How do we write about beauty? How do we describe what beauty is?
I am nervous about the next chapter because it involves meeting the girl that has been on my mind since I knew her twenty years ago. She was very beautiful then but over time and the scourging effect that comes with time, she is now polished to beyond perfect. It is ironic that I now have to rough her up a bit to make her more human; more convincing.
A conundrum is the concern about what I see as beauty and where or not this connects with the reader. I suppose the biggest fault would be to read what everyone else has done from Shakespeare to Laurence and Nabakov to Atwood and whoever else seems to make a success of it.
But that is a fault and it’s not the way to go. If it goes that way then it becomes the beauty through someone else’s eyes and I lose my character. Beauty is not the same thing for different eyes or minds. It is a sandcastle made of a million pieces for a million reasons.
My Lolly does not dress beautifully and there is no make-up. She is a young girl at the very threshold of womanly beauty at an age where these things tend to matter. But they don’t matter to her. She wears no fancy jewels on her ears or heels beneath her feet and her hair, darker than the mountain night, is often tied in a rough plait or ponytail so that it doesn’t get in the way as she does the things she needs to do about the house and in the garden. She wears a plain silver chain from which hangs a strange serpentine symbol and on her wrist is a simple copper band.
She smells of soap. Of clean. And her skin, maybe thanks to the fresh and caressing air up there, is smooth and the colour of autumn straw. Darker than the pale faces of the other inhabitants of this wild place and hinting at some ancestral mystery somewhere down the line. Hey eyebrows are dark as her hair and shadow eyes that are wide and alert and hazel with the slightest hint of emerald, though the interested observer would not that this has the tendency to change with her mood. The nose is small and delicate and the lips carry their own cherry hue that requires no artificial enhancement.
She is more accustomed to scowling than smiling but when she does smile her teeth show white and sharp and the countenance is surprised at the strange emotion evoked, so it barely lasts long. The beholder of Lolly’s smile is lucky indeed.