Theme: A story suggested by or based on a song. Thanks to Nat for editing.
The Phantom of the Opera
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe.
©The Really Useful Group
(Used without permission)
In sleep he sang to me
In dreams he came
That voice which calls to me
And speaks my name
And do I dream again?
For now I find
The phantom of the opera is there,
Inside my mind
Sing once again with me
Our strange duet
My power over you
Grows stronger yet
And though you turn from me
to glance behind
The phantom of the opera is there
Inside your mind
It was early summer. The days were warm and the flowers were blooming. I had just graduated from the private preparatory school I attended and Mother had graciously given me a sabbatical from my voice, dance, and other extracurricular lessons. I felt as free as a bird.
Mother and I spent a three-day weekend on Long Island at Aunt Peggy and Uncle Mort's house. My Aunt Olive and Uncle Simon were there, too. And my cousins, eight in all, although James, Mandy, Patti and I were the about the same age and hung out together. We laid in the sun or swam in their pool. We laughed and teased and giggled. James even tried to teach me tennis.
Mother and I took the train back into Manhattan, and arrived at our apartment about six on Sunday evening. We ate a light supper and then got ready for bed. I put on one the nightgowns Mother bought for me for my birthday last year, the one with the pink cami-top and matching harem pants.
I sat on the padded bench facing the oval mirror attached to the back of the dressing table. Mother stood behind me, brushing my golden waist-length hair with the silver handled brush that had been my grandmother's. Mother groomed it with long, slow strokes.
I closed my eyes. My melody wafting faintly inside my head made me tingle before it was gone. I opened my eyes to see Mother smiling knowingly at me.
"We adults heard giggles coming from the teenager's bedroom last night. What were you doing?" Mother asked.
"Talking about sex."
"Oh?" Mother said in a tone of voice Mother's use to garner more information. "Do you know a lot about that?"
"More than you think I do," I replied mischievously.
"I didn't know you were even interested in boys?"
"I never have been, have I? But, lately... well, it seems all I think about is sex."
"I've noticed," Mother said. "Have you even kissed a boy?" she asked.
"Just one," I admitted. "But the girls at school talk and I listen." Mother didn't need to ask who the one was. His name was Sean McLaren and I was fourteen at the time.
"So, what did you four talk about?" Mother asked.
"Mandy told us how she lost her virginity to her boyfriend at their prom last month."
"She taught Patti how to masturbate a boy."
"Using James as a model, I suppose," Mother said.
"Of course. He certainly didn't object."
"Did you join in the fun?"
"Mother! You know I wouldn't. I couldn't! I could never be untrue to him!"
"To your phantom?" Mother asked.
"Yes, to him," I said.
"He's not real, Christine."
"He's very real to me, even if he's only in my dreams," I said.
"It's a strange dream, Christine. A melody you can't repeat. A man you've never seen but only heard his voice."
I can't tell you when my dream first came to me. Maybe three years ago. Maybe four. It seems so long ago. At first, it was the few bars of a simple, haunting melody playing in my mind as I slept. Strange at it seems, I could not remember the melody or reproduce it to let others hear, but each time I heard it, I knew it was mine. I don't remember when the few bars became eight or eight became sixteen. Nor could I tell you when the tune was complete and the solitary organ became an orchestra.
Then he came into the dream. The disembodied voice of a pure, lyric tenor calling my name. "Christine." Only my name. "Christine."
I called back to him, "I'm here. Who are you?" He couldn't hear me, or, maybe, wouldn't answer me. How could I tell which it was? So I listened to the melody and him calling me.
I can tell you the night he first sang to me. It was night I turned seventeen. I wore one of the nightgowns Mother gave me for my birthday. It was the transparent silk black one that came only to the top of my thighs, and had matching bikini panties. He sang words of love written for the melody I'd heard all along.
Later, he sang other love songs or read to me. He began with poems of love, poems I'd heard before when we studied them in school, but from his lips they were so sweet and pure it was as if I were hearing them for the first time. In a month, he began reading other things—plays, short stories. He would sing and read before silently slipping away.
Then, in April, just about six weeks ago, he began reading me other stories—romance stories, erotic stories. Stories of men and women, of warriors and their maidens. Of worlds where women were slaves to men. Stories of love and lust like those I'd found on the Internet.
I had so much I wanted to ask him, so much about him I needed to know. But I was silent, always silent, trapped in the dream's helpless state. And that state kept me from expressing my love for him. I couldn't tell him, or hold him, or open my gown and call him to my bed.
Yes, it was he whom I wanted. Sometimes, I would daydream of him for in those dreams I could have him do what I wished. He would come to me, sometimes softly to kiss my neck and make me whisper for him to hurry, sometimes roughly to throw me down, lift my skirt and have me as his.
And in those dark times in my room at night, I would open my gown to caress my breasts until my legs parted. My hand would find my sex hot and wet in my need, and I would come as I thought of him and the melody played in my head.
Just a few weeks ago, I was determined to contact him. I wrote a note to my phantom, saying "Don't sing to me or read to me. Take me. Possess me. Command me. Fuck me. Make me yours forever." I pinned the note to a throw pillow and put it where he could not miss it.
I wore nothing, not even my panties, when I got in bed. I covered myself with one thin sheet. I touched my breasts slowly, listening to music in my head. And the music climaxed, so did I. I prayed he'd come to me.
In the depths of my rest, the melody played again.
"Christine, I am here," I heard him say. "O, Christine, my lovely Christine. I do possess you. You are mine and mine alone, my precious jewel."
I felt hands on my breasts, felt them explore and caress me. Hard fingers brushed my sex. No one but I myself had touched me there. No one had touched me like that making me burst with need.
"I will fuck you, Christine, and more. I will pleasure you and you will bring me pleasure in any way I ask. But not tonight. Sleep, my beauty, sleep."
I was suddenly aware Mother had stopped brushing and put her hands on my shoulders. Her eyes were soft and loving as she always is with me, but there was a hint of concern around the corners.
"Thinking of your dream?" she asked.
"Yes, mother," I replied.
"Let's talk about real men. Mr. McLaren has invited us to spend the weekend at his house in the Hamptons."
Archibald McLaren was a wealthy and powerful man. Mother was his mistress, yet so much more. She told me he was her king and her master, holding her in thrall. Yes, those were her exact words. "King and master." "Holding her in thrall." I had to look up "thrall" in the dictionary. It means "enslaved, held in bondage." So I asked her.
"Are you his slave, Mother?" I had asked.
"Not as people usually think of it, but, emotionally, yes, honey, I am. I enjoy being his," had been her reply.
"Why?" I had asked.
"Don't you dream of your phantom possessing you?" she had replied.
Oh, did I ever.
"Mr. McLaren has never invited me to the Hamptons," I said. "He's never invited me any place."
"That's not true, Christine. We spent four days at his beach house when you were fourteen. That's when you met Sean. He'll be there this weekend, too."
"He will?" I asked, my excitement evident.
"Yes, he will."
Then a thought came to me. I don't know why I had it. It wasn't like me to attribute ulterior motives to people. Maybe it was my recent preoccupation with sex, or my crush on Sean. Maybe it was the way Mr. McLaren had looked at me the last time I saw him, or my own dark desires to have him ravish me.
"Why was I invited?" I asked.
"You're eighteen now and you'll be going off to college in two months. They wanted to celebrate with you."
"And that's all?" I asked.
"We'll go shopping tomorrow for some new clothes for you. You need to look your best."
"Don't ignore my question, Mother. Is that the only reason I was invited?"
I turned and stood to face my mother, who was only eighteen years older than I am. Except for the age difference, we might be two peas from the same pod we look so much alike. I took her hands in mine and said, "Answer me, Mother."
"You might not remember Sean. It's been four years since you saw him."
"I remember him, but I don't like him. He's a spoiled brat," I said.
"You only think he's a brat because he didn't reply to all the letters you sent him. I remember you mooning around the house and begging me to arrange for us all to get together again."
"I was fourteen," I replied.
"Why is the picture of you and Sean together still on your wall?"
"I don't have another picture to replace it," I said. It was a terrible lie and Mother knew it was.
"He was eighteen then. Now he's twenty-two and a Harvard graduate. He starts their MBA program in the fall, just as you'll start as an undergraduate. He'll inherit the McLaren fortune someday."
"I want more than a rich man when I marry," I said.
Mother laughed, a happy, melodic sound sprinkling joy around her. Someone told me once my laugh sounded like hers and I was truly honored. "We're going for the weekend, not to plan a wedding. Now sit down and let me finish your hair."
I love my mother with all my heart. She has been so good and loving to me. But I know her very well. I watched my mother as her long, smooth strokes of the brush tugged my hair. It was a pleasing and soothing sensation. Yet tonight, it didn't still my questions.
"I'm sorry, but since you never answered my question, I need to ask another. What is expected of me this weekend?"
"I don't understand what you mean," Mother said, but she understood only too well.
"Am I being given to Sean?" I asked.
"Given?" she asked.
"Will Sean have sex with me? Or will Mr. McLaren?" I asked.
"Would you like that?" Mother asked.
Would I like it?
I am sure I was the only eighteen-year-old virgin at my school except those either planning on becoming nuns or who preferred girls to boys. Mother said I was a late bloomer, but, for whatever reason, I hadn't needed boys. I had my studies and my music and my phantom, but lately, that wasn't enough.
Certainly, Sean was handsome, the most handsome man I'd ever seen. I remembered him as being tall, broad-shouldered, slim-hipped, black-haired, with beautiful blue eyes and a great smile. He was smart with a quick wit. I'll bet he has all the girls he wants. Still, Mother was right. I had a horrible crush on him that started the moment I met him. It might even be love. I knew this. My braces were gone and the skinny girl he'd seen had blossomed into a lush and attractive woman. I wouldn't get the same reaction from Sean this time.
And Mr. McLaren? He intrigued me with his powerful blue eyes and expression that could be bend me to his will like the wind bends a blade of grass. I had seen him many times, usually when he picked up Mother for they held their assignations elsewhere other than the elegant and expensive brownstone he provided for us. He provided well for us, including my tuition at the best private school on the island and my other lessons. We spent Mother's earnings as assistant curator of a small museum as we wished because he paid for all the rest.
The last time I saw him was only three weeks ago. He was coming to our house at six-thirty for a drink before they went to the opera. I just happened to be trying on the new beach clothes we had bought that day when I heard the doorbell. I ran to the door to answer it.
"Good evening, Christine," he said pleasantly when I let him in.
"Hi, Mr. McLaren," I replied. "Mother will be right down. Come have a seat in the living room."
He followed me to the living room and thanked me when I brought him a drink. His eyes had never left me. I know how to avoid sexual body language around boys my own age, but I wanted to please him, to entice him. I don't know why but I couldn't help myself when he looked at me that way.
"This is one of the outfits we bought today," I said. I let the cover-up I was wearing slip to the floor, revealing my body in a bikini. "Do you think my suit is too small?" I asked innocently as I slowly pirouetted on the balls of my feet.
I felt strangely different than I ever had. Never had I been overly displayed for a man's pleasure. Never has I experienced the raw, sexual need of a man so blatantly directed at me, not even when the boys in school came on to me as they often did. I felt helpless. I knew if he wished to have me then and there, he would, and there would be nothing I could do about it. And deep inside, I wanted him to do just that, to have me, to command me to please him.
Yet, I felt powerful, too. I saw him adjust his erection, and the nearly uncontrollable hunger in his eyes. I had done this to him. I was a woman and he ached for me.
"Good evening, Archie," Mother said as she came into the room.
His expression changed. He was in control again. "You are a stunningly beautiful woman, Christine. The man who has you will be fortunate indeed," he said. "Now, go to your room."
As soon as I left the living room, I heard him say to my Mother, "Lay down."
I stayed out of sight by the door to listen.
She laughed and said, "Are you going to think of Christine while you fuck me, Archie?"
"Yes," he replied. I heard a zipper being pulled.
"Oh, please don't, Mr. McLaren. I'm still a virgin and you're so big," Mother said in a little girl voice.
There was the rustling of people moving and clothes being removed. Mr. McLaren groaned.
"Oh, Mr. McLaren, I never knew sex was so wonderful," Mother said in the same voice.
I listened to their noises and words—heard his grunts and demands, heard Mother's encouragements and singing his praises. Then I went to my room and pleasured myself while the melody from my dream played in my head.
It was obvious to me Mr. McLaren wanted me, and he was the kind of man who always got what he wanted. Mother would do nothing to stop him. She had told me once she would never deny him anything. I didn't ask if they discussed, or maybe planned, his taking of me. Why should I distress her? The truth was Mr. McLaren and I both wanted it, and he would not be denied.
"There. All finished," Mother said, straightening my hair with her hands. She pulled loose hairs from the brush's bristles, balled them up, and tossed them in the trash. "Give me a hug," she said, pulling me into her arms to say goodnight.
I stood in the door of my room on the top floor of the brownstone to take it all in. It seemed different somehow as I examined each little aspect of all that was mine. I realized then the difference was within me. The anticipation of the weekend to come. The knowledge I would become a woman.
I wanted my dream that night. I wanted my phantom to come to me. But I knew my dream didn't come every night and all my wishes could not make it so. That Sunday night it failed to find me and I slept pitifully.
Mother and I shopped on Monday, plowing through the clothes at Saks, Bergdorf-Goodman, and a few exclusive salons. It was clear I was being clothed as I had never been before—as a woman to attract and please a man.
Mother selected a floor-length cocktail dress so tight it would have hobbled me but for the slit up my left leg. It was backless. Any man's finger inside the dress no more than an inch would feel the divide between my butt-cheeks. The top tied around my neck and there was no strap around my back. Hands could easily slide inside to caress my breasts, or pull the string to leave me topless. My first thong, self-supporting stockings, and black open-toed pumps were all I'd wear with it.
I must admit I felt deliciously sexy and more feminine than I could remember as I tried it all on. The looks I received from the sales staff and male customers would make any woman proud.
Mother didn't stop there. A new blouse and skirt, a tennis outfit all in white, a leather vest and miniskirt, a jersey top exposing my shoulders and ending under my breasts with a matching, form-fitting, floor-length skirt, shoes, boots, bathing suits and more, and almost as many things for Mother, were to be delivered by the stores to our brownstone. We ate out that night, Chinese, in a smaller restaurant.
I asked Mother the question I'd wondered all day. "Mother, why did you buy these clothes for me?"
"So you would be pretty and sexy for our weekend," she replied. Something in the way she said, maybe her glance downward, told me she wasn't telling me all I needed to know.
"Did you select what you bought for me?" I asked.
"Some," she said. She sighed, "Archie selected most of them," she admitted.
I realized the first clothes I owned that were overtly sexual were the collection of nightgowns Mother gave me for my seventeenth birthday. "Did he select my nightgowns, too?"
"Yes, honey, he did."
"So, Mr. McLaren will be my first lover?"
"Only you can answer than question," she said.
Again, I crawled naked into bed and pleasured myself as my melody filled my mind, but my phantom man didn't come to me. He didn't come Tuesday or Wednesday. On Thursday, even my melody failed me. I masturbated and couldn't orgasm, leaving me frustrated and restless.
Friday afternoon as Mother and I waited for Mr. McLaren's limousine to pick us up for The Hamptons, I tried to remember how long it had been since I'd endured a week without my dream. Was it last month? Three months ago? Or more?
"The car's here, Christine," Mother said to me.
The driver opened the door for us. I sat on the plush rear seat next to Mother. She tried to engage me in conversation on our drive, but I demurred, looking out my window as I wondered why my phantom hadn't come to me. Mostly, I thought about Sean McLaren and his father, Archie. I wondered what they were like in bed, and which one would take my virginity, and if both of them would have me.
We arrived at the McLaren mansion about six. As the driver slowed the car opposite the high white columns in front, the front door opened and a woman I'd never met came out to greet us.
"Hello, Angelina," she said to Mother when she opened our door. "And you must be Christine. My, but you're as beautiful as your mother."
"Christine, this is Gabrielle," Mother said. "She's my dear friend."