What Have I Become
For the next three months, there were no disturbances from the Phantom of the Opera, relieving the managers and the cast members, but worrying Madame Giry and Christopher. Madame Giry tried seeing Erika many times after she realized she wasn't up in the Palais Garnier for a long time, but when she arrived to the lake, she saw the boat was never there. Erika must have taken the boat so no one could see her, especially Christopher. She also noticed that the note he left looked untouched and it was even gathering dust. Christopher did keep his promise of visiting the lake every night, but he always came back disappointed. As time passed, he felt betrayed by the person he truly cared about. Why didn't she want to see him? They haven't had a lesson since the accident and he really wanted to talk to her. He heard people saying that the Phantom of the Opera was a madwoman and a psychopath and he always wanted to argue she wasn't, but he feared people would ask questions or think he was the Phantom.
One day, Madame Giry came back up from the lake and checked through the mirror. No one was there, like usual. She opened the mirror, but before she could close it, she heard the door open and in came Christopher. He was surprised to see the mirror open and thought it was Erika before he realized it was Madame Giry. Her face was bright red. "C-C-Christopher, what are you doing here," she asked nervously as she quickly closed the mirror, hoping he didn't see.
"This is my dressing room, Madame Giry. What are you doing here? Did you come to visit Erika," he asked.
"Erika? Who's that," she lied. She made it mission for Christopher to not know she knew Erika personally because she feared he might put their safety in jeopardy if he ever told anyone.
"You know who I'm talking about. She told me, well, mentioned your name, when I came to visit her one time. Besides, you had the mirror open." The jig was up.
She sighed. "Fine, yes, I was going to visit her, but she doesn't have the boat there. She hasn't been up here for a long time and I fear for her health."
"Have you seen her at all? I'm worried sick about her," he said with a worried tone. For a man who broke her heart, he was really determined to see her.
"Not since the opening show."
"What happened to her? Ever since that show, she seemed to disappear. How was she when you last saw her?"
"She was in tears. She believed that everyone would call her a murderer and she didn't want you to think that."
"Well, why won't she talk to me? I haven't seen her at all and I even left a note for her," he said as he pointed to the note. "It looks like she hasn't even seen it."
She sighed, but said in a disappointed tone, "How are you and Rachel handling the situation?"
"Rachel is trying hard to help me forget about the accident and rekindle our relationship, but why would you ask?"
"What has she been telling you," Madame Giry asked, completely ignoring his question.
He looked at her with a confused face. "Well, other than she loves me with all her heart, she says I should leave the Palais Garnier and especially stay away from my Angel of Music since she is obsessed with me."
"Do you believe that?" He didn't respond. He only looked at the ground and debated his answer. "Oh, you naïve boy! You don't realize how much you hurt her," she said before pausing herself. She said too much. She tried to leave, but was interrupted by Christopher's questions.
"Hurt her? What do you mean?"
"You still don't understand," she said as she left the room, leaving him perplexed.
"Hurt her? How did I hurt her?" Christopher said to himself. He saw the note on the vanity and decided to write something else with it. He brushed off the dust from it and picked up the quill and ink to write "PS I'm sorry" underneath his signature.
Some weeks later, Christopher and Philippe waited anxiously for Rachel to meet them at a cafe near the Palais Garnier, but she was late, as usual. "I swear, my little sister can never arrive on time for anything even if her life depended on it," Philippe said.
"Maybe she saw something shiny in a store and decided to buy it," Christopher joked. They both laughed.
"If that were the case, she won't be here for another three hours."
"Besides, I have something special for her that I'm sure she'll love."
"And what is that?" Philippe asked curiously. Christopher reached into his pocket and pulled out a little velvet box and inside was a beautiful diamond ring that sparkled in the sunlight. "Christopher, are you going to propose to my little sister," Philippe asked with surprise.
"Yes. Ever since she admitted her feelings for me, she has tried hard to rekindle our relationship and luckily for her, it worked. We've been on many dates and she has comforted me since the accident. She supports my talents and even though she wants me to leave the Palais Garnier, she is willing to let me perform at another opera house. She truly loves me and I love her too. I only ask that you are willing to give us your blessing as the patriarch of your family," Christopher said with a smile as he put the box back in his pocket.
"You know I would be more than willing to give you my blessing. Rachel has always had a fascination towards you and I believe you are the perfect man for her. I just hope she says yes, but I doubt she wouldn't. Oh, you have made me that happiest brother-in-law in the world," he said as he hugged his future brother.
A few minutes later, Rachel finally arrived to their table and was just expecting a regular lunch, but noticed that Philippe was too happy for a regular lunch. "Brother, is there something you need to tell me?"
"I don't, but I think Christopher does," Philippe said with a smile.
"Christopher? Is there something you would like to say?"
"Well, I . . . how do I say this," he said nervously. He grabbed her hand and said, "Rachel, you know that I love you and you've made me a happy man, but I don't want to be your lover anymore."
"What do you mean? Are you leaving me?" Rachel asked with tears forming in her eyes.
"No, I want to be your husband. Rachel de Chagny, will you marry me?" Christopher said as he got on one knee and pulled out the box with the ring on it.
Rachel was speechless, but tears rolled down her eyes. After a few moments, she finally muttered, "Yes!" He put the ring on her wedding finger and they shared a passionate kiss. The people surrounding them cheered as they congratulated the new couple.
"We need to make wedding preparations as soon as we can! I'll even pay for the whole thing to ensure that my little sister has the best wedding in the world," Philippe announced as he hugged the new couple. "So what's first?"
"Well, let's keep this as low-key as we can, please, that is, until the masquerade ball later this month," Christopher suggested. "Then I can show off my fiancé to everyone in attendance. I'm sure everyone will be thrilled by the news."
"Fine, we can wait, but I'm picking the costumes you two should wear. It needs to scream romance!"
The night of the masquerade ball finally arrived and it was filled with excitement and wonder as fireworks filled the air and guest came in extravagant costumes and masks. There were drinks everywhere and clearly some people had too much. The managers dressed as a skeleton and a demon while Carlotta and Piangi dressed as gods while Meg Giry dressed as the Mad Hatter. Madame Giry was the only person who didn't fully dress up since she only wore a black mask and gown. Christopher and Rachel were the main attraction since they were dressed as a prince and princess. Although his outfit was simple, Rachel was the true belle of the ball with her beautiful dress that was a perfect mix of pink and blue. However, when another guest came in, she took the attention away from the couple and toward her. "Who could that be," most people asked.
The mystery woman had pale skin, but black hair that was wrapped into a bun. She wore an extravagant red dress, long red gloves, a satchel that seemed to carry something inside, and a flamboyant hat, but what drew everyone was her skull mask that covered her entire face. Despite the crowd gathering around her, she moved away and danced with the rest of the party. Couples split up to dance with new partners and Christopher and Rachel were no exception. "May I have this dance, your majesty," Firmin in a devil costume said to Rachel with a bow.
"Of course, Diablo," she joked as she took his hand and they danced for the duration of the song. Christopher tried to walk away from the crowd, but was stopped by the mystery woman.
"May I have this dance, monsieur," she said, but he swore he knew that voice.
"Of course, mademoiselle," he said as he grabbed her hand. They pulled each other closer and got into position to dance. However, when he looked at her eyes, he saw a sapphire blue that he couldn't mistake. "Erika," he said, but she shushed him.
"Be quiet! I don't want anyone to know I'm here. I just came to see the managers, but I couldn't help but notice that you and your . . . date were here together."
"Erika, where have you been? I've tried to see you since the accident! I wanted to talk to you!"
"Keep your voice down! I don't want your date to-," she tried to say, but she saw Rachel walking toward them with a jealous look in her eye. She abruptly pulled away from him and quickly left his side to look for the managers.
"Well, I'm surprised you received the opportunity to meet the belle of the ball, even if it was short lived. So, have you figured out who she is?"
"She's . . . She's my Angel of Music," he said with disappointment. He finally found her, but she still didn't want to talk to him.
"Wait, the Phantom of the Opera is here with us," Rachel yelled, unaware of her volume. The people around her looked in terror.
"The Phantom is here? Where is she? What is she wearing," people asked. They looked around and saw that the mystery woman was approaching the managers who were at the top of the enormous staircase. "There she is! The Phantom of the Opera!"
They all looked to the staircase and the woman stop in her tracks at the sound of her name. The managers looked at her and they had fear in their eyes. She turned to face the crowd that finally quieted as they realized who the mystery woman was and she gave a smile. "Why are you all so silent? Did you think that I had left you for good? True, I haven't been caused any trouble in the last three months, but that's only because I was busy with other things. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you my opera," Erika said with villainy as she reached into her satchel and pulled out a red manuscript. On the cover, it said Don Juan Triumphant. "This is my magnum opus and I want it to be shown here in the Palais Garnier."
"Why would we do that," Andre asked rudely. She pulled out her gun from her satchel and pointed it at the managers. They cowered in fear and she gave them a little chuckle.
"Do you have anything else to say, messieurs," she said as she cocked her gun. They shook their heads vigorously and she chuckled. "All right, so will you debut my show or will I have to do something you would regret."
"W-We'll debut it," Firmin said as he took the manuscript from her hand cautiously. She then turned to the audience and could see Christopher and Rachel in the front. Her smirk turned into a scowl as she walked toward the couple. Everyone backed away, including Rachel, but Christopher stayed. Rachel signaled him to back away, but he didn't listen. Erika walked toward him until they were finally face to face.
"And our star, Christopher Daaé will be our Don Juan. He has the talent to fulfill his role," she said with a smile, but she turned to the rest of the crowd and continued, "Which is more than I can say for the rest of you! My managers must learn that their place is an office and not the art! La Carlotta must be taught to act, not just a helpless attempt of strutting around the stage. Piangi, I must say that if you want to keep your job, I suggest you try to improve your singing, if that is what you call it. If you can't, I suggest you leave immediately!"
"Erika, this isn't you. You wouldn't hurt a soul," he said with concern.
"You would be surprised how much suffering I can cause," she said, but Rachel came up to them and put herself between them. "What do you think you're doing, Viscountess?"
"I'm protecting my fiancé from the monster you have become," she said. Christopher tried to chide her for saying such an awful thing, but Erika's eyes widened with shock for a different reason.
"You two . . . are engaged," she asked in disbelief. Rachel nodded, but Christopher didn't answer. She then suddenly grabbed Rachel's throat and pointed her gun to her head. Rachel had difficulty breathing as Erika put more pressure on her throat. "I should kill you now, you little bitch!"
"Erika! Please! Don't do this," Christopher yelled. Erika stared intensely at him, but eventually let her go and Rachel finally caught her breath. He made sure his fiancé was all right and Erika left their side.
"Rehearsals begin soon, everyone. Make sure you try your best because if you don't, I assure you that I will handle with you personally," she threatened as the lights suddenly turned off and she left in the cover of darkness. When the lights turned back on, everyone was terrified by the new deadly Phantom of the Opera that they could not enjoy the rest of their party. Most left immediately, but only the managers, Madame Giry, Meg, Rachel, and Christopher stayed behind. All of them headed for the managers' office to look through the new production.
"This isn't music! This is just a mess of notes and vocals. Not only that, but she wants certain members fired and replaced with ‘better’ performers. This is lunacy," Firmin yelled as he examined the manuscript.
"She wants this part to be spoken? In fact, there are many parts that say 'spoken'. This is blasphemy! People come to operas to hear the singers sing," Andre yelled.
"She's trying something that has never been done before. Maybe there is a genius behind her madness," Meg said timidly.
"It's madness all right, but I can't see the genius! It's just one huge mess," Firmin said finally throwing the manuscript on the floor with anger.
"It may be difficult to pull off, but we have to do it. You heard what she said," Madame Giry said as picked it up from the floor.
"I know, I know, but I can't deal with a madwoman with a gun running our theater. The last thing we need is another dead body around here," Andre said as he put a hand on his face.
"Wait, we have all been blind and yet the answer is staring at us in the face," Rachel said with an epiphany. "This could be the chance to capture this madwoman."
"Go on," the managers said, intrigued by what she said.
"We'll debut her show and do everything she asks for, but we will have the police here to get rid of our little pest. We have seen that she is a woman and not a ghost, so we can catch her and if Christopher sings, she will certainly attend."
"What a brilliant idea! If the police are at every door, there is no way she can escape and they can arrest her, if not put her down. Rachel, you are a genius," Firmin praised as he went to hug the young woman.
“This is madness! Why would you make a man betray his own Angel of Music,” Madame Giry argued.
“So you’re behind this,” the managers asked.
“No, I am not! I am saying that they clearly have some type of relationship between them and I’m afraid that doing such a thing would break his heart!”
"She’s obsessed with him, Madame Giry. She doesn’t want what’s best for him, but rather force him to be part of her fantasy. She has to go before anyone else gets killed. Will you help us Christopher," Rachel asked, but received no reply. She looked around the office and saw he was nowhere in sight. "Christopher? Where did he go?"
"He told me he had to leave. After everything tonight, he needed some fresh air, but I'm not sure where he went exactly," Meg claimed.
"Oh, then I guess I'll see him tomorrow morning I have a lot of planning to do and I’ll see you all soon," Rachel said with slight happiness in her voice. They all exchanged farewells and went home. Today was a very exhausting day.
"Why did he have to be there?!" Erika went back to her lair and just threw herself on the pillow again to cry. She took off the skull mask and hat, but left on the dress since she was in no mood to change. The only successful thing about this evening was giving her manuscript to the managers, but it did not go as expected. She didn't wanted anyone to know that she was the Phantom of the Opera until she talked to the managers, but Rachel had to say who she was in front of everyone. Oh, Rachel. The thought of her made her blood boil. That conniving bitch made her life a living hell. She stole the man she loved away from her and filled his mind with lies. She wished that she took the shot and killed her right when she had her, but Christopher begged her not to. Oh, Christopher. Seeing him again made her feel mixed emotions. On one hand, she felt heartbroken. The man was so naïve that he didn't realize how much he loved her throughout all this time and he instead chose a woman he said before that he didn't really love. On the other hand, he made her heart flutter. She tried as hard as she could to be as threatening as possible to the managers, but seeing him just made her want to cry in front of everyone. She loved him! How could she hate him? Despite everything, she could find it in her heart to forgive him.
"Erika," a voice cooed. She quickly turned around and her heart nearly skipped a beat. It was Christopher! How did he get here? There was no boat to take him to her home. She quickly put on her normal black mask so he wouldn't see her deformity, got up from the bed, and walked toward him. She looked at his clothes and saw that they were soaking wet. He must have swum all the way over here. She felt touched at first that he would do something like that, but she couldn't let him know that.
"What are you doing here? I thought not having my boat by your dressing room was a clear sign that I did not want to see you!"
"I know, but I need to know what is going on with you? I know you and this isn't you," he said. He noticed that her hair was no longer in the bun and now flowed down her shoulders. Her makeup was smudged and he could see mascara running down her cheek as if she was just crying. Her eyes were red and puffy just like they were at the cemetery and he felt his heart sink.
She laughed. "If you really knew me, you wouldn't have kissed Rachel."
"What do you mean?"
"You still haven't figured it out? How stupid can you be? Why else would a woman hate the fact you kissed another woman?"
He thought about it for a while and finally understood why she had been so distant since the accident. "Did you . . . love me?"
"You truly think you know me? You have no goddamn idea who I am. Yes, I love you! I have loved you for a long time now, but you never noticed. You said such nice things to me that no one else ever told me before and I thought that maybe . . . just maybe you could love me. Despite my face, I thought I could try to find a way to win your heart, but instead, you gave all your love to that Viscountess girl!"
He was dumbfounded. "I-I'm so sorry, Erika. I didn't know . . . I mean . . . I tried to see you throughout these months, but you never wanted to see me. I wanted to ask you what happened back then, but I assumed that you were traumatized by the experience and needed space. However, you didn't make an effort to contact me since then," he said angrily.
"Don't get angry at me! I didn't do anything to you. You were the one that broke my heart by kissing Rachel on that balcony."
"Erika, I can explain-,"
"No, you can't lie to me. I saw you two. I saw her feed lies into your mind to make you believe I was the villain and you started to believe them!"
"I never believed you were a monster. Even now, I still don't believe you are a monster, now that I understand why you are like this, but realize I was hurt when you didn't even try to talk to me. I thought you didn't want to see me anymore and Rachel was the only person who I could feel happiness with. That's why I proposed to her."
"Well, forgive me for feeling so heartbroken by your betrayal. If you weren't at the ball, I would have killed that girl, even if she wasn't your fiancée!"
"There's no way you could! I mean, you never killed someone in your life, not even Buquet . . . did you," he asked, afraid to hear her answer.
After a hesitation, she said, "Yes I did and I would do it again to get rid of the suffering in my heart!" He tried to walk up to her and maybe give her a hug, but she ran to her bedroom and grabbed her gun to point at Christopher. "Now, I think it would be wise for you to leave. You can take the boat if you have to, but just leave!"
"Erika, please," he begged, but she only cocked her gun. In defeat, he decided to head for a boat and get in. "I just hope you have it in your heart to forgive me and hopefully I can forgive you." He started rowing back to the dressing room with tears falling down his cheek. He never thought that his Angel of Music could be so cruel to him now, even though he caused her to behave like this. In a way, he felt guilty for making her the monster she had become.
When she knew he was at a far distance, she felt tears roll down her cheek. She dropped her gun, curled herself into a ball, and cried on her knees. "What has happened to me? I vowed to never kill anyone again and now I'm more than willing to kill over a man! Even worse, I pointed a gun to the man I love. He'll . . . He'll never find it in his heart to forgive me after that! What have I become?"