The Prize

"Where are my cufflinks?" Chandler demanded. In one hour he would accept the most coveted prize his profession bestowed, yet his cufflinks eluded him.

"Why are you asking me?" Diana sighed from her vanity, intent on tracing an indigo arc across a violet eyelid.

"Drop your act and help me!" He stacked his words like bricks, slapping them down.

"I will not be your keeper!" She iced her words like so many cakes.

"Hard-hearted Diana," he wailed, assailing his own sense of propriety.

"Why, sir, you disappoint."

"Disillusion," he corrected, drawing a bead on her mirrored eyes. "Is m'lady riding to hounds on the morrow?"

"To what avail? 'Tis the fox's day off."

"Why, pray, am I the last to learn?"

"Ask the fox."

"You are the only fox I know."

"Is that why you hound me so?"

"'Tis the way you wave your tail."

"As I disappear to the depths of my wardrobe."

"What's wrong with what you're wearing?"

"Some child might see me and say, 'Mummy, the Queen is in her undies!'"

"In life's parade, we're all naked."

Diana winced. Chandler had tucked away the less pastoral passages from her first novel, and liked to pop them at her when she least expected. She was too green, at that tender age, to have published a book in the first place. But oh, what fun! Now, free to play a lover's game, she found her brilliant husband distracted. "Would that I were the poet," she sighed, stepping into her dress.

"Would that I had the time," he trolled, playing a limp wrist against his forehead.

"Physician, heal thyself."

He eyed her quizically. "Something's afoot."        

She swooned to the couch, making plain her desire to put time on hold, to let the world wait. "I am undone!" she cried. 

"Well done," he corrected, stroking her ribs through two thin layers of silk.