Prompt: The crumbs of love locked inside a gilded cage.
Her eyes were dry, but inside, her heart was screaming. She stared at herself in the mirror, shining black hair cascading around her face, down to her waist. Her blue eyes stared back at her, looking over delicately high cheekbones, full lips, and a gentle jaw. Her shoulders were bare, the dress she wore soft and flowing. It clung to her body, accentuating each of her perfections.
Inwardly, she cursed the tailor that had made the dress for her.
“Karen?” The male voice outside her door made her wince, anger joining in the despair that was already running through her. “Are you okay?”
She grit her teeth, almost hoping that it would make one of the white, straight things break. “I’m fine, Brad. I’ll be out soon.”
Shuddering, Karen leaned against the vanity, sighing as she did so, and turning away from her reflection. She didn’t quite want to go out with Brad tonight. But she had promised him that she would over a week ago, and her time was often in high demand.
With a sigh, she brushed her hair behind her ears, out of her face, and took a deep, grounding breath. Then, she stepped forward, going to the door and exiting the room, entering the parlor in with Brad waited.
He was a handsome enough fellow. Brown hair and eyes, a sharp jaw and a strong body: he was everything that a girl would look for. Intelligence shone through, he knew how to dress and what to say. But Karen looked at him, and saw only the cold, calculating gaze that he had when he looked at her. There was warmth, but there wasn’t enough of it. He wanted only her body and beauty, to be seen with her and gaze the status that came with it.
But she forced herself to smile, regardless, because this act was all that was holding her together. Would she ever find a man who would look at her and see her not for just the image of beauty, but for a woman as well? Her eyes were sad, even as she smiled and took Brad’s arm, allowing him to lead the way out of her mansion.
Nothing that she had was something that had been given to her by someone who had just wanted to make her smile. Very little of it had been earned by her. She was a celebrity, because she was beautiful.
It was a challenge to remain charming and smiling at dinner that night. Brad was easy to be around, but there was always a look in his eyes that said he wanted more. There was a way that he would touch her hand, or her shoulder. It was never inappropriate, but there was a hunger in it. No… Brad would not see her again as anything but an acquaintance.
When she returned home, she avoided the kiss he was wanting to give, letting it land on her cheek, and slipping inside before he could insist on anything more. She didn’t bother turning on the lights.
It took her only moments to slide out of her dress, leaving it on the foyer floor, and walk upstairs to her room, shedding underclothing as she went. By the time she was in her bedroom, her dark hair was cascading around her naked body in gentle waves. Even the small bits of jewelry she had worn were somewhere on the floor. She would pick them up later.
Turning, she looked at herself in the mirror again. She was simply a silhouette among other silhouettes, a shape among the other shapes. Tears welled up in her eyes as she moved swiftly, jumping from the floor and into her bed, sliding under her covers.
As she curled up, arms around her stomach, curled in the fetal position, she cried, sobbing silently, as she did almost every night. She was getting only the crumbs of love. Men were nice to her, they bought her things, they gave her flowers, courted her… But none of them truly loved her. And she locked herself into the gilded cage, staring between the bars that she had found around herself.
She didn’t know how to break out of it.