I stand in front of the mirror and see a tall, perfectly poised girl reflected back at me; stoic and haughty and beautiful, her hair swept up on her head and held in place by diamond pins and a spray that smells of exotic flowers. She is wearing a long silvery green dress and pearls that shine like little moons, and she is the most beautiful girl in the city. I see a girl with guarded eyes like slabs of rain, and smooth hands that wave at the admiring lower class, shooing them away if they venture too close. I see stunning perfection, but if I blink, and squint my eyes, I can also see fear, and a certain type of sadness. I see a seventeen year old girl who about to enter her engagement party with her head held high and her insecurities hidden behind a well-built wall, the bricks piled on steadily for almost 12 years now. I blink again, and all I see is stunning perfection. Perfection is perfect as long as you don't look beyond it to anything else.
Daniel is waiting for me just outside the door. Daniel, my soon-to-be-officially betrothed, although technically we have been promised since we were children. He smiles at me in the way of a man who likes what he sees. I know that I am beautiful, and I know that I am rich, but briefly, I wonder what it would be like to be loved for my personality. But if that were the case, which personality would that be? I am so many people, so many ideals, so many met expectations, that I am more a reflection of society than a person. No. It is better this way. Better to be engaged to this handsome boy who barely knows me. And I am not saying that I don't care for Daniel, I would be lying if I said I didn't. He is handsome and clever, with his eyes like the sea that have the ability to charm you with a blink of his long lashes. Daniel has charmed many girls before me, of that there is no question. He is arrogant and slightly wild, moving from one woman to another. He likes the exotic. But I keep in my heart the old idea that a wild man will find a home with a solid, good, woman. I know it is silly, but I like the idea of being somebody's rock, their one safe harbor. Of being needed. Where I live, men always stray but they never stray far. Love is second to social standing, as anybody who knows the story of Daniels ancestors will tell you. But I know that Daniel is as smothered by our society as I am, as stifled. He is like me. The only difference is that I would not change it for the world.
"Andrea. Vous regardez ce soir merveilleux."
"Merci Daniel. Sont-ils prêts à nous maintenant?"
"Oui. Êtes-vous prêt à aller dans, la fiancée de la mine?"
"Je suis, je vous remercie." I nod my assent and place my white-gloved hand on top of his rough one.
We walk gracefully into the high-ceilinged chamber, just another loveless match on their way to a white dress and a perfect family. At least, what passes for perfect on this island of wild contradictions.