mistressmaryquitecontrary: (reflectionmary)
[personal profile] mistressmaryquitecontrary
She is beautifully dressed, as always, in the height of fashion; he is impeccable in his dress uniform.

They stroll slowly, arm in arm - lacy parasol tipped over her shoulder, cap jauntily set on his forehead, broad-brimmed hat protecting her white skin. (One doesn't go out without one's hat.) He is smiling, but her brow is set in a slight frown.

Mary opens her eyes, and looks at them.

They slow as they pass her, and the woman turns to the man, slight lines in her brow deepening. "Dear," she asks him, "what are we doing here?"

"I think," Mary says, "that you are ghosts."

They don't listen, of course; don't even look her way, though the woman makes a slight gesture in her direction, as if to say hush, or the adults are talking, or where is your Ayah?

"Lilias sent that letter," the man says, and starts rummaging around in his pockets. "I've got it somewhere around here - something we ought to see, or take care of -"

"I can't think what she meant," the woman says, her voice full of puzzlement. She glances around - takes in Mary, the bar, the fireplace, and then shrugs, elegantly, white-gloved hands spread in a helpless gesture.

"Don't fret yourself about it," the man says, soothingly, and pats her arm. "If it was anything pressing, I'm sure we should have heard."

"Lilias has such strange ideas sometimes," the woman says, with a sigh. "Likely there's a rosebush around here somewhere that she thinks is pretty, or some other nonsense." She shrugs again; adjusts her parasol, and turns to smile up at her companion. "We should be going; we'll be late for our Engagement, otherwise."

Mary watches her parents as they take delicate, proper steps away from her, headed back the way they came. Absently, she envisions their Engagement - angels in white dresses, all of them the very height of fashion, playing the pianoforte to polite applause while dead souls stroll around and gossip about who is flirting with whom . . .

Just before they reach the door, her mother turns and bestows an absent smile on her.

"Be good for your uncle," she says - and before Mary can explain, patiently, that her uncle will not know whether she has been good or not, they're both gone.

Mary doesn't regard the spot where they were for another moment; doesn't sit up and think. She just closes her eyes again, and lays her head down, perfectly peaceful.

She'll remember the dream in the morning. But it won't much matter to her, one way or the other.
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January 2012

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