What New Surprises Lie In Store?

Christine had reclaimed her old dressing room without question, it seemed natural that if she was back then she would use the room.  Apparently since her strange disappearance two years ago the room hadn't been used once. 

Performers were well versed in the old stories, and many were superstitious; they feared that should they dare occupy this room and anger the opera ghost once again they would be the next victim to disappear without explanation.

It was the only time that Christine was thankful for idle gossip, for in this room she was protected from the outside world, which was buzzing since news of her arrival had spread.  Here she found seclusion, and a potential opportunity for more soul searching.

However, the Opera Populaire grapevine rivalled that of Paris, and when word had circulated that 'the' Christine Daaé had returned she'd been flooded with visitors, some genuine friends, the majority simply people who were eager to confirm that the rumour was indeed true.

{@~::~::~::~::~::~::~@}

It was early evening when Madame Giry arrived.  She managed to snatch a rare hour of free time to visit Christine.
The two spent a strained hour together, and throughout the meeting Christine was trying to discern exactly what wasn't right between them. It was nothing that she could directly pinpoint. The older woman had been strangely elusive and superficial, as though ensuring that their conversation didn't penetrate certain areas in case it sparked some revelation that she wasn't willing to face.
Eventually, when the topics of everything and nothing had been exhausted Madame Giry took her leave, claiming that the Ballet girls couldn't rehearse without supervision, and there would be no end of trouble if they were unprepared for their next performance. Christine watched her retreating figure with regret, putting her strange mannerisms down to disapproval at her now infamous vanishing act of two years earlier.
If she could have turned back time she would, but surely it wasn't so difficult to forgive? She hoped that she hadn't lost a valuable friendship forever.

A timid knock on the door startled Christine from her abstract thoughts.
"May I come in?" Meg peered around the door.
"Of course" Christine gestured her to the spare seat. Meg looked flustered, and attributed this to a particularly stressful rehearsal.
"Mother's working us harder than usual, she demands such perfection these days.  I had to sneak away to see you.  You seem so distracted, Christine, I had to come, to make sure you were okay" her friend stated.
"You were right Meg, I wish they'd never found out I was here" she replied, letting out a weary sigh, and deciding that she wouldn't burden Meg with all her troubles. She hadn't fully digested the magnitude of events at the opera herself yet, and she wanted to be certain before telling anyone, even one of her best friends.
"The past will come back to haunt us all sometimes" Meg eyed her again, suddenly cold.
The sudden change in Meg vexed Christine, who couldn't understand the malice that was clearly evident in Meg's tone. She didn't have time to ask questions.
"MEG GIRY!" an angry voice shouted down the corridor.
The moment was broken, as Meg sighed, claiming she'd known it would only be a matter o time before her domineering mother missed her presence on the stage.

"Really, I'm surprised the boards aren't entirely worn away, the countless hours we spend going over the same routine" Meg gave a weak smile, turned on her heel and tripped out of the room.


Christine found herself alone again, and felt herself drawn to the full-length mirror that claimed centre stage in the room. At last she had nothing but her thoughts to occupy her mind.  The incessant chatter that seemed to have filled the atmosphere for hours had at last subsided, everyone seemed to be occupied.

In the consuming silence Christine was inevitably drawn to the man she'd identified only hours before. She could still see him, every time she closed her eyes his visage seemed stamped into her sore eyelids. It was an image that would haunt her long into the night, and she doubted that she would manage to sleep.
She looked once more into the mirror, studying her eyes intensely, and knowing that a stranger stared back at her.  She been back only a few hours and already her face was pasty, tired looking, her eyes shadowed by black circles caused by stress.

A human heart can only take so much before it breaks under the stain, and she felt that she was coming dangerously close to breaking point.  She wondered whether she was suffering some form of delirium, for only an affected stranger could have lied in the way that she had, confirming the identity of a dead man when in truth she'd never seen him before in her life.