She was seated on the grass with her back resting on a tree trunk. She looked down at the small bouquet of daisies in her hands. She loved nature and since it was the middle of spring, in May, she spent most of her days outside in the garden. She stayed mostly under trees, her mother didn’t want her to stay exposed in the sun for too long. She said the sun would make her freckles stand out more and then she wouldn’t be able to hide them with powder anymore.
She liked to stay in the garden on her own. It was a good way to avoid Lucy and Susanna, her sisters. They rarely took walks outside, not wanting to stain their gowns. It wasn’t that she didn’t like their company but being around them always reminded her that they were everything she would never be. Everything every man would want for a wife as their mother would say. Slightly taller than average, perfect silhouette with a tiny waist and small breasts that were perfectly enhanced by their corsets, long chestnut hair, their mother’s dark blue eyes.
She didn’t mind that they were prettier than herself. She wouldn’t even feel bad being around them if it wasn’t for the constant reminder of it made by their parents. They were prettier and they were perfect. They both had the same hair and same eye color but they didn’t have the same features. Susanna, who was the older one of the two, had bigger eyes, which was mesmerizing because every time you would look at her you would get drawn by her amazing eyes and drown in them. Lucy’s eyes weren’t as impressive as Susanna’s even though they were of the same color but her smile made up for it. Her smile was beautiful and enticing.
Their parents, Edith and Walter Langley, were really proud of Susanna and Lucy’s beauty. So proud of it that it was unhealthy. It wasn’t only the three of them. They were five. Judith was the oldest of them all but she was already married and had two sons therefor she didn’t live with them anymore but with her husband. And there was James, he was the only boy, poor him, but of course he was Walter’s pride, his only son, his heir, the one that would carry his last name through generations. James was the second child, after Judith. She looked up with a smile when someone shouted her name from the other side of the garden, from the house.
“Liv?” James shouted again. She stood up and started to walk towards her brother.
Every girl in town were running after him, hoping he would start courting them and eventually marry them. He was good-looking. He had short brown hair, their father’s light green eyes and a killer smile. He was rather lean but he was still very impressive, probably because he was tall and his features were perfect. James smiled when she reached him.
“In the garden again?” He asked looking at her up and down with a smile, “You know Mother hates when you wear those dresses. She says women of our social class shouldn’t wear simple dresses such as this one.”
“It’s easier to walk around the garden in them, and to sit on the grass. Those hoops and petticoats Mother wants me to wear are uncomfortable,” Livana explained. She was still wearing a corset because she felt naked without one. She didn’t mind wearing hoops, gowns and petticoats but she wasn’t lying when she said it was uncomfortable to sit on the grass like she loved to do in the garden. And she felt like it wasn’t necessary, as long as she didn’t leave the property no one would see her like this.
She knew James wasn’t saying it in a mean way though. He was saying it because he knew that when their mother would see her dressed like this she would probably have something to say about it. He didn’t want her to have to go through another lecture about how her sisters were so much better than her. If she was lucky their mother wouldn’t say anything or she wouldn’t cross paths with her before having changed.
“How was it to accompany Father to his business meetings in the center of town today?” Livana asked changing the subject as they both started to walk inside the house.
If we could call it a house, it was enormous for a house and resembled more of a mansion than a house if you asked her. They lived in Umani. Umani was one of the biggest towns that existed. Most of the land was covered in forests though and only a few places were actually livable. There were two continents but Livana never crossed the sea to go on the other one. She actually never left Umani. No one really did. Crossing those enormous forests wasn’t safe.
“It was fine. A little boring but I’m getting used to this kind of meetings. Don’t tell Father I said it was boring,” James said closing the door behind them.
“I won’t,” Livana said with a smile as they walked further into the house. Her smile dropped when their mother appeared in front of them. Edith Langley was very much like Susanna and Lucy. Dark blue eyes and chestnut hair that were starting to gray.
“Livana, you didn’t put powder on today? You know you have to hide your flaws as much as possible. And your hair is a mess. Go to your room, I will send Agnes to help you get decent for dinner. Your father wouldn’t enjoy having you looking like that around the table and we all know how impatient and intolerant he is after a day of business meetings,” Edith said seriously. Not the shadow of a smile on her lips until she turned her gaze to James. “How was your day, James?”
Livana walked away from them to go to her bedchamber.
Once in her room she closed the door behind her. She walked toward the big wardrobe that was on the opposite side of her big bed but stopped midway in front of the full length mirror to look at her reflection. She brought her left hand to her cheek to graze her freckles, or her flaws as her mother would say. You would think that Edith wouldn’t be able to do anything about the fact that her daughter’s skin wasn’t like she wanted it to be, perfect, flawless, pale and porcelain-like. Well, she still tried. Livana could hear her voice in her head, “Hide your freckles.” “I showed you how to hide your imperfections with powder.” “Don’t let anyone see that your skin isn’t perfect or no man will want to marry you.” “If you want to be like your sisters you have to hide your freckles.” But she didn’t want to be like her sisters. Her thoughts were broken when someone knocked on the door.
“Come in, Agnes,” Livana said loudly enough for her to hear through the thick wooden door. The door opened and Agnes walked in.
Agnes was the ladies maid. She was a really nice woman in her fifties. Her hair was graying and wrinkles were starting to show on her face. Agnes smiled warmly at her and Livana smiled back turning away from the mirror. Agnes didn’t seem to share her mistress’ opinion regarding Livana’s beauty but she would never say it out-loud not wanting to go against Edith in any way. But looks were enough sometimes and Livana had seen the disagreement in her kind brown eyes more than once.
“My Lady, Lady Edith asked for me to help you get dressed properly and help you with your hair and makeup,” Agnes said politely. Livana smiled and nodded her head as Agnes walked toward the wardrobe and opened it.
Livana was now seated in front of the dressing table in the corner of her room while Agnes was working miracles with her long curly hair. Her hair were of a dark brown, dull next to her sisters’ chestnut hair. Her eyes were green, not a light green like her brother, a darker shade of green. Even though the green of her eyes was darker than her brother’s or father’s, it stood out more because of her dark and long lashes and dark eyebrows.
Her skin was pale but spoiled by her many freckles that were now hidden by the powder Agnes had covered her face with. With the amount of powder on her face, no one would even guess they were there. Her sisters didn’t need to hide anything on their faces with powder but they still covered their skin with it every day. She didn’t like wearing makeup and she wished she had her sisters’ skin so she could do without it. Her lips were full and raspberry colored, they stood out, they were a contrast with her pale skin, but it was their natural color.
“You look pretty, my Lady. Lord Walter and Lady Edith will be pleased,” Agnes said with a warm smile and taking a step back.
“Thank you, Agnes.” Livana stood up and walked toward the full length mirror. She didn’t like being called my Lady but even though she had said so to Agnes and many other maids in the house, it was of no use they always called her that.
She reached the mirror and looked at herself. She was petite. Her sisters were slightly taller than average, she was slightly smaller than average. It wasn’t something that stood out in general, her size. She was very close to the average size. But when she was standing next to her sisters, it was more noticeable. She was, according to her father, the size of his mother, so she had her grandmother to thank for that it seemed. Her mother always said it was a shame she wasn’t the same size as her sisters because except from that her body was enticing. One of the rare compliments her mother ever said to her. She had a tiny waist and her breasts were fuller than her sisters’ but still not oversized.
She was wearing a deep purple gown. Of course, she was also wearing those uncomfortable hoops under the huge petticoat. Even though it was uncomfortable Livana had to admit that she liked the volume it gave to the gown. Her corset was white but it didn’t matter because her sleeveless corset cover was purple like the petticoat. She looked fancy like that, her parents would indeed be pleased. Especially by the fact that her freckles were invisible. Livana scoffed. Maybe saying they would be pleased was exaggerating. It was a shame her mother couldn’t change her hair color, her hair was too dark according to her, and of no beauty.
“I should go downstairs. Dinner will be served in no time,” Livana said turning away from the mirror and hiding her sadness behind a forced smile.