For just a single second she could see the spectres, but then they were gone. Rancid, blackened bones hovering just an inch from the ground. Their ragged clothes stripped from their body, revealing nothing but nightmares and madness. She shivers impulsively as they disappear; she knows that they will now begin.
They spy her from the very deepest corner of their empty eyes and circle her, shrieking at her in monstrous voices that only she can hear. Louder and louder she screams, until she wakes not just the neighbours, but the neighbour’s neighbours, except there’s no-one here.
She, a pathetic and roughened creature, sat cradling herself in her arms. Rocking back and forth – awaiting the very moment she can leave. It had to be today, or else she’d never do it.
As she thinks back, tears start to form in her eyes; it hadn’t always been this way. She can remember before her sisters left. They had been so strong, so beautiful that the spectres couldn’t manipulate them, not the way that they did now to her. She could have gone too, but she didn’t; for some silly reason she chose to stay. She can’t even remember why now.
“I am worthless,” she wails to herself.
As she looks at her reflection in a pool of tears she begins to shriek louder. She is hideous – a watery mess of an animal- barely human at all. She shrivels up even tighter, a sudden burst of anguish filling her with self-hatred. She tries to stand but is pushed harshly back by a bitter wind: they aren’t going to let her go.
Anger seeps violently through her veins. It’s strange; she thinks to herself, she’s never felt this way before.
Suddenly the spectre’s cries halt, as if distracted, as if they are watching her every move. She can feel their power trapping her, oppressing her, but can hear nothing. As she looks hesitantly around, she understands that they were still there, but she also knows that they are scared. Her sudden anger had just changed the game. They don’t quite know how to react.
An impulsive thought tells her to run: they are confused, and so she has the upper hand. She lunges through the invisible circle, and as she does the icy spectre’s sting her. Her body needs to leave, but she cannot move; instead she plunges towards the ground, crashing down onto a mirrored table. As the glass shatters, she feels the shards pierce her soft skin: how stupid she was for thinking that they would let her just walk out.
The sudden crash and self-loathing seems to wake the captors and they begin to laugh in unison. Her cheeks blush as she rolls off the crumpled table. She jumps as her reflection shows nothing but dirt and blood; however she feels not sadness at this but anger. Anger at her sisters. At herself; but most of all, at the spectres.
She screeches painfully loudly, embracing herself for the pain as she lurches herself closer to the door. The scream disorientates them for just long enough for her to scramble to the exit, and finally she’s free.
As she reaches the gate, she turns back and looks at the house, expecting there to be screams and shouts of anger, but there is nothing. No sound other than the rustling of the trees above, and the soft singing of the birds. She smiles softly; she has done it. She has escaped. After resting in the garden for just ten minutes, she leaves to continue her long journey.
It takes her two long hours of walking to remember the bruised and dirty reflection, and suddenly she feels ashamed of herself. She walks on with her head hung low until she comes upon a lake, where she bathes for almost an hour before resurfacing and redressing.
When she gazes upon her reflection in the water she looks refreshed and her clear skin almost seems to radiate beauty. At first glance she almost doesn’t recognise herself from the pitiless waste that had been her just three hours earlier. She laughs gently at herself, and for once she feels completely happy. She suddenly understands that she is, and was, every bit as beautiful as her sisters, and that her beauty had only been hidden by years of the spectre’s mistreatment.
As she turns to leave she spots the most fascinating man she has ever seen. His long, glistening hair frames his face in a godly manner, and his features seem only fitting for a prince. As he smiles at her, she can’t help but feel love for him. She laughs as she walks elegantly towards him: there was definitely something special about this man.
“Hi,” she surprises herself as she speaks out.
“Hello,” he replies softly.
From just one simple word she knows that he is was perfect, and from that first greeting, he knows that she is the one.