She will go alone to the party, despite the approbation and the tongues that will inevitably click and whirr. In the quiet green sanctuary of her glass-walled rooms, she looks over gardens of iris and lavender, the bruise mauve purple edged with oak trees. The embossed invitation says black in a deeper punched typeface, emphasising the implied seriousness of digression. But she has a dress of shimmering, simmering emerald silk that at night will lie against her white skin like a Maharani’s beloved parure of green fire.
The gardens are lit with candles, the air lush with cut grass, night flowers and the bittersweet scent of rooty turned earth somewhere amid the lawns and whispering trees. A small black cape like raven wings is her only concession to the invitation. She knows that somewhere he is lost amid borders and cities, protecting strangers, but the letters have ceased. In the streets they look at her as if she carries weary illness, something that drove him away. They consider her brazen, strange; interpret her silence as contempt. Tonight in the muted golden rooms, she will burn like emerald fire among the mournful throng.