The Great Sacrifice

I see the heavens
Each time that you smile
I hear your heartbeat
Just go on for miles
And suddenly I know
My life is worth while
That's what I see
Through your eyes

(Leann Rimes, 'Looking Through Your Eyes')

This is it…a moment in life where I have to make a choice: do I go back to the life that I so dread for the past ten years at the now destroyed Opera Populaire, or, do I make a change in route by going with the Phantom?

It all started with a curiosity as to where my cousin, Christine Daaé, was off to, for I knew that she was haunted by her 'Angel of Music', when it was, in fact, just a man with a deformed face that roamed the opera house for years.

When I saw my cousin faint after seeing her wax dummy of herself, I made the one mistake that would change my life, and probably hers, forever…I slipped on something, causing me to dive into the murky cold water. I had given away my position to the Phantom; I was no longer just a mere shadow upon the vast, bleak walls.

The next thing I knew, I was being brought ashore by the Phantom. I struggled at first, remembering the stories that I have heard from Old Buquet about how the Phantom would kill anyone that he sees at sight. But, then, out of nowhere, I began to hear something that my cousin had just told Meg Giry nearly hours ago…I began to hear music in my ears.

The events that followed me hearing the music became a blur. It happened so fast that I could not even remember who I was for a moment. The one thing I do remember is not what I was seeing of the Phantom's exterior, but what he was showing me from the interior.

Then, I was in my cousin's dressing room, holding onto a letter, in which I was not to open until I was ready to read it. I went up to my room, which was at the top of the opera house, along with all of the other dancers that dorm there, and place the letter at a spot where I would seek anything if I needed them.

As time passed, I began to sense the Phantom's presence at the opera house as each show progressed. It finally stopped on the night when 'Il Muto' was being performed for the first time. It was a warm summer night as the Phantom raged on the managers and Old Buquet…who is now dead.

I decided to follow Christine and Raoul to the roof, where they had hoped to escape from the Phantom…that is, if it weren't for him to appear behind me while I watched. He had told me to stop with my spying and return to the others below, but I could not, for I was concerned for my cousin. Finally, as instructed, I followed Raoul and Christine back down the steps and joined them for dinner that night, forgetting about the Phantom for the time being.

Six months passed and the New Year came with no sign of the Phantom. I was beginning to worry about him as well, but I was reassured when he came to Monsieur Firmin's masquerade party at New Year's. As I watched him descend the steps, I had a sudden feeling that my innocence was beginning to diminish away quicker than I knew it.

Then, as the rehearsals for the Phantom's newest work, 'Don Juan Triumphant!' I began to start having fantasies that had the Phantom in them. But, it does not end there. When Christine went to visit her father's mausoleum, I knew that there was going to be a disaster, so I warned Raoul of this and went with him to the cemetery.

The Phantom and Raoul fought as Christine and I watched. When I could not take it any longer, I drew out my father's old sword and ran to stop the fight. As I did, the Phantom cursed Raoul, Christine, and myself into a raging war against him. I never felt so heartbroken when I heard those dreadful words, so I left the cemetery with a broken heart.

Finally, having some time to myself, I opened up that letter that I was holding onto when I came to my senses six months earlier. It read:

'Dearest Catherine,

As you know, I have sensed your presence for a while now, and I know that you are greatly concerned with your cousin, Christine Daaé. As you can probably put together, her father, your uncle, had sent me to her in aid of her promising career in singing and, most important, making her a star at the Opera Populaire.

I have noticed that you also possess the talent of singing, dancing, playing the piano, and, most of all, your ability to perform in the form of acting. Like your cousin, I have concluded that you must have heard my music in your ears for some time now, and I would be more than flattered if you were to take Christine's place at one point in your life.

But, I must warn you that, even one, such as yourself, could fall into chaos. I ask you not to try and do something that might, if possible, cost the life of either your cousin or, perhaps, yours. I know that you must mean well when you try to see where your cousin is, but I can assure you that she is, in no doubt, safe from any harm of all means.

Sincerely,

O.G.'

I was crying when I finished reading the letter. I felt so stupid for him to find out the true purpose of my spying on Christine…yet I wondered how he had come to know all of this. I kept the letter in my pocket as I prepared for the performance that evening.

The performance went well…with the exception that the Phantom had appeared at the last scene; I knew, at that moment, that he had killed Signor Piangi so that he would try and fit in secretly.

Then, pandemonium spread throughout the entire theater as the Phantom and Christine disappeared. I ran to find Madame Giry, who was leading Raoul away from the route that I knew of, and directed them to a point where M. Giry had to go back. So, it was left to me that I had to lead Raoul to where the Phantom's lair was.

We arrived there without any hesitation…with the exception of Raoul and I nearly becoming thawed meat. Raoul tried to convince the Phantom to release Christine…but failed to when the Phantom swung a noose over Raoul's head and tried to kill him! Christine convinced him otherwise with a simple kiss.

All of this leads to now…where I am at the crossroads of my life. I turn to Raoul, who was preparing to leave the lair on the Phantom's boat.

"I'm not going," I said to the Vicomte de Chagny.

Raoul looked me like I was joking with him, as usual…but, I was not.

"Catherine…why?"

"I've decided to remain here…I'm taking Christine's place. Take Christine and marry her, Raoul. I know that you can provide her with the happiness that Christine desires. Please…" I pled as I gave Raoul a letter that was sealed with a waxed seal. "Give this to Christine when you two are safe from here. Please, Raoul…I implore you, leave me here…I know what I'm doing."

Raoul shook his head in acceptance as I hugged my childhood friend for the last time. I was sure that he would make Christine very happy in the years ahead of them both.

"Will we ever meet again in the future?" Raoul asked as we parted.

"I don't know…but, don't give up on hope; we will someday" I said as I left to hid in the shadows.

Christine came back and I watched as the two left me alone with the Phantom. I came out of the shadows after Christine and Raoul were at a distance. Then, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I closed my eyes as I began to take in what I have decided…I had made the ultimate sacrifice in my life before when I made my presence known…and I was going to end it by taking the place of my cousin and remain at the Phantom's side for an eternity.

The Phantom, knowing what I have done, did not implore me to go with the now disappearing boat nor did he ask me to remain all-alone here…he took my hand in his as we went through one of the four shattered mirrors into another secret passageway.

I turned back to glance at the place once more before I left. As I turn back to face the Phantom, I felt a ghost of a smile appear out of nowhere…I guess I made a choice that would not be so bad after all.