A Mirror's Depth

A Mirror's Depth

A Story by emily


                Reyna sat in front of a broad, antique mirror. The frame was a light golden shade that shone in the pale light of the full, white moon which directed its soft glow in through the window. The gentle brush clutched in her delicate hands stroked her long, dark locks which bounced back into their loose curls. She stared past her reflection, past the pair of luscious, full lips, beyond the set of deep blue eyes, so dark one might have thought them black upon first glance, and through her soft, fair skin, cheeks glowing with a subtle brightness. She gazed blankly into the flat surface, her mind distracted by matters of more importance than vanity.

                Reyna thought about her life in a different light than others. People who met her regarded the young woman as an elegant pleasantry to the eyes, an object of their fantasies and the puppeteer of their actions. She did not want to control these fragile strings that were forced to her hands. She detested the attention in which she was lavished, the false affection shown to her through pricey gifts offered to her with a sly smile; she ostracized the image others placed upon her.

                “Reyna?” The door behind her opened a sliver, allowing just enough room for her older sister to slip inside. Reyna turned her head to the side, acknowledging her presence.


She moved to the bed on which Reyna could never sleep. The mattress was exceptionally soft, adorned with a handful of down pillows, silk sheets and a quilt sewn from fine Egyptian cotton. It was a bed made for a queen but Reyna was no queen, at least not in her eyes. She preferred firmer surfaces to the yielding softness of this bed and so she, more often than not, slept on the burgundy floor rug that decorated her room.


“You have many fine things, dear sister.” Vieyanna cooed admiringly, “and even more fine suitors than that.” She rubbed a corner of the soft quilt in her hands as she spoke and Reyna sighed.

“And I would give them all away for less than a penny.” She set the brush down on the dresser and looked once more to the mirror, this time taking in every detail of her reflection.

“You have been blessed with a gift; you should be thankful.”


Reyna looked at her sister through the mirror; to any eye but her own, she thought, she was very plain in comparison. She possessed the same dark hair passed down from their mother, but it framed a much rounder face which made the features appear didproportionately petite. Her eyes were deep set, her lips full but small, appearing to have been stolen from the face of a child. Her body held no tantalising curves to fill out her outfits; her figure being that of a stiff board straight up and down, unlike her sister’s whose swollen bosom threatened to burst from the corset they were always confined to, a narrow waist and shapely hips which rocked atop a pair of long legs.


“What gift is that sister?”

She smiled, “Your beauty of course.”

Reyna scoffed, “Beauty? Who defines what beauty is?”

Vieyanna slipped off of the bed and made her way over to her sister, standing behind her in front of the mirror, “All men want you, Reyna. All women envy you.”

Reyna turned her eyes sharply from the mirror, “but I envy you my sister.”

Vieyanna looked down at her sadly, “I have nothing to envy.”

Reyna shook her head, “I have many suitors, yes. But do they love me?”

“Of course they do.”

She furrowed her manicured brows, “But how could they when they do not know me?” She paused, “They love what I am, not who I am. No one cares to know, and that is a curse, not a blessing.”


Vieyanna studied herself in the mirror, sadness in her eyes, “When a man looks upon this face of mine, their gaze continues onward and in the very same moment, I am forgotten.  I am known only because I am the sister of the most enchanting woman across all the seas. My name is only spoken in regards to you while yours dances on the lips of every man this nation houses. You,” She stroked the pale skin on her cheek, “you they remember, you they hunger for. These many fine collections they give to you, but even the grandest painting, the largest diamond is dulled in your presence. And I? I become an afterthought.”


Reyna reached over her shoulder and took her sister's hand, “We were born into the wrong bodies, dearest. I should have had yours and you mine.” Reyna’s long lashes fanned her dampening eyes.

“But we weren’t sister, and tomorrow you choose a husband.”


Reyna sighed despairingly, “You will find a man and know his love is true, will I ever be so lucky? How can I choose between a sea of shallow men, men whom want me for a trophy upon their arm and nothing more.”

“Oh, my poor sister. How I wish you could see the opportunities that lay in wait for you. You can become anyone you want, have any life you want.”

Reyna got to her feet and turned to face her sister, “The life I want is nothing I can have. The person I want to be does not matter either, for no one will take notice of what’s beneath my flesh.”


Vieyanna could never see why her sister was so troubled, why she cringed away from a man’s charm and why she resented her undeniable beauty. Since they were young, Vieyanna had been envious of her attention, of the countless boys who strived to receive one batted glance from her. Vieyanna had never had offers of courtship. Well, no that’s not true, Henry Crowello had placed her on his arm for a time, but the moment he saw Reyna standing in the garden in deep contemplation, he had let her fall hard from her perch. He became another man in awe and consumed by infatuation and Vieyanna had once again been cast in the ever reaching shade of her sister’s shadow.


  “And what do you want that is so impossible to get?” She asked finally, a note of irritation ringing her voice.

Reyna moved around the chair of which she had sat and rest her hands on Vieyanna’s shoulders gently. “I want someone to love me. Love me Vieyanna; even if I were an ogre in appearance they would love me. I want to have babies with a man who looks past the vanity; I want to live a simple life in a small house in the outskirts of town where no one can be a bother. I don’t want to be lavished in fine silk and expensive trinkets. I don’t want to have the eyes of every man. I want only one.”


Vieyanna stared at her sister for a moment, “You want one man? Then choose one Reyna. Tomorrow morn you will find a husband and you can then do whatever you please. I know whatever man has the gift of your marriage will come to love you in the means you desire. How could he not?”


Reyna shook her head and turned her back to her sister not as a sign of disrespect, only to hide her growing tears. “Oh my dearest you do not understand. I do not want to pick a husband and force his love; I want to feel love before handing over my innocence, before handing over my life and my future to him.” She took in the decor of her bedroom, high ceilings clutching a brilliant chandelier, her high shelves of diverse novels, each one read through until the pages curled.


She looked to the half dozen original paintings on the walls, a portrait of herself holding a rose to her lips was the largest of them all. The whole painting was black and white upon Reyna’s request, the rose being the only object of colour with its vibrant crimson jumping from the canvas. She had wanted the rose to be the focus, to outshine herself in its beauty. She hoped when one looked at the piece of art they would be drawn to the flower with the delicate petals and she would be the dull afterthought- just as her sister had proclaimed she felt when in her wake. The painting was the only portrait of herself in all the world, and it would remain to be that way.


She thought about the next day with a scowl, she did not want to rummage through a stack of men to find her future. It was her father’s doing, setting up the whole disastrous ordeal. In the heat of an argument Reyna had made the mistake of telling him she would never marry, she would live her life alone, that she would move to the mountains that boardered their city where not a soul could gawk, where the only company she would keep would be nearby wildlife if they chose to amble by.


Her father had taken advantage of her splendour even more so than anyone else. He thought of her as a prized possession, a way to scale the social ladder and acquire more money than he could ever spend, he wished to use her merely for personal gain, although he continuously said differently.


 A thought blossomed in Reyna’s mind just then and a smile played at the corners of her mouth, “I refuse to become a man’s possession Vieyanna.” She turned to her sister, “I will not choose a husband tomorrow.” She said confidently, “A husband will choose me.”

Vieyanna took a step back and looked to the fresh gleam in her eye with a deep concern, “Please, Reyna, what do you plan to do?”

“You are beautiful, you know.” She held Vieyanna’s round face in her hands, “you are more beautiful than I, but no one cares to notice.”



Reyna ignored her sister and turned to her mirror, where she looked to her reflection now with a sense of purpose. She ran her hand over the soft skin of her face, grinning with her plan in mind. In an instance she lashed out with her left hand and struck the mirror with a closed fist.


Vieyanna gasped, “What are you doing!” The glass cracked and she struck it again, a few sharp pieces fell to the dresser’s top and she picked up a shard, examining it carefully. Blood trickled from fresh slices across her knuckles.


“Is this what beauty is? Full hair?” She looked into the broken surface in front of her and in a moment, began hacking away at her luscious hair; she held the ends in one hand while she sawed at the thick strands as close to her scalp as she could.


Vieyanna shrieked and dove at her but Reyna thrust the glass out in her direction in warning, “No Vieyanna. Let me do this.” Vieyanna’s eyes were wide and she swallowed hard but retreated, seeing the conviction in her sister’s eyes.


Reyna continued sawing and the thick curls floated down to join the broken glass on the dresser. She ran her hands through her piecey hair once finished, now hacked short as a man’s might be.


She looked over at Vieyanna who stood trembling and smiled, “don’t be scared sister. We will both be much happier.” She turned back to the cracked mirror and brought the shard to her face.”Is this was beauty is? Flawless skin?”  She slowly sliced a long trail across her cheek with an unsteady hand and touched the dripping blood with satisfaction.


She sliced more skin, her confidence building with each fresh cut, the face becoming numb to the self mutilation and soon she was slashing her delicate skin like she was merely slapping on thick red paint with a brush. Vieyanna was screaming, weeping in horror but she did not move to interject. She was now sitting on the bed with her knees curled up to her chest; her eyes squeezed shut and her body trembling.


“Don’t worry.” Reyna kept saying, “It will all be better.” But Vieyanna wasn’t so sure it would. After a minute of cutting at her own flesh, Reyna got to her feet and made her way over to the portrait of herself, a spotted trail of blood marking her path.


She looked at the face of the girl in the painting curiously, “beauty is not skin deep!” She angrily tore the painting from the wall and thrust it to the ground where she fell to her knees and began frantically slicing the canvas with the mirror's shard. “This isn’t me!” She cried, “this face, this body!” She shredded the artwork, leaving all but the single rose in threads. “It’s not who I am.”


She climbed back to her feet panting now and let the shard slip from her bloodied fingers to the floor below, “Dear sister, look upon my face.” Vieyanna opened her eyes reluctantly and stifled a cry when she saw the damage. Long red snakes wound over her skin, her hair was a mangled mess, with fresh blood matting the ends. In her eyes was a look of complete satisfaction, she had never seen her sister look so content, never had she looked so horrid either.


“Oh Reyna, what have you done?”

She smiled, “tomorrow I will go in front of my suitors. The one man who wants me even now, even without my looks, will be the one I marry.”

Vieyanna turned her eyes away, “Father will be furious.” She whispered.

“I am now free from father’s bidding.” She moved to sit in the chair in front of her mirror once more and looked into the shattered glass, “Is this beauty? No.” She touched the blood with her thumb, “I am the most beautiful now than I have ever been.” She turned her head to her sobbing sister, “Beauty is not skin deep.” And she smiled.

© 2010 emily

Author's Note

The last part of this was rushed, so bare with me, thoughts comments?

Thanks to Kristen E. Hayes for pointing out the errors in punctuation and typos, much appreciated.

My Review

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Featured Review

At first, I was calm...Yes, I imagine a girl that's typical..Beauty and so on...
But then she stated that she's not happy having all that...I felt interest and keeps on reading...
And then when it came to her slashing her face..I was like OMG!!! o.O..! What...? You don't really have to Reynna!!..
The best part..."I'll marry whoever that pick me while I'm like this" (somethin like that..)
And I was like...Dude that's disturbing...
And yet finally admit, I love that character...
Good story, good story Emily...
Keep it coming...:)

Posted 8 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


Wow, I love this. It's so intense and heartbreaking, yet the way you convey Reyna's feelings through dialogue provides sense to her drastic actions. You can truly feel the sister's horror as she watches Reyna slash at her face and cut off her hair. This reminds me of a story by Charles Bukowski called "The Most Beautiful Girl in Town."

Posted 3 Years Ago

I like this; you're approaching an interesting subject in a visually shocking way, which really makes it memorable, and highlights the message you are sending across in a short space. You're obviously touching on some deep issues, and issues that most of us don't consider very often. All of that is great.

If I were bold enough to suggest improvements... I would say to work on a more natural feel leading up to the point in which she begins cutting herself. The two sisters discuss the impending suitor-choosing as though they've never discussed it before, but surely two sisters talk constantly - so this conversation should come a bit more natural to them, maybe. Just something to consider; overall I think this is a masterful piece of work and I really enjoy it. You've clearly got a lot to say, and I can't wait to read what else you've got posted here.

Posted 7 Years Ago

This is a really good, well written story, Emily. You built your characters nicely and your descriptions are very vivid, painting the picture to give your reader the perfect visual with no effort on their part. I'm gonna show up tomorrow and choose her...I know a great plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills that will fix her right up!

One suggestion for you...you do something I used to do a lot of until it was pointed out to me a few weeks ago. It changed my life! The word "had" is most times unnecessary. If you go through and delete all of those that aren't essential, you will be surprised at how much more smoothly your story will flow. Here's examples:

"Since they were young, Vieyanna had been envious of her attention..." Without "had": "Since they were young, Vieyana was envious of her attention..."

"Vieyanna had never had offers of courtship." Without had: "Vieyanna never had offers of courtship."

"Henry Crowello had placed her on his arm for a time, but the moment he saw Reyna standing in the garden in deep contemplation, he had let her fall hard from her perch." Without 2 hads: "Henry Crowello placed her on his arm for a time...but let her fall hard from her perch."

"...Vieyanna had once again been cast in the ever reaching shade of her sister’s shadow." Without had: "...Vieyanna was once again cast in the ever reaching shade of her sister's shadow."

See how much smoother all of those sentences read? It's so much better without "had". The word "that" is the same, too, but I didn't really notice you overusing "that".

Posted 7 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This was a great read. I'm tempted to write a fan fic where Reyna continues her extreme makeover by punching out her own teeth, smearing dirt all over her body, jumping from the balcony and breaking both her legs. Then when she shows up to the event the next day, having one of her suitors be someone who pretty much did the same thing to himself in order to prove his love for Reyna. No? Too much? Anyways, I loved it all. Great job!

Posted 7 Years Ago

*Write. damn typos.

Posted 8 Years Ago

You brilliantly. I love how you take a typical teenage girl's storyline and twist into something dark and... amazing. I also love how your character wasn't afraid to do anything.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I so much enjoyed your story. I loved the very visual descriptive language of this piece! It was like watching a movie in my minds eye. It was tough reading when the beautiful girl was slashing her face, but I definitely got the message. It's never been my problem, but there is no doubt that being a real stand out has its down side. This is the only error I picked up on (didproportionately.) I usually don't get into the spelling aspects because I am the world's worst speller hands down. Write more stories. I like them.

Posted 8 Years Ago

WOW some powerful stuff here. Emotional and well presented.

Posted 8 Years Ago

You're great at getting the reader into the head of each of the characters.

Posted 8 Years Ago

What I think I appreciate more than anything was the sedulous detail. I am a reader who loves to see every crack, crevasse, and pebble my characters see; feel every shattering moment and elated experience as they do; and see it with a poetic flow that makes a flow of blood look like "red snakes" or rubies. And you did all of those things beautifully.

If anyone asks you to lessen the descriptive flow, to simplify your thoughts, DON'T. There are those who long for writers like you and that is what makes you special. Thank you for sharing.


Posted 8 Years Ago

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19 Reviews
Shelved in 3 Libraries
Added on August 7, 2010
Last Updated on August 31, 2010




I am a twenty-two year old Justice and Peace student majoring in psychology aspiring to do all that I can to change this world for the better. I am very passionate about performing arts, filmograph.. more..

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