Friday, June 17, 2011

Red Writing Hood: The Porcelain Doll

Physical beauty.
 It can open doors – and can also shut them. 
Write a scene in which a physically beautiful character is somehow impacted by that trait.

Red ribbons, red ribbons. Everywhere, Emelia Constance Elizabeth Dufresne looked, she saw red ribbons. Woven through the banisters, perching on the backs of chairs, tied neatly into pretty bows around tightly coiled ringlets. It seemed the whole world had gone black and white and red. Emma was reminded of a retouched photograph she had seen at the farmers market, a young couple, captured in black and white, kissing underneath a torrent of pouring rain. The only sign of life in the photo was the brilliant red umbrella which sheltered them from the storm.

Emma had stared at the photo for a long while, slipping into the untold story. Who were these strangers who braved the storm and what had led them out into this dark night? Why this moment, why this kiss? Why not wait until they'd found the safety of a warm room to lock their lips together? Was the umbrella only an illusion, a shadow from an alternate universe, captured on film, yet unable to be captured in the hand of the lovers it was intended to shelter?

With a deep breath, she smoothed her hands over the front of her gown, tentatively looking up into the mirror. Her reflection was not her own. Crimson hair, normally running long and wild, had been tamed, teased, curled, pinned, and frozen in place with an awful smelling aerosol spray. Her skin had been primed and powdered until it resembled fine china. Her eyes...her eyes were hers, that she knew, but they had been lined with kohl, the lashes curled, extensions added, and a shimmery frost glazed under the brow bone.

She had expected the comforting familiar of her own image. What she saw was someone else's porcelain doll.

"It will be good for you," her mother had assured her in hushed tones, "the Barrie's winter gala is the perfect place for a fresh start." She had gripped Emma's hands with a ferocity that bordered on painful. ""The Lancaster's son is home from college, he always had a thing for you, you know. Though I don't know why," she scoffed "with how you've been acting lately. You know, after everything we've done for you, everything opportunity you've been offered, I simply cannot understand...."

Emma let her mother's voice fade into the background. How she had been acting lately... For the past three years, Emma had been locked in her bedroom nearly every moment she could spare. Not doing anything illicit, oh no. Not unless you counted the miles of canvas, rainbow of oils, and the vast expanses of natural brushes. For Emma, the world was full of magic just daring her to capture it on canvas, and she dreamed of ivy halls and talented professors who could show her exactly how to make it happen. She'd come so close...

But that was all over now.

No university awaited her in the fall. Despite months of pleas, her mother remained unrelenting; no daughter of the Dufresne family was going to do anything as silly as become an artist. Who married artists? Certainly not anyone of any means! Her father refused to come to her aid, and the university...well. Scholarships were intended for those of less social status.

Emma caught a breath, letting her eyes relax as she stared into the mirror. With the colors of her gown and makeup blurred before her, she almost looked like a painting herself. Perhaps a Monet.

She took a step back, unsteady on her new heels. No. No masters, no vibrant colors and blends on canvas. She had become her own work of art, her own Mona Lisa with the secret smile, her own half of the couple in the rainstorm.

Beautiful. Captivating. And yet, hiding beneath the surface.


  1. This was a great story. I feel so badly for poor Emma, captured like a bird in a cage. Perhaps she will meet her match for a tryst under the umbrella. Someone who will see the artistic beauty struggling free.

    visiting from RDC

  2. Poor Emma! I loved this, totally hooked on her story already. It reminds me of some of the historical romances I used to love as a kid, even though it's clearly modern (hello, farmer's market and lash extensions!) Can't wait to see if she finds the other half of the rainstorm couple ;)
    Stopping by from TRDC

  3. Oh my heart breaks for her- clearly having found her spark and so many obstacles to getting to it!

    I loved the way the story almost unfolded like a painting. Right down to her image in the mirror. Also? The ribbons really stayed with me throughout the read.

  4. Wow, I am so amazed, astounded, and honored by the feedback on this piece! I was actually scared to post it; the Red Writing Hood is intimidating, to say the least. So many talented writers in one place, I though 'how can I ever post THERE?' Thank you so much for all of your feedback!


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