Write a page long short story

It happened once that a girl saw herself rippling and distorted, and she wished – as many girls do – to be beautiful. No sooner had her voice skipped along the ripples than the whisper of the rushing stream slithered into a hiss.

"There are ways, you know. Why not let me help you?"

The girl lifted her eyes and caught a glimpse of a slim, velvety spider's leg creeping with many others over the water. Tiny eyes covered her, as though tracing each flaw.

"You want help, don't you? You want to open your eyes and see only beauty, isn't that right? I can give you that."

"Yes… What price?"

The spider flung itself across the stream, dangling by a wet, silver thread as it spun many more into a shimmering circle. Within moments the threads crossed so closely that they became a dream-catcher covering the water, fragments of a shining tapestry where she caught glimpses of her own eyes.

"Talent, dear, it's a cheap thing. Everyone has some - even you, don't you? It's a fair trade, really – inside for out."

"But – " She thought for a moment as the spider continued in sweet, soothing tones: "No one bothers with them anyway, let's be honest. Deep down, none of us care past the surface."

Though unsure, she agreed and any concern she had vanished at the sight of chatoyant hair that fell around her face like a haze of fool's gold.


"I know. You aren't going to leave it there, are you? Look at these scars along your cheek. Don't they look hideous? They're like specks of dirt, like big cockroaches roaming over you!" The girl instinctively clasped both hands over her cheeks and shut her eyes. "It's a pity to leave perfection half-way. Memories. Tell me the best and the worst, the large and the small. I'll trade you them for those wrinkles on your forehead and those scars. After all, you won't need them anymore – think of all the wonderful new ones you'll find when everyone sets their eye on you again. Once you are perfect, the world recognises it and treats you so." Catching the girl's hesitation, the spider ran along the girl's arm and whispered in her ear. "There'll be nothing but beauty after you've thrown them away."

Again, the girl watched entranced by the mirror which grew fuller with each moment like the moon in its cycle, showing her own opalascent skin and slender neck, her dainty, unfamiliar features. The girl looked up and frowned.

"I haven't got much else to trade, have I?"

"Nothing you really need. Your name?"

In her desperation the girl whispered it to the spider, who spun the letters into the tapestry as though replacing shards of a broken looking-glass. The girl caught sight of a soft, posy-pink mouth which stayed still as she smiled and here she found herself alarmed: for though the face in the spider's mirror was lovelier than the rising dawn it was not her own, and not sooner had she realised this than the mirror curved like a bowl and flew over her, dragging her down to the bottom of the stream where she lays open-eyed in shock, seeing nothing but beauty as she stared paralysed and entranced by the constellations, the glistening glassy water which held nothing but let nothing but beauty through it.