Past the Point of No Return
Madame Giry and Meg listened quietly to the conversation at the other side of the door. They both hoped that Christopher would finally admit his feelings for Erika, but they had to listen to the awkward conversation. "Confess already! How long is he going to wait," Meg asked impatiently.
"Hopefully not for long, but it will be difficult since he's engaged to Rachel," Madame Giry answered.
"But if he was in love with Erika, why did he propose to her?"
"He told me that she hurt him when she pushed him away after Buquet's death. I wouldn't blame her, but she could have talked to him after a while. Remember, she didn't tell him she loved him until after the masquerade ball."
"Oh," Meg said. She put her ear to the door and sighed. "They are talking about her mask. C'mon, Chris. Just say it!"
Suddenly, they heard a faint knock at the door from downstairs. They froze in place at the sound, but soon, Madame Giry walked down the stairs to the door. She turned the doorknob and was surprised to see who was at the door. "Rachel de Chagny! What are you doing here?"
"I'm surprised to see you here, Madame Giry. I came here to see if Christopher was here, but since you're here, he must be here," Rachel said as she walked into the house. "Where is he, anyway?"
"He's looking for something. Let me go get him for you while you wait here," Madame Giry said as she guided her to a sofa for her to sit in. With a worried face, she rushed to the guest room upstairs.
As she arrived to the door, she could see Meg was in glee. "He finally said it, mother!"
"Well, we now have a problem. Rachel is here," she explained.
"Yes and I have to tell him," she said as she gently pushed Meg out of the way of the door. She opened it and could see the two lovebirds pull back, obviously hiding the fact that they were about to kiss. She would have teased them about it, but now was not the time. "Oh, I hope I'm not interrupting anything, but Rachel is here to see Christopher."
They looked at her with surprise. "Are you serious," Christopher said and was saddened when she nodded her head. He turned to Erika and said, "I will be back, I promise." He then left her side and left the room with Madame Giry and Meg by his side.
He walked downstairs and saw a beautifully dressed Rachel patiently waiting for him. When she saw him, her eyes lit up with happiness. "Ah, there's my beloved fiancé!" She got up from the couch and walked up to him to give him a hug. She then took a closer look at his clothes and pouted. "Why are you wearing these old rags? You didn't forget about our dinner with Philippe, did you?"
"O-Of course not. I just got home after visiting my father's tomb," he stammered.
"Well, you better fix yourself up. This place we are going to is where the best of the best eat and we wouldn't want to disappoint anyone. Let's go upstairs to find you a proper outfit," she said as she grabbed his hand and headed upstairs. They all had worried faces since they feared that she might figure out their little secret and unfortunately, Rachel could tell. "You didn't tell me why you were here, Madame Giry."
"Oh, well, I wanted to talk to him about your wedding. What plans have you two figured out already," she answered, trying to change the subject.
"Well, our wedding colors will be black and white, my dress will be made by the finest seamstress in Switzerland, and his suit will be tailored by a tailor that my brother recommended. We are going to discuss more details with my brother tonight." They finally arrived to his bedroom, but when she looked at his closet, she was disappointed by the choices. "Nope. Nope. That won't do. How old is this thing? Oh no! I just bought you new suits some time ago. Where are they?"
"They are in the guest room-," he said before he caught himself. The Girys looked in fear as he made probably the worst mistake he could have made. He even covered his mouth, furthering the point that he made a grave mistake. Now Rachel's curiosity peaked.
"Well let's go find them," she said as she dragged him to the guest room. Despite their protests, she managed to find it, but as the door opened, they didn't hear her say anything that signaled she saw her. Instead, she said, "Ah, here they are!" They all looked at each other with confused faces, but when they entered the room; they noticed that Erika was no longer there. In fact, nothing other than a recently used bed signaled that she was even there. The only clue they had to her disappearance was Rachel shutting a window, saying, "You need to keep your windows closed, Christopher. It's freezing in here." After a while, they finally calmed down, but Madame Giry was worried about Erika, especially since she suffered an injury that could have affected her more than she showed.
"If you will excuse us, my daughter and I will be heading home. Thank you, Christopher, for talking with us."
"You're welcome and thanks for visiting," he responded. With an awkward air, they left the house and headed straight for the Palais Garnier.
"So, why were the three of you so secretive," Rachel teased.
Christopher looked at her with confused eyes, trying to hide his now relieved fear. "What do you mean?"
"Are you trying to hide something like maybe a special gift for a special woman?"
"Well, I can't say anything even if it was. Now, weren't we getting ready for dinner with your brother?"
The fateful day finally arrived: the debut showing of Don Juan Triumphant. Everyone was so terrified since they feared if that anyone messed up during the show, they would all be killed. However, the managers and Rachel felt very confident as they placed guards at every door, hoping that they would somehow trap the Phantom, despite they all knew how crafty she was. "Mademoiselle de Chagny, we have guards at every door, just as you ordered," the captain said.
"Thank you, monsieur. Now, there was is no way she can escape from us.” She could see men in uniforms almost everywhere, even on stage, in the orchestra area, and the catwalk above the stage. "Now, if you don't mind, I'll be sitting in Box 5 and if you see anyone trying to make me leave or even kill me, you shoot them. You hear me, captain?"
“Are you so sure that a few guards can stop me,” a villainous voice said, but the voice seemed to never stay in one place, confusing the guards. “I mean, how can you kill something that’s all ready dead?” She then appeared within Box 5 and one guard tried to shoot her, but missed.
“Idiot! You are not supposed to shoot until you have a clear shot of her,” the captain yelled.
“I’m sorry, but I thought I did. I was certain I would have shot her, but she somehow dodged the bullet,” he said with fear in his voice.
After a while of security checking, Rachel went to find Christopher, who was down in the chapel area of the Palais Garnier. He lit a candle for his father and prayed deeply. He was wearing his costume, which was mostly black clothing with red trim, leather boots, and belt. She watched him quietly as he could hear him say, "Please, father, I'm terrified. I can't perform out there knowing that I am a key player in this plan. Please, father, get me out of this mess."
"Christopher," she cooed. He sharply tuned around, but was relieved to see Rachel out of all people see him at his most vulnerable state. "I know this isn't easy for you, but you have to understand that we are doing the right thing by getting rid of that lunatic. She has harmed many good people and will continue to hurt them if we don't stop her. You have to do this. Please!"
"It's twisted every way; what answer can I give? Am I to risk my life to win the chance for everyone to live? Can I betray the woman who inspired my voice? Do I become her prey? Do I have any choice? She devised this evil plot, but inside, I know she's good. I know I can't refuse and yet I wish I could. Oh god, if I agree, what horrors wait for in this: the Phantom's opera?"
"Christopher, don't think that I don't care, but every hope and every prayer rests on you now," she said as she hugged him. He could feel tears running down his cheeks at the thought of betraying the woman he loved took a massive toll on him. After a while, she said, "I'll give you some more time to release your nerves. The show starts in only a half an hour." She left him and exited the chapel to check on things upstairs. He was now even more nervous about the show. She doesn't get that he doesn't want anything bad to happen to Erika. He tried to see her many times before today to try to convince her not to come, but the boat was still not there, even after everything that happened in his guest room.
After a moment of silence, a voice said, "Don't worry; I'll be fine."
He looked around him for the source of the voice, but he couldn't find it. "Please reconsider. They have guards everywhere and I'm afraid you'll get captured or worse."
"And miss the show? I don't think that's an option. I have an idea."
"Can you at least tell me what it is so I won't be too worried, my love?"
"I'm sorry, but it involves you not knowing anything. You will understand in time."
As audience members filled the seats to watch this unconventional show, Rachel sat at Box 5 with the captain sitting next to her with a loaded gun in his hand. The managers sat at the box at the opposite side of the stage, just to make sure they wouldn't be harmed in case she was right of the Phantom trying to kill her. Madame Giry was noticeably nervous as she told her girls to get ready for the opening number which involved the entire cast. Christopher was exceptionally nervous as he knew once the curtain parted; there was no going back from there. Sure enough, the music started playing and everyone got into position. The first song was about the rumors of Don Juan, including the many women he had seduced. Women love him and men were jealous of him. However, some parts were spoken, which confused the audience. They never went to an opera where they didn't sing for the entire opera. In fact, there was probably more dialogue than song. The performers could hear the muttering disapproval amongst the audience members, but they continued.
Eventually, his mother, played by a woman from the chorus, tells him that he needs to settle down and she has found the perfect woman for him, Lillian, who was played by Carlotta. In a way, it was a fitting role. Lillian was a woman who was nice to people around her, except for Don Juan, who she viewed as worthless scum. Even though he tells his mother about her behavior, she doesn't believe him because she thinks he's trying to convince her to stop the wedding. The next scene, he tells his friends at a bar about the news and they convince him to have one last fling before he ties the knot. "Who, out of all these fair maidens, do you want me to seduce," Christopher sang.
"Well, there is this one girl, but there is no way you'll get her in bed with you," a chorus lad sang.
The men point at a girl who was serving drinks to guests at the bar. "Her name's Aminta and she is a very conservative girl. You'll never get her in bed with you unless you marry her, which we all know you can't do." The boys laughed at their impossible challenge. Christopher looked at the girl. Her real name was Samara Ether and she was a new singer hired to play the part, but she was very talented, even by Erika's standards. She even almost looked like Erika, but she was wearing a black wig since she had natural blonde hair. Originally, Carlotta was suppose to play the part, but after too many "accidents" occurred, they decided to cast Samara instead and Carlotta would play Lillian, which worked out for everyone's benefit. She fit the role almost perfectly, but he knew who the role was written for.
As the performance progressed, Don Juan works very hard to court Aminta so she would sleep with him, but like his friends said, she wouldn't. However, she does progressively fall in love with him, which aids his pursuit. She even sings a solo song about her love for him:
He could have any woman
But out of all of them, he chose me
Am I just a pawn in his seduction game
Or is this all just one huge fantasy
Either way, he has won my heart
And nothing in this world can keep us apart
Christopher watched from the side of the stage and watched her sing. True, she had a lovely voice, but it was nothing compared to Erika's. If only she sang this song, it would have been such a beautiful performance. If only she was there singing those words to him, but he thought it best she stayed away from this production as much as possible. Speaking of Erika, he wondered where she was and what she was planning. She didn't seemed frightened at all when they last spoke, but he had to wonder if she was truly terrified that this could be the last show she will ever see.
At last, the seduction scene came into place and Don Juan sings about his preparations for their romantic encounter the night before his wedding. The props on the table suggested a special meal for the two of them, including a centerpiece of apples at the middle of the table. There was a small room facing the audience and inside was a tiny bed with pillows and blankets on top, but it looked bigger because of the magical techniques made by the set designers. It had a curtain door, which would end the scene once they were closed. Now, he was more nervous than ever; where was Erika? There was no sign that she was anywhere. Even the police looked impatient as they awaited her presence.
Finally, he heard the musician play the xylophone's lowest note, which was suppose to be her knocking. He goes to "open the door" and saw a hooded figure enter the stage, just as it was scripted. Aminta was suppose to be unseen by people since she didn't want anyone to know that she was going to see Don Juan at such a late hour. He guided her to a bench near the table and sat her down as he began to sing to her:
You have come here in pursuit
of your deepest urge
In pursuit of that wish which till now has been silent . . . silent
I have brought you that our passions may fuse and merge
In your mind you've already succumbed to me, dropped all defenses
Completely succumbed to me
Now you are here with me, no second thoughts
You've decided . . . decided
As he continued to sing, he put his hands all over Samara, theoretically making her want him even more, but he felt reluctant. Even during rehearsals, he didn't feel comfortable touching a woman, especially now when two women he loved were watching him. Rachel was getting jealous even though she knew he was only acting. Erika . . . well, let's just say, she was watching him very closely. Even with the cloak on, he could feel every curve of Samara's body and she had to act that she was enjoying every touch he gave her, which is not an easy task since she worse the cloak, but she pulled it off. Although, something did throw him off a bit when he touched her face; he was expecting to touch soft skin, but he felt something smooth and hard instead, which made him retract his hand from her sharply. Once it was her turn to sing, an angelic voice sang:
You have brought me to that
moment where words run dry
To that moment when speech disappears into silence . . . silence
I have come here, hardly knowing the reason why
In my mind, I've already imagined our bodies entwining, defenseless and silent
Now I am here with you, no second thoughts
I've decided . . . decided
"That voice," he whispered to himself. She then put her hands on the hood and removed it from her head, but he and the audience were shocked to see it wasn't Samara underneath that hood. It was Erika; there was no doubt about it. She was wearing a black and red mask held by a black satin ribbon and those blue eyes were too hard to resist. He blushed at the thought that this whole time; he was touching her instead of Samara. This was her plan all along: steal the role of Aminta for this scene and maybe the next just so she can be closer to him? Why would she do that? What happened to Samara? All these questions popped into everyone's heads, but the only one question popped into his mind: why did she take so long?
"Past the point of no return. No going back now. Our passion play has now at last begun," she sang as she took the cloak off her and placed it on the table, revealing a slim red dress that showed off her beautiful feminine curves. He swallowed hard as he tried to hold his composure in front of the audience, but mainly her. However, she now played the seducer as she slowly forced him to sit down and gave him a prop apple to "eat", but she teased him as she took it away before he could take a bite. "Past all thought of right or wrong. One final question: how long should we two wait before we're one?" She leaned closer to him so that he chest was touching his back, like if he were to give him a hug, but she put one knee on the bench he was sitting on, which made him extremely nervous. She could see that his hands were shaking immensely and she grabbed them with a might. She could feel how sweaty they were, but she placed one of their entwined hands on her bare cheek and continued to sing, "When will, the blood begin to race? The sleeping bud burst into bloom. When will the flames at last consume us?" He then shook her off and stood up, but he still walked closer to her and seductively grabbed her from behind, making sure that their hands were still entwined and they continued to sing:
Past the point of no return
One final threshold
The bridge is crossed so stand and watch it burn
We've past the point of no return
He then led her to his room and closed the curtain, which ended the scene. As prop and stage managers hurriedly set up for the wedding scene, he tried to speak with her, but she took off before he could tell her anything. He got into his costume quickly and everything was set for the most heartbreaking scene he has ever had to play. The scene was set so that stage left was the altar and stage right was the "door" that led inside the church, including a sign inviting guests to attend the wedding. As the scene progressed, the audience can see that Aminta is trying to find Don Juan, but she sees the sign instead. She can't believe her eyes and enters the church, right as he is suppose to sing his song before he kissed Lillian. He saw Erika looking straight at him with those tearful eyes she must have had when she saw him and Rachel kissed and couldn't help but break character. In this scene, he is suppose to be smug, telling his friends that his last fling as a bachelor was a success, which further broke her heart, but instead, he kept looking at Erika with a sad look on his face.
Suddenly, he ran from the altar, which alarmed all the performers and some musicians. The music didn't stop, but some musicians were clearly confused by the sudden move. Erika was confused as he came closer, but he "exited" the building and sang:
Say you'll share with me one love,
Lead me, save me from my solitude
Say you want me with you here, beside you
Anywhere you go let me go too
Erika, that's all I ask of you
She was truly speechless. She didn't know what to do. What could she do? The only thing holding her up and preventing her from fainting was him holding her in his arms. She could feel tears of joy running down her cheek as she could hear the music make an epic melody since this was the part where he was supposed to kiss his supposed bride. He put his hand on the side of her face with her mask on, but she didn't care at all since this was the happiest movement of her life. He leaned in to give her a kiss at last, but he put too much pressure on the mask as it quickly slid off. Eventually, it slid off her face and onto the floor, revealing her deformity to the entire audience. Everyone, from audience members to performers screamed as they witnessed a terrible disfigurement that no one imagined would belong to a beautiful woman.
When she heard the screams, Erika finally realized what was going on and pushed him away. Those tears of joy suddenly turned to tears of absolute horror, but instead of trying to hide her face with the fallen mask, she did the unthinkable. She grabbed the knife out of her dress pocket and cut a rope that was supporting the chandelier. She loosened the machinery upstairs so that now that the rope was cut, it would be easier for the chandelier to fall. Once the chandelier started to fall, audience members ran and the police ran for their lives for they knew that if they stayed, they would surely be killed. Cast members and orchestra members ran as they saw that the chandelier was heading for the stage. With everyone distracted, Erika stomped on a trap door and she fell down with Christopher in her arms. Rachel looked in horror as she saw that two disastrous things have happened: a fallen chandelier which was now causing a huge fire within the Palais Garnier and a bloodthirsty madwoman has kidnapped her fiancée.