I was eight years old. The girl was barely visible within the pile of golden silk.
"Do you like it, Lafrindyx?" asked the nurse anxiously.
"It's a little big," she murmured shyly.
Through yellow, pink, and white chiffon skirts, I stared in awe at the princess of my Tribe.
Uh oh. Now I was in trouble. The seamstress glared down her quill-thin nose at me, eyes like onyx. "Did you put away the push pins like I asked you to?"
I looked down at the bristling pincushion in my hand. "Sorry, ma'am."
"Hurry! And fetch the princess another gown—the white one. Or will you need reminding to do that, too?"
"No, ma'am." Reminding? To get down the white dress? My heart fluttered in my chest like a trapped moth as the seamstress went to go assist the princess. For weeks we had been preparing for the princess's arrival-scrubbing the store from top to bottom, not a patch of carpet unturned, not a cobweb in the rafters, not a speck of dust on a single shelf. Dress after dress had we ordered, the store front piled high with boxes; not the traditional day-to-day shifts that we usually carried, but apparel fit for a ball, for the fanciest of parties, for the prettiest, smartest, most powerful people in existence. A girl was coming-a girl who was my age-I could have been her-but she was going to rule the entire Mine when she grew up. I'd be a seamstress.
Sun above! I thought she'd gone! I scurried to the back of the store, and there it was, the white gown-my favorite. Whenever the seamstress would ask for more pins, I'd stop and look at the white dress. She'd want some ribbon; I'd sneak a peek at the dress on the way to the cupboard. I memorized every stitch on that gorgeous dress-the tulle underskirt that made it so fluffy, the gleaming white silk layers, the rainbow of gemstones splattered on the fabric like mystical tears on a handkerchief. The first time I saw it, I imagined myself in it. But where? Why would I need such an elegant dress? It was ludicrous. So instead I'd imagine handing it to the princes. She'd twirl around in it and everyone would gasp-there was always a huge crowd when I pictured it-and she'd hug me, thanking me for the beautiful dress...