Presenting four "Mad Moments" stories, each one short, each set in a different room in, or area of, a house. Published on consecutive Sundays in September.
MAD MOMENTS #4: IN THE ANTEROOM
"HE WALKS IN BEAUTY"
By J. Peter Bergman
photo: J. Peter Bergman
"Who is that?" The question ran through the room like jelly spilled on a marble floor. Arabella heard nothing; she simply stared at him.
The man in question stood framed in the doorway, its high arch with its soffet lighting throwing a pale glow around his peach-blondness. He was wearing a pale blue shirt with a ruffled front, a thin, silk string tie, a jacket almost the color of his hair, but beige instead of peach, and a long slender pair of dark blue slacks that made his muscular legs seem thinner, longer, higher than humanly possible. The shoes on his feet were a woven leather mocassin-style and clung to his bareskin ankles.
His face was long and angular. His lips thin, yet kissable. His eyes pale aqua and his nose, placed high between them, was also long, slender and well-defined. Arabella was unable to take her eyes away from that nose. The hand-tatted lace on her summer dress seemed to brighten and bristle as she inhaled a few quick, short breaths.
He remained framed in that soft soffet light for an eternity. Then he stepped forward, into the harsher light of the room itself and he altered slightly. That long, straight nose elongated and his eyes darkened to a profound blue. His lips, thin and kissable, deepened, especially his lower lip which developed a delicate inverted arc. Arabella gasped at the changes, caught herself making that noise and brought herself up short, much as she would Tantamount, her mare, had the horse seemed ready to bolt. She turned away, looking for guidance from anyone, but received nothing but silence. She touched the lace, smoothing it over her breast, hoping to subdue her intake of air.
When she turned back in his direction she was ready with a smile, a hand, a word.
"Welcome to Halcyon," she said quietly, so softly that no one not directly in front of her would hear her. He heard her, however, as she had intended, and he came forward to take her hand, kiss it softly with those thin, expert lips.
"It’s my pleasure," he said in a voice as gentle as her own, "to be here."
"How...?" she began, but lost her train of thought as his eyes looked upward into her own. "How...?" she started over, but again found herself missing the direction of her question. "How...?" she said one more time, but he took over for her, easing the answer into the unequivocal conversation.
"Your brother Randall invited me. I hope its not an imposition."
Before she responded she looked around the room, hoping to find Randall, to signal him somehow to join them. She didn’t see him anywhere.
"How nice of him," she said, finally completing a sentence. "He didn’t tell me."
"You don’t know who I am, then," the stranger added. "I’m so sorry. You must think me terribly rude."
"No, no, not at all." She smiled, relaxed a trifle, let her eyes flirt for a second or two. "Just tell me your name and we’ll be fine."
Arabella waited for his answer. She wanted the man’s name to be as extraordinary as the man himself. She wanted that more than she had wanted the horse and she had wanted that horse with a fervor that strained every muscle in her body. She smiled at him again, and waited. He returned the smile and spoke.
"Andras Seleé," he said, "with the accent on the second e."
"Perfect," she responded.
"It is perfect," he agreed.
Music began to play in the ballroom and without asking, she took his arm and he escorted her through the anteroom. There was a low, but constant, murmur from the crowds of people they passed as they wended their way through the scattered furniture, across the spattered rugs. With her free hand she smoothed down the Belgian lace that she had come to regard, now, as the other element of beauty in her life. Their feet made no sounds as they walked and, before they reached the archway into the ballroom, they were in each other’s arms, and dancing, and glowing and proud.
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