A governess, a guardian of the young, so known and dear as to be called “Mother” and a noblewoman, just barely 12 by age, named Portia, sit talking as the sun sets the stage for a cool, cloudless night.
“Mother, who invented candlelight and the slow, delicate brush of lips?”
“Some rakish boy, pawning his experience for present pleasure, no doubt.”
“Say true, Mother. If you were a man, would you find this common body worthy of love?”
“You show no blemish child, and display a certain bony voluptuousness - I should think.”
The governess begins to comb and braid Portia’s hair for sleep.
“I saw Portincio this morning, in the courtyard.”
“The boy from Padua?”
“He’s a man Mother, and his cast portents a passion so sweet - it shakes my very frame.”
Mother chuckles, “Even hopeless birds sing in cages.”
“I am not hopeless!” Portia writhes angrily, like a snake about to strike but mother calms her.
“Shoo, shoo, now,” Mother purrs, brushing all the more gently, “I meant nothing of it.” After a moment, she continues, “Love is more than coquetry, little one, and it soon passes - like a parade, or a rash. For now, be happy, you are like the chaste stars - unreachable.”
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Coquetry: “flirtatious acts”