Since there’s no official Six Sentence Sunday this week (they’re moving the site) I thought I’d take the opportunity to totally break the rules and post way more than six sentences. So here’s a much longer excerpt of Erik’s Tale:
With a steadying breath, Christine crossed the drawing room. She stopped again in the doorway to the parlor. The disarray made it clear that he was not merely practicing. Erik was in a rage. She brought a hand to her mouth as a chill went through her. What if he had seen her with Raoul? What might he do to her? It would be safer to leave, to accept Raoul’s offer to take her away from here. To leave the Opera and never come back. To leave Erik.
She thought of the look in his eyes tonight, the way they shone with tears under Red Death’s mask. He’s a murderer. If he had seen her with Raoul, her life was in danger. She could not make herself believe it, though. Erik would not hurt her. She stepped around the overturned table and over the bits of costume strewn across the floor. Even trusting that he would not hurt her, she still had to battle fear when she reached the door of the music room. She opened the door wide.
Erik startled, his fingers slipping on the keys. He wasn’t wearing a mask. She only got a glimpse of his face before he brought his hands up to cover it. He did not turn to look at her but stayed hunched over the organ. She took a few slow steps into the room, her heart squeezed tight as she looked at him. “Erik,” she told him softly. “Take your hands away.”
“Why? So you can pity me?”
She gasped. Pity. She’d told Raoul on the roof that she pitied Erik, but how had he … He must have been watching them. Guilt flooded her as she imagined him watching them talk, watching them kiss. “I don’t pity you.”
“That’s what you told your lover,” he spat the word like a curse.
“You were there on the roof.” The sound she’d heard had not been her imagination.
“Yes, I was there. I saw … everything.”
She couldn’t recall ever feeling such shame. “I told him I pitied you, but I didn’t mean it.”
“Out of compassion, out of pity, you tell me you did not mean it. I can not stand any more of your pity. Take your pity and your compassion and get out of here.”
“Get out!” He whirled his hands still covering his face. “Get out!”
She backed away a few steps, then turned and ran.
Through the chaos in the parlor to the neat drawing room. She made it to the back door, her hand reaching for the hidden panel, but she stopped. She would not do this. She would not run away from him as so many others had. Christine took deep breaths to calm her racing heart. She had told Raoul she pitied Erik so that he would not be jealous. She told Erik she wasn’t seeing Raoul so he wouldn’t hurt him. How had she gotten herself into such a position? She cared for Raoul, and it had been so nice to kiss him on the roof and again when they said goodnight. She felt she might be falling in love with the handsome Viscomte. But it had also been nice to dance with Erik. For him she felt … she wasn’t sure.
Christine turned away from the door and went back to the music room. Erik knelt on the floor beside the organ, sobbing. He was half turned away from her and when she entered he made a choked sound and covered his face again. “I told you to get out.”
“I am not your servant to be ordered around.”
“Leave me alone.” His voice was raw. “Please.”
“No.” She walked over and knelt beside him.
His shoulders hunched tight and he leaned away from her. Tears dripped from the bottom of his chin. “Go back to your handsome Raoul.”
“Take your hands away.”
He did not move.
She wrapped her hand around one of his wrists and pulled gently. “Please.”
Slowly, very slowly, Erik lowered his hands. He kept them close to his face, ready to cover it again. Then just as slowly he turned toward her. He was tense, almost cringing, like a dog that expected a blow. Christine studied his skull like face, the face that had made her scream the first time she saw it. Her memory of his face was true, but it did not make her want to scream this time. The shock of it was dulled from that first experience and she could look at him with a kind of detachment. He stared back at her, the fear in his eyes becoming confusion. Tears still leaked from his eyes, leaving tracks down his too-pale skin. Looking at him didn’t make her afraid, or disgusted. It made her heart ache. She reached up with her thumb and brushed a tear from his face.
Erik gave a great shuddering sigh that shook his whole body. “Christine …”
She pulled him against her and he clung to her, sobbing like a child. She did feel compassion for him, and pity. But there was something more.