The Songbird In The Mirror
She was beautiful. That’s how most stories begin, and it is indeed how this one will begin. In the low yellow lights of the dressing room and the soft blur of the mirrors, her face gazed back at her in a gaussian shutter of ivory, chalk, shell, and ice. The whiteness clouded into a bloom of carmine lips, full as a July rose, the black heady depth of her wide round eyes crowded with thick strums of lashes. The symmetry and romance of that face struck her into silence. Somewhere, the clowns roared over a bottle of absinthe in the darkness. But here, in the lush ochre gloom, there was nothing but her and that face, that precious, perfect face.
She raised a hand and traced that perfect, sharp jaw, admiring the firmness of that throat, the proud rise of her chin, and the flush of colour that lit her cheeks. Unpinning the wrap, her hair fell thick and fast around her shoulders, glowing umber and gold in the gaslight. Everyone whispered and stared when she entered the little cafes and clubs that littered Pigalle, entranced with that face, that famous face, under the blue neon and electric white of the thrumming streets. Narcissist, Andreas Lapin had called her over a cigar, many years ago. She had been smearing thick cream over her forehead, her neck, her cheeks, naked apart from the japanese silks thrown over her shoulders. She had laughed, her eyes never leaving her face. “If I’m a narcissist, cherie,” she said in that sharp high voice, “why are you painting me?”
Perhaps it was true, she thought, now, in the eerie quiet. Perhaps she’d never loved anyone as she loved herself. But someone had to, someone had to wrap their arms around the little convent girl picking dandelions from the graveyards of Lille. Someone had to kiss that reflection and never leave. Someone had to wrap one hand around that perfect, lily white waist and squeeze in the sadness of another night alone. Lovers…