Dressing an Illusionist

“It’s all about how things look, little one,” The Conjurer told her. He snapped his long, thin fingers and stopped a pocket of time- a snapshot of Carmilla looking up at him, bemused.  He moved the present Carmilla away to a wardrobe she hadn’t noticed before. The doors opened and inside hung several differently coloured silk scarves. “Pick one.”

Carmilla reached out and touched them all, letting the ribbons of yellows and reds and greens and blues slip across her fingers before she finally settled on a deep purple. She held it up to him. “This one.”

“Good choice,” he bowed to her level, which was a considerable feat given how tall he was. He took his hat off as he bowed, she saw a flash of deep purple in the lining inside. “Pull it down.”

She tugged on it. It caught for a moment before it fell, the final corners drifting slowly towards the ground, like a leaf in the breeze. It was longer than she anticipated and she did her best to hold it up, above the ground. She looked at him, expectantly. He took it and draped it over her shoulders. “Picture a dress,” he said. “The nicest one you’ve ever seen.”

It came to her more easily than she expected. The Conjurer’s hands were warm on her shoulders. The warmth spread down her arms and through the rest of her body. She heard the fabric move, weaving itself together. In some places, it tore as two parts decided to become different things. Other places expanded into ruffles and bows. The Conjurer touched her unruly hair and felt strands of it fly back from her face like she was staring into an unstoppable wind. She looked down at her new dress. “Wow,” she said. “That’s very pretty. Did I do that?”

He smiled. “We did that,” he took her by the hand and lead her back towards the mirror, where an old snapshot of Carmilla still stood with her mouth slightly open. He stood them beside each other, the juxtaposition allowing him a visual representation of how clever his conjuring had been. He saw a grubby little orphan girl, dressed in rags, with dirty cheeks and unruly hair. Next to her, a girl whose clean and pristine hair was pinned tightly behind her head, fixed with a bow the same deep purple as the gown they’d created together. Her face was clean enough for people to see the green in her clever little eyes. This was a girl worth mentoring. This was a girl worth calling his prodigy.

“You’ll make a darling assistant,” he told her.

Carmilla watched as The Conjurer touched the old, frozen image of herself on the head and Old Carmilla blew away like ash from a bonfire. She didn’t mourn the loss of who she was, but she wasn’t quite settled into this new skin. She watched The Conjurer, in his top hat and tails, and she wondered when she’d have learned enough to have that kind of costume. How long it would take to be more than an assistant. Could she captivate people, as she had seen the Conjurer do?


Loosely linked to:

The Middle of a Vanishing Act


The Start of a Vanishing Act


(Via Daily Prompt: Juxtapose)

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