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Broken Chapter 1

Beginning Again

Kathryn’s PoV

(point of view)

I stood before the Paris Opera House, shivering in the November cold. I pulled my cloak closer around my thin frame and shivered once again as my icy, numb fingers brushed my neck. I sighed, and tried to calm myself. Don’t be so frightened, I told myself. It’s just an interview. What could go wrong? Anxiety piped up, its menacing voice filling my mind. Oh, I’m glad you asked. I sighed again and tried fruitlessly to push the voices aside. I decided that I needed this job, and in order to get it, I had to have this interview, and in order to get that I needed to get up the sprawling polished marble staircase before me. I picked up my trunk from the ground and began making my way to the doors. I set it down at the top of the steps and was suddenly thankful for the wheels I had attached on its base, so that it could be rolled instead of carried. I hurried to the doors of the Populaire and stepped inside. The front room was amazingly beautiful, but I had no time for that right now. I had to get to my interview. Just like the marvelous beauty of the foyer hit me, the sudden realization that I had no idea where to go to apply hit me as well. I looked around for a maid of some kind and spotted a small form scrubbing the floor nearby. Deep breath, it’s just a maid. Just walk up and ask. There’s nothing to worry about.

“Bonjour, mademoiselle.” I called to her. She stood and did a little curtsy before replying, her dirty blonde locks bouncing around her shoulders.

“Bonjour, mademoiselle. Can I help you?”

“Yes, please. I’m looking for the managers’ office. Can you tell me where it might be?” She nodded and gestured toward a hallway on one side of the front room.

“Second door on the left, just that way.” I nodded and thanked her. I walked down the corridor, passing one of the many ticket windows before reaching a door that said “Manager’s Office” in big, gold lettering. Tacked below was a hand written sign that said “APPLY HERE FOR STAGEHAND JOB” in large, neat, handwriting. Placing my luggage beside the door, I raised my hand to knock, but lowered it slowly. I knew I needed this job though, so I pushed away my doubts and rapped on the door. A gruff voice called from inside.

“Come in!” I opened the door. Inside was a portly man with a curly mustache. He was short, had kind eyes, and was mostly bald. There was another man at one of the two desks. He was tall, and had salt and pepper hair with a matching mustache. He seemed stern, but was polite in his manner. The short one spoke again.

“Bonjour, mademoiselle. And how may we assist you today?”

“I, um, I would like to apply for the vacant stage hand position.” The two men looked to each other. I didn’t want to be dismissed, so I hurriedly added, “I can assure you I will work very hard. And I have many other abilities that would benefit the Opera House.” The second, taller man seemed deep in thought, and the first sighed.

“Take a seat, then.”

“Oh, thank you so much, monsieur! Merci beaucoup!(Thank you very much!)” He waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. The man with the thin salt pepper mustache introduced himself.

“Well, as my associate neglected to say,” Here, he shot a pointed look at the other.”My name is Gilés André, and this is my fellow manager, Richard Firmin.”

“Je suis Kathryn. (I am Kathryn)” I curtsied and sat down. Monsieur Firmin took a couple pieces of paper from a drawer in his desk and dipped his quill in and inkwell.

” Your name?”

“Kathryn,”

“Surname?”

“I have none,” I mumbled.

“What?”

“I have none,” I repeated, clearer this time. Then, an idea. “However, if you need one, put Writes. Kathryn R. Writes,”

“Very well then, Miss…Writes,” M. Firmin said. M. André watched me for a moment.

“A writer, then?” He chuckled. “Quite a while since we’ve had one of those around here. Shame, though, you being a girl and such.”

“Excuse-moi?”

“I think it’s a shame that you’re female and all. Obviously a woman’s work wouldn’t be published.”

“Perhaps it is rude of me to say this, but is that your real opinion?” He nodded. “Then do keep it to yourself.” M. Firmin had to turn away from us for a moment to stifle his laughter.

“You said you have several abilities. What might those be, pray tell?” he asked me, once he recovered.

“I can do simple sewing, and painting. I can cook and clean, too, or act as a note carrier. I can read and write as well, messieurs. I could even manage the books, or work in the ticket booths. I suppose, if I am needed I could sing in the chorus. I am a hard worker and a quick learner, and anything I don’t know I am willing to learn.” He gave a hum.

“Might I ask why you chose the Palais Garnier?”

“Well, I needed to find work somewhere, and I always thought that the theater would be such an exciting place to have a job. With so many occupations under on roof, I could also utilize most of my skills. I would be absolutely thrilled to work here.” They questions continued for a while, and soon the managers told me to come back after twenty minutes after suggesting that I look at the rose bushes outside. An odd request, I thought, because no roses would be in bloom, but an offer is take them up on nonetheless. Firmin gave me a funny look as he saw my trunk and knapsack waiting outside, but I quickly lied that I was going to get a room at the boarding house across the square, which seemed to satisfy him. “Don’t worry, you may leave your things here while you wait.” I thanked him and went to the impressive doors to outside, but I stopped in front of a statue of Apollo. In my nervous haste, I neglected to realize the foyer’s magnificent beauty. It was unbelievingly breath taking, each detail more remarkable and painstaking than the last. Similar effort went in to this statue, so that it might as well have been the actual Apollo for how life like it was. I smiled as I observed his lyre. It was made of a turtle shell, just like in the real mythology, and not some strange wooden instrument like most Apollo sculptures had. I lingered for a moment more, then another, before I tore myself away, with considerable effort, to go look at the rose bushes. I pulled my hood up as I descended the impressive staircase. The wind had subsided mostly, and people were rushing about the shops in the streets ahead, bags of newly purchased goods in their hands. Breathing in the cold winter air, I savoured the cool, burning sensation it filled my lungs with. Well that wasn’t so bad, was it? True, I thought, but don’t get cocky. I found myself in front of a rose bush next to the grand staircase and noticed, to my delight and intrest, a single red rose, in full bloom. I stared at at it, marveling in its beauty, much like I had before with the statue of Apollo. Someone came up beside me, I noticed. A shoe scuff and a corner of cloak was all I saw to know. Suddenly, they spoke.

“A rare specimen, indeed.” The voice was rich and masculine, smooth and rough at the same time, somehow. It was like a cat’s purr, soothing, relaxing, enjoyable. It was something you wanted to here again, that you never got tired of, and was not easily forgotten.

“Oui, monsieur,” was all I could reply. But then I added, “It is rare to see something so perfect, and in full bloom in November, no less.” He nodded.

“And what brings a young lady such as yourself here today?” He was so remarkably easy to talk to, that I found myself answer.

“Well, I was applying for the empty stagehand position.”

“Ah, a stagehand? What brought you to that line of work?”

“If I can do it, I don’t see why I shouldn’t.”

“An excellent philosophy for this situation, but I wouldn’t apply it to the rest of life.” I chuckled and nodded. “They say that the stagehand quit because of the resident Opera Ghost. Do you believe in ghosts, mademoiselle?”

“That depends.”

“On what?”

“Which kind do you mean? The spirits of the dead, exacting revenge on the living, or the kind that come from the past to remind you of past mistakes and regrets?”

“Both, I suppose.” The strange man said.

“Well, I guess I believe in the first to some degree, however small and the second… with all my heart and soul. Do you believe in the past coming back to haunt you?”

“More so than my own mortality.” We stood in silence for a moment, each thinking about our own demons.

“Have you seen the inside, monsieur?” I asked quietly.

“Yes, many times. Do you like it?”

“It it so unbelievingly… unbelievingly… unbelievingly passionate.”

“How do you mean?”

“Oh, the time and effort and detail that went into each nook and crevice could only have been achevied if the sculptor or architect was passionate about the arts. Oh, and it shows in just how life like the statues are and in the splendor of the room.” He seemed amused by something.

“Yes, I suppose you’re right. I know the man who sculpted many, if not most of those works.”

“I love it here. This rose reminds me of the Populairé.”

“The rose? This intricate building reminds you of this simple rose?”

“Sometimes the simplest things are the most beautiful.” The man contemplated this for a moment before simply saying,

“Indeed. I must be going now. Good day, mademoiselle, and good luck with your job,”

“Good day, monsieur, and thank you. It was a pleasure.” With that he walked away. I also walked away, my cape splaying out behind me. I thought idly about how the Opera House and a lone figure on its immense stair would make a good drawing later. Reaching the top of the step, I rushed to the hallway, where I saw M. André sticking his head out of the office.

“Ah, Mademoiselle, er, Writes, there you are.” He stepped into the hallway and closed the door quietly behind him. “Unfortunately, we haven’t come to a decision just yet, but we’ll have one for you by, say, seven. If you could come back around that time, we should have an answer for you by then.” I curtsied and nodded.

“I understand completely, monsieur, and I will be here at seven sharp. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me, as I understand you must be busy. Good day, monsiuer, it was a pleasure.”

“Good day,” he said simply, and walked back in his office. I sighed and, taking my things, headed for the alley across the way. Well, I thought, time to make that drawing.

 

Phantom’s PoV

 

I leaned against the wall, listening to the managers of my opera house bicker over the last boy that applied for the stagehand position. I sighed. The boy, named Barney, seemed to have a pliable personality, meaning, in this instance, that the other stage hands could easily manipulate him. No doubt he would go drinking every night with the other boys, being pressed to go only a little before caving. No rat of that sort would be employed here. A knock on the door roused me from my thoughts. No doubt another man of questionable values looking for a job. Firmin called for them to come in as I groaned inwardly. The search for a new stagehand was going poorly. I was surprised though, as a girl with intriguing green eyes and a braided coil of waist-length brown hair over her shoulder stepped in, and not a surly male. She wore a floral navy-blue dress with a white hem. The bottom was torn and muddy, with several loose threads hanging from it. “Bonjour, mademoiselle. And how may we assist you today?”

“I, um, I would like to apply for the vacant stage hand position.” An interesting development. Girls very, very rarely wanted to be stagehands or laborers of any kind, really, opting instead for nurses or school teachers. She must have seen the look the managers gave each other, for she quickly said,  “I can assure you I will work very hard. And I have many other abilities that would benefit the Opera House.” Firmin sighed, then told her to take a seat.

“Oh, thank you so much, monsieur! Merci beaucoup!” He dismissed her thanks with a wave of his hand. He busied himself with getting paper and ink as André gave him a dirty look from across the room.”Well, as my associate neglected to say, my name is Gilés André, and this is my fellow manager, Richard Firmin.”

“Je suis Kathryn.” She said. Kathryn gave a curtsy and sat in a chair.

“Your name?” Firmin asked, writing the first part down.

“Kathryn,” We know, I thought, unless you don’t want to give your last name…

“Surname?”

“I have none,” She mumbled. Ah, a street rat. Most of them don’t have surnames. Perhaps if she were to work here I’d catch her nicking.

“What?” This is news to Firmin, clearly.

“I have none,” She said again. The girl then added after a moment, “However, if you need one, put Writes. Kathryn R. Writes,” Ah, a writer, too. André observered her, clearly curious.

“Very well then, Miss…Writes.” Firmin noted it down.

“A writer, then?” André chuckled. “Quite a while since we’ve had one of those around here. Shame, though, you being a girl and such.” What the hell is that supposed to mean?

“Excuse-moi?”

“I think it’s a shame that you’re female and all. Obviously a woman’s work wouldn’t be published.” I swear I will strangle him some day. Sure, most of Paris shares his views, but a manager should be open minded! Women could be great writers!

“Perhaps it is rude of me to say this, but is that your real opinion?” She suddenly sounded bitter. André merely nodded. Unfortunately so, you misogynistic pig. “Then do keep it to yourself.” Good for her, standing up for herself. She didn’t seem the fiery type before. Firmin, on the other hand, was nearly on the floor.

“You said you have several abilities. What might those be, pray tell?” He asked, after his little episode. André shot daggers at him.

“I can do simple sewing, and painting. I can cook and clean, too, or act as a note carrier. I can read and write as well, messieurs. I could even manage the books, or work in the ticket booths. I suppose, if I am needed I could sing in the chorus. I am a hard worker and a quick learner, and anything I don’t know I am willing to learn.” A smart girl. I wondered how she learned to read and write, or how to do math.

“Might I ask why you chose the Palais Garnier?”

“Well, I needed to find work somewhere, and I always thought that the theater would be such an exciting place to have a job. With so many occupations under on roof, I could also utilize most of my skills. I would be absolutely thrilled to work here.” They continued to question the girl, who answered each one politely and intelligently. I must meet her, I decided, and assess what she is like outside of an office. Anyone could put on a show to be hired. I wondered what it was like to talk with someone who was clearly very smart, despite being so young. I had my cloak on anyway. After whispering instructions in their ears, the managers told her to look at the rose bushes and to come back in twenty minutes. I watched her through the walls as she lied about a boarding house, and moved to go outside. She stopped, though, and soaked up the cavernous front room and all its art. Her eyes alighted on Apollo, one of my favorite statues. Her eyes roamed over him, taking in every inch of the marble, until they rested on his lyre and she smiled. I was particularly proud about this part of the statue. I had carved it myself, and instead of making a wooden lyre as most artists depicted, I chose to make it out of a tortoise shell, like in the original story. Then Kathryn went outside, pulling her hood up against the winter chill. Moving down a set of stairs and going up a ladder, I met her staring at a rose, in full bloom. Odd, a perfect flower, here in November. Or was it December already? Time got away from me so fast. Not that I cared. I spoke to her.

“A rare specimen, indeed.” I watched her relax into my voice.

“Oui, monsieur,” she said. A pleasant voice, interesting and unique. “It is rare to see something so perfect, and in full bloom in November, no less.”

I nodded. “And what brings a young lady such as yourself here today?” I asked.

“Well, I was applying for the empty stagehand position.” I faked surprise.

“Ah, a stagehand? What brought you to that line of work?”

“If I can do it, I don’t see why I shouldn’t” I agreed with her. She seemed utterly finished with segregation in jobs. She seemed to want to be able to do as she pleased, and I couldn’t see why she shouldn’t. I joked my agreement.

“An excellent philosophy for this situation, but I wouldn’t apply it to the rest of life.” She chuckled and nodded. Now to see if she believed in ghosts. “They say that the stagehand quit because of the resident Opera Ghost. Do you believe in ghosts, mademoiselle?” She took a half a moment to think.

“That depends.”

“On what?”

“Which kind do you mean? The spirits of the dead, exacting revenge on the living, or the kind that come from the past to remind you of past mistakes and regrets?” A question I was not expecting. She had known the second kind, I could tell. I heard it in her voice and in her words. What kind of life had she had? Living on the street was horrible, I knew. To think what she must see every day…

“Both, I suppose.” I said.

“Well, I guess I believe in the first to some degree, however small, and the second… with all my heart and soul. Do you believe in the past coming back to haunt you?” She asked. I had to many memories, had experienced to many nightmares to say no.

“More so than my own mortality.” We stood in silence for a moment, each thinking about our own demons.

“Have you seen the inside, monsieur?” She question in an attempt to lighten the mood.

“Yes, many times. Do you like it?” I wanted to know what she thought.

“It it so unbelievingly… unbelievingly… unbelievingly passionate.” An interesting word to use.

“How do you mean?”

“Oh, the time and effort and detail that went into each nook and crevice could only have been achevied if the sculptor or architect was passionate about the arts. Oh, and it shows in just how life like the statues are and in the splendor of the room.” I smiled to myself. She wasn’t wrong, no, not at all, but instead quite right, like she knew the person. What a strange girl…

“Yes, I suppose you’re right. I know the man who sculpted many, if not most of those works.”

“I love it here. This rose reminds me of the Populairé.” Just a simple rose? This work of art, this building that took months to design and years to build to a rose?

“The rose? This intricate building reminds you of this simple rose?”

“Sometimes the simplest things are the most beautiful.” Ah, I understand now. But the twenty minutes are nearly up by now, surely.

“Indeed. I must be going now. Good day, mademoiselle, and good luck with your job,”

“Good day, monsieur, and thank you. It was a pleasure.” I thought about our meeting as I found the trap door to get into the Palais Garnier’s many passage ways. She seemed like a good person, and her intelligence… She would be hired, unless thier was a better canadite, but of course that seemed extremely unlikely. I watched as she hurried back to the managers’ office, where Andrè was looking for her.

“Ah, Mademoiselle, er, Writes, there you are.” He paused to close the door. “Unfortunately, we haven’t come to a decision just yet, but we’ll have one for you by, say, seven. If you could come back around that time, we should have an answer for you by then.” Kathryn curtsied and gave a nod before saying,

“I understand completely, monsieur, and I will be here at seven sharp. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me, as I understand you must be busy. Good day, monsiuer, it was a pleasure.” How extremely polite. Certainly someone I’d want in my theater.

———-

The last twit left the office and I sighed. Another idiot. So far, there had been two Englishmen, one with four initials and one with a strange nickname I supposed was common in English culture. Their names were Dan T.D.M. and a Daz Black. Then there were two others, friends, a Matthias and a Mark I. Plier. None were qualified in my eyes. The girl it was, then. I listened once again to the managers fighting. I announced myself at a quiet moment.

“And which person is to be the new stagehand? I’ve made my choice. Let us hope that you have chosen the obvious choice and you agree with me.” I laughed silently at the way the two grown men were reduced to stuttering messes whenever I made myself known. “Out with it!”

“Barney! Barney’s our choice.” André said urgently to the air around him. I frowned. Are they really so blind? I rubbed my temples and the bridge of my nose.

“He wouldn’t last a day, I assure you, gentlemen. My choice is much more qualified and I won’t have it any other way. You will hire the girl, Kathryn, understood?”

“Th-The girl? But she can’t lift a prop! She’ll be out sick a week every month!”

“And why is that?” I asked sternly. I knew what he was referring to, and he was quite wrong in whatever he thought. Silence ensued. “That’s what I thought. You’d be surprised what women can handle, my dear André. This girl is the only employee I’ll accept.” The men sighed. They knew full well it was a losing battle.

“Very well then.” Good. Serves them right.

“And she will move in to the dormitories this evening.” The managers glanced at each other. “Is there a problem?”

“Oh, no, of course not, it’s just that the only available bed is, well, in the men’s rooms. Perhaps if we hire-“

“No! Put her in a dressing room if you must, I don’t care. We must take care of our workers, and I will not have one sleeping in the streets until Monday.”

“It will be done!”

“Now, gentlemen, it is nearing seven and I do recall you have an appointment to keep.”

 

Kathryn’s PoV

 

I checked my pocket watch. Eight to seven. I got up from my trunk and put the pencil back in its box before returning it and my notebook to the trunk. I carefully placed my knapsack on it and looked around for some boxes or sheets. I located a stack of milk crates and a few sheets of canvas and I hastily covered my belongs, making sure no one saw. Satisfied with my handiwork, I set off down the alley and made my way though the streets, up the stairs, and through the corridor back to the office of the managers. I knocked on the door.

“Monsieur? I’m early, but it’s nearly seven…” The same gruff voice greeted me.

“Oh, come in, come in.” I opened the door to see both men looking tired and worn out. M. André was pouring himself a rather large glass of brandy as M. Firmin motioned for me to take a seat. “Well, no use beating around the bush, it has been a tiring and trying day for the both of us, ay André?” André grunted. I prepared myself for the news and braced myself for them to say that I hadn’t got the job, but they never did. Instead, Firmin sat down heavily and said “Well, it would appear that you are the new stagehand here at this very theater. Now, if you’d like to take a moment to get your things, we can discuss your payment and your lodgings.” I was sure I hadn’t heard correctly. The position is mine?

“Thank you, messieurs! You have no idea how happy you’ve made me. I’ll be back in a moment. I just need to get my trunk.” I hurried out of the room and rushed to the alley where, fortunately, my things remained untouched. Putting everything exactly back as it was, I half ran back to the managers.

“Well then, now that you have the job, we must talk over the particulars of the position.” I nodded. “Now, your pay is currently at fifteen francs a week, sixty a month. Of course, you can get a raise, if you work hard. Is this satisfactory to you?”

“That is more than sufficient.”

“Good. Now, I trust you’d like to stay at the Opera House instead of keeping your current home?” I nodded again. “Very well. The only empty bed, currently, is, um, in the men’s dormitories. For obvious reasons, we can’t put you there, so instead you’ll have dressing room…” M. Firmin glanced down at a page. “Nine.” He looked at me. “Is this to your liking as well?”

“Yes, this arrangement is perfect. When do I start?” He told me that work would begin on Monday, at nine forty-five. Work days went until six thirty, and I had work every day but Sunday. He then gave me a sheet of paper with the daily schedule on it. They then walked me to my new room in awkward silence. I marveled at every part of the Garnier, and looked all around at every thing as they lead me through the auditorium and past the stage. There was a small door that lead backstage that they lead me through. A flight of five or six stairs or so lead up to the main area.

“Let me carry your chest,” M. André offered kindly. Struggling to pick it up, he huffed and worked to get it up the small set of stairs.

“No, thank you, but I can get it.” I took the chest from him easily and walked up the stairs, almost effortlessly. I turned around and saw them gaping at me. It felt good to show them that I was compitent. Firmin quickly recovered and showed me to a row of doors with large, golden numbers on them.

“Right then, you are dressing room number nine.”

“Thank you, messieurs. I will see you on Monday.” They wished me good day and I stepped into the room. A large chest of drawers and closet stood against one wall, and a single person bed was in the corner. It had a warm, thick blanket covering it and a large fluffy pillow. There was a vanity table and a desk with several drawers, and another door went to a washroom. One wall had nothing on it except a mirror. I turned to the shelves beside the desk. They were tall and sturdy. I looked at the desk. I had always wanted one, just like this. I sat in the chair, but everything was so dusty that I got up and moved to the vanity. Its mirror was grimy and specked with dust, like the rest of the room, but I still loved it. It just needed a good cleaning. I smiled and turned to the bed. The bed had been freshly laundered and made up, so I flopped down on it. I sighed and layed there a moment longer, savoring the feeling of soft, warm blankets. Finally, I opened my trunk and started to unpack.

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A Moment of Peace

For the past how many weeks, there’s been that steady, constant moment of panic. Panic that Kilgrave might be around the corner, waiting for her. Or controlling other people to die in front of her to fuel her guilt. Or rage. Or fear. Or maybe those three altogether.

Jessica’s had her fair share of those ever since the moment she found out that Kilgrave was still alive and lying in wait for her. But nothing beats the panic attacks that she feels every time she sees Trish is hurt. Strangled by a big-bodied idiotic police officer. Thrown against the wall of her apartment by said idiot. Literally trying to shove a bullet into her head, no thanks to the asshole that ruined her sanity. Unable to breathe because of a goddamned red pill that she took just to protect her. Continue reading “A Moment of Peace” »

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The Plan

As the six Aesir stood on the frozen ground of Jotunheim, surrounded by scores of enemies on all sides, all Loki could think was: He’s done it again.

Granted, this was not surprising. Loki’s big brother was not exactly known for his well-mannered behavior. Thor was famous for charging ahead impulsively, with great enthusiasm but very little consideration. If Loki hadn’t known that Thor never put any thought into these adventures, he might have believed that his brother purposefully rushed headlong into the most dangerous thing he could find. There had been almost five months without any trouble and all of Asgard had known that something was bound to happen. Loki only wished that it hadn’t involved him standing ankle-deep in ice surrounded by malicious giants. Continue reading “The Plan” »

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The Lonely Star

The blood soaked black fields under the even more crimson sky, without a sun or a moon to illuminate it, were all that was left of the once beautiful green and luscious scenery with it’s flowers and animals and freshly trimmed grass. The forests towering trees were now nothing more than charred stilts hanging in the distance, some still burning (even parts of the field were burning), the sound of the ember chipping away at the wood (or the grass and other plants) was the only sound present other than faint and slow footsteps from a single figure that’d seemed to have survived the onslaught of swords clashing, arrows whizzing and magic bolting. Continue reading “The Lonely Star” »

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Much Ado About Nothing

Ladybug scrunched her nose up in irritation as she looked down at the jumble of words on paper. How could anyone stand to just sit there and try to decipher them? Life was too short to try and make heads or tails of Shakespeare… in English no less! She had no idea how Adrien actually managed to enjoy reading these long, convoluted, old English plays for fun. Ladybug was having trouble just making it through a single passage. She had no idea how she was going to read and understand the entire play before her assignment was due. Continue reading “Much Ado About Nothing” »