Every night at bedtime, Laura asked for more of the story. So every night, her mother told her about Princess Laura. Princess Laura had been a regular little girl, very pretty and very smart. She kept a garden and her flowers were uniquely beautiful. A prince had come to her garden and fallen in love with her and married her. He swept Princess Laura away to his kingdom where she ruled wisely and well, always knowing the right answers to the questions people asked. When her mom turned out the light leaving only the star-shaped nightlight on, Laura would sigh herself to sleep, dreaming about flowers and tiaras and cleverness.
Laura looked at herself in the mirror, delighted. Her prom dress was perfect, just the right shade of lavender to compliment her skin and blonde hair. Laura was excited to be going to prom as a freshman; a junior boy had asked her. He was on the cross-country team with her. When she told her parents about the invitation they said she could only go if she got a B or better on her midterms; she aced them all. Laura hoped her date was bring her an orchid corsage.
Laura smiled at the couple sitting at her table and asked if they were ready to order. She hadn’t figured out exactly what to do with her BA in Literature and was waiting tables to pay the rent on her tiny apartment. The landlord didn’t like plants, he was afraid of the dirt staining the carpet, but she had snuck one small African violet in. Laura was looking forward to seeing her fiancé after her shift; they had met in college. She loved his cute smile, his business smarts, and his high-powered job. Once they were married the plan was to move into a house with a big garden. Her feet hurt, and she looked forward to being taken care of.
Laura was stuck. Her husband had cheated on her with his secretary; barely a year after the wedding she got a divorce. She had tried several different jobs but hadn’t felt comfortable in any of them, or been particularly good at them. She was back to waitressing the dinner shift at a local diner where all the regular customers knew her. Laura was tired of feeling the grease in her hair, was tired of the only flowers in her life being the plastic ones jammed haphazardly into vases on the tables. She realized she had to make a change, and decided to talk to her boss about picking up some extra shifts so she could go back to school.
Laura smiled at the children who were gathered for story time. She was grateful that she had found a job she loved, as a children’s librarian. Putting herself through more schooling had been difficult, but worth it. She had even started dating again, not very successfully at first. But a gentleman had come into the library several weeks ago bewildered about what book his five-year old niece might like. Laura had directed him to the picture books and asked what his niece was interested in. She laughed when he told her princesses, and explained that most girls had a thing for princesses at some point. Laura looked at the counter to the roses he had sent her for their one month anniversary and smiled even wider. She stepped into the center of the reading circle, opened this week’s book, and began.
***This is my entry for week 19 of Idol. Other people's mirage entries are here, you should check them out.***