And here, at last, unless it is a dream, he sees his mother again, at once near to him and yet too far away for him to hear what she is saying. Or is it simply that, seeing her again, he can hear nothing through the blood beating in his ears?

But she is with another woman, the pair of them embracing and spinning each other about. Both women elaborately masked, both wearing blousy white shirts, shirttails hanging down to cover bare thighs, the tips of the tails parting and swaying with each step. Which is his mother again? All he has by which to distinguish them are bare hands and the bare white skin stretching from knees down tapering calves to steeply angled black pumps.

It is a gesture that gives her away. The woman on the left, talking animatedly to the other, cocks her wrist oddly as if intending to scratch out the other’s eyes. It is his mother’s gesture, and makes his heart leap in his throat. This must be his mother. But now the other mimics the gesture and adds to it a slight and awkward ducking of the head. His mother’s gesture as well. This must be his mother then. But no, the curious way the first is now canting her hip, she must be…

So he is still standing at the hall’s far end, watching and suffering, as the two women embrace, pressing their masks against one another. He is longing to come closer but not daring, hoping that his mother will take pity on him, let him know which one of them she really is.

And of course she takes pity on him. She is his mother after all. Of course she eventually does. The only problem: both of her do.

And once he is thoroughly confused, once he is seeing his mother in two women at once, only then do his two mothers seem to notice his presence. Only then does the fun really begin.