You bury your wretched face in your hands, not at all comforted by the skeleton-like feel of them. God, what is happening to you? Suddenly music isn't enough; suddenly there's this emptiness inside you that has never shown it's ugly face before. Perhaps it has always been there, you think. Perhaps it was only a short amount of time that you could have contentedness in your life. You can't call it happiness; you aren't happy. No one who looks like you deserves to be happy, you decide, but you were okay with just being content. You were content with just being around.

And, suddenly, you can't say that anymore. You can't insist, to no one, of course, that your life is fine; you can't insist that you have your music and that's all you need. Because, out of the blue, it doesn't feed the hunger in your veins like it used to.

Staring at the keys of your organ the shocking truth that you have no idea what to play hits you like a ton of bricks. Other artists had roadblocks; other artists had times when they just couldn't play anymore. But you aren't like other artists, Erik, you tell yourself. You aren't like those other poor excuses for musicians. Music is your life. You don't need anything else.

Right?

Right?

You don't have the other trivial problems that musicians face. You don't have to deal with annoying friends and parents and wives and children. You don't have to worry about anything but the music. That's a good thing, correct? You don't need anyone, you repeat to yourself at night. You don't need anything but the music and the occasional check up on the managers to make sure things are going well.

You don't need people. You don't need humanity. You are content just being you, even if you aren't part of the world. Forget the world, you think. The world has never needed you, and you sure do not need the world. All you need is the music. All you need is the music.

You feel trapped, you decide, in the small cavern that you reside in. That's what's wrong; you know there are miles and miles of hidden hallways in the opera house and here you are, sitting at an organ that currently just cannot be played. Yes, you decide, that's what's wrong.

So you blow out the candle that you had on the wooden surface of your instrument, an unneeded source of light, really. You could do just fine in the darkness; your eyesight has sharpened in the years that you've lived here. You just light a candle to feel somewhat normal; you don't admit this to yourself, of course, but it's the truth.

You stand up, stretching your long legs, and you fix your cravat and your mask obsessively, as if anyone would actually be seeing you. No, no one would ever see you, you think. Perhaps that was for the best.

You begin to walk aimlessly through the hidden tunnels and end up, of course, to the secret entrance to the chapel. You would end up here, you think.

This chapel reminds you of your early days in the opera house; it reminds you of when you were a young boy, being smuggled in through the window by a young ballet rat, the only friend you've ever known in this place.

The chapel is secluded; the faith of the people of the opera house is dwindling. Sure, you've never been one for religion, but you've always been one for peace and quiet, and, while you don't believe in a god (for what god would create something like you?) there is a certain calm that shrouds the entire place. Whether it be in the candles, their purpose to pray for the dead, or the stain-glass windows of angels, the room feels like, if there is a god, He, or She, would be here.

As you are about to enter, already planning on sitting on the small bench underneath the window and just enjoy light, but you are interrupted by a high, childlike wail.

There is a child here, you think. And, suddenly, you think of the little girl that Madame Giry had spoken about. A young orphan who had lost her father and had no where else to go. You had wondered what this little girl was going to do, but Madame Giry insisted that she knew music. The girl was to work as a maid and study with the other young ballet girls, and, hopefully, she would make it as a dancer.

"Papa..." you hear the young girl whimper, confirming what you had thought; so this is the young orphan girl. You peer in a little window that shows a glimpse into the room, trying not to let yourself be seen. The girl's hair is a nice little mess; that is the first thing you think. It is wild and curly, and the little girl is cute. She has brown eyes and pale skin, innocent, but all of that is overshadowed by the tears streaming down her face.

"Papa!" the girl suddenly screams, frustrated. You try not to feel sympathy. Why should you feel sorry for a little girl who has a life that you could never have and is crying regardless? Because she is lonely, a voice whispers in your head. Just like you are.

You push that voice away and move away from the window, ready to walk away and visit somewhere else in the opera house. You don't feel like listening to the lamentations of this little girl any longer. You are about to take a step, but a sweet sound fills your ears and you stop dead in your tracks, listening.

A prayer, you think. The little girl is singing a prayer. Not exactly your song of choice, but the way the girl sings mesmerizes you. She's untrained, of course. However, her voice is pure, and clear as a bell. She is singing quite high, you think, and suddenly the worry that she may be singing incorrectly and ruining her blessed vocal chords comes to you. But you push that away and just listen to her voice soar, filled with emotion, mourning for her dead father.

You don't realize you've been holding your breath until the song is over, and suddenly the sobs start again.

"Papa!"

Oh no, you think. She's started with the hysterics again. The poor child.

You realize that suddenly you feel even worse for her now, because you know she can sing. That's a cruel reason to sympathize someone, but it's the truth.

"You said you would send me an angel, Papa!" the curly-haired child yells, to nowhere. "You said that, once you were in heaven, you would send me an angel," she exclaims, hiccuping. "Where's my angel? WHERE IS MY ANGEL OF MUSIC?"

The sobs start again, and you steal a glance in the window, seeing that she's curled up in a ball, rocking back and forth. The sudden realization of how old her clothes are and how dirty her face is sends a pang to your heart, a pang that you don't quite understand.

"I need him Papa. I want to sing, Papa! I can't do it without the angel," she murmurs, just loud enough for you to hear.

You take a deep breath, and the thought suddenly comes to you. You could be this girl's Angel of Music. Of all the things you hate about yourself, your voice is not one of them, and you realize that you could easily pass for an angel. But no, you tell yourself, you can't do that. That's idiotic. You don't want to risk your cover for some little girl.

Some little girl who is currently sobbing on the floor, alone in the world. All she wants is music, you realize. All she wants is what you want, too.

"Hush, child," you say, in a comforting way. "Stop your tears."

All at once the girl is quiet, and she is looking up at the ceiling. You feel fortunate that you know how to throw your voice. You make the sound of your words envelop her; you make them fill the room and the young girl's ears.

"Angel?" she asks, her perfect little mouth agape, the tears stopping at once. "Is it you, Angel?"

"Yes, child," you murmur, and a breathtaking smile appears on the girl's face. "What is your name, child?"

"Christine Daae," she says, not missing a beat. Ah, to be young again. To be trusting in a voice, to tell a name to a complete stranger.

But you aren't a stranger, you think. You are an angel now, an angel to this little girl.

"Do you wish to learn how to sing, Christine?"

Her brown eyes widen and she nods vigorously, smiling more. "Could you really teach me, Angel?"

"I am your Angel of Music," you suddenly sing, the tune coming out of nowhere. The little girl gasps and is enthralled with the sound of your singing. "Of course I could teach you, child. If you are willing to learn, of course."

"Of course, Angel. I give you my voice! I give you my soul, Angel," Christine says reverently, and the sound makes your heart swell up with an unknown emotion.

"Then you shall learn, child. Your soul is a beautiful thing. Come to this room at this time tomorrow, and we will have your first lesson."

"Thank you, Angel!" she says, standing up, and you notice how thin this little girl is. You make a mental note to tell Madame Giry to feed this girl and to give her a good bath and some new clothes. And then the thought comes that there aren't any new clothes to give her, so you think to send the Madame to buy some with your money, the finest quality she can find. "Thank you so much, Angel! I will not disappoint you."

"Until tomorrow, Christine," you whisper, and after she says her goodbye you walk back to your home, ready to write a note to Madame Giry. As you sit down at your organ and grab a pen and paper, a song comes to you, and you make the note brief because you are dying to play now.

Suddenly, the void is gone. Music comes easily now.

You wonder why.