Discussed with a moth by lamplight

“Dearest Count, Next Friday I am holding a ball, consider this a formal invitation, I expect to see you there, no excuses! Yours Faithfully Lady Ashley”

A note found in my pocket, marked in the feminine caligraphic hand of one Lady Ashley. Faces waltz about in my memory, dresses decked in decadence and faces veiled by riches. I crumple the paper in my palm, a sweet release of perfume smothers my olfaction. Surely this is not another dream, another imagining made manifest. I taste the writing, the ink sweet with handcrafted desires tamed to dark signifying shapes. My senses back hesitancy to a corner, push it back to dark recesses to be consumed unknowingly by the beast of curiosity.

Who is Lady Ashley? Those faces begin their waltzing once more. None of them real, my life in this world has been lit by the dark shining of the moon, the shroud of shadow and the viscous black of night. But I have danced by candelabra, by chandelier, by firesides. To Austin’s world I have seldom ventured and never lingered long, but now those brief sojourns seem a tantalising tease to the possibilities of ‘Next Friday’.

“No Excuses”. Such a demand. Other than puppets pulled by strings of fiction, little have I had to do with other beings. I have many excuses, that world of Austen at which I have glimpsed seems no place for the likes of me, at the brink of insanity and evanescence. Yet my time is running out, the existential abyss creeps closer.

I shall go.


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