I am not really a Fancy Ball type person.
Although, when I was in high school I was fortunate enough to have been chosen as The Belle of the Ball at our Senior Prom. But frankly I never understood why, because I was shy and did very little dancing.
Not long ago, however, I was invited by Mother Goose to be an onlooker at the annual Cinderella Ball. Of course, I treasure any invitations I get from her, having had some special experiences wIth her in the past. So, once she reassured me that I wouldn't have to dress up in a ball gown or dance, I accepted with alacrity.
It was wonderful, seeing all those gorgeous girls in their lovely dresses with all the ruffles and lace and stylish hair-do's. And the way those full skirts flared out as they were swept around the dance floor by dashing young men was a feast for the eye!
But the one who really caught my attention was standing in the darkness just outside an open doorway, surrounded by bewigged footmen in satin knee breeches who appeared to revolve anxiously around her, as if unsure whether it was their responsibility to keep her out, or let her in.
Leaving the footmen sweating in consternation, she brushed them aside and drifted slowly into the room, seemingly unaware of the commotion. Or that she was being given plenty of pursed-lip looks by the older women chaperones on the sidelines, who might once have been the Belles of their own Cinderella Balls.
"Who is THAT?" I asked Mother Goose.
"Oh, that's Phantamira. I was wondering if she would be here this year."
One of the older ladies on my right, who once had to live in a shoe until the eldest of her many daughters married a quite decidedly unhandsome prince, leaned over to speak in a loud whisper that probably carried across the room. "They say she created a stir at the last Ball and broke I don't know how many rules."
"Oh, really?" I whispered. "What did she do?"
"Well," said Mrs. Jack Sprat on my left, as she munched on a piece of dripping roasted pork, "I heard that she winked at all the males, who proceeded to dance every girl in the room to the point where they collapsed in heaps of exhaustion!"
She nodded vigorously. "Yes! Almost as if their feet were dancing without their bidding, some said."
Mother Goose shrugged. "Well, I don't know about that personally. My philosophy is that the whole concept of the Cinderella Ball is open, pretty much Live and Let Live, as long as you don't hurt anyone."
At this point another lady, Mrs. Porgy, powdered and rouged to the point where one wondered what, if anything, real was underneath, hissed, "My eldest son Georgy said this Phanta-whatsis came one year without a petticoat!"
"Really!" I cried, wondering how he knew, and turning to see if Phantamira's skirt was see-through this year. But her back was to me.
At this point, there was a whole chorus of voices.
"Snuck in an alcoholic beverage, I heard!"
"Caught her smoking some kind of plant or something, I was told!"
"... brought in uninvited young men, right past the footmen!"
"... seduced one of the male chaperones!"
As they huddled, comparing salacious notes, Mother Goose turned to me and fluttered her hand, saying, "Shoo, dear Wanna, escape while you can!"
And that's just what I did, moving quickly to position myself behind a potted palm, out of the view of the gaggle of women, whose voices soared up to the chandeliers.
I took a deep breath of relief and headed for the punch bowl. For the next few minutes, from behind my palm, I sipped Fairyland's special wine punch and watched the colorful swirls of the dancers and their beaux, wondering what had happened to Phantamira. Then I heard a faint rustling.
And there she was, emerging from the darkness of the large window behind me, hands outstretched. "Why, I'll bet those women said that my skirts came up THIS HIGH!"
I wasn't sure what to say, but nodded, dumbly, then shook my head. "Yes, well, no, not really."
She smiled. "And are you actually talking to me? You're not afraid?"
"Well, of course," I said. "I mean, no, I'm not. Afraid, I mean." I was so aggravated at myself. "I'm sorry," I said. "I'm sounding like a total idiot."
"I forgive you," she said.
Straining for something to say, I mumbled, "I like the way you've done your hair."
She turned to the side. "Like my snood? It glitters in the dark," she confided. "It's made of gold, spun especially for me, although I'm afraid in the dim light behind this palm it doesn't show up too well."
"Perhaps at this angle you can get a better view."
"it is really neat," I said.
I blushed. "Sorry; that's probably a term you're not familiar with. I meant that it is really lovely."
"Neat! Hmm. I shall have to remember that."
"If you don't mind my asking, how do you dance with those long skirts?"
"Oh, I just loop them over my arm, and away I go," she said, spinning around. I felt dizzy just looking at her, as if I were being whirled around like her skirts. Must be this wine punch, I thought, looking into my glass.
"I'm sorry," I said. "I don't mean to stare, or to be rude. But, well, you are so different from everyone else at the Ball."
"Good different, or bad different?" she asked with a smile.
"Oh, good different," I assured her.
"Do you believe everything you hear?" she asked.
"Well, no, of course not," I said, shaking my head.
"Well, it may all be true," she said serenely. And before I could say anything else she had turned away from me and was moving toward another open doorway.
She turned, looking straight at me again. "Goodbye, Wanna."
I wondered how she knew my name.
And then she was gone into the night.
And that's all I know about Phantamira. Knowing Mother Goose, she probably won't say anything further about her, either, even if I ask.
There was just something about the depth of her eyes ....
You can read about the making of Phantamira (and other dolls) by going to the Doll pages.