It’s Throwback Thursday again and I’m in the mood for some flash fiction. Here is a short piece from the 2013 Twelfth Night Masquerade Flash Fiction Contest run by Meg McNulty that was such fun.
The clock chimed, its lustrous tones resounding inside me, chaining my heartbeat to its rhythm. Counting. Waiting. Ten…eleven…twelve – Midnight! My breath stopped with the sound though my heart fluttered like a caged thing.
At the tolling of the clock, Giovanni’s note had read. Love’s raven will bind you forevermore.
Weeks ago, that had sounded romantic. Now it was eerie. Perhaps holding the Masque had been foolish. It was my husband’s fancy after all, not mine. But Gio’s letters convinced me and so here I was, lost in a sea of crimson feathers, cobalt silk, gold filigree, and pearls.
A raven, he’d said. Would I even know him? I searched the false faces, but eyes became unrecognizable without owners. The harder I looked, the more fantastical the ball became. My body trembled in anticipation. Or was that fear?
It had been a year since our last tryst when evil plots had spilled beneath the garden willow, sealed to silence with a kiss so passionate I could feel it even now. Little had I realized the year of solitude I would suffer afterward. Without him. Without either of them. A mourning widow didn’t get visitors.
But I’d put away the black and the storm of raucous revelry around me brought back Dominic’s last night. How his fingers had stroked me while memories of Gio’s kisses filled my mind, heating my blood.
A startling hand settled on my hip. I turned. The Raven waited, his nearness sending a flush through me. His face was completely hidden behind the large black beak and riot of feathers, topped by a dark hooded cloak.
The Raven nodded. Wordless.
The strangeness strangled my smile, silencing the lover’s greeting I’d planned. Trepidation trickled like sweat down my spine. “It’s been a year,” I offered.
He nodded again and held out a gloved hand. I was to follow. I stared at the ebony leather for long minutes, my feet stuck to the floor. Then I closed my eyes, bathing in memories of our passion and slipped delicate fingers into his grasp.
He led me through the crowd, ephemeral as ghosts. Out the door, down the steps to a stygian carriage pulled by inky steeds. We climbed in and it jerked into motion.
“We’ve done it, Gio. Now we can be together forever,” I sighed.
He nodded once more and stared at me. Knowing unblinking eyes held mine. Russet eyes.
But Gio’s eyes were blue!
“Who-.” I reached for the mask but he wagged a warning finger. Unmasking was bad luck, but I had to know. That brown was too familiar. Brown eyes in the night, a bed other than Gio’s. My hand went for his mask again and slid it from his face which baited me from the deep shadows of his hood.
“Show me!” I screeched as fear clutched at my throat.
Slow hands slid back the hood and moonlight shone on the smiling face of Death.
“Dominic?” The world tilted.
“Hello, traitorous wife.”