The Silver Year: Chapter 20

Chapter​​ 20

The Mask Maker

 

 

Just outside St. Mark’s square,​​ Walter walked​​ along​​ the polished and posh storefronts​​ of​​ Salizada San Moise.​​ A​​ river​​ of​​ faces​​ flooded past him in the jammed corridor, but he was only looking for one:​​ Kourtney’s.​​ After their tour group’s introductory walking tour,​​ they​​ had decided a day​​ alone​​ was needed after spending so much time together recently, but now Walter was greatly regretting that decision.​​ Venice was a living museum and he wanted his museum partner.

The​​ further​​ the​​ trip​​ had​​ progressed, the less the​​ siblings​​ wanted to do​​ together,​​ and​​ the more​​ he​​ found​​ himself​​ split between​​ museums and intellectual​​ ventures​​ with Kourtney in the day and​​ pubs and​​ nocturnal adventures with Curt in the night. And even though​​ Walter​​ enjoyed both​​ with both, his​​ time with​​ Curt was much more limited and usually shared with everyone else since Curt was becoming the most popular person on the tour, whereas with Kourtney,​​ he​​ was discovering a whole​​ new​​ intimacy of friendship. Their​​ fucked up childhoods​​ and​​ constantly​​ nagging anxieties​​ gave them a lot of common ground, and​​ it seemed​​ when one of them went​​ out of whack, the other​​ always​​ knew​​ how​​ to bring the​​ other​​ back in place.​​ But for​​ two people who were​​ proud​​ loners,​​ it was​​ threating​​ to have a friendship that felt so effortless​​ and​​ there was​​ a​​ natural urge to resist it.​​ But after only fifteen minutes​​ without her,​​ Walter​​ could resist no more.​​ 

Continuing on in his search, he let his gut guide his feet​​ through Venice’s maze of passageways.​​ Unchanged for hundreds of years, the streets had no cars and were​​ so​​ narrow​​ and​​ knotted​​ together, they were in a constant murk​​ from​​ crowded shadows. The past​​ bled​​ easily​​ through​​ the skin of the city,​​ and it took no monumental leap of imagination to travel​​ into​​ it​​ the farther he furthered himself from​​ the​​ crowds.

Crossing​​ the​​ Rio di San Moise​​ canal​​ footbridge​​ then passing​​ the cursed​​ La Fenice​​ opera house,​​ famous for burning down three​​ times,​​ he​​ weaved​​ through progressively tighter​​ and more deserted​​ streets until​​ eventually​​ finding himself alone at​​ a​​ dead​​ end.​​ On​​ a​​ wall​​ of a building​​ in front of him, someone had spray-painted​​ I JUST DESIRE TO TOUCH THE SKY. The​​ phrase​​ captured​​ him, and he stood trapped, trying to translate​​ a​​ meaning, when out of the corner of his eye he saw a phantom flicker.​​ He​​ turned​​ around, and there she was,​​ Kourtney,​​ contained in​​ a​​ tiny​​ shop​​ window​​ he hadn’t noticed being there before.

Going closer to the window, however,​​ her face subtly shapeshifted like an evaporating mirage, and by the time he was inside, she was somebody else completely.

Buon pomeriggio signore,” the woman in​​ her​​ place​​ said as he entered. She was​​ about the same age​​ as Kourtney​​ with​​ bangs,​​ long,​​ dark brown hair,​​ and​​ large,​​ golden​​ eyes, made more striking by her​​ black​​ eyeliner.​​ She wore a bright red headwrap,​​ not unsimilar to a pirate or gypsy,​​ which was​​ the same color​​ as​​ the lipstick on​​ her full​​ and​​ pouty​​ lips. The body beneath was​​ gracefully drawn-out​​ like a dancer’s,​​ draped​​ in​​ a tight-fitting​​ black​​ tank​​ top​​ and​​ a​​ light​​ and flowy, tan​​ bohemian dress.

“You look like a​​ man in search of himself,” she said​​ smiling. “What​​ kind of​​ identity would you like to try on?”

“Huh?” Walter​​ replied.

“What kind of mask were you interested in?”​​ She gestured around the shop.​​ 

“Oh,” he said​​ noticing​​ he was in​​ a​​ mask shop.​​ On the walls, cluttering the shelves, and hanging​​ from the​​ ceiling,​​ were ornate carnival masks​​ adorned with​​ stunning arrays of​​ feathers, beads,​​ and​​ gems.​​ “I​​ do​​ need​​ a mask​​ actually,” he​​ said.​​ Contiki had a themed party almost every night​​ and​​ for Venice it was a masquerade ball.​​ “However,” he said examining​​ a​​ price tag of a​​ nearby​​ mask, “these might be out of my price range.”

“That’s okay,” she said​​ still smiling.​​ “I​​ don’t charge to try​​ them​​ on, and I do have some more reasonable options in the back.​​ However,​​ there is​​ one​​ mask​​ I think would look​​ very handsome on you.​​ I made it with a face like yours in mind.”

“You made all these masks?”​​ he​​ asked.

“I am the mask maker.​​ Beatrice Mezzosesso. And you​​ are?”

“Walter Huxley.​​ Pleasure to meet you.”

“No, no, the pleasure is​​ all​​ mine​​ Signore​​ Huxley—that is if you don’t mind trying on the mask?

He shrugged.​​ “Sure. Why not?”​​ 

Perfetto.​​ Come, have a seat here,” she said pulling a chair in front​​ of​​ an antique-looking full body mirror.

After​​ Walter​​ sat,​​ Beatrice’s​​ long fingers felt over the contours of his​​ head,​​ face,​​ and​​ neck​​ like​​ a tailor​​ doing a​​ sizing. “Oh yes,” she said staring straight into​​ his​​ eyes, “I’ve been waiting a long time for you.”

She then​​ danced​​ more​​ than walked​​ across the small store in elegant,​​ metered​​ movements​​ to some waltz she was​​ lightly​​ humming. She went​​ to​​ a shelf​​ holding​​ several​​ wood and glass display​​ boxes​​ and took one down made​​ of expensive-looking​​ mahogany with​​ a​​ red satin bedding. She opened it​​ and removed a​​ polished,​​ bone-colored​​ mask with a strong brow​​ and​​ aquiline nose​​ in a​​ stern facial expression.​​ The mouth had no opening but the chin protruded forward​​ far enough to fit a hand in for eating and drinking.

She​​ then went​​ to​​ a​​ workbench,​​ selected a spool of thick black ribbon​​ from​​ it,​​ and measured a strand from memory.​​ Then with two quick snips, she cut what she measured into two equal strips, then​​ threaded​​ them​​ through holes on​​ the mask.​​ Returning​​ to Walter, she then​​ placed the mask on​​ him​​ from behind, tying the ribbon​​ snuggly​​ around his head. The mask​​ clung to his face as if it had been​​ custom​​ made. ​​ 

“Yes,”​​ Beatrice​​ said​​ staring into the​​ mask’s​​ eye sockets. “I knew it. Just perfect . . .​​ Now, you came in here​​ searching​​ for something,​​ didn’t you?”

“Someone actually,”​​ Walter​​ replied, his brows​​ contracting​​ beneath the mask. “I thought​​ you were them, but I was mistaken.”

“Yes, looks can​​ often​​ be deceiving,​​ and​​ what you​​ see​​ is not what you were thinking.”

His brows crinkled more deeply.

“You fell in love with someone​​ you shouldn’t have fallen in love with,” she said,​​ “and​​ it cost them their life.”

“Do​​ you​​ know​​ me?”​​ he​​ asked.

She gave him a puckish smile.​​ “That depends on your definition of​​ knowing,” she replied. “A face can tell me​​ a lot about someone, and yours​​ has death​​ and love​​ written all over it.​​ Thats why I​​ chose​​ the​​ death mask​​ of the world’s greatest lover​​ for you. Don’t​​ you know who you are?” she said pointing​​ to the mirror.​​ She then leaned into his ear​​ and said in a whispered scream, “Casanova!

Walter laughed​​ awkwardly. “You’re funny,” he said. “But seriously, you read the Rolling Stone article or something,​​ right? Yep, you​​ got​​ me.​​ Quinn Quark, the new Casanova.”

Beatrice laughed.​​ “No,​​ I don’t have you​​ yet…”​​ she​​ said picking up the spool of thick black ribbon​​ again​​ and cutting​​ another long piece,​​ “…but now I do.” She​​ then​​ swiftly​​ grabbed his wrists and​​ cuffed​​ them​​ behind the chair​​ with​​ the​​ ribbon.

He​​ bucked​​ up​​ in surprise, but​​ she​​ swung around to the front of him​​ and​​ pushed him back into the chair​​ with the weight of her body. Straddling him,​​ she​​ then​​ reached​​ under the​​ mask’s​​ protruding​​ chin and​​ softly​​ slapped​​ him.

No more games Giacomo,​​ Le Chevalier de Seingalt,” she said. “I​​ saw​​ you in there​​ peering at me through this man’s eyes. But who’s in there with you? So many voices. You must be a very troubled man​​ Signore​​ Huxley.”

“Huh?”​​ Walter said​​ confused,​​ afraid,​​ and​​ slightly​​ aroused.​​ “I know the article made me out to be a womanizer,​​ and maybe there’s some truth to that, but​​ seriously,​​ I’m no Casanova.​​ Not even close.”

She​​ chuckled​​ again. “You still don’t understand,” she said.​​ “Casanova! He is inside you. All he needed was a body and yours is an​​ open​​ gate​​ for​​ the spirit world​​ to communicate. You are living amongst the dead, and the dead​​ can whisper through you.​​ You must know this.​​ Haven’t​​ you ever felt​​ like the voices in your head aren’t your own?”

“Actually...​​ all the time lately.​​ But I’ve got a rather eccentric imagination I don’t trust.” ​​ 

“Well, what if I told you your body​​ is​​ nothing but a​​ fleshly capsule Casanova​​ is trying to​​ make love with?”

“To you?”​​ 

She​​ smiled and shook a finger at him.​​ “Oh,​​ how little you’ve learned in almost three hundred years​​ Casanova,” she said.​​ “Don’t you ever want to find​​ your​​ divine​​ love? Don’t you ever want to free your name of​​ womanizer and instead​​ be recognized​​ for the great writer​​ and mind​​ you were? Or​​ will your soul always be caught in​​ the​​ powerful​​ tempest of your lust?”​​ 

“I’m​​ so​​ lost,”​​ he​​ said​​ shaking his head.

“Just let go and play along,” she whispered​​ into​​ his ear.

Certain she was crazy,​​ Walter​​ decided to play along,​​ partly​​ out of fear,​​ partly​​ because he was​​ still​​ turned on,​​ and​​ partly because​​ he​​ was​​ also​​ crazy. And the more he thought about it,​​ maybe​​ Casanova’s ghost​​ was​​ inside him.

“Okay,” he said. “Um…​​ what do you mean​​ I​​ fell in love with​​ someone I wasn’t​​ supposed to?”

“The answer is right in front of you,”​​ she said pointing​​ at​​ the mirror.

“You?” he asked.

“Not exactly, but you’re getting closer.”

He​​ sighed.​​ “Then why do I feel more lost?”

“Just think about it.”

“Amber?”​​ 

Beatrice shrugged and smiled, but said nothing.

“Well,​​ if Amber​​ is​​ listening,” he said​​ looking directly into the mirror, “she should know... she should know​​ I gave up on someone who really could’ve been my ‘one’. I just thought I was looking for perfect, but I was too blind​​ and​​ selfish​​ to see I didn’t need perfect. I needed love. And​​ no doubt, with the exception of my grandmother, nobody loved and believed in me more​​ than​​ you.​​ Tears​​ slowly​​ began dropping from beneath​​ his​​ mask onto his lap. “But​​ I​​ just​​ used​​ your​​ love​​ because I was too​​ in love with myself.​​ I​​ was​​ too in love with myself. And​​ for that,​​ I​​ don’t​​ deserve​​ to find love.​​ I deserve to suffer​​ forever​​ without it.​​ But for you, I will just so you know how sorry I am. Im​​ so​​ sorry Amber. With all my heart and soul, I am sorry.”​​ 

Beatrice put a hand​​ on​​ his​​ shoulder. She then​​ removed the mask​​ and unbound his wrists.​​ His​​ face was​​ a glazed doughnut of tears and sweat.​​ 

“No,” she said​​ looking​​ somberly​​ into the mirror, “you deserve to find love. Everyone​​ does. But​​ first,​​ you need to forgive yourself.​​ Blame is hardly ever​​ shared​​ alone and​​ sometimes just as much​​ in our control​​ as fate.​​ But what we do have control over​​ is forgiveness.​​ Forgive yourself . . . Go on, say it.”

“I forgive you​​ Walter,”​​ he said to the mirror. “I forgive you!”

“You are forgiven,” Beatrice said, and immediately​​ after a weight seemed to lift from his chest, a burden​​ Walter had​​ grown so used to carrying he thought it was a part of him.

He turned around in the chair and looked back​​ at​​ Beatrice with awe.​​ Looking into​​ her eyes, he saw someone he knew he knew but he couldn’t explain why.

Who​​ are​​ you?​​ he​​ asked.​​ Really, who are you?”​​ 

“I am no one​​ because I am not one,”​​ she replied. “However,​​ you can call me Fate​​ if you’d​​ like. But​​ truthfully, I’m just​​ someone who wants to help you find divine love.​​ However clever it’s been disguised,​​ it is waiting for you.”

“Where?”

“A​​ place​​ only you can reach​​ within your heart,​​ but​​ I’m here to​​ take​​ you​​ to​​ the​​ next part. However,​​ we must​​ go soon. Sunset is approaching.”​​ She​​ then​​ reattached​​ the mask to​​ his​​ face. “And masks​​ must​​ stay on​​ until I tell​​ you​​ to take them off.​​ If​​ we’re not careful,​​ it​​ could​​ cost us​​ our lives.”

 

After masking herself​​ in​​ a​​ gold, long-beaked​​ “plague doctor” mask, Beatrice put on a black,​​ full-body,​​ hooded robe and had Walter​​ do​​ the same. She then took his hand and told him, “Don’t let go,” and​​ led him out of the shop to a nearby​​ private​​ dock on the Grand Canal. There, a gondolier​​ in a black toga she addressed as​​ Marcus was​​ waiting, standing​​ atop an all-black, dragon-looking gondola with an enclosed cabin, or​​ what​​ she​​ called a​​ “felze”.​​ Once inside the​​ red​​ velvet-lined​​ felze, a bottle of​​ wine and a bucket of oysters were​​ waiting for them.

“Is​​ this​​ gondola always stocked with oysters and wine?” Walter asked​​ after they sat and​​ Beatrice poured him a glass.

“Oh​​ yes,” she said. “A gondola ride wouldn’t be complete without them.”

 “Well,​​ santé,”​​ he​​ said taking the glass, then began removing his mask.

“No, no,”​​ she​​ said stopping him. “The mask must stay on, even while you eat and drink. That is what the mask is designed for.”​​ 

“But you can’t​​ eat or​​ drink with your mask.”

 “Yes, but​​ this​​ wine​​ and food​​ isn’t​​ for​​ me,​​ it’s for you,​​ Casanova.”​​ 

Walter sighed. “So I’m Casanova again?”​​ he asked.

“When you wear the mask you are.”

 

Soon after departing from the dock, Beatrice pulled open one​​ of​​ the curtained windows.​​ “Do you recognize that palazzo out there?”​​ she asked pointing​​ to a three-story, cream-colored palace on the canal.​​ 

“Should I?” Walter​​ asked, still confused as to who he was supposed to be.

“That is the​​ Palazzo Malipiero, former home of Senator Alvise Malipiero, and site of your first seduction. The senator took you in as a fifteen-year-old protégé and taught you all the customs of high society until you were caught ‘exploring the differences between bodies’ with his seventeen-year-old love interest​​ and he expelled you out of the house.​​ From there, you then went on to​​ lose​​ your​​ virginity to two sisters at the same time, and after that, your seductions are too numerous to name, but some of your most notorious exploits include:​​ having a ménage​​ à trois with two nuns;​​ sleeping with five sisters in exchange for saving their mother from financial ruin; and probably​​ your​​ most repulsive achievement, almost marrying​​ your​​ own daughter whom​​ you​​ unknowingly conceived with a former lover, only to later bed her and her mother at the same time, although​​ you​​ did say​​ you​​ left​​ your​​ virgin daughter ‘intact’ for whatever that’s worth.

As they pushed down​​ the Grand Canal,​​ Beatrice​​ continued​​ filling​​ Walter​​ in on landmarks​​ and transgressions​​ of his possessor’s life​​ until​​ reaching​​ the Rialto Bridge​​ where they​​ turned around.

“More wine​​ signore?”​​ she​​ said, pouring without permission.

“I guess so,”​​ he​​ replied amused and red-lipped​​ beneath his mask. She’d already emptied half a bottle into him and mouth-fed him a dozen​​ or so​​ oysters. He’d never felt more lavished on in his life.

“But​​ you always blamed your​​ insatiable sex drive​​ on your​​ insatiable curiosity for human nature,” she went on after she finished pouring, “reasoning​​ the bedroom offered no better view into it. Old, young, fat, skinny, royals, nobles, nuns, slaves, whores, virgins, even a few men and transvestites,​​ you​​ bed them all. But​​ all​​ weren’t merely conquests​​ to you.​​ You​​ actually fell in love​​ quite​​ easily and often.​​ You liked​​ to satisfy and be satisfied intellectually as well as sexually by​​ your​​ partners, and in a time when women were second-class citizens,​​ you​​ saw​​ them as​​ relative​​ equals.​​ You also​​ supported​​ many of​​ your​​ lovers financially and became a lifetime confidant​​ after they were no longer your lovers.​​ Ultimately, however, it is your explorations in the bedroom and not human nature that you are remembered​​ for, and for that​​ Casanova, you​​ have no one to blame but yourself.​​ But​​ now you have the opportunity to finally be forgiven . . .​​ Marcus,” she shouted out the window,​​ prendere​​ noi sotto il Ponte dei Sospiri !

Si mama.​​ Summum virtutum.

“Sunset is coming,” she said to Walter, aka Casanova. “Our date with fate is almost here.”

 

Coming out of the Grand Canal, they​​ skirted​​ along the Venetian coast lined with​​ more​​ cream-colored palazzos,​​ turning pink​​ from the setting sun,​​ until​​ reaching​​ the​​ Rio del Palazzo​​ canal, where they turned in​​ and​​ sailed​​ under​​ the​​ people-packed​​ Ponte della Paglia​​ footbridge, then approached another much higher, ivory-white and ornately-decorated​​ footbridge​​ connecting​​ the Doge's Palace to the​​ palace prison.​​ 

The Bridge of Sighs...” Beatrice said​​ pointing to it as the boat coasted beneath, joining a hoard of other gondolas,​​ ...our final destination and​​ one of the most famous sights in all of Venice.​​ According to legend, as prisoners would cross, they would look out onto beautiful Venice one last time and​​ ‘sigh’ before being taken to their cells.​​ In 1755, arrested for blasphemy, freemasonry, magic, and of course fornication,​​ you yourself walked across this bridge​​ Casanova.​​ But​​ instead of being put in the​​ regular prison cells, you were​​ held​​ in a collection of cells called ‘The Leads’ directly beneath the palace roof. Because the roof was lined with lead slabs, these cells were very hot in the summer and ice-cold in the winter, and​​ also thought to be inescapable. But on the night of the 31st​​ of October 1756,​​ you proved that to be untrue​​ by prying off one of the​​ slabs​​ and escaping through the roof​​ in a tale that would later become one of​​ your​​ bestsellers.  ​​​​ 

You​​ then fled to Paris where​​ you​​ would later make a fortune by inventing the first state lottery, a fortune which would be wasted away like all​​ your​​ fortunes, to gambling. But being a prolific polymath,​​ you​​ always managed to climb​​ your​​ way back into status and wealth through a variety of occupations and​​ sometimes questionable​​ ventures. In​​ your​​ seventy-three years alive,​​ you were​​ an abbot, lawyer, officer in the Venetian army, theater violinist, diplomat, mathematician, spy, alchemist, Freemason, cardsharp, magician, faith healer, actor, a​​ famous​​ playwright, duelist, physician, and librarian.​​ You were​​ fluent in Italian, French, Latin, and Greek, and​​ proficient​​ in​​ German, English, and Russian.​​ You​​ discussed religion and philosophy with Voltaire, powered flight with Ben Franklin, taxation with Fredrick the​​ Great, and bringing the Russian calendar in sync with the rest of Europe with Catherine the Great.​​ You were​​ also good friends with Lorenzo Da Ponte, Mozart’s favorite librettist, and may have served as the inspiration for​​ Don Giovanni, possibly even writing some of it​​ yourself. You wrote​​ forty-two books which included a history of Poland and the Venetian government, a modern Italian translation of Homer’s Iliad, a five-volume science-fiction novel,​​ Isocameron, which predicted the motorcar,​​ airplane,​​ and television, and of course​​ your​​ twelve-volume, thirty-five-hundred-page autobiography,​​ Histoire de ma vie, which​​ you are​​ most​​ famous and infamous for.

“Casanova, you​​ could have been an​​ Enlightenment​​ icon had​​ you not let​​ your​​ lust get the best of you, a lust whose winds have reigned over you for nearly three​​ centuries. But now​​ you​​ can​​ finally escape the slavery of your lust​​ and​​ find​​ the​​ divine love​​ you always sought,​​ but never found in life. If you accept this invitation, kiss me at sunset and your​​ divine​​ love will be revealed...” She cleared her throat. “The time is now,” she said touching Walter.

“Time for what?”​​ he​​ said.

“To take off your mask and kiss methat is if you’re​​ ready.​​ Love isn’t always​​ who​​ you think it​​ should be. Once in a while it’s in the​​ strangest​​ of places.

Walter’s head turned sideways pondering who was really speaking behind that golden bird beak.

“I’m not kissing you until you tell me who you​​ really​​ are,” he said.​​ Plus,​​ I heard​​ being granted eternal love by​​ kissing​​ someone​​ at sunset under the Bridge of Sighs was just some bullshit legend told to​​ tourists.

“I told you​​ already,” she said.​​ “You can call me Fate.​​ As far as who I​​ really​​ am, that​​ you can only discover​​ by taking my mask​​ off.​​ However,​​ yours​​ comes off​​ first.

“Fine,” he said and​​ reached behind his head and​​ untied​​ the mask. Beatrice​​ let out a short shriek​​ behind her​​ beak.

“What?” he asked.

“It’s not for your knowing, just as what you see when you take off my mask is not for my knowing.”

Slightly trembling,​​ Walter’s​​ hands​​ then began untying her mask, but​​ after removing it,​​ he only saw​​ Beatrice​​ grinning. There was, however,​​ a​​ large gap between​​ her​​ front teeth​​ he didn’t remember seeing​​ before. But then again,​​ she hadn’t​​ spent a lot of time​​ full-teeth grinning​​ before then​​ either.​​ He​​ leaned forward​​ regardless​​ and lips met,​​ then​​ tongues​​ began dancing​​ until​​ something bristly​​ began tickling his​​ upper​​ lip.​​ He opened his eyes to find​​ Beatrice had​​ grown a​​ mustache. Then as his eyes adjusted​​ more,​​ he realized it wasn’t Beatrice​​ behind that mustache. It was​​ Dug.

“Ah!” Walter screamed and pushed Dug back into the seat​​ across from him, but by then he had already morphed back into Beatrice. “Ah! Ah! Ah!” Walter kept screaming.

“You didn’t like what you saw I see,” Beatrice said straightening​​ herself out after being thrown.

“I’m sorry.​​ No, not​​ at all what I was expecting.”

“Often​​ divine​​ love isn’t.”

“But you don’t understand. I saw—”​​ She​​ covered his mouth.

“I told you,” she said, “what you saw is not for my knowing,​​ or anyone else’s knowing. You must keep it to yourself and only to yourself, otherwise​​ neither of us will find divine love. And believe​​ me,​​ I’ve been waiting a long time.​​ Centuries​​ you could say.

“Wait,​​ are you—”

She​​ covered​​ his​​ mouth again and smiled. She then brought her index finger to her lips and winked.

“Just keep our little adventure​​ today to yourself,” she said.​​ “It’s in your​​ best interest and mine.​​ Not like anyone​​ will believe you​​ anyway.”​​ 

 

Back​​ at​​ the​​ boat​​ dock,​​ Walter and Beatrice shared​​ one​​ last kiss, this time with no mustache,​​ before she stepped back onto the boat. She​​ said​​ there was somewhere she needed to​​ be​​ soon, and so did he. His​​ ferry back to​​ the Italian mainland​​ where he and his fellow Contikians were​​ camped​​ in a village of mobile home trailers was​​ departing​​ shortly.​​ 

As the​​ gondola​​ withdrew​​ into the Venetian Lagoon,​​ from the bow of the black dragon,​​ Casanova’s death mask in one hand, the other waving goodbye and blowing him kisses,​​ Beatrice​​ shrank​​ into the​​ darkening​​ horizon​​ until​​ at last she touched​​ the​​ sky​​ and disappeared into it.​​