Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A YOUNG WOMAN LOOKS TO HER FUTURE…with thick spectacles

By Rob from Reno,

inspired by "Ladies behind crystal veil"
Melissa Nordholm is the youngest of three daughters born to a professional man and his socially-conscious and connected wife who live in an affluent suburb of the Capital of a northern European country called Northland. All three of the daughters, as well as the mother, display the classic features of northern European beauty – blond hair, fair skin, light eyes, delicate features, etc. The only “difference” we see in Melissa is that she is the first person in many generations of both families to have inherited congenital myopia. She has worn strong glasses since early childhood, and her vision had deteriorated to the point that she required myodiscs by the time she started school.
Because of her thick glasses and slight awkwardness resulting from her lack of peripheral vision, she was regarded, unspoken though it was, as being less glamorous than her sisters. While her sisters married wealthy, socially prominent young men, Melissa, was encouraged to pursue higher education, which she did. She graduated from the Royal University and then did a year of graduate study at the Sorbonne. Returning to Northland, she earned a master’s in sociology and cultural anthropology at the Royal University. Following the completion of her education, she entered government service. Because of her knowledge of etiquette, her poise, diplomatic skills, etc, she was placed in the Social Affairs Office at the Royal Palace.

The Royal Family of Northland was pretty much “standard issue” – benign king, matronly queen, skinny princesses, etc. The only Member departing from the mold was Prince Phillip. He was moving into his thirties and hadn’t even married much less produced an heir, to the growing distress of the King and Queen and many of their subjects. Although he would not say so publically, Phillip had grown weary of the often inbred princesses and countesses, with their full bras and empty heads, with whom he had been paired over the years. He sometimes had trouble imagining making it through the next social event with one of them, much less the rest of his life.
One day, unannounced and alone, the Prince walks into the Social Affairs Office. The three ladies working there rise, but he asks them to make themselves comfortable.
“I need your help,” he began. “Seems I’ve been dumped for the State Dinner this evening. Lady Sandersholm has encountered ‘complications.’” He turned to Melissa, by whose desk he just “happened” to be standing and asked politely, “I’m wondering if you’d be so kind as to help out and substitute her?”
“Of course, Your Highness, I’m sure I can get in touch with someone. We have a list…”
“No,” the Prince interrupted, “I mean by your going with me.”
She paused and stared at the thin, aristocratic young man. Finally, she was able to get out, “… Of course, Sir, … It would be an honor.”
“I realize it’s short notice and all, but I’m sure one of my sister’s gowns would fit you quite nicely. Hilda, would you help Melissa with that, please?”
“Certainly, Your Highness.”
“Then it’s all settled,” he announced with obvious satisfaction. “We’ll meet in the small drawing room for drinks at 6:30 before the guests arrive.” With that, the Prince turned to leave the office.
Just before he made it to the door, Melissa called to him. “Sir.” she began in a slightly tremulous voice, “I’ll have to wear my glasses. I can’t see without them, and I can’t wear contacts.”
The Prince returned to her side. Standing close to her and speaking in a tender voice which made it seem that he had know her closely for some time, he said softly, “… Contact lenses? I hadn’t even thought … You’re so elegant in your crystal veil.” Looking straight through the center of her myodiscs, he asked, almost plaintively, “Six thirty then?”
The next thing Melissa could remember was being led up to a storage area for the selection of a gown for her first Royal Event.
Little notice was made of her first dinner with the Prince. But very rapidly it became apparent that Melissa was actually his only “date”, for not only State but private occasions as well. Naturally, the People and the Free Press of a Constitutional Monarchy became curious about this young commoner. They published what little was known about her. And, also of course, they couldn’t help noticing her obviously very strong spectacles. They even interviewed a professor of ophthalmology, who pronounced that hers was more than just “school myopia” and was drawn into saying that she would probably pass it on to her children.
So Melissa, who just weeks earlier had been an obscure government functionary, now found her life being examined in the public press. They were even making estimates of the strength of her eyeglasses!
As her relationship with the Prince deepened, it became clear to all that some public statement/appearance would be necessary. Northland was, after all, a Constitutional Monarchy, with the Crown representing the country and thus, in a sense, belonging to the People. It was decided that Melissa would be interviewed by an older, very professional female reporter who had proven herself over the years to be sympathetic to the Royal Family.
Melissa sat on a couch across a coffee table from Erika Mastersen. The reporter asked her some simple questions about her background and interests, which the young woman answered most forthrightly. While there were no surprises revealed up to that point, this was the first opportunity people had had to see Melissa, except in grainy photos and television long-shots. Only now could people appreciate how impeccable was her grooming and how articulate and intelligent a young woman she is.
As the interview neared its completion, Erika, speaking slowly and respectfully, continued with: “Ms. Nordholm, I’m hesitant to bring up this topic, but I’m sure you’re aware that there have been comments made in the Press about your obviously poor vision. Would you care to comment?”
Melissa paused and took a deep breath. “Yes…yes, I would. I was born with congenital myopia. My vision is, indeed, extremely poor. I’m actually quite blind without my glasses. I have to take drops daily to control the glaucoma that so often comes with severe nearsightedness, and my eyes are too sensitive for contact lenses. The doctors can do nothing except provide me with spectacles. With them, I can, at least right now, work in a regular office and lead a normal life. I can even drive, but I rarely do and never at night. In the future, I may need ‘low-vision aids,’ magnifiers, telescopes, etc. I may even become completely blind in my later years. They just can’t say for sure.”
“I don’t want to be impertinent,” the older woman continued, “but may I ask if you and the Prince have set any ‘limits’ to your relationship?”
Melissa looked back at Erika and said simply: “No, we have not.”
Then, sensing the rising tension, the interviewer went forward with: “May we ask if your visual problem is likely to be inherited by your children?”
She swallowed hard and, looking her questioner directly in the eye, responded: “Any sons I may have will almost certainly have my poor eyes. My daughters will probably have normal vision but will carry the gene for congenital myopia.”
Sympathetically but probing professionally, Erika asked: “Melissa, do you feel that people are being unfair to raise the issue of your visual problem?”
“No,” she began, but a tear came to her eye. She removed her glasses to wipe it off, ever so briefly revealing how soft and vulnerable her eyes are without her glasses. Quickly replacing them on her face, she continued slowly: “I love the Prince very much, but I understand the concern for the welfare of our Royal Family.”
Needless to say, she charmed everybody in a way that only a beautiful woman who doesn’t fully realize how truly beautiful she is can do. Women all over the country began wearing their glasses in support of Melissa. People were indignant that anyone would dare suggest that her strong glasses should stand in the way of her marriage to the Prince.
The wedding attracted the World Press because of the universal love of such Cinderella stories. The official portrait had her in her in a black velvet dress, sash and, of course, her glasses. Princess Melissa, with her eyeglasses, instantly became the most recognizable woman on the planet, such as at gatherings of International Royalty. One of her charities involved providing eyeglasses to children in developing nations. Northland became the “must visit” tourist destination, like what happened to Monaco after Prince Rainier married Grace Kelly. All businesses, particularly those in the fashion industry, just had to have offices and outlets in the tiny northern European monarchy. The economy boomed.
Many nights later, Princess Melissa slips into bed. She turns out the light on her side and places her glasses on a protected pillow on the table beside her bed. As the Prince joins her, she sighs, “You know Phillip, my glasses are so heavy that I so look forward to taking them off at night and lying here in the darkness with you.“
He snuggled closer to her and said ever so softly: “You may have put aside for a time your duties as the Princess in the Crystal Veil, but…,” putting his hand behind her tiny rear end and drawing her to him, “you’re still a woman…and my wife.”
April 2013

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