My Love will Never Die
Based upon “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Aida”
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell
A History Museum in New York City – The Present
The exhibit was eerily quiet as Chris trailed along at the back of the school group, drawing her fingers along the description plaques nonchalantly. It hadn’t been her decision to go to the history museum in New York with her class, it had been that of her parents, and she was trying desperately to have some semblance of a good time. It wasn’t working.
Chris sighed to herself, thinking about what she could’ve been doing with her day instead of accompanying her history class on its trip. She could’ve been studying with her voice coach during that day’s free period, or, though she loathed the woman, working with the college counselor on her applications. Her life, as she’d told her father and mother, an Egyptologist and an anthropologist, respectively, would go on quite well if she didn’t end up some type of historian like them. There was no wrongdoing in not following in the footsteps of those who’d given her life, merely guilt, endless guilt which Chris, no matter how hard she tried, couldn’t shake.
As she continued strolling through the Middle Ages section, her attention was drawn to an elegant portrait mounted on the wall of a man with glorious golden hair and vivid blue eyes decked out in deep navy embroidered finery. Looking at the plaque below the painting, she read quietly to herself, “Lord Raoul of Chagny was known for his expensive and elegant tastes and often had portraits painted of himself in all of his exquisite dress. This surviving portrait dates when Lord Raoul was in his twenties.”
Chris found herself staring at the portrait of Lord Raoul, caught in the intensity of his perfectly blue eyes. It’s a painting, Chris. A painting of some dead guy. Get a grip. Brushing a rogue strand of curly hair behind her ear, Chris shifted her gaze to the painting that accompanied the one of Lord Raoul, except this one was not nearly as grand. It depicted a sad-looking maid, her blonde hair held back by a kerchief, staring at the floor as she swept a stone room. “Entitled ‘The Maid’, this painting was commissioned by Lord Raoul of Chagny to be painted of his favored servant. There are no records of who the maid was or of any further relationship with Lord Raoul.”
“Christine! Stay with the group!” Mr. Hancock, Chris’s history teacher, called to her from further along in the exhibit, sounding utterly irritated. Chris rolled her eyes and turned abruptly from reading the plaque.
Chris’s stomach dropped into the floor as she rammed into something large and hard rather quickly and she was sent to the floor. She heard a thud ahead of her and looked up to see a male figure on the floor beside her. Horrified and embarrassed, Chris scrambled to stand up. “I’m sorry,” she said, and then realized that the man’s voice mingled with hers, having said the same words.
Her face turning undeniably crimson, Chris again said, “I’m sorry,” as the man stood up and adjusted a hat to shadow most of his face, leaving a bit of his left eye and cheek illuminated in the dim lights of the exhibit. “That was really stupid of me,” Chris stuttered, unable to take her eyes off of the man before her. He couldn’t be more than a few years her elder, but the presence he had, however quiet, was astounding. It seemed as though he could walk into a room and make anybody, including someone as uneasily impressed as Chris, watch and listen to him. “Excuse me,” Chris said quietly, set on getting out of the situation before she did anything too blockheaded.
As Chris passed the man to join up with her school group, she heard a soft feminine voice, “Do you think this is it?” Spinning around, Chris only saw the man, now thoroughly engaged in the plaques below the two paintings she’d been admiring. Chris’s breath caught in her throat; the blonde maid whose eyes had been fixed upon the floor was now looking towards the painting of Lord Raoul!
“That’s impossible,” Chris murmured to herself, breathing deeply and walking towards her classmates once again.
“It’s quite possible.” This time, it was a distinctly masculine voice that Chris heard, and she once again spun around, but immediately turned back. The portrait of Lord Raoul, whose blue eyes had been looking straight ahead, were now angled to look at the painting of the maid. Christine, you’re seeing things.
“Are you all right?” Chris felt a hand on her shoulder and turned around to see the man she’d run into standing before her, the expression on the visible part of his face worried. This close, she could tell that his eyes were a vivid green and that he’d just shaved; his skin was smooth and he had a slightly soapy scent. Glancing around, Chris realized that all of the turning around must’ve been noticeable, as a few other museum patrons were looking at her and the man suspiciously. Maybe it’s his hat.
“Yes, thank you,” she managed to say, backing away a bit. “I’ve got to go,” Chris continued, motioning at the school group with her hand. As she moved her foot to turn around, the man extended a large hand to her.
“Erik,” he said, obviously looking to introduce himself to Chris. A little unsure of herself, Chris reached out her hand and felt the man grasp it firmly in his own. “I’m a grad student at Columbia.”
“Christine,” Chris replied uneasily, even more intimidated now that she knew this Erik was at least four years her senior and over a head her superior. “I’m a senior at an independent school outside the City,” Chris said, hoping he wouldn’t think less of her or take advantage of her for not being his age. Chris, just go meet up with your class and get away from this dude. “Look, I…”
“You’ve got to go,” Erik said, nodding to her and releasing her small hand. Chris moved her head up and down in agreement and Erik continued, “Enjoy the exhibit.”
“Thanks,” said Chris, swallowing hard and turning around to meet up with her class. Once she was further down the exhibit hallway, only a few feet behind the school group, Chris glanced behind her to see Erik continuing to read the plaques below the two paintings.
Breathing deeply, a little rattled by the encounter with this strange Erik, Chris stepped forward to read the plaque below a set of two portraits, one of a man, dark-featured but breathtakingly handsome, and one of a woman, delicate and angelically beautiful.
“Yes, it is quite possible.”
1. The Prologue: This corresponds to the prologue of Aida and even, in a way, to that of Phantom. More will be explained next chapter, but these are not really the main characters of the story, nor is it the main action.
2. History Museum: This is not a specific history museum in New York, so don't expect to go in and see this. As well, all of the characters are completely fictional; there was no real Lord Raoul of Chagny, etc.