Lydia Turner switched off the teli and sighed. The Miss Universe pagent had ended and the girl she expected to win did.
"How is it that someone could be given so much in life, such aching beauty, intelligence, wealthy family to put you through school, all that and so much more.Why, why, why?"she asked herself as she headed into the kitchen to make a berry smoothy.
"What's that dear?" called Amelia Lydia's aging mother who was listening to symphony in her room and knitting a fluffy mohair sweater for a friend.
"Oh nothing mother, I was just talking to myself,like always."
"Oh, alright dear. "
Lydia made her drink, cleaned up, she despised any clutter or even a crumb showing in the kitchen,then walked slowly upstairs to her room.
This large square sunny room was her safe place, her refuge. Lydia had spent three years searching the city for just the right things to fill her bed/sitting room and the result was a beautiful, almost mysterious blend of medieval, Victorian and modern all blended into a pleasing comfortable, yet exciting space.
The small, tiny boned girl of nineteen , the delight of almost elderly parents who thought having children had long passed them by, walked to the large old fashioned window. It was open and a soft warm romantic sort of breeze was playing with the sheer Egyptian cotton drapery.
Oval of face, pale skin which provided an excellent canvass for the large dark grey eyes, sooty lashes and eyebrows, straight nose and small heart shaped lips, Lydia was , if not beautiful, arresting and interesting in her looks.
Her body was shapely and trim and the girls luxurious waist length auburn hair was the boast of her parents who always prophecized their daughter would own thick lovely hair even though she was bald as a bat at birth.
Lydia leaned on the wide window pane and looked out and down to the quiet boulevard below.
As always she scanned the street looking, hoping, no praying for her prince to come along, perhaps stopping in a car to visit a neighbor, or perhaps going for a healthy walk.
But even as the girl watched with wide expectant eyes her heart told her it was no use if he should be out there at this very minute and look up and call to her.No hope, no hope.
And all because of that wretched looking glass.
Once when she was but a child, happy and carefree, the darling of her parents, she had been given a beautiful full length looking glass, edged in pale gold and decorated with tiny glass rubies and emeralds.It had been a present from her absent maternal grandmother who was journeying through the orient at the time.
"How utterly beatiful!" Lydia's mother had cried upon opening the present for her daughter."And look darling you can see for yourself you are lovely and look like a princess. Look darling"
Lydia had looked and was not displeased at the pretty little girl who smiled back at her.
And then that very night Lola the baby sitter had come. She was new and had been recommended by a friend of a friend of a friend of her mother.
Though she smiled and was polite to Lydia's parents, from the moment she shut the door against them the tall shrew faced woman had turned cold dead eyes upon the little girl.
"what was that you were doing just as I came in?" she asked, her dark eyed gaze penetrating the innocent happy grey eyes of the little girl.
" I was looking into my new looking glass. Mama said I am pretty and like a princess."
"Did she then, well she was mistaken. For you are ugly girl, just go back and take a look."
Lola had take the child by the arm and pushed her back in front of the mirror.
"See how short you are and how ugly your eyes and nose. Why I wonder your mother lets you out of the house"
And just like that, the reflection in the looking glass changed from pretty to hideous and no matter how she tried after that night Lydia could only see that terror image.
She had never told her parents about Lola or what she had said, and from that hour the happy care free girl ceased to be.
Lydia withdrew and was not eager to go out of her house much, for fear others would see what she saw each day as she combed her hair.
When guys asked her out on a date, she was postive it was only out of pity or to get her lone and make fun of her like Lola had.
The years had gone by and now she was almost a woman, a woman with all the hopes and dreams of any other, rich or poor, beautiful or plain.But she could not get past the mirror.
All these thoughts swam through her tired brain and at first she did not hear a deep voice call to her" Is that you my fair Juliette?
Looking down the young woman saw a tall dark and very handsome man of about twenty one smiling up at her. He laughed when he saw her start and gasp and then she realized he was in uniform.
"What can I do for you officer?"
"Well for a start I would appreciate you coming to the door. I am speaking to the citizens of our fair town about being part of the neighborhood watch program. But I hate to shout from down here."
"Certainly I will be right down."
For the next agonizing half an hour Lydia tried to avoid eye contact and hoped her mother would at least say something besides "oh my" and yes yes"
In the end the two joined and the officer thanked them and headed for the door.He turned and said ' you aren't busy this friday are you, er.."
"Lydia and yes I am."
"oh okay. I was hoping you would allow me to take you to a movie or something. I felt , I don't know , a connection when I looked up and saw your beautiful face."
"My, oh no I am busy. Thank you for coming"
When the door was closed Lydia ran upstairs into her room and burst into tears. "He was mocking me, I know it" I hate my life.
A week later Lydia was closing up the small boutique she was manager of when she heard a familiar voice say " how is my Juliette today?"
With pounding heart the girl turned and smiled and then looked away."Fine, and you?"
"Well a little sad. I could not stop thinking about you and I feel sad that I am too plain or two stupid looking or , well whatever reason you refused me. Unless of course you are in a relationship?"
"Me, oh no, not me."
The words the officer used were soothing, but perhaps they were just a come on to get her to bed. That was something she had never wanted for herself, casual love.
"Well then perhaps I can start over, I am Jonathan. And you are Lydia.
"Hello Jonathan" The words felt magical on her lips.
"Hello Lydia , do you think you would like to just start small, perhaps go for an ice cream across the street later on ?"
With trembling lips and smashing heart the girl said "yes" breathlessly.
When she got home and was showering a feeling of unreality swept over Lydia.And she wondered. Wondered if when other guys had said she was beautiful they actually meant it, weren't mocking her ?
Well she would never know.
She combed her hair and put on a touch of lip gloss and no matter what the image in front of her screamed, she decided to ignore it.
Who knew, perhaps one day when she looked into the looking glass she would see the pretty girl she had noticed the first moment she had looked at her image.
But if not, she was at least prepared to not believe what it screamed.
"Goodbye darling have a lovely time" called both her parents, echoes of one another.
"Thank you, goodbye , I won't be late" Lydia called back.
Outside, as she walked down the cobbled pathway to the gate Lydia whispered " and goodbye forever Lola".