Smooth shadows of silk brush along her legs. She is seven years old and her mother has finished sewing her first gown. It is pale blue with silver pleats and feels like butterflies against her legs. She looks in the mirror and preens at the image. She brushes her hair until it sounds like a breeze blowing through.
She wears three necklaces, two bracelets, and a pair of blue-stone earrings. Her face glows like a springtime peach, and is just as soft.
Behind her stands her mother, beaming down at the beauty of her young daughter, noticing for a moment the slight wrinkles on her own face.
“Mommy, will you put my hair up in a ponytail?” Gently, the mother takes the silk fine hair and brushes it up into a ponytail, just so. They stand in front of the mirror looking.
The clock strikes and it is time to go. “Come along, Lisbeth, it is time to go. You look beautiful.”
The girl stands in front of the mirror as suddenly a shadow falls, and her face darkens. “Oh, Mommy, I don’t know if I want to wear this. Everyone will laugh.”
Surprised and stricken, “Honey, no one will laugh, you look lovely.”
But it is too late, the bubble is burst, the magic tainted.
The girl peels off the dress and drops it in a pile on the ground. She runs into her bedroom and changes into a pair of tattered jeans and a tank top. The earrings are pulled off, the bracelets, too. The ponytail is undone.
Though she is still pretty, her mother is saddened that her daughter will not stand in the limelight and relish her beauty. Already she steps back and away.
But how often has this mother done the same? What has she not done, not said, not worn, for fear people would judge her unkindly? How often has she dropped her silk dresses in the mud, for fear others would laugh?
The mother picks up the silk dress and hangs it up, knowing it will not be worn again. The clock chimes again, and the mother takes her daughter’s hand and leaves for the ball.