Sarah – The Pickpocket’s Waltz

Profile Sarah LE Child P&W June 2019

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Sarah is a Year 9 student from Melbourne, Australia. She thoroughly enjoys playing video games and robotics. Her favourite authors are JRR Tolkien and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This short story was inspired by her love of mystery novels and the atmosphere of the Carnevale de Venezia which featured in a recent history lesson.

The Pickpocket’s Waltz

Bright srings of coloured light reflected off the murky waters of the Grand Canal. Thousands of diamontes glinted across the hundreds of faces in the dancing crowd, each bearing an ornate filigree mask. Gales of laughter echoed across the streets of Venice, overlapping the many conversations that filled the cool, night air. There were hordes of people dancing to the music playing in the background while others stood to the side and shared polite conversations. I smoothed down the front of my crimson gown and straightened my intricate silver mask. It was show time.

Unlike the hundreds of other people gathered in the Doge’s Palace tonight, my work hours had just begun. I purposefully strode into the palace, careful not to stand out.. With rent prices soaring higher than ever, tonight was my best chance of staying afloat for the next month. The familiar feeling of being swallowed up by the world filled my body, reminding me that this was just another day on the job. Albeit with a lot more people. More people meant more opportunities and my job was all about opportunities. Seeing that fatal moment where you had dropped your guard, turning to grab that second drink or to pick up a coin you thought you had dropped. I began my waltz. One, two, three. One, two, three. Every third beat was another item as I expertly navigated my way through the crowd. My hands glided in and out of bag after bag, taking wallet after wallet. I broke the rhythm only when a young man with a full raven mask and a well-tailored tuxedo stopped me and offered his hand up to a dance. I graciously took his hand and flashed him an innocent smile.

My waltz continued.

As the music started to slow, I knew it was my cue to leave.

Grazie per aver ballato con me.” I smiled once more at the man while slipping his golden Rolex watch into one of my hidden compartments in my overly elaborate gown.

Grazie per essere stati con me.” He bowed, being none the wiser that his wrist was a little lighter.

Effortlessly, I blended back into the crowd, careful not to linger in the same location while I inspected my prize. I rolled my glove down to see check my own watch. It wasn’t there. Just as I was about to swear, I heard a voice behind me.

“Can I propose a trade, signorina?” It was the same man with the raven mask. His gloved finger had my silver watch hanging from it. I just managed to hide my shocked expression as I decided to play it safe and hope that he would back off.

Mi dispiace. I don’t know what you are implying, signore.”

“I’m certain I’m not, Victoria.”

“How do you—“I stopped myself before my confusion overwhelmed me. I summoned all my years of expertise to craft the perfect poker face. No one knew my real name. Not after my family’s conning past was revealed. The mystery man glanced around at the crowd, clearly sensing my uncertainty.

“Look, it’s too open out here. There are some people who still want you dead. Come with me and I’ll explain.”

Half of me wanted to find out what he was talking about, what he knew, but the more experienced side of me was wary of a trap. He was right about one thing though: There were still a lot of people who wanted me dead.

“Fine. But if you take a single step too close…”

“Done. Follow me.”

He turned towards the exit, manoeuvering his way through the crowd as if he was familiar with it. Like me. As I trailed him, my mind worked to try and figure out who he was, how he knew so much and how he could have found me. He was clearly experienced but there was something about his manner that was so… familiar. As we left the crowded area of the party, the night seemed much colder than it already was. I rubbed my arms for warmth. A gown was good for blending in with the crowd but not great for warmth.


Raven Man took off his suit jacket and wrapped it around my shoulders. I was too cold to refuse the gesture so I nodded my thanks. Our brisk pace slowed to an easy stroll as we reached a residential area. I counted the blocks as we headed down a darkened street. The echoes from the party reminded me that I was still in the open. Eventually, on the fifth block, he stopped and produced a small key.

“Third floor. Number seven. Ladies first?”

He swept his arm out in a grandiose manner and gestured for me to enter.

His room was neat save for a stack of paper on a large mahogany table in the center of the apartment. Now safe from any prying eyes, I removed my mask; my identity was already compromised and the sequins were only an irritant now.

“I understand you have a lot of questions, and rightly so, Victoria.”

“Masquerade balls are just the perfect opportunity for a surprise encounter.” I replied drily.

“Seven years and you haven’t changed a bit.” He took a few steps towards me and I tried not to punch him. He reached behind his head and removed his mask. I could not stop the small gasp from leaving my mouth. A jagged scar ran down the face of the man that many knew as the world’s greatest assassin. The man I knew as my dead brother, Albus.

© Sarah