Hello, readers!

A bit of an Angsty story today, however, I've got Spring Break next week, and a lot of stories (Including a brand new series!) will be unveiled during that time so happy stories will soon return! Also please head to my Youtube channel (Link in my profile) to see my cover of "Let Her Go" by Passenger with fingerstyle and harmonica intros!

I hope you enjoy this story

...

You hate your theater teacher.

She's a great teacher, but she does love to bring real life drama into the open and "express real life conflict through the theater." Sadly, she was doing that with this latest production.

The production was a shortened version of "The Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies" and you were cast as the Phantom. Normally you would be ecstatic for the lead role, but this time things were crazy because of the real life triangle that had developed.

Your best friend Gina, who you still had a small crush on was cast as Christine, and her boyfriend Bret was cast as Raoul. Either your theater teacher was terrible at randomly assigning parts, or she had planned this. Betting the farm on the latter answer was a surefire way to go.

Still, you practiced your part to perfection, working on singing the opera songs in a non-opera way, because although you were a great singer… Opera was a little out of your wheelhouse. You missed a few notes here and there, and often times turned your opera songs into more classical numbers, but so far that was okay.

However, in your duets with Gina… that all changed.

One of the many reasons your crush on her had grown was because of her angelic voice. She was a beautiful singer that was out of the folktales and her voice was known to make even the most hardened men cry. So for an emotionally driven person like yourself, her voice tore you apart and left you a pile of tears and sap.

However when you sang together, your own voice could counter hers and you were able to hold everything inside, melding with her voice and turning one duet into a heartfelt connection. One that spanned the emotions of an entire year of friendship in a few minutes of a song.

When you both sang, all your insecurities and anxiety and fear at not being good enough melted away, melted away to become her voice. Gina took your anger, panic, regrets… all the things you hated about yourself, and she made it okay. For an instant, you were better than your inner demons, and you loved it.

Singing with her also held a deeper allure, because you put out all your desires on the field, and she didn't know it. Sure she had a boyfriend who she cared for deeply and he cared for her, but you could intrude on that relationship by savoring the musical connection you both shared.

Your crush on Gina had started about three years ago, when you both had really started becoming good friends, and she had helped you through some tough times. You'd had her back when she needed you and that feeling of seeing her smile, knowing you were the one to make her that happy, it was perfect and the feeling blossomed into love for you.

So you helped her if she needed it, asked her to dances, did things for her, all to get that feeling and make her feel it too. You were a different man for her, and for once you relished the change. When she was beside you, you were okay. The stress and chaos of the world, of yourself, it all went away in one instant. That was a gift you could never repay her for, although you tried.

You adored her, you cared for her, and you loved her. Maybe you were different from the other sports stars and A+ students that craved her affections, but you cared just as much as they did if not more.

However, despite your best efforts, she never saw you that way. If the feeling in you was a flower you gave to her, she either didn't or couldn't care for the fragile offering you willingly gave. Instead, she ignored it and let it wither and die in her arms.

You tried to make her see the good in you, tried to make her see you the way you desperately wanted her too… tried to make the love mutual. Every effort failed as she simply watched your offerings burn in the light of your affections, never noticing that the flames got dimmer.

Gina always had an excuse, and for a time you blamed yourself for not trying harder, for not being as important as a friend she had to help or an event she had to go to. As you worked harder you saw yourself getting less and less in return, until finally, she got a boyfriend.

Then the flames fizzled out into the cold embers of a hard truth. She would never see you in that way.

So you snatched your offering back and guarded it jealously, vowing to never let anything hurt you again. To the outside world, you were the same smart and loyal guy, but you were turning to stone on the inside… every time Gina and Bret entered the room and were affectionate or even mentioned in a conversation you had to fight from keeping the flood of anger and spite from clawing its way up to spit words you didn't mean from your mouth.

You knew yourself too well, and for that, you knew you couldn't hate Gina or Bret. She didn't love you, she loved him, and he loved her in a way she was able to reciprocate. It was the hand you were dealt and nothing could be done about it. So you distanced yourself and held your heart in a cage of stone, silently adoring a woman who would never see you as anything more than a friend.

The Phantom was the same as you, just with different circumstances. He loved Christine but was too ugly to be with her. He loved her voice and was willing to do anything to hear it. He would suffer in his own pain rather than bring it to Christine, and the music was the only avenue to forget the real world and be hers.

…..

Playing the Phantom came easily to you, as you could become the darkness that lurked inside of you. Every rant about the world not seeing you, every possessive embrace, every obsession… they were all the things you kept under lock and key, and for the theater, you could let them all out.

The best scene was the swordfight, not only for your joy of stage combat but also because you could finally fight for Gina's affections. You didn't harm Bret in any way, but you put reasonable strength behind the blows, hammering all the pent up jealousy and anger home at the point of a sword. The spar wasn't just a scene in a play, it was a real life fight for the woman you both loved.

Even though you would lose the fight every single time, for about three minutes you could physically express your rage, even it was futile.

…..

Then you got into the "Love Never Dies" portion of the play, and although it was much sadder than the original, you secretly loved it.

Raoul was a jerk, Christine's son was yours, and the Phantom got some semblance of closure even if it ended in the death of the woman he loved.

Still, real life threw itself into the stage once again.

You remember the moment everything changed like yesterday.

You were backstage in the darkened prop closet, looking for something or other when you heard muffled sobbing. Threading your way through the racks of costumes and props, you could see the form of Gina, sitting on the floor with her head in her arms and shuddering with sobs.

You had knelt down to ask her what was wrong, although you already knew. The songs in the sequel were much harder than the original, and she'd been cursing herself for not being able to sing a high B or something. You saw singing as more of a gut instinct, anyone could sing if they put their mind to it and practiced with the right people and singing became fun. You knew you weren't the best singer out there, but you did have fun with it and that was all that mattered.

Gina saw singing as a thing to be honed and perfectly trained, she wanted to hit the high notes, wanted to sing songs in languages you couldn't even pronounce, and wanted to be perfect. So she beat herself up if she could reach the standard of perfection, and you hated watching her self-destruct.

You knew nothing about breathing from your diaphragm or singing octaves or hitting scales, but you had knelt down with a whisper of her name, fully intent on helping her out.

Before you knew anything, she had shoved you into a wall, her hands running down your costume and her lips on yours. You gave her a moment to realize her mistake, thousands of excuses and ways to respond to her frenzied apologies running through your mind as she pulled away.

Then she began to plant kisses on your face, grabbing the mask you wore and tossing it aside as she kissed under it.

"Gina… Gina!" Despite how good it felt, you pushed her away. She didn't know it was you… that was the only reason you had for her behavior. You could barely see her in the darkened prop room, and you and Bret did have similar builds… that was it. She thought you were Bret but now that she had heard your voice, she'd pull away, and things would be okay.

Then she said your name before pressing herself to you, fingers of one hand already unclasping your cape while the other hand locked the prop room door with a click.

It takes you a moment for your brain to process that she knows it's you, and even longer to process her actions. "Gina stop… what are you doing?" Already the protest sounds weak as your heart jumps and rattles against a cage of its own making, wanting to fulfill its desire.

"Please… I need… you… please"

She whispering now, but her voice thunders in your ears as her hands remove the costume, leaving you clad in your normal clothes, then her voice stops and she's kissing you again.

She has a boyfriend, she's not thinking straight, she's using you, she thinks your Bret… a million excuses filled your mind, but then your heart surged.

And your heart doesn't always agree with your head.

…..

Fifteen minutes later you were both getting back in costume because any piece of clothing that wasn't necessary for modesty had been taken off, which meant your costumes had been discarded.

At least neither of you were wearing makeup, so that was good.

She doesn't say anything and you let her have her silence as she straightens the last bits of her costume, although you desperately want to know why she initiated the best make out session you've ever had. Your heart is back-flipping in your chest as she gives you a small smile before she leaves.

As your heart pounds with the overflow of emotion in your chest, your head smothers the fire that had been ignited with a tidal wave of angst and doubt. She didn't care about you, she didn't love you… she was using you for some twisted reason. Bret was an amazing boyfriend, she had no reason to leave him for someone like you.

What should have been a treasured memory, a growth of what could be, was suddenly twisted into a sickening puzzle. Gina didn't care about you, and the kiss was just an accident.

Wasn't it?

…..

It's opening night for the combined production, and you get through the "Phantom" part just fine, it was the sequel that ruined you.

Every time you close your eyes, you feel her lips on yours. Every time she enters a room, your stomach twists and you are transported back to that prop room. When you see her with Bret, shame rolls over you and squeezes your insides like a vise.

You know your anger is real when you act, but now you find yourself asking if her acting emotions are real too.

As she lays dying at the end of the play when she looks at you and tells you that your love will never die… you can't tell what is real and what is fake. When she admits she loves you and only you, you want to break character and see if it is real.

Then the curtain drops and the illusion shatters as she goes to Bret, hugging and kissing him, saying nothing about the moment you both shared.

…..

So you are left with the unending pain, wondering if that one moment of happiness was worth it. Gina was always a good actor, so probably for her, the moment was just something as fake as the parts you played for the shows. She'd never know that for you, the emotion was all too real.

As audience members come up to you and express their admiration and congratulations for your performance and you're acting… you snicker softly. If only they knew how real it was.

The relationship was impossible, even if she broke up with Bret and became available, even if you were the only person who could make her whole, even if she dangled herself in front of you and all you had to do was reach out and take her…

You wouldn't.

She'd had her chance to become more than your friend, she'd had her chance to hold your heart and accept it, scars and all. She'd chosen to break that chance and let your heart become one of stone, instead of being hers. The hurt was too much for you to risk it again because it would always dog your steps. It would turn any relationship with her into a self-destructive walk down memory lane because the scars on your heart would never heal.

The Phantom didn't get his happy ending, and neither did you. However, where his love had ended in death… you instead got to hold a flame you couldn't abandon.

You couldn't be with Gina, but you couldn't let the pain go either. The torch you held for her was a beacon and a pyre both, and you hated how you couldn't blow the fire out because you were more faithful that you intended to be.

The relationship was impossible, so why was letting go so damn hard?

...

That's the eternal question, isn't it...

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the story and I hope you will stick around for a week of new postings! And happy stories! :D

As always please leave a review, feel free to check out my other works, check out my Youtube channel, and have a great day! :)