Word Bytes | Masked Wish
A monthly flash fiction by Allusir who loves dragons and unicorns, and if there is a place, book, or game with one or both of these magnificent creatures, you can bet he'll want to be there and maybe even live there!
Follow him on Twitter: Allusir (@ZTAllusir)
Or read more of his fantasy stories here: Wattpad - Allusir
- - - All Hallows' Eve - - -
Evening gowns and colorful suits danced across the ballroom. The masquerade faces of goblins, witches, jesters, and dragons adorned the heads of dancers as they waltzed through the night. Amid the sea of elegant monsters, I met him. His white suit clung snugly to his form as he walked across the room toward me. White gloves and shoes accompanied his faceless white mask, which covered all but his mouth and chin.
We talked about nothing in particular and laughed at everything. His voice entranced my ears, and I hung on every word. His gaze never left me, I was a lost treasure he had just uncovered. Ethereal notes from a single violin pierced through the air, then settled into a slower tempo.
One. With a shy nod of agreement, our feet began to move. Two. Everything was lost to the steady rhythm of the night. Three. We floated for an eternity across the refined marble. His silver eyes entranced my own while he led us across the floor. Gentle lips met mine while the sea continued to flow around us.
The host interrupted from her place on the balcony, thanking everyone for their attendance. The bells of the grand clock rang the midnight chime. I turned back to my first love, but I was alone in the ocean of Halloween revelry.
- - - All Saints' Day - - -
"How may I help you sir?" The stoic butler asked. A light autumn frost clung to the grand estate, battling the morning sun for survival. The manor looked so different in the light. A slight cough came from the man, waiting for my answer.
"I met someone at here last night, but we got separated in the crowd as the ball ended. He was going to give me his business card, but he had forgotten to bring them." I prayed the man would believe my story. Everyone invited to last night's party was influential in one way or another, so new business connections were common.
"Certainly sir, might I verify your own invitation?" I nodded and gave him the black card with 2015 embellished in a metallic orange. "Right this way sir, what was the name of the person you spoke to?"
Embarrassment crossed my face. "I regret that I had a bit too much wine last night and can't recall his name. I was hoping someone here would be able to identify him from the costume he wore?"
"I see," he replied with a raised eyebrow. "I'm afraid the guest list does not include costume descriptions. I don't think I will be able to help you."
"Oh come now Philip," a woman's voice called from the grand staircase. Miss Charlotte Morris shuffled toward us. "This young man is the son of a very important investor. Surely, we can assist him. Be a good boy and go fetch some tea."
"As you wish madam." The butler turned sharply on his heel and walked off to carry out the orders of his mistress.
"Thank you Miss Morris," I smiled.
She led me down the hall to the sunroom, where we sat in pastel blue chairs. Small talk passed comfortably between us. The elderly woman inquired after my mother and was eager to share the latest gossip.
Before long, a delftware tea set was placed down on the glass table between Miss Morris and myself. The aroma of a fine black tea drifted through the air as our cups were filled. The taste was as heavenly as the aroma.
I shifted the conversation to the Halloween ball by commenting on how lovely all the dancers were. She asked about who I was looking for, and I gave a description of his costume.
Her eyes widened slightly. "I hate to say this love, but I fear no guest entered wearing all white. As you recall, I stationed myself at the entrance as you all arrived. I stayed there until I had personally greeted every guest on the list."
It was no wonder he had disappeared so quickly. He must have realized the party was ending and feared getting caught. Finding him would be impossible. A disappointed sigh escaped my lips.
"Don't give up hope dear." Miss Morris soothed. "Why don't you go take a stroll through the south gardens. The Dwarf Iris are blooming out of season, you should pick one to take with you." She wouldn't take no for an answer, so I bid her good morning and made my way to the south garden.
A stone statue of a woman stood with open arms at the garden gate. I began to read the inscription at its base.
O St. Rita, holy patroness of those in need, so humble, so patient, and pure be kind to me.
You, whose pleadings before the divine have been known to grant that which many would conceive impossible,
take pity on me. Advocate of the hopeless, pray for me and intercede with the Most High on my behalf.
"I don't suppose you're going to help me out?" I asked the statue. Of course, it didn't reply. If only it was as simple as praying to some patron of impossible causes. It was All Saints' Day, she was probably taking a break.
Autumn colors had long set throughout the garden. My feet wandered through the plants in no particular order. I tried to distract myself by naming as many of the plants as I could, which was a difficult challenge without any of the flowers.
More than an hour had passed and the crisp air warmed in the sun. Deep purple blossoms radiated through the orange and brown. The Dwarf Iris petals stood out against the dark green leaves they sprouted from. The spring flowers were a beautiful enigma against the warm colors.
While still disappointed, the walk through the gardens had improved my mood. I gently picked one of the blossoms and readied to head home. Realization crept into my conscious. Because I hadn't been paying attention to where I was going, I found myself lost. I could have easily used the map on my phone to reorient myself but decided to continue to wander.
A lone gravestone sat in the grass, surrounded by shrubbery. Dead leaves littered the site. I looked at the inscription.
Landon Scott Morris
November 1, 1990 - August 17, 2015
Only a year older than I, and already gone from this life. So recent too. I took a moment to brush away the leaves from the area and decided to leave the flower I had picked at the base of the headstone.
"Dwarf Iris have always been my favorite." said a voice I could never forget. It was the voice that had laughed with me so much the night before. My heart beat as I turned to look into his silver eyes. Flawless skin covered his maskless cheekbones and continued to stretch up to his acorn hair.
"I thought I would never see you again." I finally managed to sputter out. What was he doing here? He no longer wore the fancy suit, just some dark jeans and a black button down. Did he sneak back looking for me?
"I'm happy to see you again." His wistful smile threw needles into my heart. The twinkle in his eyes was gone. He took a step forward and hugged me tightly.
"What's wrong?" I mumbled, wrapping my arms around him. My arms met with nothing but air. The feeling of his arms wrapping me vanished. I opened my eyes and he was gone again. The sound of rustling leaves drew my attention. I turned to see him hopping on the small pile I had made.
For a while he was silent, just playing in the leaves. Our eyes met for a moment, and then he looked away. "This is the last time I can see you." Understanding threatened to shatter hope.
"Who are you?" I begged to be wrong. I pleaded deep inside that it was just thoughts of Halloween twisting my imagination.
"My name," he paused, "is Landon Morris." Defeat crossed his face. His head lowered, and a single tear fell.
My body took over and I ran. I couldn't stop myself. We fell to the ground as I collided into him. My arms found more than air, so I squeezed with all my might, praying he wouldn't vanish this time. At first, the tension in his body was stone hard. Slowly, he relaxed and placed his hand on my head.
"You know, most people run away from ghosts." he laughed. His weight shifted, and my arms tightened. "Okay, I'm not leaving this second. Loosen up. Are you trying to kill me?"
"More jokes?" I asked, not letting my grip weaken.
"I thought I told you last night," he stated. "I don't make jokes. They are just analytical statements about universal truths." With a chuckle, his lips rested on my hair.
We talked about nothing in particular and laughed at everything. We lay there in the grass until the sun hid behind a dense grey blanket. When the rain began to fall, he took me to a small gazebo.
"No need to cry." He said. His thumb gently brushed under my eyes. "The sky is shedding more than enough tears for the both of us." His infectious smile warmed me.
"You said this was the last time we could see each other. What will happen to you?" I stared into his eyes.
"My greatest wish was to attend my great aunt's Halloween party. It was going to be my first party that who I danced with wasn't the daughter of an important business associate. The first time that who I spent my evening with wasn't chosen by my father." His eyes sparkled with the memories of the ball. "By some miracle, I was given the chance. And it was more than I ever dreamed of."
"If you are here now, why can't you stay? I don't mind if you haunt me the rest of my life." His hands felt so warm in mine. No chill of death clung to them. I wanted nothing more than to be able to hold them forever.
"At midnight last night, my last wish was fulfilled. I was supposed to move on. Everything was black from the moment the clock chimed. Then a woman appeared, wrapped in light. She said another wish had yet to be granted and that I was being given one more day with you."
Raindrops drummed on the roof. We talked about the ball, about the costumes, and our host. He wouldn't talk about anyone in his family other than his great aunt. We told childhood stories and spoke of all our favorite things. Clouds unrolled from the sky and stars twinkled across the black.
I told him of my dreams. How I wanted to open a tea shop in a small New England town. I wanted to live above the shop, know everyone in town, and never need more than a bicycle to get around. The longer we talked, the more the light faded.
"I won't regret today," I said. "I won't let sadness color our time together." The harvest moon lit his face as he leaned in.
"I'm sure all your dreams will come true," he whispered in my ear. Our lips touched. They were so cold, so light. Our arms wrapped around each other, holding as tight as we could. His presence slowly faded, until I was once again alone.
"But one dream is impossible."
- - - Two Years - - -
The costumes weren't as elegant as those two years ago, but the small party in my tea shop was just as lively. Goblins, witches, jesters, and dragons played card games and threw jokes. Some even found a small space to dance. I soaked it all in from behind the counter.
The bell that hung over the door jingled. A man wearing a plain white sheet with eye holes walked in. He ordered black tea and sat at a table near the small dance floor. With tea in hand, I went to the table. He stood up and asked me if I could take a break for the next dance.
I declined politely and turned back to my counter. Warm hands grabbed mine, and he pulled me close enough to whisper in my ear.
"No dream is impossible."
~ THE END ~
(Illustration: Pei-Ling Chiu)
Like Pei-Ling's awesome illustration? Then follow Pei-Ling on Instagram: Pei@pei_groovyart