My music teacher had described my voice as a beautiful, clear soprano with a haunting lilt. While my mother and others agreed— none of them knew it was because of Zanthiel. My dark faerie of music. He no longer controlled my voice. Yet here I was, on stage sweating at the possibility that I’d been wrong.
The pianist played the intro and I waited for my cue. My hands began to sweat and my heartbeat accelerated. Finally it arrived, and despite my reservations and the nausea that accompanied every stage performance, I began to sing. As the notes swelled the music inside me took hold and for a time I forgot where I was. The melody of “Think of Me” filled my soul, pushing all thoughts of Adrius and the veil and Venus aside. There was only me and the music. Each note in perfect pitch and every lyric remembered.
Mr. Smythe nodded his approval repeatedly, gesturing for me to expand and give even more.
I pushed myself further, and as I did, I felt another presence. As sure as I felt my own. The music took on a shape, a form, and though no one else could tell, I knew that I was no longer alone on stage. Zanthiel was here with me… inside me, adding his touch to my performance, and a depth to my voice. The back door of the auditorium opened and swung closed. Venus strolled in, and slid into a seat in the back row.
Immediately, I stopped singing.
Venus caught my gaze, her emerald glare pierced through me.
The power surged, lights flickered and went dead. The auditorium was pitch dark and soundless. Then footsteps approached. They came closer and slower. Then stopped.
Seconds later the light came back and Venus was nowhere in sight. Things looked just as they had before. Except, I couldn’t shake the tremble in my hands.
I stayed rooted in the middle of the stage as the spotlights clicked back on, temporarily blinding me. What would it take for a fire drill right now? I’d even settle for the real thing if it meant escaping this torture.
“That’s showbiz folks, and the show must go on. Adrius, I wonder if you would indulge me.” Mr. Smythe shuffled his pages and consulted with the pianist. He peered up from over his glasses and motioned for Adrius to join me on stage.
“Could we try the duet, ‘All I Ask of You’? I’d like to get a feel for your range. Lorelei?”
I nodded, swallowing back nerves. The only thing worse than performing was performing a song I’d never rehearsed. At least not outside my bedroom.
I sang the first chorus, the melody clear but tentative. Then Adrius came in with his part as Raoul. I was about to continue, when I heard a disembodied voice in my head.
“I’ve given you my music.”
A cold chill rippled through me and I stopped singing. The words literally stuck in my throat, sounding like someone choked a frog mid croak.
Snickers and giggles erupted backstage. I ignored them. The deep melodic tone resonated inside my body, though I would have sworn it came from backstage. Impossible. No one had been cast as the Phantom yet, no one else seemed to have heard it, and no one had that depth of tenor. Except…
The doors at the back of the auditorium opened and shut in quick succession. With it came a gust of air that scattered the pages of Mr. Smythe’s score. I peered into the darkness. Only our music teacher was visible, bent over collecting and sorting his papers. But someone else was out there. I felt them.
Michele Barrow-Belisle is chocoholic author and artist living in southern Ontario,
Canada with her super-sweet husband, brilliant son and a ridiculously affectionate cat. Often told by teachers to stop dreaming and get her head out of the clouds, Michele still spends much of her time lost in make-believe worlds, populated with fascinating and occasionally terrifying characters. Her passion for fantasy extends beyond her writing into her clay figure sculpt-ing, creating miniaturized replicas of the paranormal beings she writes about. Michele is as passionate about reading as she is about writing. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found sculpting tiny fairy desserts in polymer clay. She also loves mocha lattes and watching fireflies at twilight. Did we mention she loves chocolate?