Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: End (02/13/06)
TITLE: Vanity's Fair
By Anita Neuman
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One day an announcement rang through the palace. There was to be a grand festival in the village square. Everyone was invited to attend – young and old, rich and poor. There would be food, dancing, costumes and games. Carmelita was thrilled at the idea. A whole day of people admiring her beauty! She was sure there were some townsfolk who had never had the pleasure of gazing upon her. And of course there were those who were wonderfully in awe every time they saw her.
“It will be a spectacular day for all,” she proclaimed.
There was one great concern for Carmelita as the day of the festival approached. What would she wear? She’d heard talk of great costumes, but there was no creature more beautiful than herself to dress as. And it was absolutely out of the question to dress as something that was less than ultimate perfection. With that thought, her decision was made. Princess Carmelita would dress as Princess Carmelita. Her admirers would easily spot her, and strangers would instantly know who she was. Let the commoners dress in silly costumes and parade about. Carmelita would bask in the glory that was due her.
The day of the festival arrived and Carmelita rose before the sun. Servants scurried about, obeying her every instruction. Her hair was washed and carefully brushed dry, then pinned into an extravagant style. Her facial features were accentuated so exquisitely that her admirers would weep, yet so subtly that her father wouldn’t notice. Her dress was pressed and perfumed and draped around her in billows of silk and satin. Carmelita had even ensured that her carriage was decorated and her attending servants were dressed in fine, new uniforms.
Her moment of departure stretched into a fantastic ceremony as the whole household convened to do Carmelita’s bidding. The flurry of activity served to accentuate her serenity as she anticipated her arrival in the village. The footman’s low bow made Carmelita feel even more elegant. The horses’ dancing gait made her feel more graceful. The warm, fragrant breeze filled the air with romance.
At long last, Carmelita arrived. The swell of the crowd was even greater than she’d anticipated. The mass of people filling the streets parted like a curtain as her carriage entered their midst. Murmurs and gasps of wonder rippled through the throng as she executed her choreographed descent from the carriage.
Suddenly a voice rang out above the din of the crowd. Carmelita’s attention was drawn to a newly constructed stage in the centre of the square. A fat man in a comical turkey costume stood addressing the crowd.
“Ladies and gentlemen! Please join me in welcoming Her Royal Highness, Princess Carmelita!”
Carmelita offered her practiced smile to the applauding crowd.
The turkey-man raised a wing to still the noise. “We have a great day of festivities ahead of us, and we congratulate each of you who have put together your own costumes already. We anticipated that some of you may arrive without costumes, so we have a selection of fine disguises to choose from."
Carmelita watched in disgust as the plainly-dressed people in the crowd surged towards the stage. Several large trunks were opened and costumes of every size, shape and colour were handed out freely. After only a few minutes, she found that she was the only person left without a costume and every eye was turning her way in expectation. With trepidation, she stepped towards the stage, trying to keep her perfect smile in place. A hand reached to help her mount the stairs, just as a foul odour threatened to knock her back. The source of the stench filled her vision as the realization dawned on her. Before her stood a filthy, old man holding the head of a horse costume in one hand, and extending to her the horse’s back half.
The moral of the story is
That vanity’s not a friend.
It feels good for a time
But it will get you in…
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