“Phantasm.” Fiction. Based on a True Day Dream.

“We live in a culture where you are not given permission to be sad…there’s nothing wrong with being sad.” -Tim Ringgold

“Phantasm”

Fiction. Based on a True Day Dream.

by Ruby

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

PAPER DOLL

Alone in your boudoir you perch in front of a vanity you don’t remember picking.  With its gilded edges and gold painted gesso tassels and swags. White paint chips off the fluted legs and wooden body trailing flecks of eggshell when you brush your fingers against the grain. Looking up into the Barbotine mirror you trace its porcelain flowers imaging the colors they must have been once upon a time. Your eyes catalog the various items left on the vanity’s open face.

An ebony and silver Egyptian cosmetic box stares back at you, mouth wide open to display a tiny brush made from bone, ebony and more silver. The sight of the silver almost clashes with the lingering gold outlining the vanity’s wood. And the box seems so simple sitting next to the large mirror with flowers and birds desperately leaking out of the metal frame. Round glass bottles flank the box. Tying the scene together, since the glass bottles are capped with yet more porcelain, painted flowers. As the glass sparkles in the candle light, candles that sit in Louis XVI ribbon bronze sconces.

Soaking up this room and all its glittering history you wonder how you got here.  The bronze key for the vanity drawer still hangs in its keyhole, absently you turn the key and peek inside. Fountain pens rattle and clank towards you as you pull the drawer. Loose papers clunk against the wood. But you don’t read anything written on them. You don’t want to, and maybe you’ve even forgotten how to read that scrawled, thin cursive.

Exhaustion washes over you.  A hand lifts from a resting brush and rubs the top of your eyelid, when you look down you see a black smudge around the side of your forefinger. You forgot you had painted your face earlier in the day; you forget even when you gazed upon your reflection.

Seeing yourself, even in a beautiful mirror, doesn’t always mean you truly see the woman sitting before you. A reflection is evidence she’s still there. Even with all the beautiful things filling your private space, it’s just a Doll’s House. Worse yet, just a Paper Doll’s House.

You can shift and become an entirely new woman with one change in wardrobe. One new paper dress and you’re no longer this woman, mirage of a woman, you take on a new persona. Behind you on the pink velvet chaise you see the center cushion has begun to sag. Years of lounging sink the chaise’s belly towards the floor. When you move to get up from your vanity bench, you accidentally knock a crystal jar onto the floor. Reaching down for the Guilloche lid, your see your shadow reflected in the enamel.

Placing the jar and lid back on the vanity, a sigh escapes your lungs as you realize that is your depth. Reflected shadows and indistinguishable glass reproductions. You’re nothing more than a Paper Doll waiting for the next costume to enshroud the trifling apparition you’ve become.

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