Writing Prompt: Day 216

216.jpgDay 216 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Give your character a makeover.

Shannon: “Do you like it,” the woman asked as I stared at myself in the mirror.

The hairdo was the last piece of my transformation, and I was finally seeing a change. I didn’t know what it would mean for my life. Could looks really make that big of a difference?

I wouldn’t change on the inside, but what was the real effect of the way people treated me because of how I looked?

I didn’t want it to work, because I didn’t want to believe it mattered, but deep down I had a feeling it did.

Erin: When we signed up for my boyfriend picking a free makeover for me I was shocked by the results. He lopped off all of my hair. He bleached it blond. Then he had the woman do a dramatic smoky eye and nude lipstick. My eccentric colorful shadows and bold lip colors were gone. The shade of red in my hair was stripped. I looked good I just didn’t look like me. I knew who I looked like, and all the sudden I knew which girl he really wanted to be with.

What has your character changed in their makeover?

One thought on “Writing Prompt: Day 216

  1. Sun filtered its way through the open windows, splashing a mosaic of pale green and fuchsia across the dusty stone floor. Here and there, birds darted into the room, wheeling up into the high rafters and preening themselves for their mates; their soft down feathers sometimes floated onto the heavy quilt on my bed. Although it was nearly summer, the castle was known to be terribly drafty at any time of year, so we were forever encasing ourselves in layer upon layer of scratchy woolen blankets and uncomfortable clothing. Between the stacked hay bales that were my mattress, covered with a thin sheet, and the comforter I wore heavy underclothes and nightclothes to stave off the persistent chill.
    After a long time relaxing and watching the sun rise behind the cathedral spires, I stretched and dropped out of the bed, feeling instantly chilled to the bone as my feet delicately brushed the cold stone floor. Crossing quickly to the window on bare feet, I hopped up onto the stool at the opening so I could lean my arms on the frame and peer out on the royal courtyard below.
    At the far side was the drawbridge and wrought iron gate to keep out the riff raff, complete with two armoured guards on either side. Along the rough stone wall were bushes of strawberry and vines of grape to feed our family and the royal flags were flown at various points around the castle. Fluttering in the breeze were flags embroidered with our family crests, and those of the previous kings, in different stages of decay from storms and wars gone by. People hurried around the grounds completing tasks the sun shifted slowly to kiss the further corners of the castle.
    Though this place wasn’t nearly as perfectly manicured as those of the northern kingdoms, nor was it as protected as those in the east, it was home to me. I watched a few of our maids scurrying across the yard with baskets of laundry under their arms, chattering idly as they completed menial chores. All my life, I’d grown up with people attending to my every whim and I was unhappy, but I saw our staff laughing away with each other as though they were the ones without a callous or day’s hard work under their belt. Everyone in my classes spoke of how their labours were barely better than beggars out for scraps; I’d never understood how they could say a horrible thing like that about the wonderful people who made their lives so simple. If hard work was equitable to what the world gave you, this castle would belong to every one of our guards, maids and cooks.
    Shaking my head of such childish thoughts as fairness, I stepped back down onto the floor and padded swiftly to the door, rapped urgently on the solid wood and stood back for my maid to enter. She was just fastening a bonnet of pale emerald over her head of dark ringlets when she rushed through, muttering a rushed apology under her breath. “Do not mind, Lauren,” I replied, having sat back up on the bed to avoid the frosty floor. After a moment of her rifling through the stuffed dressing cabinet, I asked sheepishly, “Do you know what is happening today? Mother would not tell me what made this afternoon so special that I could not attend classes.” It had been on my mind for weeks, why I wasn’t studying or having proper meals set up, but I kept forgetting to ask the maid about it.
    “Well, miss, I don’ know that it’s my place ter tell you, if her majesty hasn’ told ya yet,” she answered, eyes wide and startled as though I was asking her to reveal the queen’s darkest secret to the kingdom. “O’ course, if you don’ know what’s ter take place, you don’ know what ter wear, so I s’ppose you should know, eh?” she spoke quietly, as though she weren’t certain that kind of flippant language should be spoken in front of a member of the royal family, but I just chuckled.
    After regaining my train of thought, because I thought anyone disobeying my mother was hilarious, I sighed, “Yes, precisely, I ought to know what is going on to be better prepared for it.” I watched the maid’s head bobbing as she murmured to herself, occasionally loud enough for me to hear snippets of the argument between her stoic side and chaotic one. When she had finally picked out an elegant gold ball gown with a satin sash and soft leather shoes, she hung it up beside the window for me to accept. “Hmmm, I do not know that this will be quite grand enough, nor do I know if it will be entirely too proper for the events of today, since I do not know what is on the agenda,” I decided, crossing my arms over my chest in a faux pout.
    With a squeak, Lauren glanced out the window for a fleeting second before she turned back to me with a shy smile on her lips, “Today, miss, is the day yer goin’ ter meet yer betrothed, that’s what all the fuss ‘uz been ‘bou’ lately.” She looked about to explode with excitement until she noticed my expression and her face fell like a sack of rocks. “What’s wrong, miss? ‘Ave I said somethin’ ter offend ya?” she asked, falling to her knees before me and letting a few tears roll down her cheeks.
    “It is not you,” I replied feverishly, stepping numbly back to the window and staring into the blinding sun to hold back my own tears. “It is just that I,” I began, but stopped myself, getting lost in the thought of being the first in my class to get married. Turning, I began again with Lauren’s watery eyes on me, “I do not wish to be married just yet, in particular to someone I have never met before. That happened to Ida, and I have not seen her for years.” When I referenced my second cousin, who was married off to a prince in a land so far away that neither party in that arrangement would travel the entire distance to shake on it, Lauren gasped. “I do not wish to be married, Lauren. What am I to do?” A princess couldn’t just do whatever she pleased in matters of this nature; and I wasn’t prepared to run away over a pittance like this.
    Suddenly, Lauren was at my elbow, holding my gaze so fiercely I thought she may have been in a trance, until she whispered in my ear, “I ‘ave a plan, miss, but I need ya ta keep ‘em busy ‘til ‘bou’ dinnertime.” There was such a definite look to her that I simply nodded silently in response. “Alrigh’ then, miss, let’s get’cha dressed ter meet yer true love,” was all she would speak of the matter as I was enrobed in silky golden material.

    It was a very long day, indeed, especially without my maid to lighten the mood with her muttered jokes and reassuring touch. There wasn’t much to be said for Prince Charles from a kingdom I hadn’t bothered to learn the name of, other than his boring drawl was enough to put even our high-strung jester to sleep. His idea of fun was to play my father at chess while he droned on and on about how their fields were steadily climbing in yield since a recent drought that ravaged their lands. Of course, I pretended to enjoy his company, with my mother at my arm throughout our time together reminding me subtly of how an alliance with Charles’ kingdom would be the smartest match in all the land. I highly doubted that.

    When it was drawing near dinnertime, Charles parted ways to freshen up in our guest chambers while I was escorted back to my own tower without a maid in sight. I arrived, in the fading light, in my tower to find several of my classmates tittering about the spectacular view my accommodations afforded me. Rose and Elisa were standing on my stool to get a better look while Tatiana and Glory sat on my bed admiring the silken material of a particularly extravagant evening dress.
    As I entered the room, shutting the door softly behind me, the four girls gave cries of excitement and gathered around to ask about my betrothed; mainly how wealthy his kingdom was and whether he had a younger brother who may want a bride of his own. Cutting them all off, I made my way, nervously, to the wardrobe to be away from their prying eyes. “Well, he is quite dull, actually, and he does, indeed, have four younger brothers, though they are likely to be just as boring and self-interested as Charles is,” I sighed into the dresses, wishing the pinpricks behind my eyes were anything other than hot sadness seeping toward the outside world.
    “Oh, they are all boring, Willow, dear. The interesting ones are all knights and rogues, who you certainly do not want to marry,” Rose spoke with an air of certainty that proved her words were carved in stone. In our classes, some of the things we learned were etiquette and how to be a good bride and wife; of course, most of the real work would be on our maids, but we needed to know how to best present for our kingdoms.
    With a longing sigh, Tatiana added, “Besides, at least someone wants your hand. You could be part of the help; doomed to marry beneath her or become an old maid. Speaking of maids, where is yours? It is getting cold with no fire in the hearth, and dark with no lamps lit.” Though she was right about the darkness creeping in like vines, bringing with it whispers of icy wind, I couldn’t help but consider what Lauren’s options were. She was so faithful to me, yet she would likely never marry someone with enough esteem to drag her from servitude.
    “We had best be off, Willow, dear,” piped Glory in her high-pitched voice, motioning for the rest of them to leave. “You will just have to tell us how dinner goes with your fiancé,” she added as the troupe exited through the door and into the pitch hallway. There was a fair amount of squealing before a calm voice muttered something, and there were four distinct sets of footsteps heading away.
    I turned to the lamp on my bedside table and sighed because I couldn’t light it, or the fire, by myself. Fortunately, as soon as I could no longer hear the footfalls outside the door, it creaked open and a dark hooded figure entered, hunched over and carrying something in its arms. Staggering backward, I leaned against the bed and whispered, “Show yourself,” in as commanding a tone as my chattering teeth could muster.
    There was a low chuckle, before the figure threw back the hood to reveal a mass of untidy dark curls. “It’s me, miss, just go’ back from pickin’ this up,” she beamed, holding out a ratty, rough roll of cloth that appeared to be the exact colour of mud. After a moment of silence, Lauren laughed nervously, “Oh, beggin’ yer pardon, miss, can’ see much, I’d imagine. On’y be a mo.’” Dropping the material on the end of the bed, she threw the cloak to the dusty floor and whisked to the fireplace to build it up.
    It only took her a few minutes to have the blaze roaring and the lamps around the room alight with brilliant yellow glow. When she’d finished, she picked up her cloak and slung it over the window, grabbed the clothing from the bed and held it out to me. “I fig’re yer ‘bou’ my size, so this should fit’cha,” she smiled in the flickering light like a madwoman.
    “I, I do not understand,” I stuttered, backing away from my maid as though she were on fire. “What do you mean that those clothes should fit me?”
    Taken aback, she studied my expression for a moment before responding slowly, “Well, miss, I thought ya could come live with me fer a while ‘til we find ya somewhere else ter live. Ya know, ter get away from yer arranged marriage to that dullard,” she added, dropping her arms a bit.
    “Oh, well, I suppose that could work. I could get a real job and make my own supper?” Nodding to me, she handed the clothes over and turned her back with a snigger.
    “If yer gonna be a peasant, miss, yer gonna have ter learn to put yer own clothes on,” she laughed, unable to hold in the joy she felt at my struggling to understand what I was getting myself into.

    It took me a good hour to do, but I was at last standing before Lauren in peasant garb that smelled of hay and onions with a smile plastered on my face. Sauntering up to me so we were face-to-face, the maid reached up and let loose the perfectly-pinned mountains of hair on top of my head; they fell around me in sweet-smelling piles. In a moment of recklessness unmatched my anything I’d ever done before, I muttered, “Cut it. All of it.”
    With a terrified glance at the beautiful, pale hair, Lauren did what I asked and by the time we were sneaking out the back entrance to the castle, I was almost unrecognizable with the dirt smudged on my cheeks and hair so short I appeared a boy. I had never felt so free in my life.

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