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Five Nail Polishes

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Princesses Rule

She reads all the magazines, subscribes to all the blogs about royalty, but it's not like she wants to be a princess, really. The stuffy hereditary peers she'd have to talk to, the functions, the press, the security. She doesn't really even like people that much. She likes the stories, though. And in her favourite, very best dreams, she sweeps into a room in a shimmering gown sparkling with a thousand individual gems sewn on with spider's silk; the dark-eyed lords and bare-shouldered ladies sweep low bows and curtseys, and the attendants stand stiff in their red-trimmed livery. She can silence with a look, and heal with a kiss, and she rules with a pink-manicured hand.


Catch Me In Your Net

The sea here is a deep turquoise that pulses with phosphorescence after nightfall, but in the day, the sunlight catches fish dancing beneath its surface. The game is to sweep down and up with a flick of the wrist, net a writhing, glittering mass. Pretend you're panning for gold on the shores of another water. Race over the sand to the shade of the palms; close to midday, it burns your feet. Fill the bucket until it's more fish than water, then stagger back to the shell line and the lapping wavelets. Tilt it into the clear blue tide and watch them swim to freedom through the bars of your fingers, a gold rush.


China Glaze

The Beijing nightclubs pound to hir beats. Ze is a slave to music, a slave to the industry that made hir; powered by electricity, ze generates no breath but sound. Hir products are stamped with a rainbow, since ze is made from light, but hir lifeblood is melody, hir heartbeat is the bassline. When hir hologram commands the dancefloor, the speakers give substance to hir dance; the tap of hir prismatic fingernail against the input pad is for show only, but the music is real. The people love hir, but ze is their prisoner; when ze dreams, ze dreams of dancing through the spectrum to the other side into ultraviolet pure sound, invisible and free.


Bad Fairy

At four, she snuck out of the Court of Clouds to play with the dirty children of the kitchen elves, and was punished. At ten, she stole Princess Berryblossom's crystal wand; cornered, she snapped it over her knee, sending up splinters sharp as diamonds. At sixteen, she nearly succeeded in losing her virtue to an Arabian desert wind, before her chaperone caught up with them. At eighteen, betrothed to the King of Winter, she seized his throne instead. Now queen, she's beautiful as a wisp of cloud, sweet as spun sugar on a summer's eve, but her cherryblossom gown conceals a heart of bronze.


Jessica Venus Was Her Name

The boy who wasn't really a boy grew up longing for dazzle. Between grey skies and grey walls, he nursed a spark that would transform him. In the ancient world, a purple cloak could turn a slave into a king; isn't this the same? It starts with the tips of the fingers; so easy to buy a present for his (her) sister and never give it. Late nights under the covers with the strong chemical smell embedded in the sheets, almost as heady as the colour bleeding from the brush to his (her) nails, a tingling running up his arms to his (her, her) heart. Purple was magic spell, a promise. She (he) grew up to finish the spell's last words - a new name, her real name. She dazzled on stage, sang and blew kisses, and lived magneto violet lavender veronica orchid mulberry joy, from the tips of her fingers on.