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Playing White


Lara Biyuts

“Your soul is as a moonlit landscape fair,

Peopled with maskers delicate and dim,

That play on lutes and dance and have an air

Of being sad in their fantastic trim.”

(from Clair de Lune, by Paul Verlaine)

“Tonight, at yours,

there are the masks that you invited

and the black masks that you did not invite.”

(Lara Biyuts)

Author’s Preface

Divans or sofas are so nice for having both a rest and a talk. I love mine, and some of those I happened to see in hotel rooms suited me too. Divans are mentioned or described in my every story, in virtue of my love for comfort, and now I’d like to tell the true story of one old divan that took place in my life, years ago, on the Christmas Eve.

It was the first year in prison for my idol Oscar Wilde. I, his namesake born on the Continent, was aged 25 and relatively free, and the wind of my travels brought me to a nice quiet harbourage.

The harbourage was in the Russian Empire, with main reasons two: my new boyfriend was a Slav living in St Petersburg, and my birthplace was in Niemenland which land belonged to the Empire. The third reason was that the capital of Russian Empire was a nice place for wintering, sometimes, however horrific it sounded for the ear of those who shuddered to think of the winter frost and other Eskimo enjoyments.

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