After I finished draft three of The Music Between Worlds I spent some time unpacking the last few boxes from our move last April, and came across the most special book in my library, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Our very small school/town library had this illustrated copy when I was in middle school and it sparked my imagination in ways I can’t even begin to describe. At that time the musical Phantom was beginning to become a very big deal to the people around me (it had been out for probably ten years but that’s how long it took to get over the pond, and all the way into the upper peninsula) I was a huge fan. Friends of my parents went to see it in Toronto and copied their soundtrack onto a cassette tape (this entire post might age me a bit) for me. I had every word memorized and it was my greatest desire to play Christine Daae some day.
Back to my book; That year for Christmas it was all I asked for, not just the novel but the one illustrated by Greg Hildenbrandt (the artist behind those original Star Wars posters). The only problem was that it was out of print. This was basically pre-internet and definitely pre-internet-shopping.
A few days before Christmas my mom sat me down to let me know they couldn’t find it any where, she knew how much I wanted it and she didn’t want me to be disappointed on Christmas morning. I told her I understood, and went away gloomily. I remember telling myself that maybe I would get it, after all, miracles happened at Christmas time (keep in mind I was in middle school at this time, my drama dial was turned all the way to ten back then) then I got really frustrated with myself. I was in eighth grade, I was too old for that kind of nonsense, besides I didn’t want my parents to feel bad.
Christmas morning arrived and I opened this shirt box and there she was. I looked at my mom accusatory, but she was shaking her head. They really couldn’t find it, but two days before Christmas an antiquing friend of my Grammy’s who happened to specialize in books, found it in a shop. She knew my parents had been looking for it so she snatched it up. To this day these memories still makes me get a little teary eyed. It’s nothing major, just a book. But to eight grade Jessie, it was so much more. Imagination, and romance, it felt like someone on high was maybe keeping His eye on me. I’ll be honest, that Christmas morning I felt special.
And pulling it out of storage felt pretty special too. I did some work on it’s binding and found it a place of honor on my built in shelves. And then I reread it. There are some stories that become woven into our story so much that it’s impossible to see the one without the other. Phantom might be one of those for me…