When I got back at the Opera that evening, I couldn't have been more relieved that the day was over. I had to admit it had been a fairly nice day, objectively speaking. We had taken a stroll through the park, had had lunch in a small, but very sweet little lunchroom and later on drunk tea at a café on the river bank. Monsieur Rousseau was an amiable young man who seemed to know something just about everything and who never seemed to mind to view things from a different point. We discussed travelling, other cultures, music and even politics and not once did we share an uncomfortable silence.
However, there was always this feeling of uneasiness lingering beneath the surface. Somehow I couldn't quite forget what Adrienne had said to me and it kept me from simply enjoying what could have been a wonderful day.
This made my mind even more of a mess than it already was. Because why wouldn't I want a kind, handsome and not to mention; rich, young man to take an interest in me? Shouldn't it come as a gift from God for someone like me? Truth was that I didn't know and couldn't even fathom what was not to be liked about monsieur Rousseau. And yet.. These thoughts continued to take up most of my attention, even as I was seated at the table in the dining hall, when my friends were in an animated discussion about some topic that had gone unnoticed to me.
'Don't you agree, Angèlique?'
Adrienne giggled 'I think our dear friend's mind has been occupied by entirely different matters than our meaningless chatting.'
'Indeed, you had a luncheon with a certain gentleman, if I recall correctly,' Marie-Claire bend forward, as if to show me she was all ears.
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, not liking the attention put on me a bit, especially not since I really hadn't had anything to say about my afternoon. 'Well.. I eh.. It was nice.'
'"It was nice"?' Marie-Claire repeated, uncomprehendingly 'No smudgy details you have to tell us?'
'Not really, no. We talked, we took a stroll and we ate, that's pretty much all there was to it.' I looked at her still expectant face and frowned slightly. 'It's not like he'd ask me to marry him, you know. We barely know each other!'
'But well enough to go on a lunch date,' Adrienne commented. 'Oh please, Angèlique, for the love of God, just admit you like the man, so we can resume diner.'
I bit my lip. 'It's not like I don't think of him highly, but I.. well..' looking down at my hands I stood from the table. 'I'm sorry, I must go.' I didn't offer them any more explanation and turned on my heel. I knew I was being terribly rude, but I couldn't help it. My state of mind had been already horrible when I arrived at the Opera House and I just couldn't handle talking about my feelings concerning monsieur Rousseau. Not until I had things figured out for myself.
My feet automatically guided me towards the empty ballet studio, where I dropped myself onto the parquet floor and held my head in my hands. Life had been getting more and more complicated lately and instead of puzzling things together, I only seemed to acquire more pieces.
'May I enter?'
Looking up, I found Anne standing at the door post and I nodded. I wanted to tell her that I hadn't had any right to deny her entrance, since it was a public place, but couldn't find the energy.
She quietly sat beside me, just like she had done several times before and it made me realize how much I respected this quality of hers. She always seemed to understand when to speak and when to be quiet, when to embrace me and when to give me some space. It truly was one of the things I liked most about her. 'I am sorry if you rather wanted to be alone, but we were worried.'
'It's okay, really. It's mostly the chaos in my head I wanted to run away from.'
'Did it work?'
'I suppose not..' I sighed and looked down at my hands again. 'Lately things just have been confusing and instead of getting solved, they just seem to be piling up, until at last I can't see beyond them anymore.'
'Do you care to talk about them?'
'I'd rather sort them out for myself first, if that's alright. I'm sorry.'
She held up her hands. 'No offence taken, my dear friend. I shall leave you to your thoughts, but know that you can always talk to me when you feel ready for it.'
'Thank you.. Oh Anne, I'd rather if you would not tell the others about it.'
She stood and dusted off her skirt. 'I won't, don't worry,' she smiled and closed the door behind her when she left.
For a time I just stared at the place where I'd last seen her, then I sighed. She'd truly been a valuable friend to me here at the Opera. Well, thinking about it, I suppose all of them had been. Even Adrienne had been, when one would keep the matter of Christophe Rousseau at bay..
pagebreak ~When I woke up, my body ached all over. Disorientated, I sat up and searched the darkness for a point of recognition. When at last, after five minutes or so, my eyes had adjusted to the night, I recognized my surroundings. I was still in the ballet studio, in fact even still on the same spot as I probably had fallen asleep after my ponderings.
I quickly stood from the floor and smoothed out my dress. God knows for how long I had been sleeping! I moaned as I held my neck painfully, as the muscles felt as if they had been torn apart. Tomorrow could only prove to be much worse, but I decided not to think of the aching too much. Instead, I made for the door.
All the corridors were, like the ballet studio, pitch black. The occasional window let in the tiniest beam of moonlight, but it was only enough to see the outlining of the hallways. Luckily, I had learned my way around the Opera House a bit and even without sunlight and candle light I easily found the route. On some occasions I stopped and turned around, swearing I had heard someone, only to realize then it must have been nothing more than my hazy mind making things up.
Arriving at the door, I stopped to catch my breath, before entering the dormitories. The beds formed a complicated maze and my own one just happened to be on the exact opposite of the room, in the far-end corner. Fortunately for me, though, everyone seemed sound asleep. I quickly shed off my clothes, put on my night gown and – while biting my lip to keep myself from calling out due to the pain – slipped under the warm bed sheets. I felt completely exhausted and it was due time to get some rest, for tomorrow's training and madame Giry's cane wouldn't be easy on me if I didn't.