As the door latches shut, voices from the party soften to a dull roar without any clear words or speakers. After so many years in isolation, and recent months in the woods, the silence had a comfortable familiarity.
The candlelight around the room showed the handiwork of some unseen servants wig gad anticipated her needs. Guards, maids, cooks, and others now seemed to be constantly a few steps ahead and behind, anticipating needs before they were even considered. But very few looked her in the eyes. Instead there was always a slight bow of reverence. A bent waist and a downward glance that said they were different now.
High heeled shoes were left abandoned by the entry. Either she would have to go back out soon, or if given reprieve for the night then someone would whisk them away to one of the dozens of closets tucked among different hallways. Even if she wanted to put them away herself, it might take days to find the right door.
Pouring cold water from the pitcher into a glass allowed her to finally accomplish something on her own. Someone had gotten the water from the well, someone else had brought it to her chamber, and someone else would refill the pitcher tomorrow morning. But it was her two hands that lifted the crystal to her lips and then returned it to the table. Hands that had only a few weeks ago washed dishes, scrubbed clothes, swept floors, and shuttered windows when a storm rattled through the forest.
Barefoot steps echoed in the room during the tour that seemed so familiar and still so new. This was her father’s room once. Fingers traced the same stonework that had surrounded him. She remembered him pacing when working through a problem. Maybe her path was the same one that he had walked too. But other that the stone walls and perhaps the glass in the windows, everything else was new. And not just a replacement of his furniture but the third or fourth edition. The most recent owner of this room had tried to burn or bury away every memory of her father in this place, so of course his blankets and favorite chair must be ashes somewhere.
She could not remember the name, but some guard or perhaps a steward had asked many times about what she wanted to do with the room. Since “board it up” and “put everything back exactly the way it was” were not options, nothing had been done yet. For now this room, like the rest of the castle, was still in someone else’s shadow and waiting for this one young woman to bring in new light.
A mirror covered the wall in one corner of the room, turned away from the entry so that she could stare into it without anyone stepping inside seeing her. The golden frame was etched into the shape of ivory, with thorns and roses striking out from the corners. After walking the room several times, the young queen sat across from her reflection, staring into the only eyes on the building that ever looked back. The only eyes that did not bow down.
The breeze from open window reaches the candles, flickering new shadows over the reflection and changing it for a moment so there are deeper eyes and a turned up smile that does not quite match hers. From her spot in the corner, the queen cannot see the door but it must have opened again because a voice is echoes into the room: “Mirror, mirror on the wall…”
#52sparks is my year-long writing series based on an art prompt challenge. The title is inspired by a quote from Star Wars: The Last Jedi: “We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron). The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. So just imagine what hundreds of inches and words can do.