• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 02
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I had discarded, and watched it transmogrify into the long face of a horse with a flying castle topping its achievement. There and then I knew, for me, there would be no more Carnevale di Venezia, and no more cavorting in English masquerades. Fancy dress parties had turned into fanciful chimera, and May Balls or maypole dances were now obsolete. The horse had bolted ― the genie was out and massively infecting ― we couldn’t go back the way.

Reluctantly I looked at empty streets from my sleepy window, watching traces of yesterday struggling with a song it couldn’t quite sing. There was no flying castle to be found, and no horse-drawn carriage. The colours of the streets were still fresh, except they were clearly declaring self-isolation, a taken-for-granted distancing, whether social or antisocial. As the world forgot how to hug or shake hands I’d rather be out there. Just quietly. Simply walking. Yes, I’d have to put on a mask, not one for the carnival, but mask of a different kind. And yet we mustn’t be without hope, for I’d rather be cartwheeling through the thin air of the lockdown morning.

And then all this reverie evaporated, and you were left wondering: “Have I seen a horse, a mask or a flying castle?” How could you, these days, still believe in seeing things? All you could do was to stand sentinel by the lone window watching nothing. But perhaps even “nothing” could somehow change. Move your head sideways, turn it round two quadrants, or dim the lighting ― and suddenly you did see a flying castle, or a poem blossoming, quarantine notwithstanding. “It is Pegasus!” you suddenly proclaimed. However unlikely it was, you’d continue to dream about flying.