Longer Trains

Between songs the crowd parted and she was looking at the fox. It was a beautiful mask, bright and brilliant under the gaslights, and shocking against the somber black of his priest’s cassock. She threaded through the dancers and laid the tip of her fan on his shoulder. It was all theater, of course, all of it; lights, costumes, music and manners all shrugged on against the sidereal march of time.

The fox looked at her, his eyes hidden in the recesses of the mask. “Who are you?” she breathed. “Have we met?” The fox bobbed his head and reached a gloved hand into his cassock. The card he handed her was embossed cream: an elaborately scrolled border around the single word Tell.

“Tell?” The domino she wore pinched her face. “Tell what?” He took her hand and pulled her away, away from the dancers and out of the house.

After a while, when the rough trunks of the pines had swelled around them, shutting out the light, she pulled the fox to her and slipped their masks off. Silence for a while, then —


When the moon rose over the trees she was alone, empty curve of the mask hanging from her loose fingers, her lips slightly parted in a question that never came.