The White Sorceress (Version 1)
by Almerissa White
It once had held a symbolic meaning, the opaque bodice and lace upper flowing down into a floor-length gown. Modest at the least, for the upper covered even the neck, and the hands to the elbow were covered in white gloves. The entire dress was the whitest it could be. Whiter than snow as if falls from cottony clouds on a cool Winter day.
It had once belonged to her mother, but White wore it now, sitting before the mirror and allowing the handmaiden to brush her hair into a silky cloak. She gazed deeply into her own eyes, black onyx, as the suntanned servant slaved over her strands of hair, whiter than ivory.
When she was born, the midwife took a look at her opening eyes and shrieked. Her mother took her and cradled her gently, crooning, and not at all believing that the eyes were blind. They were not. As her mother later divined they gave her an added insight. White was special, to say the least, and she gazed at her glowing reflection and knew it herself.
She thought back to the first day she had seen her mother wearing this dress. It was the anniversary of a day she now knew her mother had hated. White's mother had sat before this very mirror and had brushed her long auburn hair which had fallen down to the floor then as White's did now. After it had cascaded down in silky waves, she had carefully applied her makeup to cover the new bruises that White now knew were given by her father the night before.
White had sat quietly in a corner, using one of her mother's old discarded combs to brush out the hair which then only fell to her knees. She had been a bare five years old at that time. Her brother had been eight.
When they were dressed and ready, her mother in the beautiful white gown and White in one that nearly matched, they had both waited at the head of the stairs for the two gentlemen.
First came White's father, who had worn an amazing cloak of sable, and an outfit fit for a king's coronation. It had been a regal red with silver thread trim. Then came White's brother, whose eyes had belied his true feelings about this boring ritual they had celebrated each year. Their eyes had met. At this time they had been friends, and they had sighed as they had taken up their mother's and father's trains. White's mother's had been mostly of her hair, and her father's had been mostly of his cloak.
They each had shared secret laughter and smirks behind their parents' backs, and in the dining hall where the celebration had taken place, they had sat together and had made fun of the guests' outfits. One lady had called attention to herself by having worn a stuffed bird upon her head, surrounded by large pheasant feathers. Another man's sleeves had been cut in large bulbs and stuffed with spare cloth and feathers, so that the children had teased that he would drink until drunk then sleep on the pillows thus conveniently carried. The food had been elaborately prepared and set into beautiful patterns which the children had been the first to destroy by taking out the strategically placed carrot or beet.
White smiled into the mirror at the memory. She turned her head and watched the servant girl wrestle with the last knots in her hair. looking back into the mirror she saw the stain of purple under one eye, oh, so barely. She began to apply more powder in the hopes of covering it up.
Fate had chosen to take her mother's life that night. White could still remember having stared over the balcony, and having seen her mother's naked form in a pool of blood, laying still on the rocky shore below the tower. Then she had thought her mother had simply fallen, by chance. Perhaps she had drunk too much and sat upon the wall around the terrace. Maybe she had dropped something, or a bird had flown too close to her face, and she had been startled.
Now, upon a deeper reflection, she knew that it hadn't been only chance that had taken her mother away that day. That her father had beaten her mother, and that her father had been her mother's brother, these she had known. That White had also been fated, or cursed, to have married her brother, she had found out later on. That she would wish to end her own life...this she knew as she looked at her pale reflection and painted over her bruises.
Brother, dearest brother, she thought. How befitting would it be if I would end my life tonight? Did father kill mother before she could warn me? Did mother kill herself because she couldn't bear to tell me? There must be another way to end this curse, but I know one that will work for certain.
She noted somewhere in the back of her mind that the handmaiden was now braiding her hair in the traditional way. She pulled at the sleeve on her right arm absentmindedly to cover another bruise, and looked through the mirror at the rest of the room. Now there was very little left that she found dear. She no longer respected herself, she even laughed at the gown she wore of virgin white.
Once she had been a very good person. Everyone had come to her for the fairest of judgements. Although very few now knew of it, she had become quite the opposite of her old self. Beneath the white, white skin there was a core of deepest black. Just as her gown hid the black and blues on her pale flesh, and her eyes were black centered in white.
She did find one thing that she could respect. The memory of her having seen her mother beaten and bruised. She would not bring up her children to be witnesses of that. She would not bear this male child that rested in her womb, nor bear the second, the female child, who would follow. She would certainly not see them marry, and the cycle begin again. She would not make the same mistake as her mother did. Her mother waited too long to jump, if jump she did. She should have jumped before White was born. So planned the White Sorceress to jump this night as her mother had sixteen years before.