PROSE: Adagio

The Old Woman liked to dance.

On Saturdays she would set up the gramophone, and sway to the music alone until someone came to dance with her. The Old Woman was white: white of skin, white of hair, clad in a shroud of white. But her limbs moved with the grace and freedom of death: forgotten are arthritic hips, sore knees, stiff hands. Death’s kiss takes aches and pains away.

To the person who took her hands – who danced with her – she would whisper. With her hand on their shoulder she would tell them, in her cobweb voice, about the world beyond this mortal coil.

Some would start with fear, others gasp in awe. Whether she told each person the same thing, or something different to every soul, we do not know. No one has ever shared the secrets she told them.

And no one has danced with her twice.

I have been tempted. The treasures she told me the first time set my mind on fire, and I must know more. But no one has ever danced with her twice. I see the sway of her bony hips and I fear what might come of moving to meet her in the middle of the room. Who can dance with the dead twice, and expect to live?

The Old Woman dances, and lifts her skeleton hands, and beckons me with her smile.

I go to her, drawn in. I must know. I must hear. Her hand in mine is cold, cold. The music starts, and we dance.

She leans close, and whispers.

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