Friday, October 16, 2015
New Short Story: Dressed to Impress (AKA The Elves Are Coming)
The elves were coming.
Morena Montclair, whose husband had made his money in the magic mirror business, was in an absolute tizzy. No one in the neighborhood had hosted elves before, and if she pulled it off it would be a social triumph that would far surpass the fact that Gertrude's second cousin was a Baron.
She absolutely had to dazzle them. Morena spent a solid month getting ready, decimating the local potted tree supply in an attempt to recreate a forest in her dining room. She insisted that the cooks use only elven recipes, tasting and retasting them until they were as delicate and ethereal as she had always imagined elven food to be.
It was her outfit, however, that took most of her time and attention. It had to be perfect, elegant and magnificent all in the same breath, so these elves would know that she'd been born human only by accident. She was worthy to be one of them, and would be an excellent addition if someone happened to invite her to an elven party or two.
(She would also be an excellent addition if one of them happened to be looking for a wife. Leonard was perfectly pleasant, but also the sort of man one didn't hesitate to leave for brighter horizons.)
By the day of the dinner, she was resplendent. Her sleeves belled out four full feet, the leaf-green silk trailing on the ground behind her. She piled her hair on top of her head and wove small branches into it, though the bird was nixed after an incident that forced a thorough hair-washing and restyling. Elves didn't seem to wear a lot of jewelry, tragically, but she'd purchased two different sets of emerald combs to wear in her hair.
When they came, gliding in through the front doors like they were walking on air, Morena bowed so low she needed a maid's help to right herself again. "Honored guests, welcome to my humble abode."
When she looked up, the lead elf's expression was as placid as his waterfall of golden hair. Perhaps they simply hid their admiration better than humans did. "Thank you. Your husband said the meal would start soon?"
That was the most she could get any of the elves to speak to her, even after they sat down and started eating. Morena tried to engage them in conversation, asking them about the length of their sleeves and whether it was fashionable to wear small pumpkins in the fall, but they only gave her the briefest of answers before returning to some sort of business discussion with her husband.
Finally, in the middle of the dessert course, one of the lesser elves turned to her. "I must ask - what is that fascinating accessory?"
Morena brightened. It wasn't the attention she'd hoped for, but she'd take what she could get. "Do you mean my headpiece?"
He shook his head. "No, the overrobes your staff wear." He gestured to one of the serving girls. "Those pockets would be most useful."
"'Overrobes?'" Morena stared at the serving girl, confused, then her eyes widened in horror. "You mean her apron?"
"Apron." The elf said the word slowly, as if committing it to memory, then nodded in satisfaction. "Most excellent. I shall have to see about acquiring one."
Immediately after dinner, Morena demanded one of the maids' aprons and put it on. No one commented on it. The following spring, aprons became a common fashion accessory for the more practical-minded elves.
When she heard the news, Morena refused to leave the house for a week.