This is the story I wrote for Claire, with this the analysis I have already published should make sense.
Magic Mirror in the Wall
Lucette had just left her bedroom, leaving Merel in bed. Merel opened first one eye, and then the other, it was so warm under the covers, she could not even think about getting up. She always wondered why days would come so fast each morning. The morning noises started to invade her bedroom little by little, her sisters would probably be already up, it was her honour and curse to be always the last one at the breakfast table, she was also everyone’s favourite, so she took advantage of the situation.
Merel sat in bed and saw a thin but strong ray of sunshine entering the bedroom through her window, designing new shapes and shades with the objects on her table. For some reason she felt happier. Winter had just left, and it was not until mid spring that they were offered sunny days like that one.
Merel waited for Lucette to come back and help her with her dress. Her wardrobe was full of dresses bought and chosen by her mother, only Alessandra, her eldest sister, could choose the colour of her dresses, she was considered to be old enough. Mother certainly loved yellow. Merel was sure it was because of the colour of the sun, and the lack of it in Delft. Mother use to tell them they were the sunshines of the city. Merel loved to hear that, and she enjoyed running with her sisters in the parks of the city, as petals sliding above the lawn. She opened the window and took a deep breath of the fresh air that flew just outside her window, as if invisible birds flapped their wings for her. It was quite cold, so she half closed the window again. Lucette came into the bedroom and smiled, surprised Merel was already up. She normally had to enter two or three times before the youngest lady of the house would get up. Her wardrobe was full of blue, pale rose and yellow dresses, a few of them were green, which Merel had taken from her eldest sister because they did not fit her anymore.
‘Which colour are you feeling today, miss Merel?
‘It looks like a promising wonderful day, doesn’t it? I believe Madam will make the kitchen prepare some sandwiches and you’ll spend the day outside. It will do you good, miss Merel! You are looking paler and paler each day!
Merel made a grimace and looked at her reflection in the mirror. No, she didn’t. Or perhaps she did, but it was the cloudy and depressing weather, it wasn’t her fault. Lucette had told her plenty of times that she was made to live in a southern country, where it never rained, and warm nature would embrace and welcome her everyday. But her mother, on the other hand had always whispered in her ear, that the paler she looked, the more beautiful she was. Merel had heard her mother had milk bathes, but she could not believe it, because when she ordered Lucette to prepare her a milk bath, Lucette had laughed and refused to do so. Merel at the time had been a child, sweet nine years old. She was fourteen now, a mature and full grown up person.
‘Did I tell you my sister is getting married? To that Scottish sailor I told you about. He has these crazy ideas and promises that my poor sister believes with no hesitation. Don’t listen to men, Miss Merel! All lies, all lies, they only want to use you for children.
Merel smiled. Lucette had a huge balloon about to explode in less than two months time. How could old people say one thing and then do another completely different?
‘That Scottish fellow wants to take her halfway around the world. She will not like it, believe me Miss Merel.’ Lucette finished doing up the last button on the back of her dress. ‘What do you want today for your hair? Would you like me to make a bun and use the grey and red ribbon to make it still?
‘Yes please, Lucette.’
‘Could you sit down in this chair, please Miss Merel? Here, I’ll move this dirty laundry, I’ll bring it downstairs later,’ she put it on the table and Merel sat down on the chair next to her bed, while Lucette sat on her bed ‘I need to sit down, this baby will end up killing me. Listen to my piece of advice Miss Merel, no man is good influence. Look! Look the state I am now!’
‘But aren’t you happy Lucette?’
‘Oh… well, yes. But that is not the point! It’s nine months of suffering they don’t have to endure! You will see, and you will remember my words sweet miss! My sister met this man on the port one day she was on her way to work, and now they are getting married! When I was her age things did not happen that way!’ Lucette was the eldest of five, and she was ten years older than her sister. ‘There! Finished! Don’t forget to wash your face before coming downstairs for breakfast. And put some colour child, or you will vanish!’
Lucette closed the door, forgetting to take with her the dirty laundry. Merel shrugged, she would have to come upstairs to make her bed anyway and then, she would probably see it. She put on her yellow fur jacket and she rolled up her sleeves. She looked at herself in the water basin, touching the water with the point of her index, changing her image over and over again. Was she that pale? And did it matter? Wasn’t she the most charming young lady of the house? She plashed a good amount of water and a little moan escaped her lips. It was too cold, Lucette had probably put it there first thing that morning, when the house was still not warmed up. Lucette used to do that type of things, she knew Merel would not complain and she was so slow in the mornings, that from time to time she needed freezing water to wake her up. She felt much better. She looked at her face in the little mirror in front of her and smiled. She had never liked her mouth, the awful teeth, as if each of them had sprouted after she lost her milk teeth. And still, her smile was considered one of the most charming smiles of the promising ladies of Delft. Lucette said it was her eyes, which glittered at the same time she smiled, and people did not pay attention to her mouth when they were dazzled by her gaze.
Lucette had left the brush on the table. Merel took the powder blush which was next to the window and with the brush she dressed her cheeks with the colour of summer. Alessandra had taught her that he redder the colour, the more attention would be drawn on her, so Merel knew she had to apply a little bit of brown pearl and a touch of red. Her mother had forced her older sisters and her to wear jewellery since they turned twelve. Twelve was the time when girls became young ladies in her family, so Merel had been used to wearing diamonds, blue agate, and magic pearls for two years. She loved her pearl necklace; her father had given it to her when she turned thirteen. It did not matter her face was pale, as long as she wore that pearl necklace, she knew she was invincible. Merel often wondered who had found each pearl, where had it been made and the story of how her favourite piece of jewellery had been created. She had asked her father, but he did not know the answer. By the time she was ready to go down to have breakfast, the sweet sentence Lucette had told her since she was a child popped in her mind:
‘Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’
She smiled happily, it had been a while since she last thought about that. Lucette had told her, it had been her own mother who used to tell her that when she was a child. Merel probably will tell that to her daughters when she would brush their hair in front of the mirror. She would of course have Lucette helping her when her girls would be babies, and then Lucette would turn them into little women and Alessandra would teach them how to put their make up on, and they would also be friends with Lucette’s children. She smiled at her reflection. Maybe someday, someone would write a story with that same sentence. But for the time being she was happy to have a magic mirror, a sweet Lucette, yellow dresses, Alessandra’s advices for young ladies, a common smile and glittering eyes. It was going to be a wonderful spring day.