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The annual Masquerade Ball at the VanDerlis’ had begun…Edmund knew it had begun, because he could hear a waltz drifting into the night and through his window.

Edmund had not been invited. He rarely was invited to large social gatherings, especially not those as prestigious and grand as the Masquerade Ball. No-one ever seemed to quite know how to talk to him, unless it was on business, and who wanted to talk business at a ball? He didn’t mind. He was happier in his own company anyway.

He turned to the small gathering he had assembled in his parlor, guests he was comfortable with. The Denwood Sisters, spinsters both, sat together on the settee, their heads together as though gossiping. Old Mr. Willoughby slumped in a chair, his chin on his chest, and Mr. and Mrs. Gibbenheimer were poised stiffly on the fainting couch, not speaking to each other. Untouched glasses of brandy or sherry were on a little table in the center of the room.

“Well here we are! The Masquerade Ball has begun, and none of us attending! We’re perfectly happy here, though, aren’t we?” Edmund said gaily. Little Margaret Hess was leaning against Chloe Denwood, and Edmund swept her up, waltzing around the room to the lovely music…

“Isn’t that pretty? That’s Mr. Strauss’ latest waltz.. it’s called ‘Wine, Women, and Song, I believe.” six-year-old Margaret’s head lolled on her neck, and she flopped limply in his arms. “Ah, you’re too young for this, poor child,” Edmund murmured. “Let’s let you rest again…”

He lay her body gently into a small coffin in the next room, and went back to the parlor, where his guests sat exactly as he had posed them that afternoon. He’d have to place them all back in their coffins by tomorrow, for their funerals.

Edmund sighed happily. No-one ever invited undertakers to balls, but he didn’t mind.

Credits to: Queenofscots


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