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Her nails are painted black again for the first time in a long time. Her eyes are outlined, her short hair curled, her feet in bright red three inch heels.
MAKE LOVE NOT WAR, reads the shirt tossed on her bed, the one she had worn to school. It is her customary look these days: skinny jeans unintentionally ripped at the knees, black boots with the leather peeling off the toe, and an unfitted T-shirt, preferably those free ones handed out at school events.
She smiles at her reflection in the mirror. She is a modern Cinderella, one without a fairy godmother.
“Giselle.” A knock sounds at the door, and it is pushed open. “C’mon, it’s getting late. We need to go now.”
She nods, grabbing her purse. It is prom night tonight. She has no date.
Ten minutes later, colored lights swing across the ceiling, music thumps through the speakers, bodies gyrate to the beat, and she pretends that everyone is secretly watching her. The people sitting in the dark corners of the room, perhaps, sipping drinks and eating cake at round tables covered in long purple table cloth are watching her. Or perhaps the other dancers are impressed, trying to move like she did, gracefully and without inhibition. Maybe a certain someone has finally noticed her, and she wants to measure his reaction, so she leaves the dance floor and heads to the food in the corner, where she can secretly look without suspicion.
“Giselle?” A hand rests on her bare shoulder, and she freezes, chocolate covered strawberry lifted halfway to her mouth. The voice cuts through her, cuts through the pounding music and the whispered conversation of idle classmates.
“Oh, Tyrone, I didn’t realize you were here.” It is a blatant lie.
“Yeah, I got here a little late.” Tyrone shrugs a little and reaches over to the strawberries, accidentally brushing against her. He smells of cigarette smoke, of loud music and chattering voices, of cheap perfume. “You know, I didn’t recognize you for a moment there.”
“Really?” She lifts her drink, takes a sip, pretends to be nonchalant.
“Mhmm. You look really nice.”
Startled, she looks up at him, dark eyes and soft smile, neat pressed suit and a red flower pinned to his lapel. Red, like her dress.
“Oh, thank you!” She laughs a little too late, and it sounds fake to her own ears. “You are looking quite fancy yourself!”
“Thanks, Giselle,” Tyrone grabs another strawberry. He is already moving away. “Well, then I guess I’ll be seeing you later.”
She waves, and then the smile drops off her face as she turns down the hallway.
Inside the bathroom, she walks past the three sinks in the wall, watching her reflection break twice and then disappear. She stands in front of the floor length mirror and studies herself. Her eyebrows are perfectly arched, her nose is too big perhaps, and her eyes too small. Her lips are pretty and glossed. They might look kissable.
She frowns at herself. Unlike Cinderella, her prince won’t find her and she will have no happily ever after. Tomorrow, she will be back in her beat up boots and too big T-shirt, her nails chipped and her make up removed.
But then again, she is the one who chooses to wear ripped skinny jeans, to tie her hair back messily. She is the one who knows she can be a princess, if only she wanted to be one.
Giselle smiles at her reflection in the mirror. She is a modern Cinderella, and she doesn’t need a fairy godmother.