Marching on the stage with a tumble and bow, springing to his feet with a smile, Taddeo revels in their cheers.
At least that’s the image he wants to sell to the gathered court. He sings for his supper and his hijinks keep him alive. No one in the crowd recognizes the previously wealthy business man Tonio behind the caked on make-up.
A merchant of the town, selling fine fabrics and rich silks, that royalty from the world around came to see. Each one he addressed with respect and professional distance until he met her—Princess Nedda.
Speechless, he bowed to her and kissed her hand even knowing it was forbidden. Even knowing the prince’s jealousy of his beautiful wife.
He exhales smoke from his nose, meditating on the length of ash that extends past the filter of the cigarette in his stained hands. Finally returning from his mental sojourn he taps the ash into the ashtray before crushing out the cigarette. The throbbing beat that he can feel in his bones calls his attention back to the stage.
Some young waif is covering her chest while collecting the dollars on the stage the unwashed perverts had thrown at her.
On some nights he’d be one of those unwashed perverts. Tonight he was on duty.
As a scientist I should know better than make assumptions. Especially about someone who was willing to grave rob for meager wages.
The wages were a gratuity, his real earnings was the knowledge of human anatomy and galvanism. Now I didn’t always treat him the best, but science is careful work, he needed to learn how to use those meaty fingers of his and shuffling gait in away that wouldn’t run our experiment.
Our experiment. I had considered him my apprentice. The only person privy to my work. The only person who would share my success. The only person other who would be part of being of an amazing discovery.
Five days since touchdown and watching the Earth rise in the distance framed by Phobos and Deimos still amazes her.
At the beginning of the journey there was quick hugs and tears as her parents pushed her into the last transport off the planet.
The asteroid was coming and there was not going to be time to save everyone. Somehow she was one of the lucky few.
A lifetime ago, literally one lifetime ago as of two minutes ago, I was a street magician.
Or a huckster.
It depended on your disposition or my needs. I worked and lived on the street for as long as I could remember. Since I started out as a kid, gainful employment wasn’t an option, and after a trip to juvie and some unpleasant experiences there, I realized a life of crime wasn’t for me either.
Ryleigh found herself in a part of the woods she had never seen before.
She had been skipping along the creek chasing a bullfrog who was winning the race when she’d tripped on her untied shoelace. Brushing the dirt and leaves from her already scabbed knees, she noticed a hole about her size in brambles that formed a perimeter around the creek.
The frog long gone, and having gotten bored with the game anyways, she ducked through the portal and followed it into the woods.
As she moved deeper into the passage, it got progressively darker as the thorns weaved between each other, nearly blocking out the sun. She never got scared, or at least admitted it to herself, because she could see the light at the end of the tunnel ahead of her. Even though it was a constant beacon, it felt like it never grew closer until she found herself stumbling out into the cool afternoon sunlight filtering through a thousand leaves above her.
A hand with painted nails caresses the wall in the dark before finding the light switch. Fluorescent lights flicker on, casting the entire room in the whitest of white lights. No shadows tread under their radiance.
With swaying hips, her presence fills the sparse room that smells of sweet perfumes and sin.
At the far end of the space, antique furniture made by an artisan’s loving hand, arranged in a semicircle. There was a trunk of deep mahogany with crushed velvet lining, an ornately carved wardrobe made of solid walnut, a painted vanity splayed with beauty products, and a perfectly polished full-length mirror.
The keepers of her treasures awaited their mistress to explore their depths.