
'Angered? Angèlique, I'm not angry with you.'
'Then why do you act so strange. You haven't said a word to me since we left the auditorium.'
She looked at her feet and for a second or two I thought she'd break down. She didn't, but instead spoke in an almost inaudible tone 'I am frightened to death.'
'But why, Meg? I don't understand!'
'I can't… I won't tell you. Not again.' As she cried out those words desperately, the first tears started rolling down her cheeks. She whipped them off and, without another word, ran away.
For a moment I just stood there, staring at the place where Meg had just disappeared into the darkness. What had happened to the happy, cheery girl I'd met in the beginning? What was looming in that mind of hers?
'Don't worry, dear, it's not your fault.'
I turned around and saw Anne stare into the same direction I had been looking at. Adrienne, Marie-Claire and Veronique were nowhere to be seen, so I figured they must have walked on to the dormitories 'It's just… I don't understand what I did wrong. And it's not just today, she's been acting up ever since.. well I don't even know since when and I most certainly don't understand why.'
She sighed. 'It's not that I don't want to tell you, it's just that I can't. It's not my story to tell.'
Now it was my turn to sigh, as I did not understand things at all. So many questions were flying through my head and everyone seemed to know the answers, except for me.
'Anne, please, tell me at least something. I don't understand a single bit of what's going on, let alone what to think of it. You don't have to tell me everything, but I'd really like to know what is happening.'
'No, no I cannot, I'm sorry. If you really wish to know, ask Meg, but it would not be right for me to tell you.'
I sighed again, then nodded, as I knew there was no way Anne would tell me anything at all. Of course, in a way I understood why she wouldn't tell me, but another, less rational part of me wanted answers on my questions. Questions that seemed to become more alarming and more important for surviving at the Opera House.
As we walked on towards the dormitories, I replayed the day in my head. So much had happened, had changed in the time span of a single day. This morning, I'd had no idea that this day would bring so much commotion and drama. What had started as an ordinary day – that is if you don't count the strange dream I'd had – had soon developed itself into one of my most peculiar days in the Opera Populaire so far. And I was both curious and anxious about what tomorrow would bring.