The doll-faced man followed the woman in the billowy red dress into the desert.
He followed her unwillingly. For she held a strange magic over him that compelled him to go anywhere and everywhere with her.
She knew this.
Yet, he was not allowed to get too close. He was not allowed to touch. For one touch would be enough to break her bond on him. And he would be free.
She knew this as well.
He yearned to beg for his freedom, but his lips were forevermore sealed.
She looked at him with a cruel smile on her face. “Tonight.” Her voice was as warm and as unsatisfying as honey. “Tonight you will dance for me. But remember this: You cannot touch me. You can dance circles around me and I will be amused. If you touch me, I will be deeply disappointed and displeased.”
She flung a black hooded cloak at him. It rippled in the air like a river before landing at his feet like a lump of material. “And you will wear this.”
She turned and strode to her tent. Her fiery hair billowed around her head.
She was beautiful.
But he just wanted to be free.
But he had to obey.
That night, he obeyed.
He wore the cloak.
And he danced for her.
Only for her.
But he disobeyed.
He inched closer to her.
His thin, narrow fingers twirled in the music’s rhythm.
But they reached ever closer to her.
Maybe she would guess.
Maybe she would understand.
Maybe she would stop him.
But he would be free.
She smiled at him. “Yes. Dance for—”
He grabbed her hand.
And the music stopped.
And the world went still.
The spell was broken.
He could feel it.
He pulled her into his arms and danced a long, slow dance with her.
She did not speak.
Her words were gone.
He ended the dance with a graceful bow and a gestured good-bye.
And he left her standing alone.