Lady of the Night

Lady of the Night

This is another of those describe your characters twice exercises. (Once to fall in love and once to be repulsed.) I did this one a little different than the last one, writing it from the character’s perspective (once where she is loved and once where she is repulsed). I’m not sure it worked as well, but I still think it was a good exercise.
. . .

They were already waiting for her when the lights came on. Waiting to see the sensuous swing of her hips match the light clip of her heels against the pavement as she took her position. Waiting for that elusive hint of cleave so carefully presented by her dress’s low neckline, so cleverly accented by the sparkle of her silver necklace.

They were waiting to catch the light in the gemstones of her jewelry, and the glimmer of the street lamps against her lip gloss. They liked the bright blue eyeshadow she used to frame her cat-yellow eyes. They were entranced by the sway and bounce of her navy-blue curls as they cascaded across her milk-white skin.

Surely such an exotic creature couldn’t be real. Surely the face she wore was a mask, an illusion so expertly crafted it couldn’t be distinguished from reality. Some of them returned every night just to make sure she was real and not some specter their imaginations conjured from the fog dancing through the dark alleys.

She batted her eyelashes at them, swished her hips and stuck out her chest, enticing them until they came forward from the shadows. She whispered honey-sweet lies in their ears, promises of love and devotion they’d both forget by morning. They delighted in the sounds they drew from her lips, and she sang for them with all the passion trapped in her chest.

It was a dance, and she reveled in it with the same fervor as her stage performances. Their hearts beat an allegro staccato, their breath pesante stentando as their movements melded, carrying them through a series of rapturous lifts and jumps, building an ever steady crescendo. She used all the strength in her thighs and calves, exercised all the flexibility of long practiced muscles until, at last, they crashed and tumbled together in climax.

She gave them all everything she had, though the morning left her with nothing but crumpled bed sheets and smudged makeup. She lived for the night, for the hours spent beneath glittering stars and sparkling moon, when the city dropped all pretense and allowed itself to live.

The light of day revealed the wrinkles beginning to form at the corners of her lips; crinkle lines, her mother would have said, from frowning too often. But it was hard not to frown when you didn’t know where your next meal was coming from, or if the bed you’d been sleeping in would disappear out from under you, gifted to a girl with more talent and smoother skin than you could maintain. There were dark circles beneath her eyes when she cleaned away the mascara, a sure sign that she needed to sleep more often; but who had time for that?

Her ice-blue eyes squinted in the sun when she left the heavy brick building, huddling beneath a scarf that couldn’t quite conceal the colorful locks of her hair. The sun’s scorching rays raked her delicate skin, threatening to burn her to a crisp on the short walk between one job and another.

They stared at her as she passed, the streets turned hostile to one who looked so different. Extraordinary only worked at night when the order of the world ceased to matter. Allowing the dye to fade from her hair wouldn’t have done any good; a young woman with hair white as snow was even more bizarre and undesirable than a rebellious youth trying to stick out in a crowd.

It might have been easier if they whispered about her profession, if they poked fun at her for working the corners, if they hated her for earning money off of what everyone else did for free. She didn’t care what people thought of her work, not when she did it so well.

But she had no control over her pale complexion, nor the lack of color in her hair and eyes. She couldn’t be like them if she wanted to, couldn’t stroll brazenly through the brash light of day without worrying what marks it would leave upon her. Couldn’t cover every inch of her flesh without drawing even more questions from the crowd.

They narrowed their eyes when she approached them, pursed their lips when she spoke with them. No matter how humble a stance she took, no matter how politely she acted or how softly they spoke, she displeased them simply by existing. She didn’t fit the arbitrary rules they had created and, therefore, she had no proper place among them.

Despite their disapproval, despite the patchwork nature of her day clothes, despite their steadfast refusal to grant her a proper job and a chance at the life every news program promised, she refused to be shoved aside or hide away until she wasted to dust. Day after day she labored on, enduring their hatred until night fell.

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