That day, Desiree knew she should probably pack up her tea set and stuff it under her voluminous skirts, along with her square of picnic cloth, before heading into the work area of the factory. Work area being the term for where the men went to fulfill their desires, and where the workers were expected to entertain them. Ever since the winter festivities, the work area had become a more dangerous place, and all of the workers held in them a cautious jittery energy barely concealed beneath veneers of wooden flirtation.
Desiree took a different route than usual to the factory floor, because there were more possibilities flooding the alternative route, and more possibilities meant more choice, and maybe one or more of those choices would relieve her of some of the dangers that certainly lurked in her work day below. She walked through stone corridors and rickety catwalks lit by the decrepit ceiling's latticework high above, and paid attention to the convergence of possibilities which were always present and which she felt in an aquatic current around her.
On the steel stairwell leading up to the catwalk, a fox appeared out of thin air. On its ear, for the briefest of moments, was a silver dragonfly. The dragonfly flitted away, but not before Desiree had felt the flood of possibilities it represented race over her in a current so oppressive it resembled a waterfall.
"Oh!" Desiree wobbled back a step and put both hands on her face. "I feel I've tripped over a spook!"
The fox whirled around and stared at her, and Desiree knew there was no possibility it was an ordinary fox.
"Are you a spook?" asked Desiree.
The fox twitched its ear, tilted its head in a human-seeming gesture, then darted away. As it went, a river of possibilities chased after it. Desiree felt the rush of that river's influence as a cool sensation against her shins. She swished her skirts out of the way reflexively, then patted the fabric back into place. Emotions she hadn't felt in a long time welled in her, as if the fox's possibilities had swirled a current of Desiree's own into existence within her heart, and she wondered what it might be like to pursue the fox. To follow those streams wherever they led. Would it be freeing? Or would it lead to another cage? Desiree thought it through. She didn't really believe in good or bad, but she certainly believed in consequence. She also believed all currents of possibility eventually intersected. She couldn't imagine it worked any other way. From what she'd experienced, decision is what altered the course of those currents. This was a chance to make her own decision. She could decide to alter her own current of what's possible.
Why was she so afraid? No, not afraid.
Oh, it would be such a dream, to let the current take her.
For now though, the fox was gone, and that rushing wellspring current hadn't come from the fox alone. Desiree knew for certain the silver dragonfly had brought with it far, far more possibilities than the fox. If the fox had been a river, the dragonfly was an oceanic wave.
A bell sounded from the factory floor. Leaning over the railing of the catwalk, Desiree watched as the patrons made rivers of their own, some more than metaphorical. She breathed in her tiny world, the grime and the chrome and the filth, her corsetry clamping against her lungs. And she decided if she ever saw that fox again, or the dragonfly, she'd let the current take her.
Before she could do that, she should probably descend into her usual routine. The currents of possibility told her the most opportunities would arise if she continued as normal and fulfilled whatever the men wanted from her. Patience, as her grandmother would say, sometimes brings more possibilities than action. Desiree was a naturally patient person. She lowered herself down the stairwell with an air of unhurried ease, lifting her skirts just so, and gained the attention of one of the newer patrons. At some point between flirtation and the act itself, she unhooked her tea set from beneath her skits and placed them both aside.
Unsanitary events followed, one after another, in Desiree's corner of the factory floor.
A factory, thought Desiree absently from underneath her patron, yet they won't allow us to produce anything. Not one thing. Before all this, her grandmother used to paint, and those were the images that invaded Desiree's mind, landscapes and cityscapes and prophetic scenes from the world outside this… this den.
That probably-not-fox had appeared out of nowhere.
Had the dragonfly's possibilities arisen from nothing?
Desiree turned her face away, which wasn't something the boss of the factory allowed. She made a little sound to deter any suspicion from the man she was pleasing and added a well-practiced shudder. Then she stared through half lidded eyes, past her thicket of cosmeticized eyelashes, and found herself looking directly at the fox. The fox seemingly had stopped in the middle of a step and turned to stare back at Desiree with an expression that was not vulpine in the least.
The possibilities came over Desiree in a wave, and she closed her eyes against the man's grunts. When he was finished with her, he clothed himself and departed, as they always do, leaving Desiree to reconcile the trembles in her abdomen and limbs. The factory floor welled cold. Her tea set beckoned with little streams of its own subtle opportunities, and the fox sat down and watched the man go.
Desiree collected herself and her tea set, folding it under her skirts, and waited, because the dragonfly would probably appear of its own accord very soon. Desiree could feel that in the swelling of currents against her flesh. In the meantime, she waved her polished fingers at the fox, quirking her mouth into a smirk. To see what it did. Her little gesture made some of the fox's possibilities change course.
The fox tilted its head. It did nothing more than that.
Then the dragonfly reappeared. Its possibilities swirled into creation before it had fully manifested in front of Desiree, and all those possible currents swept harshly over her as if they wanted to push her over. She swayed with them, swishing her skirts. She extended one finger toward the dragonfly. It and all opportunities it contained landed lightly on her outstretched finger.
Desiree felt the dragonfly's current sweep her into an inescapable torrent. Then she spoke her wish. That was Desiree. Patient.