The Hunt For Perfection
A Dream Deferred
“The mirror showed a reflection that wasn't my own,” I fumed at Dr. Huntsman. “Clearly this thing must be broken. I demand a refund!”
“Speak to the mirror in front of me. And let me see what it is you see,” Dr. Huntsman whispered as he shimmied close to my ear. He proved most reassuring every time I needed advice. Too bad it always came at a hefty price.
"Magic mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?" My patience diminished after only a few seconds. The pesky fellow took so long to emerge behind the thick, lead-laden reflector. He always seems to be a tad grumpy.
“Ravenna, you are the fairest in the land," rumbled the man in the mirror.
“See, Ravenna. Nothing is wrong with this looking glass.” Dr. Huntsman sighed relief that the mirror kept playing its part.
Ravenna sauntered home grateful she remained the fairest of them all. She slept peacefully throughout the night. In the morning, she began her ritual.
“Magic mirror in my hand, who is the fairest in all the land?” Ravenna knew this was for show. The mirror only cracked up once. A quick trip to Dr. Huntsman cleared that right up.
“While you were the fairest in the land, here is who now reigns most beautiful in all the land.”
A young lady flowing in her prime emerged, with porcelain tight skin and a radiant smile that filled the circumference of the glass.
“Mirror, why are you showing me a reflection that isn’t my own? Just yesterday you proved that I still hold the throne! I’ll break you to pieces and smash you to bits if you don’t give me the name of this little twit.”
“Her name is Yuki.”
“Yuki? What a strange name. It will just her easier to find. I will reign again.”
I sat and thought and paced the floorboards of my room. Planning the perfect plot of what to do.
Knock. Knock. Knock. “Ravenna, Ravenna! For heaven’s sake open this door. You’ve been cooped up inside for far too long.”
My husband sounds concerned. He shouldn’t be exasperated. I perform my nightly duties whenever I am summoned.
“Dearest husband, do not worry about me. I am just getting some rest and relaxation after my last round of therapy.”
“By therapy you mean all that surgery you get. My money keeps going down the drain on your hunt for perfection. That’s it, Ravenna. I know just what to do with you!”
He gets so melodramatic over the simplest procedures. Soon this round will all blow over.
“Dr. Huntsman, is that you?” It must be, for I only feel this groggy just before my therapy. But, I don’t remember leaving my room.
When I came to, an all-white room surrounded me with clothing to match. “What the heck is going on?”
“Hello, Ravenna. I am Miss White. I will be your personal guide.” The visage from the mirror stood over me. A glance at her nametag meant it couldn’t be right.
“Ravenna, I know you probably feel a little confused. But your husband brought you to us to see if we could help you. Let’s take a walk to the group room where engaging discussions about our lives take place.”
I felt compelled to follow Miss White out of curiosity. While it appeared to be a hospital it felt more like a retreat. My hope was Dr. Huntsman would be here. He is ever so popular in spas and big cities.
“Ah. Here we are, Ravenna. Just in time for the noon meet up. Take a seat and see what we do.”
“So, like, I totally told him he was too grungy. Like, for realsies? Did he really think he had a chance?” A spunky youngster energetically relayed some encounter from her life outside these walls to a red-haired woman shaking her head all over the place, looking like the dancing flames from Fantasia.
“Okay everyone. We have someone new joining us today. She will observe until she feels comfortable joining in.” Miss White’s soothing voice effortlessly called the spunky one to silence while reeling in those scattered about.
“Can I begin today, Miss White?” An aged woman shot her hand up after she already spoke her words.
“Sure, Loraine. What would you like to share today?”
“Today, I want to share the perfect pageant walk!”
A chorus of “Good grief. Not this again!” flew in from around the circle.
“So what brings you here, sweet cheeks?” The woman(?) next to me with heavily dyed hair gelled into a spiky mohawk spoke to me in a gruffy voice. Startled, I spoke out of fear of upsetting this creature.
“The mirror showed a reflection that wasn't my own,” I told her. “But it can’t be true. Nothing was supposed to change. My skin should glow flawlessly at all times without fail. However, each day upon waking something altered. Morning always presented a new crinkle, dimple or pimple on my carefully outlined vista. By evening a new gang of crows came home to roost all over my perfected landscape. And…”
Achoo. Achoo. Achoooo! “Pardon me. It’s just my allergies acting up again. ‘Tis the season.’” Except it wasn’t. And even if it was, Winifred’s anorexic frame wouldn’t last much after three real sneezes. Winifred suffered from her own unique set of allergies. No matter the time, place, or season, she was allergic to bull-crap. Not the kind you want to avoid stepping in. The kind conjured up in people’s minds and runs out of their mouths like diarrhea.
“Ravenna, why don’t you introduce yourself to the group,” Miss White chimed in midstream Ravenna’s charismatic monologue and Winifred’s violent allergy attack. “Loraine will give an example.”
“Here we go again. This part’s so boring.” Poof. The girl with the dark circle tattoo under her eyes was out like a light.
“Thank you, Miss White. I am ever so delighted to give an example for our newest recruit!” Loraine’s enthusiasm proved anachronistic. “Hello everyone. My name is Loraine.” Loraine swiveled left in her chair to have a secret side bar with me. As her right hand formed a brick wall, she whispered, “We just say our first names here,” and sealed her message with a wink. “It is a pleasure to meet you all. I’ve been here for three months. I’m ready to lend a listening ear with an open heart and mind.” Loraine, who found herself miraculously standing, plopped joyfully back down to earth in her chair while giving herself a mental high-five. Her Miss America smile beamed she nailed it.
“Loraine, thank you for providing a wonderful example for Ravenna.” Turning with radiance and grace, Miss White prompted me, “Ravenna, have a go at introducing yourself to the group.”
“Oh. Sure. Hello everyone. My name is Ravenna. I’m from a kingdom far, far away. I’ve been here for, um, I’m not actually sure…” Sensing an absurd amount of awkward silence, I sunk into my chair heavier than before.
“That was great, Ravenna.” Miss White’s encouraging tone made me perk up a little.
“Like, as if! I mean what was that? Dude, I could legits bring the house down with my introduction.” The air in Little Miss Millennial’s head must be helium.
“Heather, your sarcasm is not allowed here.” Miss White shocked me with her sternness.
“Like, what-evs.” Heather flicked her sparkly nails up in the air forming a “W.” I don’t know how she accomplished it, but she scored a crop-top version of our apparel. Even though she kept the sleeves long, the motion to make her skywritten “W” revealed even more writing. Perfect little lines in sets of three starting at her wrists. The kind for teaching a kid how to properly write the alphabet.
“I think your introduction was really nice.” Her shy, timid words registered as a nearly inaudible peep compared to Little Miss Millennial’s mini-rave. I scanned the room more than once to locate where the compliment emanated from. Sitting just a little out of synch with the circle, a young lady perched like a dove, I spotted. Her legs closed tightly together on a slant, her cheeks slightly flushed, and her head bowed just enough to dodge Heather’s glance.
“Now, let’s share something interesting about ourselves. I’ll begin. I am officially from Japan. You know me as Miss White, and my first name is Snow. But really this is to make my name easier for Americans to say and remember. My name is actually Japanese, Yuki Shiro, which translates to Snow White.”
Did she just say her name is actually Yuki? The man in the mirror was right. More women shared bits of their lives as I continued the plotting I began in my castle room.
“Fabulous ladies. That ends our session. You are free to do as you like until our next meeting!”
Miss White’s face showed concern towards me. “Ravenna, I asked if you’re ready to leave.”
“Then we will continue your tour of the building and grounds.”
Honestly, the place held something astonishing and beautiful at every turn, including my guide, Miss White.
Her nature epitomized something truly captivating. Now I understood what the man in the mirror tried to say to me. So I caught Miss White by her flowing tresses and wrapped them a few times around her slender neck. I hid her limp, fair body amongst a crop of arborvitae.
I used the rest of my free time to find Little Miss Millennial. “Hey, Heather, is it?”
“Yeah, what do you want?”
“I was wondering if you have a hand mirror I could borrow.”
“Well…I have the mirror from my compact.”
“Great, that will be perfect.”
I hurried back to my room excited to perform my daily ritual. Hearing acknowledgment of my reign is ever so enthralling. "Magic mirror in my hand, who is the fairest in the land?" The mirror remained a mirror and silent. “This won’t do. Perhaps it’s too new!”
Thinking back to the group, I couldn’t believe I didn’t consider Loraine. She must have been a beauty back in her day. Loraine should have tons of mirrors in her room.
I peeked inside the window of each chamber down the hall that wasn’t already open until I saw Loraine sitting proud and primping in front of a little desk with a small mounted mirror.
“Yes, new recruit.”
“I can tell you prize beauty. Would you happen to have a hand mirror I could borrow?”
Loraine slid back and pulled open the top drawer of her desk. “Will this do?”
The mirror mirrored the elegance Loraine must have exuded back in the day. It had gold trim and a perfectly symmetrical oval to fit one’s whole face.
“Yes, this is perfect!”
I scampered back to my room excited to perform my daily ritual properly this time. "Magic mirror in my hand, who is the fairest in all the land?" The mirror remained a mirror and silent. “No, no, no. Not this again!” Gradually a whisp of smoke swirled to the front of the gold-trimmed glass.
The grumpy visage seemed a bit perturbed roused so quickly after Miss White’s death.
“I have to say that although Miss White is dead, there is already one more fair in all the land. Penelope, the timid and soft spoken, is truly beautiful inside and out if my silence must be broken.”
I smashed the mirror to the floor. A better use for him did I see. Amongst the shards of glass lay the perfect piece to make sure I would reign swiftly. I tucked the shard in a nest of my raven coiled hair. My feet immediately took me down the corridor to Room 317, the sanctuary of sweet Penelope.
About the Creator
Stephanie J. Bradberry
I have a passion for literature and anime. And I love everything involving academia, health, metaphysics and entrepreneurship. During my free time I enjoy nature, crocheting, reading, my kiddos, and writing.
Visit me @ stephaniebradberry.com
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
I loved the mix of characters you introduced. This story played out well and got me good with the twisted twist of her endless pursuit to be the fairest. Great story!
Gosh, I love dark fairy tales done right and you did not disappoint 😄.This was disturbing in the most entertaining way. I was both horrified and compelled to see what happened next. Well done!
This is a great mixture of humor and horror. Very well done.
I love twisted retellings of fairytales! This was so brilliant and I loved it! Ravenna was such a beautiful name!
This was so fun!!
Haha, very amusing tale! I like how Ravenna often speaks in rhymes.
What a wonderful and fantastic story. I like how the story became more detailed and complex and it progressed. Excellent story and very well written.