I hope you enjoy this sample of my work.
© 2014 Amy L.Magaw
Not to be used without permission.
“A Dance with the Phantom”
“I got another one today,” Stephanie began as she pulled a piece of candy from her backpack.
“What did The Phantom leave you this time?” asked her best friend Madison. The two girls whispered with a child-like giddiness that mirrored Christmas time—not Halloween. The chorus room was full of singers, but the soprano section sat quietly as the director was preoccupied with the other sections.
“A Krabby Patty Gummy Sandwich,” she answered as she handed the Spongebob-themed candy to her. “How did he know I liked Spongebob? That was way back in third grade!”
Madison examined it thoroughly. “How did he even get this into your locker? It’s too thick to go through the vents!”
“I know! And it had a note with it too...” Stephanie began as she reached into her pocket.
“Of course it does, just like all the others...” Madison answered sarcastically.
Stephanie produced a small red piece of paper containing the words, ‘A sweet for my sweet. Yours Forever, The Phantom.’ She passed the paper to Madison while the baritones belted out low notes at chorus rehearsal.
Madison read the note. “That’s so corny!”
“Candy corny?” asked Stephanie as she offered Madison some of the sweet Halloween candy. “He left me some of that yesterday!”
“And you’re just as bad!” she answered as she took a handful of the candy. “What else has he brought you?”
Stephanie took a moment to recollect all of the treasures her secret admirer had left her through the week.
“Monday it was a rose; Tuesday it was a Hershey chocolate bar; and Wednesday it was roll of Smarties; but the sad thing is, I can’t think of any connection between the items he’s brought me to a possible identity.”
“Do you think there is a connection? The Spongebob thing was from Elementary school. That’s got to mean something. Has he been admiring you for that long?” she asked rhetorically. “I can’t wait to find out who he is tonight.”
“You can’t wait?” Stephanie responded. “And no, I still don’t have a clue as to who he might be.” She looked down sadly at her latest gift from the Phantom. Why would anyone be leaving gifts for me? Could there really be something to this? She didn’t know what to make of it all. She looked up and saw Effie Williamson looking in their direction. Even though the girls were whispering, their volume had to be heard over the baritones. Stephanie decided she needed to whisper more softly. “Do you really think he’ll be there tonight?”
“Girl, please!” Madison said in boisterous frustration.
Stephanie grabbed her arm to quiet her. She looked around to make sure no one else was attempting to mind their business.
“Why do you think he’s gone to all this trouble this week? There hasn’t been one day that you haven’t received some gift from him in your locker,” Madison said as he toyed with the candy corn. She lifted a piece to her mouth.
“I know; you don’t think he’s a stalker, do you? I haven’t eaten any of the candy he’s left me, just in case!” Stephanie said with a grin.
Madison’s hand stopped in mid-air. She was one second short from becoming a guinea pig! She looked at Stephanie in silence for a moment. “Naa,” she said as she popped the candy corn in her mouth.
The girls continued to sit in Chorus class with nothing to do. The director was still working parts with the baritones, and now the altos had joined in. They continued to whisper so as not to disturb the rehearsal.
“You know, the walls are really drab in here with all that grey. We need some posters, or something, you know—to liven it up!” Stephanie suggested.
“Yeah! We need a ‘Phantom of the Opera’ poster!” Madison said as she jabbed Stephanie in the ribs.
“Ouch! Stop it! What character are you going as to the Masquerade dance tonight—an evil torture doctor?” Stephanie asked.
“No, I’m going as Pocahontas,” Madison answered. “By the way, remind me to go pick up my feathers from the Dollar Tree this afternoon.”
Stephanie frowned at her friend. “Isn’t that a little Disney? What are you in the fifth grade?”
“Well that’s what I want to be—a beautiful Indian princess. And what character will you be portraying? Oh! I know!” she shouted with excitement.
All eyes in the alto section looked their way. Madison got the hint and ducked down in her chair.
“Sorry,” she whispered to Stephanie. She was trying to keep her best friend’s secret, but she was way too excited. “You should go as Christine so that your Phantom will recognize you!”
“No! I don’t want to seem like I came to the dance just to see him!” she retorted.
“But isn’t that why you’re going to the dance tonight?” Madison asked with the look of the bad cop in the interrogation room.
Stephanie paused. She knew Madison had her dead to rights. “Yes, it is why I’m going. But, I’m not going as Christine; I’m going as...a...fairy,” she said meekly.
Madison shouted again. “...and you think I’m Disney! Tinkerbell is their logo for crying out loud!”
“Shhh!” Stephanie said as she slapped Madison’s arm. “I didn’t say that I was going to be Tinkerbell; I said I was going to be a fairy. There’s a difference.”
“Not much...” Madison chided.
“Well, I picked up my wings from The Dollar Tree yesterday and I’m not changing my mind now! My high school senior budget won’t allow it! Thank the Lord for the Dollar Tree!” Stephanie replied.
“Oh! That also reminds me—we have to get our traditional Lone Ranger-style face mask...” Madison pointed out.
“In matching colors, of course...” Stephanie interrupted.
“...of course!” Madison agreed. She stopped for a moment while the altos and baritones sang their parts together. She began to look through the rows of singers in the bleak room that was obviously built for acoustics, and not aesthetics. “I just had an idea. Since he calls himself ‘The Phantom’, like ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, do you think your Phantom is in this chorus class?” Madison asked.
“You’re just now thinking that? I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out who he could be! I just don’t know who in the world would reach out to me like that!” Stephanie said as she glanced down at the music in her lap.
Both girls scanned the faces in the rows directly across from them. Madison snickered, remembering Effie’s nosiness a moment ago. She nudged Stephanie’s elbow. “What do you think Effie Williamson will go as, if she goes at all?”
Stephanie glanced down at her Krabby Patty Candy. “Probably Mr. Krabb’s daughter, Pearl the Whale!” she snickered. “That was ugly. I shouldn’t have said it.”
“...but it was funny. That’s what she gets for stealing everyone’s cookies from their lunch bags in K-5!” Madison interrupted with a sense of justification. She looked over the men’s section of the group. “How about Jesse? He’s talk, dark, and handsome.”
“And he’s also dating Jennifer Beatson in the junior class,” Stephanie added.
“Really? When did that happen?”
“I don’t know! Focus! Who else do you think he could be?” Stephanie said bringing Madison back to the more important matters at hand.
Madison perused the baritones again. “I don’t know, Stephanie. There’s not much left: Garrett the football player...”
“...who could have any girl he wanted,” interrupted Stephanie.
“Well, then there’s Jeffrey the nerd...”
“...who wouldn’t know what to do with a girl...”Stephanie interrupted again.
“Would you let me finish looking, for crying out loud? Okay, there’s Jonathan, the preacher’s kid, but he probably won’t even be there. I can’t see his dad letting him go.”
“I know, right? His locker is next to mine. I try to avoid him, but sometimes he’s there. It’s definitely not him,” Stephanie said.
“Well, there’s also David McGibbney, Jacob Jones, and Shane Hadley.”
“No, I don’t think so. Shane’s locker is two down from mine. He’s okay, but he probably doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body. None of those guys has even shown any interest in me, why would it be any of them?” Stephanie said with a frown. “Maybe it’s just someone’s sick joke. I’m not the most popular girl at school. I’m not even the best singer in the chorus. I’m just a regular girl.”
“And what’s wrong with being a regular girl?” Madison asked.
Stephanie smiled. “Nothing! I’m just not used to all of the attention.”
“Well, we’ll know what to make of it later tonight.” Madison said with delight.
“That’s right! I’m not going alone. And since the Phantom hasn’t officially asked you to the dance, I assumed you and I would be conquering the dance floor together!” Madison asserted.
“Right, then I won’t be alone in case the Phantom does turn out to be a stalker...”
“Sopranos, it’s your turn,” the director announced.
Madison rolled her eyes.
“So, pick me up at 6:00,” Stephanie whispered with a smile.
The commons area had never looked better. The warm fall colored crepe paper draped the rafters creating a hall of mystique. The smell of baked goods for refreshment was stimulating. The sweet aromas of candy and spiced cider blended to launch Stephanie into another world.
Madison brought her a cup of cider. Both girls sipped as they scanned the crowd. There were so many people there—some they recognized, but some they did not.
“Well, has any one made contact with you yet?” Madison asked.
“No, and I doubt he will. It was evidently all a prank,” Stephanie said as she took another sip. “Trick or treat, right? I guess I got tricked.”
“Cake time?” Madison offered.
“Yes. I could definitely drown my sorrows in some cake. I hope they have chocolate!”
The two girls made their way to the refreshment table. On the way over, Stephanie noticed something. Someone stared at Madison from across the dance floor.
“Hey,” she said as she nudged Madison, “I think that ‘Si Robertson’ look-a-like over there is checking you out, Pocahontas!”
“What? I don’t look like a duck!”
“Well, maybe he wants to welcome you to his dynasty!” teased Stephanie as the grey-bearded teen approached them.
“Hey, hey, Pocahontas, you want to dance?” he asked as he held out his hand to Madison.
Madison couldn’t help but laugh. “Sure, Si—I’d love to!” she managed to say as she took his hand. “I’ll be back soon!” she called to Stephanie over her shoulder.
“Don’t rush back on my account!” she called towards the dance floor. “I have cake!”
Stephanie turned back to the refreshment table to pick up her piece of chocolate cake. Just as she reached down to grab the plate she felt a hand touch her shoulder. Startled, she turned around.
He stood at least five inches taller than her. His hair was raven-black as was his cloak, except for the blazing red lining that called to her. His white tuxedo shirt was pristine and fit snuggly across his broad shoulders. Gazing on her from underneath the black mask, were the most piercing blue eyes that she had ever seen. He never spoke a word, only extended his hand to her for the dance.
The Phantom...He’s here... I wish Madison was here. She’d know right away who you are—she knows everyone at Paxville High. She was so mesmerized by his aura that she couldn’t speak. She placed her hand in his and he led her to the dance floor. He pulled her close with his strong arms, never taking his eyes off of hers.
She tried to begin a conversation with him, but was afraid. This is silly. .. I can at least thank you...maybe you’ll speak then.
“Thank you, very much for my gifts this week. I’m not used to receiving things,” she started.
He only nodded and smiled.
“Are you really not going to speak to me? I’ve been thinking about you all week, wondering if you were playing a joke on me, or if you were ‘real’. Surely you have something to say?”
He smiled again and this time, he wagged his finger in front of her to say, ‘shame, shame, shame’ to her ploy to get him to speak.
Stephanie couldn’t believe that with all of the effort to lure her to the dance, he wouldn’t speak to her. I can’t give up now! Let’s try a different approach...
“So, how do I know that you haven’t been stalking me? You knew what I liked— roses, chocolate, candy corn, Spongebob—and that was in the third grade, sir! How long have you been stalking me, exactly?” Stephanie asked in attempt to get any information from him.
He frowned, as if to say, ‘You know better than that.’
“Part of me wants to run away, but...”
He pulled her closer gently, but with power.
“...I don’t want to go. I...”
He placed his finger on her lips to quiet her chatter.
His eyes were so hypnotic she found herself powerless in his arms. Her head began to swim. She rested her head on his chest as they danced on. It was there she took in the aroma of his cologne. And then she remembered. She had smelled that scent before...but where? She breathed deeply, to take in another sample.
He took her by the hand and spun her out slowly and then rested one of his hands on her waist, keeping the other hand in his grasp.
He’s on to me. He doesn’t want me to know who he is, but why? He’s absolutely wonderful. Oh, who are you?
Again, he rested his eyes on her.
“Please,” she said with a shake in her voice, “Please tell me who you are.”
Just as the words left her mouth, the music came to an end. Please...don’t stop now...Please don’t stop the music.
But, it did stop. And as the deejay began to announce the winners of the costume contest, he took her hand and pressed it to his lips. Her breath caught in her chest. Who does that anymore? And why don’t they do it more often?
He bowed to her and walked away.
“Please...” she said as she reached for him, but as she did, someone caught her by her other arm. Stephanie turned around to see who was holding her back.
“Hey! Who was that?” Madison asked.
Stephanie stood speechless.
Madison’s partner approached her again. “Hey, Hey...”
“Not now, Si!” she retorted. “Go get me some punch, all right? And not in your Tupperware cup, either!”
Si walked away, frowning.
“I saw you with him. Didn’t you know who he was?” Madison asked.
“No, did you?”
“No. I couldn’t get a good look at him through Si’s beard,” Madison said as she rolled her eyes.
“Don’t you remember anything you could use as a clue—his eyes, his voice, anything?”
“He had the most gorgeous blue eyes, but I’ve never seen them before...oh, I don’t know!” Stephanie was becoming frantic. “He never spoke. I asked him a gazillion questions, but he never answered, well, not with words, anyways.” She placed her hands on her face in frustration. And then she caught his scent on her hands. She placed both hands over her nose in breathed him in again. Madison looked at her like she was a loon. “His scent...his cologne... I’ve smelled that aroma somewhere before, but I can’t remember where.”
Madison grabbed Stephanie’s hand and took a whiff.
Stephanie snatched her hands away. “Stop it!” she said as she began to spin around searching for him around the room. The applause for the winners of the costume contest was almost deafening. She felt tears filling her eyes. Where are you?
Madison saw her plight. “Think, Stephanie, think!” she begged as she watched her friend struggle.
“I can’t. I don’t want to think. I want to find him!” she said as she finally broke away from Madison. She busted through the commons doors that led to the senior hall. She ran down towards her locker, looking down every hall. Only the lights in the main hall were on, casting eerie shadows everywhere. She finally stopped running. She stood there staring into the darkness at the end of the hall. I’ll never find him. What a trick-or-treat night this has been. I feel both tricked and treated!
She turned to make her way back to the commons area, but she felt a hand snatch her into the shadows by the entrance to the computer lab. She didn’t have time to scream. But then, she fixed her widened eyes on him.
He bent to her ear quickly and whispered, “Don’t be afraid,” as he held his cloak around them. He slowly began to kiss her. At first she pressed her fists against his chest in protest, but he was so intoxicating that her persistence soon ceased. She ran her fingers through his hair, pulling him closer to her. She had never experienced such chivalry and manners from any young man she had dated. She knew she had a treasure, and she was not about to lose him again.
As he pulled back from her, she slid her hand through the band of the mask, taking it away from his face. He stared at the floor.
The hallway betrayed him.
The lockers...his scent...
Things began to fall into place.
“Jonathan? Please look at me...” she begged the preacher’s son.
“Please,” he began while still looking at the floor, “I almost didn’t come here...but I...I had to see you...”
“...and I’m so glad that you did...” she answered.
He looked up at her slowly.
“You are so beautiful...and your voice is so...but you deserve so much better...”
“Let me be the judge of that,” she answered as she caressed his face, lifting it towards hers. “I’ve never been treated so well in my life. You’re not like the other guys—you’re different. I wish you would have come to me sooner,” she said as she stroked his hair.
He flashed that handsome smile at her again. “I wish I had too. So, trick-or-treat?” he asked as their eyes met again—those gorgeous blue eyes that she’d never noticed before—but now, she did.
“Treat,” she answered as she slid her arms around his neck once more.