One Last Dream
It has been several years since the fiasco of the Paris Opera and I, Erik D'Aubert am no longer living in its cellars. I am a happily married man of forty, having enjoyed four years of wedded bliss to the woman I love. She is my world, but no more so than my son Gable, who is the spitting image of his mother—though she would say the opposite if you asked her— but I digress that no matter what she may think of him he is my son in every way and I love him. Life could never be better for me, indeed I hardly recognize myself any more and can scarcely remember a time when I was happier. We live, in a fine country estate surrounded by a thick meadow and woodland. Gable is very fond of playing there with his practice sword and scaring our poor ginger cat, Devilin out of his wits. Why the poor creature hardly gets a moments peace with him around!
Still, the two get along fairly well, in fact if Devilin were a child they might very well have been brothers. My wife suffers dreadfully from worrying over Gable's health and I must admit there are times I, too worry for him. He is quite apt at becoming ill you see and often forgets to take a coat on his little adventures. It gets very chilly after dark and my poor beloved often frets that he will catch cold or worse.
The worse times, for her at least, is when he does not come back till morning and she thinks up some irrational nonsense about going out to look for him. It is these times that my heart aches far more than you can imagine, for I know he got his problem with ailments from his mother and I fear that she herself will catch ill... I cannot bear that... if I were to lose her I would surely die. I understand she worries about her child, what good mother would not?
I try my best to comfort her, I sit beside her with my arms around her and sing to her hoping she will drop off to sleep and then I can go look for him. She never does. She works herself into violent fits sometimes they are so violent I have to drug her with wine. I bring her the wine to calm her and she almost always accepts it. When she does not however I drink laudanum and hold it in my mouth as I kiss her deeply. My kiss gives her the drug and she falls right to sleep in my arms.
Needless to say she is not at all pleased with me when she wakes up. In fact the only thing that keeps her from giving me a sound thrashing is the fact that I always manage to bring her child back to her. She seems to forget her anger with me and I love watching her eyes light up as she pulls him close and then gives him a blow to the backside that makes his eyes water for worrying her so. She forgives me because she is a sensible woman and knows that I love her more than anything and am doing what is best for her. Then she kisses me... and we move on to more... pleasant affairs. If you know what I mean...
Very often I would find him sleeping soundly in a tree with Devilin curled on his back and his arm dangling over the side of a branch. I bring him back to his mother and mostly he is returned to her in relatively good health. There are those times however when he does catch cold, and even once pneumonia. We both cried then, myself in particular, for I feared nothing so much as to loose my only child. His mother, always strong when I need her to be cried too, how could she not? Her tears were much lighter than mine as she held me in her arms and rocked me, giving me comfort when I so desperately needed it.
That is something I love about her, her strength, her compassion and her bravery. Gable recovered due to the diligence of the family doctor, but this last illness left him with a weakness in the chest and he is unable to climb trees anymore or overexert himself as he had done before. This was a severe blow to him and upset us all greatly knowing our son would never be the same. It took him some time to recover from the depression but now he is a happy boy who finds pleasures in drawing and music rather than climbing trees and throwing clumps of mud at Devilin, which I am sure he thoroughly appreciates. He still enjoys walking in the woods and fencing as well, pleasures his mother and I do not deny him.
Of course my life was not always like this, indeed it was quite the opposite. There was a time when I wanted to kill myself and would have gladly done so, if it had not been for her miraculously winding up in my home when I thought all hope was lost. You wish to hear the tale? Very well I shall tell you. This story can opened in a way I am sure you are familiar with: in the Beginning there was only darkness, for the beginning of my story is very dark indeed. It begins on a mean and chilly morning in November. The fourteenth to be exact. I remember the day like it was yesterday though it has long since past.
You must understand that while There are many stories that begin with the olden time opening once upon a time: an opening for fairytales of young lords who sweep their damsel ladylove off her feet away from the beast. I am very sorry to tell you that this is not the kind of story you shall be reading. If you wish to read a story like that I suggest you look elsewhere, this is the story of not the hero but the beast. The sad and justly wretched creature left to drown in the pool of his own depravity. The tragic tale of the beast.
The year on which was eighteen-hundred and seventy-one, the worst of my life, as I had just lost the woman I deemed the love of my life one year before. I was by far the most miserable man to ever grace the earth, a shell of a man who could see and feel nothing but his own self-pity and I wallowed in it like a drowning man. I was, for all intensive purposes dying. Of what you ask? Never mind, if I were to tell you then you shall think me, as the phrase goes, "Madder than a March-Hare." Not that there is anything particularly sane about living in a cellar underneath the Paris Opera Garnier for twenty years and pretending to haunt the place, while stalking a young maiden of the chorus.
In any case— stop laughing at me—I remain unamused! Now, as I was saying, what I was dying of is of no concern to you. Let it suffice to say I was very slow in the process and as such had plenty more time for the drunken pleasures of my inebriated dreams. I had dreams of my first love slipping into her nightclothes as the man she'd chosen over me ran his hands through her curly chestnut tendrils, combing them with his fingers as he kissed her temple with his perfect mouth and they prepared for bed. In many ways I found the vision to be unbearable, in others I welcomed it. It was unbearable because of my heartache and welcome because it was the last image of her I had left.
I was by no means a respectable man and I would do anything to get my fix. Drugs, alcohol, prostitutes you name it I did it-- of course my favorite nighttime pleasure was murder. My favorite kind of killing was to strike a young lover dead in his prime. I hated love, or rather hated the idea of seeing two people enjoying all the things that I was denied. It of course made no difference to me how many I hurt or killed. Anything to get away from my life, to plunge myself into the oblivion of the underworld. I had a new name around Paris, "The Dark Prince." and that was the name everyone came to fear.
I became a regular patron of the frivolous human pleasures. I even learned how to play billiards and enjoyed toying with bar matrons who were so drunk they did not care what you did with them. I took a fondness to gambling... I wanted to lose it all, my wealth, my sanity... everything.
I longed to become like them, an impulsive fool who had nothing but human pleasures. Most of all I longed for death, craved it with the same thirst in which a killer craves blood. My invitation was open to anyone from the whore at my side to the very God I had forsaken long ago.
There were times when I would come close, so very close only to be denied once again. Often I would wonder the streets in the rain or snow and lie there hoping to catch some form of deadly fever that would end my suffering. These attempts were all a ghastly failure for I enjoyed horribly good health even when I did not desire to do so. So every night I would return to my lonesome cavern and drown my sorrows in a lake of whisky and wine. I would then lie there in misery and dream of the woman I could never have. Her chestnut curls, her soft features, her sea-foam eyes soft in the dance of candlelight.I could see her there singing to a fat-cheeked blonde child with her eyes. The next heir to the Chagny line. I found her eyes smiling as her husband kissed his child.
I would weep for many hours and wonder how my love could have left me so. My mind told me that I already knew why and that I should stop asking ridiculous questions. She had left me because she did not love me. Simple as that. In the end it made no difference to me, for I had planned to die.I deemed myself to be beyond all hope, there was nothing in my life as I remembered it that was made the tireless struggle worth fighting. I had lost my love and with it my last glimmer of hope. I wished to put an end to my meaningless existence. There was only one way to do it as Romeo and Juliet.
I took the poison and put the bottle to my lips. As it was about to touch my lips I saw the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. Eyes I thought I would never see again. Those soft sea-foam eyes who had whisked my heart away and shattered it to the fragments of a dying creature.
My mouth worked as slowly I uttered one painful word, "Christine..." With that I drank the poision, you see I am not the ghost anymore because of the fact that I am dead. This is what really happened and that happy scene from before was only a vision. All that it ever been was one last dream.