Tainted

She looked at herself in the mirror, her pale face framed with dark, unruly curls, her body shapeless in the white dress. Definitely not a vision in white, she sighed, staring straight into her piercing blue eyes. Something blue.

She recalled the silly nursery rhyme that she had expected to use on this day. That she had waited to use today.

Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue…

Something old. She uttered an empty laugh, and her thin lips twisted into a grimace. At least she had that. At seventeen, she was old. Her slender fingers traced the lines around her eyes, trembling slightly as they dipped into her sunken cheeks. Sigh. Did she have these a year ago? When she had smiled? When she had reason to smile…

A tear slipped through her clenched eyelids, rolling down her cheek and staining the coarse white material on her right breast. She felt a tremor grow at the base of her spine and shake her body in a series of violent jolts.

Something new. She looked again at the dress she had been staring at for the past half hour while she stood in the small backroom. In any light the outfit wasn’t exactly white. Off-white. Cream or ivory maybe, but not white. Tainted. Just like her.

The shapeless cloth clung oddly to her narrow hips. The rest of her was lost within the curves of the extra material. The mirror stared back into her vacant eyes. She felt stuck in her past, as if only her body had moved through time. She was still there, listening to the screams of her mother and father as she hid in the cellar. Hearing the gigantic thud that had, in minutes, incinerated everything she loved. Smelling the burning flesh of her family and neighbors.

The sleeves pinched inwards at the shoulders and exposed her sickly pale upper limbs. She mindlessly traced the long red scar etched on the outside of her arm. Something borrowed, she thought cynically, whether willing or not.

She had died there, hadn’t she? Hazy images of being pulled out from under a metal sheet flashed in her mind. He had saved her. John...Jason...Jesus or something. They said she owed him. That she would be dead were it not for him. He had asked her to marry him, his gentle eyes filled with pity. What could she give him besides herself? Debt repaid.

She made no effort to compose herself. She stood there trembling in front of the chipped mirror, her hands limp at her side. She heard it. No orchestra, only a single violin. Canon in D. She remembered that it was supposed to beckon her. She turned around and walked through the door. She didn’t look back.

She didn’t need to.





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