This oneshot is a companion piece to The Past is Another Country, which is over on the POTO section of this site. You don't need to have read it to understand this story, but if you'd like to read it anyway, please go ahead! It's based on the original London production.
All reviews welcome!
She is coming.
After all these years, I will see her again. Soon. Here in the bizarre world of Coney Island, no less, where I rule over a garish, noisy amusement park, instead of an Opera House.
She arrives this evening, on the Persephone, and will no doubt be met by a cacophony of nosy, loud mouthed reporters and photographers, all clamouring to record her first steps on to American soil.
But I will see her again, and she will sing for me once more. Soon my music will be brought to life again, and New York will forever know the name of Christine Daae, yes, Daae, for I refuse to think of her with his name, the name of that foolish boy who has gambled away his fortune and made his wife desperate enough to accept an offer from an apparent stranger.
God, how I loved her! The only woman who ever kissed me, the only woman I have ever been intimate with… And even now, the heart that I once believed to have turned to ice is beating rapidly at the thought that a ship is currently crossing the Atlantic, finally bringing her to me. All those years, all those nights, of dreaming of her, wanting her with me… She will be mine soon, no matter what happens.
My heart still racing, I take the beautiful silver necklace that I purchased for her a few weeks ago from its velvet box and place it around the replica of my Christine. The automaton that looks at me with unseeing eyes, with her eyes, that reaches out for me with stiff, lifeless arms… Soon, on the night of her debut here in Phantasma, I will finally place it around the neck of the real Christine.
And yet… so much has changed too. I am older. All three of us are older, of course. And they have a child, according to my source. A boy. Just one child… for some reason I thought they would have had more than that. No doubt he will be some pasty faced little aristocrat with annoyingly perfect manners and a cloying voice. Or a spoilt, selfish brat, but I cannot imagine Christine raising a child like that. Or he could be just like his father, Heaven help him. I wonder what my Christine is like as a mother? It is strange to think of her as a mother, when I can remember her as a lost, innocent child. But although eleven years have passed since I last saw her, my love for her has never changed. As if it ever could.
There is much to think about. I shall be watching them of course, when they arrive. How many times did I watch Christine at the Opera House, without her even knowing? Tonight I will see her, before she ever sees me. No doubt she will be just as beautiful as always, despite the passing years. And then I will reveal myself to her, when the time is right.
Yes, my sweet Christine, we will have so much to talk about tonight. And you will not be leaving me again. I will not leave you again. I should never have left you that night, that wonderful night that I will never forget. How many times have I regretted it over the years? I should never have let you leave my lair in the first place, after Don Juan Triumphant. I should never have let him take you away... You see, I thought he would make you happy, that he would take care of you. But now… It made my blood boil to learn about what he has become. He will not mistreat you again, believe me. You need to set free all the music that is within you, my Christine, and I alone can help you do that.
And the child, the little boy… His son. Yes, I have to think of him too. I could send him home to France with his father afterwards, perhaps. But what about Christine? No, she would never forgive me. Despite the cynical shell that has grown around me over the last decade, I am not yet heartless enough to part a mother from her child. So I have decided, after much consideration, that the boy will stay with us. I will raise the vicomte's son as my own, if it means that my angel will stay with me forever.
My plan is in place. Everything has been thought out carefully, ever since I received that polite, formal reply from an unsuspecting Christine, accepting my invitation. Feeling more satisfied than I have done for a long time, I reluctantly put away my automaton, replace my mask and wait for my lackeys to arrive. And they are right on time, as usual.
It is remarkable how little I know of these three people standing before me, Miss Fleck, Dr Gangle, and Mr Squelch, known around Phantasma as the Trio. All of them came here to escape from something, but what? After all, why else would they be here, wearing strange costumes and adopting even stranger personas, if not to hide their true selves from the public? And yet, they are three of my most loyal workers, all of them grateful for the little I give them; the tiny caravans they occupy at the back of the park, away from prying eyes, for the chance to earn a living doing something they clearly enjoy.
I welcome them, and thank them for coming. As ever, they wait patiently for their instructions.
"You are aware that Christine Daae is making her American debut here in the Phantasma theatre?"
They nod. Most of New York must know by now.
"She and her family will be arriving on the Persephone this evening, into Pier 66, at 7p.m," I tell them gravely, having checked and re-checked all the details with the shipping company. "You will go and meet them at the pier and bring them here, to the hotel."
"Yes, sir," they reply in unison, as they often do. Sometimes, when I'm in one of my better moods, this can be quite amusing.
"You will take the golden carriage. You know the one I mean." Now, I could easily have arranged for a regular horse drawn cab to meet them, but why would I? This is Phantasma after all. "And you will meet them in character, of course."
Suddenly their attempts to act in unison are abandoned as they throw objections at me. Miss Fleck manages to get a word in edgeways.
"Sir, you can't mean that! Are you asking us to go in character to a public place, with the golden carriage?" She glances fearfully at her comrades, who are also looking uncertain.
"The docks are not Coney Island," she continues nervously. "There will be reporters and photographers everywhere! All those people…"
I smirk. "Well, it will give them something new to gawp at, will it not? And if it annoys the vicomte, so much the better. In any case, no-one will be able to ignore the Vicomtess' arrival."
Finally, and with irritating reluctance, they agree.
"It will be a fairly long journey from the docks to the hotel, will it not? So please, feel free to entertain them in your usual manner," I continue, enjoying this moment, "Bring them to the front door and my hotel staff will look after them from there. And remember to put the carriage away before you retire to bed. I look forward to hearing about the vicomte's reaction at a later stage," I tell them with a smug grin. "The vicomtess' trip to Coney Island begins the moment she sets foot on the dockside," I continue emphatically, my excitement rising within my chest, "All of New York will remember the American debut of Christine Daae for years to come!"
Once my instructions are clear to them, they turn to leave. But it suddenly occurs to me that there was something else I meant to do. I call them back, take a large, gift-wrapped box from a nearby table and hand it to Miss Fleck.
"The vicomtess has a young son. You are to give him this present from me. A little Phantasma token, a sort of welcome present if you like. Just in case you scare him with your… performance. His parents' gifts will be placed in their hotel room." I have already briefed the hotel employees who will be on hand to cater to the family's every need during the course of their trip.
Miss Fleck nods. For some reason I feel she is the appropriate choice to give a present to a child. Perhaps because she is a woman, although, like the other pair she has always seemed curiously… sexless. But giving the boy his own special present seems the least I can do, in the circumstances…
They leave and I find I cannot settle at anything, not my music, not my designs. No work will be done today I feel. Thankfully my manager is very efficient and will probably not need me today as I would be of little use to him. My whole body is in a state of heightened anticipation as I wish for the hours to pass faster, so that I may take my place behind that mirror. The rest of my life will be determined by the next few days. The rest of our lives.
She is coming… she is coming…