This is one of the stories in Through the Opera Glass; it will also appear in the omnibus work I'm calling Seen Through the Phantom's Eyes. Through the Opera Glass is available via the usual eBook retailers. Enjoy!
Ripples in the Pond
Written February 28, 2012
Clever Fiction writing prompt: photo of water splashing
Erik pitched another pebble into the underground lake, cursing himself.
“What was I thinking?” His voice echoed in the cavernous basement of the Opera Garnier.
He’d done it. He’d left a note for Claire Delacroix, the chestnut-haired equestrienne. After being so careful to keep his continued existence from the managers and staff of the opera house, too. He had risked everything, to his very life. Mon dieu!
Another stone fell into the dark lake with a soft plop.
Not only had he sent her a note, oh no; in it, he had told her where to find Cesare, knowing that she would be unable to resist working with another horse. And then, he watched her from his many hiding places as she lovingly tended the animal. His animal, for he had taken the horse back from the managers after seeing him abused. They still wondered what had become of Cesare, the imbeciles.
She had treated every wound and scar on the horse, and sometimes Erik imagined her doing the same for him – despite his certainty that she would shrink from the horror of his unmasked face and the lash scars across his back.
Claire always talked to Cesare, and Erik listened. Sometimes she sang the children’s song about dancing on the bridge at Avignon; she was no opera singer – no Christine, thank God – but her voice was pleasant all the same. Erik liked it best, though, when she talked. That was how he learned about her cousin Francois bringing her to Paris from her home in the north. About how lonely she was.
And then one day he heard her speak of Philippe, the man she had planned to marry even after he was badly burned in a fire. The man who died. If she could still love such a man …
No, surely not.
Another pebble struck the water.
He would show himself to her. Tonight, when she came to tend Cesare.
“Alea iacta est,” he whispered as he watched the ripples expand ever outward. “The die is cast.”