Two lovers, meeting in a subterranean cavern formed by the hand of man. But wait – perhaps not lovers, after all. What then, to make of this strange pair? Steal closer dear ones, but softly. This man is masked, and goes about without his own visage. What does he have to hide, my lovelies, that necessitates the cloaking protection of this garish façade? Perhaps as the tale unfolds, he may tell us his secrets in whispers of sinew and bone. The hard glint of porcelain gives us little clue, so we best turn our attentions to his strange companion.
Her hair is cropped close in utilitarian mien. It belies the delicacy of her impossibly high cheekbones, and the faint glimmer of emotion that moistens the corners of her eyes. She is not crying, but her composure is only held taut by a thin thread of will. A will like steel cabling – impossibly thin, yet impossibly strong. Perhaps our first assumption was correct. Perhaps we have stumbled upon the denouement of a love affair that once was, and soon will be no more. Hush, now and listen.
She implores him to run with her – fugitives then? And yet, they do not seem to be harried by pursuers. A refusal issues forth from behind his frozen smile. The gentleness of his tone betrays his feeling. Her offer is tempting, and he regrets that he has made other plans. He has another place to be tonight. Could it be a wife, do you suppose? A child's school recital that he has promised to attend? No, wife. No, children. Recitals have been banned for years now, breeding sedition as they do, and there is no such normality for a man of his ilk. He is going places where good citizens fear to venture. Perhaps it is time for us to take our leave, and leave these two to their clandestine destinies.
But, wait! She presses close to him, and presses lips closer. Warm lips against unfeeling lips, she pulls away, unsatisfied. Her hand reaches up to unmask her paramour (as we can now be sure he is) but he stills her with his voice. She pulls away, but brings his hand with her, turning his palm up, fingers gingerly peeling away the second skin of his kidskin gloves. A wrist is exposed, but this is no ordinary wrist. See there, the peculiar smoothness of skin transformed by the cruel alchemy of fiery kisses. She follows in its wake, holy palmer's kiss covering the bare inch he has allowed her to see. He cups her face with his free hand and strokes her gently, gently. Skin to skin, and such strangeness here, between this curfew-breaking pair. We should leave them to their intimacies, and be on our way.
Faster than it began, it is over. A swish of his cloak and he fades into the sighing darkness of the long tunnel. The gravel crunching beneath his feet masks our own retreat, leaving our heroine unaware of our intrusions. A glimpse over your shoulder and you will see her sink down against the shabby tiling, tears finally flowing down her cheeks, her heart breaking in the depths of her haunted eyes. Leave her now, and hurry. We have seen too much and must be on our way.