Shawna Lynn Cox

She stood in silence, serene, lost in the candle light on the grand hall. As if in a dream her thoughts floated wandered somewhere other than here.

A dark figure in the shadows walks towards, down the path. She hesitates for a moment, drinking in his intentions as she continues up the path toward the grand palace of Versailles. Her blood begins to race as he draws nearer, his long dark cloak floating over the crushed rock. His step sure yet nearly inaudible with each stride.

She straightens herself, unfailing in her step. His face coming into detail. They are mere moments from being an arms reach away.

His features are darkly charismatic. Long dark wavy hair. Dark brows set determined over dark round eyes. A beard hides his chin but not his mouth as he cocks his head toward the young girl, beginning with a quirk of a smile. “Buona notte, my lady” falls unapologetically from his lips in Roman Italian dialect with a hint of the North. Time seems to stop. He doesn’t look away from the young girl.

He’s painting her portrait in her mind. Drinking in the light and the dark that falls across her face. The way the cool autumn breeze lays the silks of her skirts across her thighs. It is not sexual but visceral, deeply intimate as if he is seeing everything in this world for the first time.

Subconsciously, she reaches down and smooths her skirt with a leather glove. Without breaking contact, she drops her chin slightly. She can’t help but mirror his quirky turn of a smile as they pass each other in the night.

She didn’t know she was holding her breath until she walks a few more steps before turning over her shoulder, unable to let the man pass from her mind. Who is this man leaving the palace this late and why did she not know who he was? Everyone knows everyone who is at the palace, who has been at the palace and who is going to be at the palace. It’s all anyone ever talks about and is everything she hates about the palace.

She stops and watches the Man float away under his cloak of the night. He does not turn back, he only disappears into the darkness of the new moon. No lantern. She wonders if he is just returning to the village. Perhaps he will return to the palace tomorrow. Maybe he is to be employed here.

She holds that thought like she holds his smile in her mind. How it lingers on her face. She doesn’t know why, but she wishes she would have said something to him as he passed. It’s as if he knew. Knew something about her. Something the others didn’t.

She turns and looks to the palace, aglow in the candlelit of dinner service. She’s late. Again. She knows she’s late. She wanted to be late. Anything other than stomaching another seating with people who only care about who they are sitting next to in hopes to make someone else jealous or to mock another with false attentions.

One last glance back to where the man disappeared. She inhales the crisp autumn air deeply into her lungs. It feels different now, somehow. It will be winter soon. With a obvious straightening of her skirts and boudice under her short evening cloak, more out of discomfort than appearances, she turns and walks slowly up the path towards the light, music and the assuming laughter within. 

She has a secret. If only she knew what it was.

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