I never found out why she did it. Rumours abounded from Bella wanting the lead part in the school play to me having nicked her boyfriend. All I knew was that from the age of ten I wanted to hide my face. Going to University probably saved my life. I made besties with a handicapped and frankly weird designer who made me her project. Elska took me to visit her family in Holland.
“My uncle will have lots of things to help me with your designs!” Elska squeaked as she bundled me out of the front door, butter dripping down my chin from my unfinished breakfast. She wasn’t kidding. Ton-Ton had a huge messy junk shop which Elska insisted on calling a third-hand place. As I scrambled through piles of jewelry and masks, she ran upstairs calling for someone called “Ta-Ta”
As I was trying on masks and admiring myself without scars, Elska came galloping down the stairs, followed by a middle-aged lady, both of them loaded down with Victorian clothes.
Ta Ta, I discovered, was Dutch for “Auntie”. She was a retired model and took over my new look. Elska helped me to choose metal gear to go with it and in half an hour we had finished.
“Gott verdomme!” Elska exclaimed, walking around me several times, tweaking bits of hair and cloth. “You have your new YOU!”
TaTa pushed me in front of a mirror and jabbered at me in Dutch. Elska gave me a big hug and translated “Auntie says she is so pleased with your new “secret Lady” style that she is going to give you all the stuff. You don’t have to pay for any of it. But secretly I’ll tell you she loves Van Der Hum so a bottle of that would be a good swap!”
I stared at my reflexion and couldn’t believe it – no shame, no blushing, no desire to hide my face. Just a perfectly ordinary steampunk woman… I hugged them all and remembered the Dutch for “I love you.”