Irina was born at the hour of the wishing star. With her honeyed voice, strawberry kissed lips, and moonshine skin, her beauty was said to surpass the rising sun. Her only friend was David, a simple and hardworking lad.
Now, there was a midnight ball and Irina was resplendent in her silvery gown which had come from a spider’s silk thread. This ball was special as it was the first hour of the wishing star after Irina’s birth. She rushed out to make a wish when Victor grabbed her, “Irina, a moment.”
She shrugged and hastened to the balcony fervently wishing, “I want my beauty to be immortal! Encased in a timeless capsule” She found herself holding a musical box, with an encryption not to open it lest she wished to lose her eternal beauty.
Time stopped for Irina, and she could not have said how many years or eons had passed. Her home, her parents and David became a lost memory as she celebrated her exquisite beauty. Knights and kings came from far lands to covet her, and lavished her with jewels, furs and rare gifts. She was promised castles and kingdoms. She was the belle of the ball and her laugh held them enchanted. Drunk on her power, she made them dance to her tunes. But every night, she slipped off her gown and slid alone between cold sheets, unwelcomed by any lover. Hours she spent gazing at the box and its secrets.
Time passed and a strange thing happened. There was a special midnight ball as after decades had the hour of the wishing star returned. But there were murmurs of a beautiful and terrible queen coming, hence Irina was shunned aside. Alone in her room, she wondered unhappily at the box – was it not working? As the clock struck midnight, the box emitted a glow and started playing music. Trapped in its enchantment she was drawn towards it, forgetting the encryption. She opened the box to reveal a kaleidoscope with a crystal hourglass attached. As she looked through the eye-piece, the music turned to tunes of her childhood.
She saw David grabbing her “Irina, a moment” but this time…
She stopped. She listened. She flew into his arms happily.
There was no wish, but a wedding.
There were no kings, but two tiny princesses.
There were no castles, but a cozy cottage.
There was no lone beauty, but a loving couple.
They died in happiness, holding on to each other.
The last image remained was of her crying over a kaleidoscope.
Wrecked in convulsions, Irina glanced up at her crying reflection in the mirror thinking of what she had lost. She saw the box slip from her hands and shattering into a thousand glittering pieces. As the shooting star passed her window, she dissolved into fine dust – the years trapped in the box racing and catching up.
In a sunny room, she woke up to see David holding out his hand to her. She joyfully went into his arms, thankful. Her beauty was earthy and no more ethereal, but her smile had never been so radiant.
For quite a while now, I have been thinking a lot about the pressures of beauty, to be timeless and youthful… and the price paid for it. So, written this story inspired by a beautiful prompt over at mindlovemisery’s menagerie.