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She lost herself along the fairy road. She promised she’d be back before dark but instead she gathered her skirts and danced down the way. There were no doors to open, just floating lights and laughter and music. They were all in masks of leaves and bark and butterfly wings, the women in gossamer and silk, the men in suits or nothing at all. She laughed and picked up a wooden cup and drank, the hot liquid burning and cooling and milky white as it dribbled down her chin.
The one with cherry red skin and a mask like brambles kissed her hand. “Have you ever been in love?”
“No,” she sang, but she was drunk on fairy wine and had forgotten Samuel and his calloused hands.
“Good,” he said and placed a strawberry to her mouth. She bit in but it tasted like blood.
He spun her around and around until she toppled to the ground. When she stood up he was stroking the arm of a girl with purple hair and skin like diamonds. She wandered through the trees and stumps of tables grabbing white cakes and black fruits. She bit into one that was shaped like a star. Dark green juice ran down her chin and stained the front of her cream colored dress in splotches. She didn’t remember to care. A gray pixie handed her a heavy goblet of wine and she drank deeply, sweet, sweet wine. When she put it down, he was there.
He was pale and perfect and she was sure he was the fairy king, silver crown of skeleton leaves wrapping around his head. He was all in black and his hair was the color of starlight and moonlight and death.
“Dance with me,” he whispered in her ear, his voice like honey. She would dance with the fairy king.
He held her close to him and moved her through the crowd. The stone golem and fire sprite and green man moved out of their way, laughing and smiling toothy smiles. She let him hold her and touch her hair and sing words she didn’t know softly in her ear. She could die and die happy. She could live forever on the drunken memory of his touch.
“Your name, my lady.” She had never been anyone’s lady before.
“Isabelle,” she whispered.
“Isabelle.” It was a new name on his tongue. “Very pretty, like you.”
She wasn’t sure if it was the wine or his words that made her cheeks glow red.
“Come away with me,” he said, low.
She moaned and he kissed her. She could taste her name, still fresh on her tongue. She could taste the wine and the laughter and the songs. She would die in his arms, if he didn’t kiss her again. He smiled at her, and his eyes glinted. He kissed her neck, hard.
“I’ll come,” she said, breathless. He could lead her into the depths of hell and she’d follow him with a sigh.
He laughed and broke free from her, disappearing into the revel. She cried out and tried to chase him but there was only smoke and goblins.
In morning there were no fairies, no shining trees. Just Isabelle wet with dew and wondering. Her cream dress was stained green from the grass. Her head swam and she retched as she forced herself up.
“Sam,” she said. Her mouth tasted like old dishrags. She made her wait out of the grove and through the archway and to her home. She traded her dress for a nightgown and crawled into bed. Her dreams were the color of blood and the taste of bile. She woke up to the sounds of fists on the door.
His coat was dirty from a day’s work. “Isa,” he said with a smile. “You look sick. Are you alright?”
She nodded. “Just tired.”
He kissed her chastely on the cheek. “Put up the roof on the house, on our house. When you feel better we’ll go and see it.”
She nodded. “I’d like that.”
“What’s that?” He touched her side of her neck.
She frowned and turned to the mirror against the wall, the glass marked and chipped at the edges. She could see in the dusk of her reflection the silver lips. She touched it and remembered the taste of his touch and the feel of his hands on her body. It was all she could do to keep on her feet.
“It’s nothing,” she said. “I need to rest.” She shut the door on him, catching movement from the corner of her eye. For a moment she could swear she could see his long black coat and his silver hair. She swallowed and lay back in bed, thoughts forming in her mind like clouds for rain.