It didn't matter much to Erik that he was ugly. He simply wasn't that shallow. He certainly had enough other traits to be proud of, he didn't need to have a pretty face, too. But she wouldn't like to be always with an ugly man. His face would never be handsome. No mask in the world could accomplish it; he had no delusions about that. But he would very much like to be less ugly, just normal ugly, instead of resembling a corpse.

Erik looked at his workbench. It was littered with materials-ribbons, roses, ceramic, plaster, silk, wood. Any material you can imagine, he knew how to use it. He was working on a new mask. Erik was making it for Christine. Oh, how he loved her!

Erik knew Christine could not live in the dark forever. She was an angel, a creature of light--she needed to see and be seen in the world. And her career must continue! She was his protégé and his inspiration, Christine would have to perform on stage; she would be his Prima Donna. When his opera was finally finished, she would be his Aminta. He wanted to be able to sit in the audience and watch her--perhaps as her husband. Erik wanted to be able to escort her to do her shopping, to go into shops and buy her everything her heart desired.

Christine would not like to be escorted by a corpse. She would prefer to be escorted by a handsome man, but if he was lucky she would settle for an ugly escort, as long as he was a normal sort of ugly.

It had never mattered much to Erik that he was ugly. He had simply never been that shallow. But Christine was, and Erik's terrible ugliness mattered a great deal to her.

Erik worked late into the night, trying desperately to make a mask that would make him normal. He would never be handsome, but perhaps if he was a little less ugly, Christine would love him.

It was dawn by the time Erik finished his new mask. He put it on his face, adjusting it by feel, before going to look in the mirror. A new face looked back at him. His cheeks were less hollowed, and for the first time it looked as if he had a real nose. The man in the mirror was not handsome, but he was a little less ugly. A normal sort of ugly. Erik only hoped it was enough.