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With Grace

When he's not writing speculative fiction, Andrew Kao often spends his time in the catatonic state of sleep or training to be an economist. His website is Andrew-kao.github.io.

She is his cousin, as far as kinship is concerned. But for all other social purposes (and there are many of these), she is something, and he is nothing.
It is striking, then, that the invitation to the Grande Ball gets delivered to him. No big deal, he knows she is thinking, it was just sent to the wrong house. They are neighbors, they share the same family name, the post can come in the wrong door when a trailing digit is written in an ungainly manner.
But this is Grande Ball we are talking about. There is no such thing as poor penmanship when it comes to the address signed across the creamy envelope's exterior. There is no such thing as a mistake when he rips it open and finds the invitation addressed to him and him only.
You may bring another with you, the letter instructs, and the Graces will judge their acceptability at the entrance to the Ball. Adieu, and see you soon.
He stares at his cousin, who is reading the letter over his shoulder, tears welling in the corners of her pearl-gray eyes. He sees the way she pauses, hopefully, at the penultimate sentence. He wonders if she will ask the question, if she could bear the shame. He wonders if he should make the offer, and curry favor. He wonders if the fleet-eyed magicians at the door will turn her down, for once.
Time runs short. In a year or two she too will be a Grace. He feels the light ignite behind her irises, knows she is about to pour over his mind, knows that another concession is about to be forced. There is no reasoning with someone who sees your soul laid bare.
But who really cares about the Grande Ball, anyways?
He tosses the invitation in the fireplace and hears her shriek.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

Author Comments

I was watching the trailer for Bridgerton when inspiration for this story struck. I immediately closed down Netflix, spent half an hour putting words onto paper, and, well... to this day I still haven't finished the trailer. Somebody let me know if the show is any good.

- Andrew Kao
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