It starts to rain as I make my way to the hospital. What would I tell Gustave? That I was sorry? But I had said that already. And even if i hadn't, there is no way he'd accept my apology now. I had threatened to take his life away for chrissake. I may have just scarred his life forever. No one deserves that. No one. Especially not him.
I get to the hospital and knock on the door of Room 663, soaking wet. I am nervous. My hands shake and my stomach hurts, butterflies fluttering with anxiety. "There's no one there, dear," a nurse passing the hall says. "Mr.Y was discharged from the hospital a few hours ago," she adds. I find myself quite happy with that news. If he is at home, I guess I would be able to talk to him much better without him having his mind worried about other things. At least I hope so. A frustrated and helpless sigh escapes my mouth. I say a short word of thanks and head for the hotel, running through a thousand apologies in my mind, not knowing which one to say.
Killing time, I take the long way going to the hotel though I know a shortcut. I walk by the carousel, the bright attraction bringing joy to all those children and sit on the nearest bench, my favorite spot on the island. Going here had always helped me realize why I do all that I do for Phantasma, for them. If I experience hurt, at least they would experience happiness.
Now partially dry seeing that the rain had ended and I unexpectedly took a long time sitting in my little corner I could call my own, I hesitate once I am in front of the door, but eventually, I knock. "Gustave, could you get that, please? It might be your father." I hear Christine's voice through the door. Even when she isn't singing, her voice is as lovely as ever. A slight pang of jealousy darts into my mind and I forget all my practiced pleadings for forgiveness.
Oh, stop Meg! She was, and still is your best friend. The irony of it all is i had been jealous mainly because she was leading the life I always wanted to lead. A healthy and obedient son, a handsome husband, and a fortune to support my family for the rest of our days. I dismiss any further thought about my envy and hear someone scrambling to get to the door with clumsy little foot steps. The door opens. "Father?" Gustave says and I see his face fall when he sees it's not Erik.
It's Miss Giry. She's here.
She. Is. Here.
Instinct kicking in, I suddenly take a step back, and she looks at me worriedly. "Mother," I say, hesitating. "Erik?" Mother says, going out of the bedroom. "Oh, Meg!" she says, a smile on her face. "Hello, Christine!" Miss Giry says, returning the smile. Mother is smiling at her already. She always forgave people she loved too easily. That's what I admired about her. I wonder, could she teach me to be like that? "Erik's not here, I'm afraid—" Mother says, but Miss Giry cuts her off mid-sentence. "Oh, that's quite alright. A-actually I wanted to speak to Gustave, if that's f-fine." she stammers. Wait, what? It's me she wants to talk to? Oh no, what will she say? I let out a shaky breath. Mother's chocolate brown eyes search mine for approval. Look with your heart, her eyes seemed to say. I had always loved how easily Mother and i could understand each other, even without talking. She nods encouragingly and says, "I'll be in the bedroom then." and leaves Miss Giry and I alone in the living room. This is the worst possible scenario I have ever imagined i'd be in. Why now? I can't even look at her without remembering all that I felt last night. I can't look at her without remembering that i had felt the most fear in my life because of her. Why is she here?
I take a hesitant seat on the couch and pat the space next to me, gesturing Gustave to sit beside me. He thinks for a moment, but sits after a while. What should I say now? I hate myself for not thinking about all this in more detailed means earlier. With a deep breath, I look into his innocent eyes, scared, confused, and calm all at the same time. I can tell that he is trying to fight back tears, tears of fear.
"I'm so sorry, Gustave. I really am. I had no idea that this was what was going to happen to you." And now I am the one trying to be strong, my eyes betraying me. "I know it would be hard for you to put all of this in the past, so I am not asking you for that. I just wanted to let you know that I'm sorry." I say, waiting in a long dreaded silence for his reply.
"I had nightmares last night," he says and ends the silence. "And all that happened was replaying in my head. They're crystal clear inside my mind, even right now." he says, his voice a low whisper, like he's afraid that any louder, his voice might crack and he might start crying. "I don't know how to make them stop." he says. He looks straight into my eyes, his own becoming a pool of tears. "I'm scared." he says as a tear rolls down his cheek. "I'm scared that you'll take me away, I'm scared that you'll hurt mother," he is stammering and shaking, "and I'm scared that you'll hurt father," he says with an air of finality. "And I won't let that happen. Not again."
And now it's like my heart wants to break. I don't know what else to say. I try to reason with myself that I really didn't expect him to forgive me. Who would, really? Even to me, the very thought of what I had done makes me shiver. He doesn't deserve this. I take his little hand in mine, and I feel him remove his hand from my grasp. His tears are flowing now, and he is crying silent tears again. "I try to forget." he chokes. "But I just can't."
I don't know what to do anymore. A helpless feeling in my gut grows and I feel it in the deafening beats of my heart. "Gustave—" "I'm sorry, Miss Giry, but i just can't shake or take away from my memory what happened last night." he says, and I understood perfectly. He must be reminded of that moment every time he looked at me. "I'm sorry." I say again, my voice distressed and pleading.
I stand up and head for the door, not knowing what to tell him anymore, not knowing what else to say. "You were suppose to be mother's friend." he says suddenly. I freeze in my tracks. "You threatened to kill me, her son, her flesh and blood." my throat tightens. "You claim to be father's companion and friend as well, but you were unhappy with what made him happy." my heart beats faster with every word he says. "Why would you do that?"
I stare at him, stricken with what he said, his eyes holding a hint of curiosity underneath the pain. He is asking me to explain why I had almost killed him. Oh, god. What am I to say now? The truth that jealousy claimed me would just break his little heart. "I just want to understand."
The guilt is filling me and my heart is pounding. He want to understand. He wants to understand, but how on earth could all this possibly make sense? If I ever could make him understand, I know he'd never be able to go through the ugly truth of it all.
"I don't know why I did." I manage to say, memories of last night flooding back, never to leave. "But what happened is haunting me too, Gustave. I'm so sorry. I really am. That, i wish you could understand perfectly. I hope you do." I say, trying as hard as I can to keep my voice calm and steady even with the tears threatening to pour.
That said, I turn the knob, not daring to look at him, and go out of the room. It's cruel how we can't turn back time. If we could, I would've made Christine realize that she loved Erik when I knew she did a long time ago, back in Paris. My home. Oh, how I missed it. New York was a wonder to behold, but I had still cried myself to sleep those first few nights, still wishing I could be home, at the opera, when I opened my eyes. Even on some nights, I still cry myself to sleep, longing for the home I had known for so long.
It's too bad actions can't be forgotten either, I think. I wish they could be though. Every memory of pain, remorse, and anger would go away. Every bad moment, forgotten. But no, life is cruel, and it has taught me nothing but that these past ten years. What's done is done.
"I really do hope you understand that, Gustave. I am sorry. I'm so so sorry." I say, pleading before I leave, a tear finally escaping my control on that last sentence. I turn the knob, go out, and almost break down crying right in front of their room.
What's done is done.