"You are a beautiful woman, Mireille," Uncle Claude had told her, once, long ago, "and beauty such as yours rarely goes unnoticed."
Mireille wears short skirts, and high-heeled boots, and never goes unnoticed. She is admired, lusted after, hated, and no one ever sees what is truly important. They notice what they want to notice, what her short skirts, and high-heels, and carefully casual blonde hair tell them that they should.
They see that her lashes are long, and her eyes a brilliant blue. Her lips are full, her nose straight, her stance proud. She wears blouses that leave her arms bare, and cling to her breasts--alluring, but never, ever gauche. She sways as she walks, all cascading blonde hair and perfectly rounded hips, and sometimes, when the sun is bright and the air is fresh, she will smile slow and long at the boys and men who watch her from the streets.
Women admire her, hate her; want to be her, want her gone, away, anywhere else. They wonder where she has her hair done, and look for any strand out of place. They envy smooth, young arms and her flat stomach; hate how effortless is must be to be young, and beautiful, blue-eyed and blonde and smiling in the sun. They think that she is distant, cold, proud, and many people know Mireille by sight, but none know her name.
No one notices that Mireille notices them; that her eyes are always alert and never warm. Mireille's arms are smooth, stomach flat, legs trim, and she runs every morning, in sun and rain. She lifts weights, and spars with partners larger than herself at the gym. She carries her gun with her under her coat, in her purse, sleeps with it loaded on her nightstand. There is a scar on her hip, she's spat out a bloody tooth more than once in her youth, and her ankle aches when the sky grows dark and grey with clouds.
Mireille bought her first pair of high-heels when she was sixteen: black, and strappy, and she lay on her back at home, legs raised, feet flexing and relaxing above her. Later, the heels sank into damp earth, sent her sprawling, bones cracking. Shouts in the distance, and she wasn't actually supposed to be the foolish young thing they'd been meant to see. Later yet, she spent weeks in her ruined heels, running up stairs, down stairs, over wet grass, loose stone. Learned to sprint and stay alive in her pretty, impractical, killer's shoes.
Mireille's short skirts and high-heeled boots are an act, are the absolute truth. They say that she is beautiful, and young, and that she knows that she is. Mireille is beautiful, and young, and she knows the truth of it, loves it. This is the woman she would be, were she not a daughter of Corsica, a killer of well-earned reputation. She wears the woman she is--short skirts, and high-heeled boots; tossing blonde hair and teasing smile--one truth over another, like armour.
Mireille rarely goes unnoticed.
It is the only way she knows to live, the only way worth staying alive.
Sign up to rate and review this story