Chants of murder and faint songs of escape paint the pictures of some of my earliest memories. I remember seeing the disfigured face of my father leaning down over my cradle, the eerie firelight making his deformity seem almost demonic, as he tightly wrapped me in what would have been my mother’s wedding veil. As the chants grew louder and the songs grew fainter, he held me tightly against his chest and smashed through the last mirror that led to his secret underground tunnels that led all throughout Paris. His booted foot crossed the threshold, and I turned back and looked toward the water, where I could see the gauzy outline of my mother and her lover as they fled from our temple of music. The world then turned black as my father took me deep into the tunnels as the Opera Populaire burned above us, and bloodthirsty crowds hunted deep for a ghostly murderer.
For many years, my father and I lived beneath the remains of the old stable at the Opera Populaire. He schooled me in all he knew of magic, music, architecture, and composition. As I grew older, I grew more and more to resemble my mother, the famed singer, Christine Daae. Often, my father would stare at me and begin to remember the past, when my mother’s heart had belonged to him alone. During these periods of reminiscence, his voice would run through the octaves and he would storm around our stone home as fits of temper seized him. After he had calmed, he would always call me closer and gesture toward the ivory mask that covered half of his face. His voice low and smooth, he would tell me that the terror of the visage beneath this mask was what had caused my mother to find love in another man’s arms. In his fits of genius madness, he would remind me that he would never lose me to the monster that his mask covered. As a young child, held awestruck by the music and compositions that flowed from his mouth like magic, I would nod and solemnly swear to never remove it from his face.
As time continued to pass, my father grew ill in his old age. Because those on the surface called him a criminal, he refused to allow me to call upon a physician. At the age of fourteen, I watched my father die. In death, his scowl that was near constant when he was not playing, had finally surrendered its furrows to the peace and serenity found beyond death’s rest. With gloved hands, I gently closed his eyes and broke my vow, taking off his mask. While the face beneath was misshapen and bulbous, I found a sense of beauty in it, beauty that only those who are truly compassionate can see.
In a wish to continue my father’s legacy, I fixed his mask over my own face, and took his cloak from my bed. I would now be the new artistic genius behind the Opera Populaire once it was rebuilt. I would be the new Phantom of the Opera.