On a hilltop at sunset, they danced one last time. High clouds burned crimson and chromium, and she sang to him:

o this is the guillotine, and this is the knife
this is for murder, this is for life

He whirled her like a dervish, spinning her about and about, watching her dark hair mask her face like a funeral veil.

so come, hangman, tie up your noose
my lover is here, waiting for you

He dipped her low, kissed her carmine lips, then lifted her into the sky. She laughed with delight, and he couldn’t remember the last time she’d sounded so happy.

we dance on the hill, we prance through the heath
we eat, drink and are merry, till we’re all out of breath

And the music ended, and the first stars appeared in the eastern firmament. He bowed to her, both of them dripping sweat from their hair. Her smile was inscrutable.

“It’s time, isn’t it,” he said.

“It is,” she said. “Time to wake up.”

He woke, and the bed was empty, and once more he was a widower.

He put on his ring and faced the day.


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