A story inspired by Snow White
Sharon met Robert on an Internet dating site. She liked telling people he was a widower; it sounded so sweet and old-fashioned, which was actually a very good description of him. Their courtship moved through the proper progression of dinner and movie dates until, finally, he invited her over to meet his seven-year-old daughter, Bianca.
Sharon was nervous. She didn’t have any children of her own, though she’d always wanted them. She had put it off because of her career – all through her twenties and early thirties she had worked as an actress and print model – and then, when she and her husband-at-the-time had started trying, she couldn't get pregnant. It had turned out that the problem was his, and when she began looking into other options, their already-fragile marriage began to fall apart.
Sharon parked her car in front of Robert’s house and looked at herself in the rear-view mirror. She had a wide forehead and symmetrical features: blue eyes beneath carefully-shaped brows, a proportional nose and mouth. She now ran a small modeling agency instead of doing any modeling herself, and it should have been a relief not to constantly worry about her looks, but of course she did anyway. She still went to the gym five days a week and bought ridiculously expensive cosmetics. She'd spent an hour getting ready tonight, but now she noticed that her recently-highlighted hair looked limp, and face powder had settled into the creases beneath her eyes. She pulled a tube of lipstick from her purse and dabbed some on with her finger, rubbing the pink excess onto the back of her hand when she was done. She took a last look at herself before getting out of the car and walking to the front stoop of Robert’s house: a brick colonial much too large for one man and one little girl.
Sharon rang the bell and took a deep breath, ready to say a cheerful hello. The door opened, but she was so unprepared for what she saw that she coughed instead. The girl standing before her was tall for seven, thin, and shockingly pale. Her long legs descended from cotton shorts like bleached white bones, and her face seemed to glow with a bluish tinge from veins underneath the skin. Her red lips were chapped, and she looked at Sharon with dark eyes, each pupil indistinguishable from the iris. Her black hair hung in tangles down her back, and she stuck two fingers into it, pulling at a knot.
Sharon pressed her hand against her chest and smiled brightly, something she could always fake. “You must be Bianca,” she said. I’m your daddy’s friend, Sharon.”
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