Lengthy rope-like tree roots stretch out on the ground under my dainty porcelain white feet. The bark feels rough on my smooth non-calloused skin. I look up at the familiar deep blue sky and smile. I shouldn’t be here, walking in this forest. I should be out in the real world, sitting with other girls from my social class and waiting on a handsome rich young man to ask us to dance. I had been able to slip away when the hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Beckett, began toasting and saying how thrilled they were that we could all visit their home. While everyone’s eyes were on Mr. and Mrs. Beckett I snuck away with a slight roll of my eyes at the foolishness of the whole thing.
I keep walking forward, slowly, as to not ruin my dress—even though I’ll never wear it again. Being in high society, my family can afford these luxuries. Sometimes I find myself wishing that my family did not have luxuries at all. They are as constraining as the corset I wear now. Emotions bottled up and tucked away inside, always doing what society deems is right and not what you wish, faking polite smiles, and agreeing to consider being married to a horrid man with foul breath. All of that for pretty dresses and shiny things. That’s why I like it here, amongst the trees, all of the green leaves and bright blooming flowers surrounding me. Here nobody can tell me who to be or what to do. Here in the forest I can laugh my pig squeal laugh or sob my heart wrenching sobs. The trees, the dirt and the flowers don’t mind, and here I don’t either. There is no need to be embarrassed or play pretend.
I pull down a rough branch to smell the beautiful flower that is resting upon it. I breathe in the sweet aroma of the violet flower and let it fill me up with its sweetness.
“And just what do you think you’re doing here, Miss Emma Rose?”
My heart gives a quick leap and my eyes flutter open. I have been caught, and I had been so careful when escaping. Luckily, my catcher is none other than Charles Salvatore.
“I could ask you the same thing, Mr. Salvatore,” I say with a stern look but a twinkle in my eye. “How did you know I was gone, might I ask?”
“Everyone can notice when a light goes out in a room. When you disappeared, you took all the light with you.”
He swiftly and skillfully made his way across the roots to my side, plucked the flower and tucked it behind my ear. Charles and I look at each other and laugh. He had always been a charmer, and he often tried out his new charming remarks on me.
“What brings you out here, Rosie?” he inquired, dropping all pretense.
“Do you really want to know, Charlie?”
“I just had to get away from there, Charlie. I couldn’t take anymore fake smiles, gossiping women or dancing with presumptuous men. I feel as if I’m always being watched and if I didn’t leave I was going to crack.” I sigh.
Charles looks at me with a concerned but understanding expression.
“Do you feel better now though dear, Emma?”
“Yes, I do, the fresh air helps the muddled mind so.”
“Good,” he said with a mischievous smile, “Let’s explore this forest, shall we?”
I match his smile and link arms with him.
“Let’s go,” I reply. Charles and I walk and talk and point things out to each other for quite some time before I notice something poking out of the ground. I inch closer to get a better view. It is shiny and metallic. I start digging with my hands at the soft dirt around the object. I lift it up, and it glitters in the sinking sunlight.
“It sure is beautiful, isn’t it?” Charles asks in a hushed awed tone.
I nod my head, eyes focused on the ornate hand held mirror. It is silver and slightly worn by years of use. However, it still has luster. The mirrors handle and frame is decorated with tiny silver roses and intricate designs. It is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. As I run my fingers along the edges I think about society and how I loathe who it’s forcing me to be. I look up slowly and realize Charles has been watching me. He takes the mirror gently from my hand and silences my feeble protest. He suggest that we should burry the mirror and come back to it occasionally.
“It will be our little secret,” he says with a wink. I nod my head; I don’t want anyone else to know of this mirror and its beauty.”
“But how will we know where to find it?” I query logically.
“That is a good question, Miss Emma.” Charles ponders this question, as do I. I nervously run my fingers through my hair, and it hits something. I then remembered that Charles had tucked a flower behind my ear soon after he caught me.
“How’s this?” I ask, holding the flower up to him.
“Perfect.” He smiles in reply. We lean over, bury our mirror, and place the single purple flower over the mirror.