Chapter I: Father Once Spoke of an Angel
My name is Christine Daae and this is my story.
I was born and raised in Sweden by my father, where we lived in a cottage by the sea. My poor mother died giving birth to me, so papa had to raise me on his own. As tragic as it was to be raised without a mother, my childhood was blissfully happy whilst living with my father.
He was a violinist, and a talented one at that. He would play his violin every day and I would sing along whenever he did so. It was always a joy to me to have music in my every day life. Like the story of the princess who loved her papa as dear as salt, music was my taste and flavour in my life.
My father was the world to me. A warm and kind man with a heart of gold as precious as any jewel. His smile would light up the room when he smiled at me. Whenever my tears were to fall, papa’s smile would wash them away with merely the simplest curve of his lips. His eyes, being the same honey brown as mine, would warm even the oldest and darkest of hearts that would even tame the bitter cold of winter.
My dear father! Oh, my dear father! My bliss! My everything! My father! He was the world and more to me. He was my home, my father, my bliss, my friend, and my father. I couldn’t ever have been happier in my life than with my father. He was not just my father, but also my friend and my King. And I was his Little Princess.
My life, then, was indeed a Fairy Tale, but all Fairy Tales must have an ending. It’s just a pity that not all of their endings end with “happily ever after”.
I knew that something was wrong with my papa when we were saying grace at dinner and his prayers were naught but rasping coughs that become more loud, more sickening, more violent until a large spot of red landed on his handkerchief after coughing.
That was the night that would change the rest of my life forever.
I prayed and prayed, but papa’s illness had only gotten worse to the point where he could not even sit up any longer. I cared for him every step of the way, feeding him and nurturing him. We had a doctor come to care for him, but it was no use. Papa was dying.
My eyes bled with tears streaming down my face as I kneeled by papa’s deathbed. Only a faint candlelight was our companion as papa laid there frailing away as his cold hands stroked my hands.
“Papa,” I sobbed. “Don’t leave me. Please, don’t leave me!”
“Hush, my sweet child,” papa whispered to me, wiping my tears away. “Don’t cry, my Angel. Don’t cry.”
Don’t cry, said he. He may as well said to the fire “Don’t burn.” But instead of arguing, I nodded weakly and sniffled up my tears.
“It’ll be alright, my Angel,” he said to me. “You wont be alone. You don’t have to be alone if you do not wish it.”
I looked at my father confusedly.
“But papa,” I said weakly. “You’ll be gone.”
“I will,” he nodded. “But I promise you that you will not be alone. I promise you.”
“Christine,” papa said to me. “Do you remember the story I told you of Little Lotte and her Angel of Music?”
I nodded. How could I forget? It was my favourite bedtime story.
“Well,” he continued. “When I am in Heaven, child, I will send the Angel of Music to you.”
I sniffed with a faint smile and kissed my papa’s hand.
“You’ll be alright, my Angel,” papa whispered to me. “I love you.”
Those were the last words I ever heard from my papa ever again, for from that night, he breathed no more.
And so, my life was no longer a happy Fairy Tale, but a dark story as if written from Hell itself. Since papa and I were not rich, I was left with nothing but the dark fate that had been made for me by Satan. I was sent to an orphanage called Lowood in France to live there until I was married. Pity, though, because I feared I would never marry, being as plain as I was.
Sometimes I had thought that when papa had died, I had died with him, for I was in Hell.
The Lowood Orphanage was nothing more than a pit of Hell that I was damned to take part in as a “Little Devil” as the teachers called me. For years on end I was beaten, abused, and hated by the teachers and students. Every day I was beaten and humiliated in front of everyone in that dreadful class for “sinning” as they said. Being such a strictly Catholic institute, students were often beaten for disobeying the Bible and the rules of the orphanage. It’s funny how so many of the teachers would have called it a Christian institute, because it was sheer Hell.
Even the students hated me. I had no friends except for the prayers I had for my father’s soul and my hopes that I would find my Angel of Music.
But he never came.
Everyone had teased and mocked me for trying to find my Angel.
“Stupid girl!” they said cruelly. “There’s no such thing as an Angel of Music!”
They even sang a song as they mocked me for my prayers.
Lost in blissy!
Begging for her death!
Little miss missy!
We will find your death!”
That was the song they had mocked me with. Not a single ounce of compassion came from one of them whilst they all tortured me as they threw stones at me, pulled my hair, called me names, slapped me, hit me, one of them even tried to strangle me. Not even the teachers would show me any compassion. They thought it fair that I was to be the other children’s playtoy, for I was the sinner according to all of them.
Including M. Brocklehurst.
M. Brocklehurst was the head of the Orphanage, and the cruellest of all teachers. His voice was always so cold and so coarse that it sent ice up and down my spine every time he spoke. His eyes were the iciest grey that would freeze the blood of anyone who dared look into them. He hated me most of all. He hated my flesh and blood for a reason I knew not.
I remember one day when he had heard of my hopes for my Angel of Music to come.
I was in class, not at all paying attention, drawing in my notebook as I had been daydreaming. My pencil had travelled all over my paper to make a picture of an Angel. But not just any Angel: my Angel. My Angel of Music.
But he was a strange Angel indeed. His wings were black like the wings of a crow instead of white like the wings of a dove. He was a man with black wings in fine dress-clothes playing the violin. But for a reason I knew not, he was wearing a mask. A white, half-faced mask to conceal a part of his angelic beauty. I didn’t know why I drew him this way. Perhaps it was part of a dream that I once had that I never wished to wake from. Whatever it was, I knew this was my Angel of Music.
A great crack of a whip had stung my right hand as I drew. The nose made me jump in fear and I looked up to see two cold, grey eyes staring strikingly at me. M. Brocklehurst!
He tightly grabbed my arm as if to grind its bones, and dragged me to the front of the room with my notebook in his hand, showing the picture for the whole orphanage to see.
“I pray thee, child,” he said to me. “What on earth is this?”
“It’s a picture, monsieur,” I said plainly.
“I know it’s a picture, you cheeky little girl. What is it a picture of?”
“My Angel of Music, monsieur.”
M. Brocklehurst’s eyes flamed with icy fire as I said this.
“Angel of what?!” he fumed.
“Angel of Music,” I answered.
“You stupid, devious girl!” he shot as he backhanded me hard across the face, nearly cracking my jaw. “Don’t you know that there is no such thing? And don’t you know that an Angel’s wings are white, not black! How dare you! How dare you draw a picture of a Demon and call it an Angel! How dare you!”
At that, Mr. Brocklehurst grabbed me by the hair and dragged me out of the classroom and shoved me in a closet and locked me in. I know not how long I stayed there, but do recall coming out looking like an insane skeleton from such starvation. I still remember the sorrowful days and nights to this very day, for still they haunt my dreams when I sleep.
There often were times when I had thought that I had died as well as my papa, but never found him because he was in Heaven. This, beyond a shadow of doubt, was Hell.