It had been nineteen days.
Nineteen days since he last saw Christine, nineteen days since he had last been in the presence of his beautiful wife. Nineteen days since he had felt happy and his heart had been at peace.
Now the pain was slowly tearing him up from the inside out.
His lovely lady wife, Christine, had gone down to Chartres to perform a few shows with the company there. She was only there for three weeks, and when she had first brought it up, he had been ecstatic about it, encouraging her to go. He had thought it would be wonderful for her career, as well as probably fun for her to spend a few weeks in the light with her friends. But now that he had to face the horrible reality of it, he cursed his past self for ever thinking this could have been a good idea.
She had been reluctant about leaving him. She had said that she was worried about him, and that she didn’t have to go, she could simply stay by his side. But he had insisted - God, he was stupid - he had insisted she go. Packed her bags for her, sent her on her merry way, reassured her he’d be fine, he’d been living this long alone, what’s a few weeks? But he was very, very wrong.
The first few days had been fine. Not good. But fine. He was surviving, at least. He had eaten a few things. He had tried to compose, thinking that he would surprise Christine with a few new arias to sing when she came back. Currently, he had thirty one of them, all half-finished and strewn about his room with little care. His writing had gotten progressively scratchier and messier, to the point where some of his more recent scores could barely be made out.
After a few days, he had given up eating and sleeping completely, reverting back to the days before Christine when he would spend weeks doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and breathing music. Except this time, there was no music. Nothing. Dead silence. It was as if Christine had taken his muse with her and he was left cold and empty. He had to physically force himself to write notes down on the page, hoping that if he did it enough, eventually the music would come back.
After a week he had officially given up on that matter, deciding instead to do things that he thought would make Christine happy. He needed Christine to be happy. So he cleaned the entire house, every nook and cranny there was. He carefully and reverently made her bed, placing the pillows just so and dusting everything in her room until he was coughing from the dust. He made sure that every fireplace always had a roaring fire in it, and carefully made sure that the ashes were always cleaned off the brick. It would not do for Christine to come back to a dirty house. What would she think of him then? Surely she would be terribly disappointed, but because she was Christine she would smile and lie and say that everything was fine and that would be even worse because he didn’t want to make his dear Christine lie to him of all people. He did not deserve her kindness or her pity. He deserved to be treated like the monster he was.
When he had finished cleaning, and it had only been eleven days, he then decided that if he didn’t want Christine to be horribly upset with him, then he should try to make everything as easy as possible for her when she came back. He took up repairing her dresses; several gowns had minor rips and tears that needed to be fixed. There was even one that had been a costume from a past production that he had taken, but sadly it was too large for his petite Christine. She had been meaning to get it tailored, but had never found the time. He took to it immediately, and even though she had never gotten the exact measurements, he knew in his mind the exact shape of her curves and bodice and he perfectly tailored the dress.
Now it had been fourteen days, and he was slowly descending further and further into madness. He was frightened of sleeping, because sleeping would mean laying down in Christine’s bed, and he couldn’t do that because Christine would want her bed nice and neat and not messed up by his monstrous form. His only other option was the coffin, but he shuddered to think of sleeping there again.
And now it was sixteen days and he was scrubbing the dishes in the sink, forcefully scrubbing them so hard it was quite possible the paint was chipping on some of the plates and cups. He hadn’t used them at all. It didn’t matter. The dishes needed to be in pristine condition by the time Christine came back. The water stung at his hands but he ignored it, continuing his onslaught against the poor porcelain. He had taken to scratching at his own hands, as some way to relieve this horrible stress that was building up inside him. His hands had been rubbed raw because of it, the already skeletal structures looking all the more horrible. Fitting, he thought, for a monster. The same onslaught had been given to his arms, and now even the slightest touch on them burned and seared with pain. It was only thanks to his hours of endured torture in the past that he was not screaming in agony while washing dishes.
It had been nineteen days, now, and Christine would be coming home in two. Perfect, lovely, wonderful Christine. The woman who had somehow deemed fit to marry him. Erik would never understand why, but he was grateful for her nonetheless. Everything Christine did was the act of a pure angel, and every touch she chose to give him was a gift to be cherished. Every moment spent in her presence was pure and divine and nothing would ever come close. So everything must be as perfect as she was when she came home. He spent the day obsessively cleaning, polishing the already mirror-polished floors, dusting the already dust-less shelves, and carefully repositioning the already carefully placed pillows and blankets on her bed.
He had always worn gloves whenever he touched her things, not wanting to taint them with his essence. He had stopped doing it a while ago at Christine’s insistence, but he found himself doing it again now as he cleaned her things, despite the fact that his fingers screamed in protest.
The clock struck twelve. That meant that it was day twenty, and that Christine would be home tomorrow. He sighed dreamily, just thinking of being back in her presence again. The thought filled him with new vigor, and he frantically continued cleaning the house. Everything must be perfect, otherwise Christine would be upset with him, thinking he was so horribly incompetent he couldn’t even spend three weeks alone. He thought he just might die if Christine was upset with him. He simply couldn’t bear the thought.