This All Ends at Midnight

While the girl danced the night away at the ball, the footmen — formerly lizards — and the coachman — formerly a goose — waited with the coach. One footman looked thoughtful.

“What was it she said? About midnight?”

“What, the fairy lady?” asked the other footman.

“Right.”

“Said this all ends at midnight.”

“The party?” He shook his head. “The magic? So… we’ll be lizards again?”

“I was a goose,” threw in the coachman.

“Right. But I spent every day skittering around looking for insects, terrified of every passing shadow.”

“I was a goose,” said the coachman.

“Yes, fine! But really, we lose all this?”

“All what?” the other footman demanded.

“I’m human! I can think, and gaze at the stars, and probably eat food other than bugs.”

“I like bugs,” said the other.

“That’s…” The footman pinched the bridge of his nose. “That’s not the point. For the first time, I want more. For the first time I know there’s more to want! And it’ll all disappear! The knowing, the wanting, gone in an hour? Every minute is… it’s unimaginably precious.” He stared into the distance with dread.

“I was a goose.”

The footman couldn’t muster a response.

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