What if I'm crazy?

I don't want to think about it, I really don't. No one wants to believe that they are quite possibly mentally impaired. But what if I am? What if all that has happened to me has just been one long, wonderful delusion?

Because that is exactly how it seems at times: so completely and inexplicably perfect that I never want it to end. So blissfully, incredibly beautiful that I have to wonder if it is possible for anything to be that lovely.

Oh, God, what if I'm crazy?

I still hear the Voice. He speaks to me everyday, sometimes many times a day. We always talk of the passionate music that binds us together, but recently, we've had conversations that just seem so...ordinary.

"Tell me, Christine," the Angel once said, "If you could live anywhere in the world, anywhere at all, where would it be?"

I'd pondered the question for a moment. Was this some sort of test? Did he expect me to answer, like a dutiful servant, "with you in the heavens, my Angel"?

"There is so much of the world that I've yet to see," was my truthful answer, "so many places that I yearn to go..."

"Where, Christine? Tell your Angel."

And we spent the next hour talking of traveling the world. Sort of an odd subject for a divine being to be curious about, wouldn't you think?

I know he is real. In the depths of my heart, I know that I am talking to someone. It is not all in my head; someone else is there.

And yet...I cannot help but wonder if it is an angel that speaks to me or...something simpler.

Oh, I feel horrible for thinking like that, but lately it has crossed my mind so many times that I just don't know what to do! I don't dare question the Angel, because a part of me fears that he will look upon my doubt with a scornful eye and leave, never to return. I couldn't bear it if he left. I would whither and die.

But I've been giving the matter some serious thought and, much as I loathe to admit it, Father's carefully crafted world of fantasy is just that: a fantasy. There are no such things as fairies and goblins and witches; of course I know that. I think I've known it forever, but oh, how wonderful it was to pretend, even for a little while! Fairy tales were my saving grace when Father died. His death hit me like a brick, and his old stories were a sort of pillow to fall back on. They were all I had left.

Are angels real, then? If fairies, goblins and witches don't exist, does that omit angels, too? I attend church regularly, believe fully in the Almighty, but do His angels really bestow their presence upon mortals simply to give them singing lessons?

Isn't that what vocal instructors are for?

I don't know. I am not certain of anything anymore, and it's driving me mad! I have heard the Angel of Music, but if angels don't exist, if I haven't been chosen to serve such a spirit, then that leaves...

...a man.

A man visits me and weaves miracles with his voice. A man has taught me to look upon myself in an entirely different light. A man caught me when I was falling into the pits of despair and lifted me to glorious heights.

A man hides somewhere in my room and sings to...

Oh, God.

A man?

What if...what if he watches me? When I'm not decent? What if, while I'm minding my own little naked business in the bath, he peeks through a hole in the wall and...ganders?

No, no, that's ridiculous. He is-he always has been-nothing but a gentleman.

But then why does he not show himself? What secrets is he keeping? Why would a gentleman hole up in the walls and mask himself as an angel?

(Probably because I was stupid enough to let him in the first place, that's a truly naive little twit you are, Christine.)

I wonder if he is a fugitive on the run from the law. I certainly don't remember hearing about any escaped convicts, but you never know. Perhaps he's committed a plethora of dreadful crimes and is hiding somewhere in the opera house, planning a ballerina massacre...

Someone with a voice like that couldn't possibly be evil! He is so infinitely kind, so patient, and although he is a strict tutor, it is only because he wishes to see me succeed.

What kind of a man takes insignificant chorus girls under his wing? What kind of a man shrouds himself in such an elaborate facade? Why does he remain a shadow?

Why is his rapturous music not playing in theaters across the world?

What is he hiding?

xxxXXXxxx

She knows.

Not everything, of course. Thank goodness for that. But she definitely knows more than she should.

Well, why shouldn't she? Christine was always a very intelligent girl. She soared in school. It was inevitable that she would begin to put the pieces together.

I only wish the masquerade could have lasted for a bit longer.

I never knew whether or not she truly believed that I was the Angel of Music. She may have for a while, or at least when I first "appeared" to her all those years ago. After all, she was but a child. Children are eager to bring the impossible to life.

But she is not a child any longer.

I do not think she is aware of how immensely lovely she is. I have traveled the world, from the sands of Persia to the lush forests of the north, but never in my life have I seen anything as beautiful as Christine Daae. Sometimes I find myself simply staring at her for hours on end, awed by her utter perfection.

It is, if you think about it, rather sickening that something like myself should even dare to come near her, but love has no boundaries, I'm afraid.

And she is so much deeper than her beauty! She positively radiates a passion for life, lives for her music. When she sings, it is as if her very reason for being is poured into the song. I can see it in her eyes, that utter devotion to her craft, that absolute need to create. Perhaps that is why I am drawn to her. We are similar in that way. Together, we can truly create miracles. We do create miracles.

Of course, that may not last much longer. What on earth am I going to do? What should I tell her if she begins to ask questions?

"No, I am not an angel. I am just a man that hides behind your mirror and pretends to have some sense of morality."

"My name is Erik, thank you for asking. I am probably forty years old, though I cannot be sure because I never bothered to keep track of such things. I live in a glorified dungeon beneath the theatre and write operas that no one will ever hear in my spare time.

"Obsessive? Yes, actually. I believe it is some sort of disorder."

"This mask? Oh, pay no attention to it. It is simply there to conceal the disgusting monstrosity that is supposed to be a face. What is that? You wish to see? Well, be my guest! Yes, it is revolting, isn't it?"

"Why all of this? Because I love you, Christine. I love you and if I could, I would spend the rest of my miserable life with you. I would give you everything you would ever desire. You consume me, are on my mind every waking moment. You look a bit disturbed, dear. Was it something I said?"

This can only end badly. I've known it from the start. Really, I should know better by now than to involve myself in the affairs of the human race. I should have just strangled myself years ago and ended it all. It would have prevented a lot of headaches.

How could I have lost control like this? How could I have abandoned my defenses so carelessly? I am normally so meticulously cautious in such matters! How foolish I was to delude myself into thinking that I was actually intelligent!

I have fallen in love with Persephone, and I sense that the time to spirit her away to the underworld is rapidly approaching.