Chapter Two: A Summer PlaceMature

Her cold white lap is so warm. 

The old soldier shifts on his one knee, shoulders reveling in the chill of his wife’s alabaster patella coated in thick carved silk.  

The echo of his breathing drifts slowly through the mausoleum, striking the walls, the hammer of lazy bells.  

There is a pin pinning the corners of her dress to her body, he remembers dreamily, a gold bird with silver feet curling in some questful direction against her left shoulder blade. He will look at it later.  

His hands don’t feel much anymore, being cold as they are, freezing themselves against her well-turned calves through the carvings of white stone.  

There are white ladies outside, at the big doors, their hands poised to close the place forever above mounds of bleached bone carved in the shape of winged creatures- handles that lock, to shut out the crowds. 

Soon he will be alone with her for good. 

He can feel the breeze as the blank-faced servant girls at the doors push them forward, toward themselves. 

He sees the shadow as it skitters past the feet of the two cold beauties as they draw closed the doors, scuttling like a black crab across the floor, but with soft toes, soft everything, for how can a shadow make a sound, or leave smears of golden paint in lieu of footprints? The soldier sighs wearily, ‘Later, later’. He has never been a superstitious man. The lie will not echo, with the doors closed. 

As it crawls up the plaque at her feet, where the soldier’s own naked digits are turning dead white now, leaden and stoned, the blip, the blur, the blot of darkness, bothers to read the bright metal plate inscribed with the soldier’s love in little smooth curls, then melts into the mixture of soldier’s shadow and statue’s shade, leaving blotches of gold:

THE ACCOLADE

The End

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