[ Lucille . Beatrix ]
She snarled like an animal that had just been stepped on.
Lucille's brush fell to the floor with a loud clatter, nostrils flaring as her hands touched her hair. The golden locks were full of grease, turned a nasty, dull shade of gray. Her brain registered the smell immediately.
An unctuous mixture of ash and petroleum jelly had been loaded into the offending object. The evil, unworthy trick left her dress covered in a film of filth, and she released another aggrieved howl. And though Lucille, shaking with fury, would have liked nothing more than to snatch up the closest breakable item and hurl it across the room, she tried at once to calm herself at once -- Beatrix could be back at any moment, and it simply wouldn't do for anyone to see her in such a state.
No. It wouldn't do at all.
Little feet took her quickly to and fro, emptying a pitcher of water into the basin in her room. The soiled pink material of her garment was carefully stripped away, folded ceremoniously inside-out so as not to ruin any of her surroundings. Pale arms and hands were scrubbed, then shoulders, then face, each surface rubbed pink from the ferocity with which she cleansed. Another pitcher was required for her hair, and had Lucille been a weaker, sniveling little girl, she would've cried at how grievous a task it was to rid her blonde mane of petroleum gel.
She dried her hair resolutely, slipping into a fresh, robin's-egg blue dress. It was tempting not to fasten a matching ribbon in her damp tresses, but it would be unwise to show off, lest her attacker retaliate.
"There." Lucille thought aloud, turning to observe her spotless reflection, "No harm d--"
Her words were cut short when bright eyes fell to the floor. Neat trails of dusty shoe prints were trekking from the room, out into the hallway and back again, to her trunk, and then exactly where she stood.
. . .
Beatrix was feeling much better. After a good session on the piano, she felt full of music and creativity. For it was very rare for the small girl to feel much of anything other than numb.
Her little slippered feet scurried soundlessly to the room she shared with Lucille, music sheets hugged close to her chest. Keeping her head down and her mind set, the pianist quietly opened the door to her room, poking her head inside. She saw Lucille standing there, waiting, angry...
And she was waiting, long arms folded in an aggressive manner, the misty blue of her eyes narrowed into slits.
"So." Lucille spat the word. "So."
Beatrix looked at the older girl with wide, innocent eyes, just waiting. She saw it in Lucille's eyes that something bad was going to happen. Her grip on the music sheets tightened and for a fleeting moment, she had the fantasy that they could fly out of her arms, up high away from Lucille to safety. But it was a silly fantasy as the paper did not sprout wings or even flutter.
"You thought it'd be funny, did you?" The older girl closed in on her prey, snarling, shoving her ruined brush under her roommate's nose. "You thought it'd be funny to get me filthy, to rub ash my shoe soles, to have me scrub footprints off the floor? Maybe you thought it'd make you look better than me?"
Lucille gave her no time to retort, shoving the greasy bristles through the younger princess's hair.
Beatrix pursed her lips together as Lucille assaulted her. She tried to push the older girl's hands away -- to get that brush away, but she was too weak and instead got it on her hands and arms. Piano notes gained dust and footprints.
"It wasn't me!" The little girl squeaked as she fell into a crouch on the floor, looking up at the older girl. Her blue-gray eyes were hard and wavering, tears threatening.
"You evil little liar!" Her voice tremored with pure infuriation, bringing down the hard, flat side of that brush against the back of Beatrix's head. Wrist snapping back, she struck
You couldn't see bruises if they were covered by hair.
But of course one or two would eventually form on her arms as Beatrix raised them as soon as the first strike was made. "Stop stop stopstopstopstop!!!" The little flower cried out as her petals were bruised. "I'll let you have my book!" She scrambled right between Lucille's legs and scurried to the corner of the room pointing under her bed where she kept a fairytale book she had found.
Book, did she say?
The word was enough to make the fairer-haired of the two to stop swinging, holding out her hand.
"Give it here. Let me see."
Beatrix sniffed a little feeling the dull throbbing aches and pains. She crawled across the dirty floor and then under her bed. After a few seconds of silence, a scratch, a scrape, the little girl popped her head out and pulled herself up.
She handed Lucille the book. It was beat up and looked old. The pages had the wonderful smell of ink and paper, each yellowed, but wonderful. The cover was hard and red leather with a small square picture of a young boy with his arms out...flying! As the book's cover touched Lucille's skin, Beatrix felt a lonely tear slide down her face.
She loved books.
"Peter Pan?" Slim fingers rifled through its contents, skimming over the first few passages to decide whether or not this was a suitable sacrifice. Lucille closed it back, and a magnificent smile lit up her features as though she was an adoring older sister.
"What a lucky girl you are, sweet little Bea." A light pat on the crown of her head, careful not to touch any dirtied locks. Her voice was heavy with sugar. "But goodness! Why are you all messy? You'd better clean up before anyone sees you."
A whimsical laugh echoed through the room as Lucille disappeared into the corridor, intent on enjoying her prize uninterrupted.