We walk along the halls, which are dark and damp. I looked around and still held Erik's hand for protection. Grabbing a torch, Erik pulled me along and we went down some stairs. I said, "I read the note and I was so scared that Buquet was there, but I'm glad he wasn't and Madame Giry allowed me in the dressing room."
Erik turned his head and said, "I also sent her a note and told her. Also, he should learn his place and not bother you." I looked around and asked, "How come you wanted me to sing for you in the room? Trying to make a dramatic appearance for fun?" Turning his head, he gave an innocent shrug, "I just wanted to hear you sing and didn't want to be seen if someone came into the room."
I nodded, "Good point." We walked down a slope and found a black horse down there. I looked at the horse and said as I stroked his soft neck, "He's beautiful. Is that Cesar?" Erik looked at me and answered, "Yes, how did you know his name?" I was about to say something, but Erik raised a hand and said, "You knew it from your time." I chuckled, "You took the words right out of my mouth."
I stepped onto the stirrup and got myself on. I tried to find the other stirrup for my right foot, but there wasn't any. I asked, "I have to ride side-saddle? I never ridden like that before. I rode with one leg on each side." Erik looked at me and asked, "You rode horses with one leg on each side?"
I said, "Besides dance lessons and singing, I used to take riding lessons and wore pants. It's a bit uncomfortable on the English saddle, but the American Western saddle is easier to hold onto and comfortable." I held the reins, then Erik said, "I'll make sure you don't fall off." He held the reins near Cesar's jaw to control the horse, I gave Cesar's side a squeeze, and we went down the tunnels. I held onto the reins and looked around the tunnels being lit.
Along the ride, Erik looked at me and said, "You're very quiet. Is there something on your mind?" I sighed, "Well, I was pretty nervous when I heard the song for Act II and relieved at the same time. I knew that song growing up and it was in a movie that I watched. Oh, and that Carlotta needs to be taught a lesson and Buquet seems like he's out to get me."
Erik said, "I saw the whole thing up from the rafters. I tried not to laugh when you said that her voice sounded like a dying animal. But you're right about Buquet; he's been trying to expose me and be the hero, but always is off getting drunk and being near women for his sick pleasure. He would try to harass the ballet dancers and try to harm them when he's completely wasted." I said, "He should learn to quit drinking or get himself fired. If he comes near me again like that or anything else, I know how to throw a punch and a kick."
We pulled to a stop, then Erik helped me get off the horse. We got onto the gondola and went through the caverns. As we got near the gates, Erik said, "You must sing for me." I thought of something and vocalized the melody to Part of Your World to warm up my voice. I kept singing as the gates opened and lit candles came out from the water. We came towards the shore and I finished singing. I watched Erik step out of the boat, take his cape off, and sing to me:
- I have brought you to the seat of sweet music's throne
- To this kingdom where all must pay homage to music...
- You have come here for one purpose and one alone!
- Since the moment I first heard you sing, I have needed you with me
- To serve me, to sing for my music...
- My music...
He came towards me, held his hand out, and helped me off the boat. We walked towards the organ and Erik sat down before he began to play a few scales. He said, "Now sing them after you hear a key change. Take your time, think of each note, and breathe." I sang all the scales he did until I reached up to a high F. He stopped playing and said, "That's a good range for a first soprano. Let's see if you can sing some of the songs. Let's start with the solo from Act II. I'll play the introduction and tell you when to start."
"Is it alright if you could nod for my cues? That helps me a lot when I sing in choir and on the stage when I was in theatre productions," I said.
Erik said, "Of course. Just breathe, think of the note, and come in when I give the signal. When you're singing this song, think of being in a sort of dreamland or some sort of fantasy you can imagine." I said, "Alright, let's do this." Erik began to play the introduction and nodded his head for my cue, then I began to sing:
- Dancing bears, painted wings
- Things I almost remember...
- And a song someone sings
- Once upon a December...
- Someone holds me safe and warm
- Horses prance through a silverstorm...
- Figures dancing gracefully
- Across my memory...
He stopped playing, looked at me, and said, "That was good as the audition. We'll keep practicing before the night of the performance. Now let's go into the aria."
I asked, "Think of Me? That's the name of the song."
He answered, "Yes, that one. I'll give you the first two measures to start and we'll continue on through the rest of the song." He began to play the intro to the song and nodded his head for my cue, then I began to sing:
- Think of me
- Think of me fondly when we've said good-bye...
- Remember me
- Once in a while, please promise me you'll try...
- When you find that once again you long
- To take your heart back and be free...
- If you'll ever find a moment,
- Spare a thought for me...
The organ began to change keys with a half step, then I took a deep breath and I sang as I got my cue:
- We never said our love was evergreen
- Or as unchanging as the sea...
- But if you can still remember,
- Stop and think of me...
- Think of all the things we've shared and seen;
- Don't think about the way things might have been...
- Think of me
- Think of me waking silent and resigned...
- Imagine me
- Trying too hard to put you from my mind...
- Recall those days, look back on all those times,
- Think of the things we'll never do...
- There will never be a day
- When I won't think of you!
Erik kept playing, then I finished the song with everything I've got:
- Flowers fade, the fruits of summer fade
- They have their seasons, so do we
- But please promise me that sometimes
- You will think...
- Of me!
He stopped playing and said impressed, "That was very good, Victoria. Was that song from the musical that you mentioned about my songs being in?" I smiled, "Yes, it is." We sat for a while, talked to get to know each other better to pass the time, and Erik came back in with a familiar bag of mine. He said, "This backpack you call it is very interesting to carry all these things. What is that circular machine that pops open and the little case of these circular things?"
I showed him my CD player with my CDs saying, "This is a CD player that allows you to listen to music and these discs are CDs." He seemed interested in the songs that I showed him, but I didn't get to show him my Phantom CDs so that I wouldn't want to hurt him about Christine. I asked, "Uh, are my clothes from yesterday dry?"
Erik said, "Yes, they are. They're in the trunk where I found the dress you wore earlier today." He looked at the player and said, "The future seems very interesting with all the new inventions with electricity and transportation, equal rights, politics, and education." I sighed, "There are still political issues going on, but some of the wars being fought are horrible. Things have changed, but I haven't. I'm still the same person."
I put my stuff away, then Erik said, "I could take your purse and bag for you when we get back. Wait here." I handed him my stuff and asked, "You didn't spend any of my money, did you? I went through a lot of things to get French money before I got on my plane to Paris."
Erik said, "I haven't looked inside your purse or steal any of your money." He left the cavern and came back for me about 30 minutes later. He said, "It's time to head back." We walked towards the boat to get to the other side, rode on Cesar to get towards the stairs, and finally walked up the stairs to get through the halls back to the dressing room. I stepped out of the mirror and said, "Thank you for the lessons, Erik."
Erik said, "You're welcome, Victoria. We'll do this again every night until the show begins. Good night." He walked away, then I went out of the room and quietly closed the door behind me before going into my bed. I found my backpack under my bed along with my purse, then I got into the covers and fell asleep.
I went back towards my lair and thought about the girl. Her world seemed interesting from mine, but it was more difficult with the new technology and changes going on. However, she was able to go through with them her whole life. I thought about how well she sang and would need more improvement for a part. I turned my attention towards the sketches of Christine, then decided to draw Victoria.
Her blue eyes caught my attention when I first saw her sitting in Box Five, after taking the blindfold off her when I took her, and when she cried after she tried to escape. Also, her eyes have an innocence to them and a bit of fire in them as well. My thoughts began to drift away as I thought about Victoria. Her beauty, courage, and personality have caught my attention when I first saw her. I began to draw her face and sang to myself:
- The day starts, the day ends
- Time crawls by...
- Night steals in pacing the floor
- The moments creep, yet I can't bear to sleep
- Till I hear you sing...
- And weeks pass and months pass
- Seasons fly
- Still you don't walk through the door...
- And in a haze I count the silent days
- Till I hear you sing once more
- And sometimes at nighttime...
- I dream that you are there
- But wake, holding nothing but the empty air...
I drew a picture of her smiling face and thought of her looking like an angel, then I took out another piece of parchment to sketch Victoria and decided to draw her dancing. She was graceful as a swan and began to remind me of a fairy dancing in the woods. I began to draw her doing a pirouette and looked at the finished drawing, seeing her beauty and grace:
- And years come, and years go
- Time runs dry
- Still, I ache down to the core...
- My broken soul can't be alive and whole
- Till I hear you sing once more...
- And music, your music
- It teases at my ear I turn,
- And it fades away, and you're not here...
- Let hopes pass, let dreams pass
- Let them die
- Without you, what are they for?
- I always feel no more than half-way real
- Till I hear you sing once more!
I turned towards the drawings and sighed, "She's so far, but I could still see her and hear her voice inside my head."