Belleza walked away. She thought the creature might follow her, but he didn't. He watched her go. He stayed there and sighed, perhaps forlornly, perhaps stupidly. How was she to know which?

Belleza returned home. She brought the cat inside. She bolted the doors and checked the window locks. She pulled the blinds and closed the curtains. The creature had come as close as her garden. He might approach the house. She believed him to be passive. Simple barriers – doors and walls and locks – would keep him at bay. He wasn't one to storm the house.

Belleza was so confident in her judgment that when night came she slept well.

The beast appeared in her dream.

They sat in a small, non-descript room. Tea was served, but neither of them touched the old-fashioned cups on saucers.

"How did you get here?" Belleza asked, both alarmed and indignant.

"You invited me," he responded. His voice was mellow.

"Well, I invite you to leave immediately."

"I don't do things immediately," the creature told her.

"That's because you use your feet incorrectly," she said. "You shuffle, like an old woman. Feet like that are meant to hop, to bound."

Belleza stood and demonstrated a kangaroo hop. The creature appeared unimpressed.

"Are you here to murder me?" Belleza demanded.

"Is that what you want?"

"This is my home. I ask the questions."

The dream shifted, and Belleza was alone, and from a distant place came the sounds of merriment. She heard silverware on china. She heard music and laughter, a cheerful party. There were guests in her house, but she could not find them. She walked through room after unfamiliar room set about randomly with sofas and beds like a furniture showroom. From where had these rooms appeared? And who had filled them with such objects?

The next morning Belleza found an unwashed cup and saucer at her bedside. They belonged to a set of dishes once owned by her grandmother and now stored dustily on top of the kitchen cabinets.

Belleza opened the front door so as to retrieve the newspaper. The early hour was still dark, the thin, impatient dark before dawn.

On the front stoop sat the beast. Beside him was another of Grandmother’s tea cups, this one full of cold tea.

WAH-WAH.

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