Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prompt: Beauty rituals (or, Beauty is in the the eye of the beholder)

Dejonnnera lay on her stomach on the table, tapping an idle rhythm with the tops of her feet against the silk cover. She had an itch on her nose, but Kefahn had her arms straight by her sides, carefully stroking the dye brush above her skin. It wouldn’t do for the princesse to get dye on her arms. Dejonnera rolled her eyes at the thought, as her mother swept into the heated bathroom to oversee Kefahn’s work.

A tremor, a dip of the brush too low, and Dejonnera felt it against her ribcage. She heard her mother’s sharp intake of breath and winced as the swish of heavy robes was followed by a loud slap against Kefahn’s skin. The bowl and brush spattered on the floor. Tears stung Dejonnera’s eyes, but she dared not move. She might ruin Kefahn’s work—and further incur her mother’s wrath.

“Get out! Imbecile!” her mother snapped. “Useless! Go back to your—”

“No, mother!” Dejonnera risked interruption. The Queen was not one to go back on her word, no matter how carelessly uttered. “Please send Kefahn back to my rooms. I will deal with her when I return,” she begged.

The Queen tsked, but said, “Very well. Obey my daughter, if you think you can manage that without making a mess of it.” She pushed the cowering servant away with her foot and called to another, standing against the wall, no doubt wishing for invisibility.

Dejonnera saw her scramble to pick up the bowl and brush. As the girl, younger than herself, stood near her head, Dejonnera whispered, “Deep breath, hold, then brush. Start on my back, where no one will see.”

Her mother snapped, “You spoil them, Dejonnera.”

She took her own deep breath, but replied calmly, “Perhaps, Mother. But Kefahn did not make a mistake until you arrived. Look, my face and arms are perfect.”

Her mother sniffed and walked around the table, tapping the silk cover with her long, red-lacquered fingernails. “Hmph,” she said. “No one will see your poor father’s influence, anyway.” Almost a compliment. Married to an insult, as always.

Dejonnera actually loved the look of the pale lavender hair she inherited from her father’s tribe. She endured her mother’s demands to have it all dyed jet black for now, but she dreamed of the day when she could make her own choices.

For now, she kept silent as the new servant began stroking the dye brush over the delicate hairs across her back. She moved slowly, drawing the brush in short strokes, but this proved faster than Kefahn’s technique, and soon she was covering the hairs on Dejonnera’s calves.

Finally, Dejonnera sat up and slid off the table, standing proudly for her mother’s inspection. Her long hair fell in waves down her back. She held out her arms in a dancer’s pose to show the black hairs Kefahn had so carefully dyed before her mother came in. She did not need a mirror to know her cheeks, lip and eyebrows were now covered with the same fine black hairs, so prized by her mother’s tribe.

“Well?” she asked archly, as her mother walked around her, clicking one long nail against her perfectly white teeth.

“You’ll do,” was the kind of praise she had long come to expect.

One day, Dejonnera swore to herself. One day…

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing
30 minutes

December word count

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