Musée Gustave Moreau

I absolutely love it when a story prompt is a picture, especially ones with beautiful architecture like this one! I really enjoy the Red Writing Hood prompts that Write on Edge (formerly known as the Red Dress Club) posts on Tuesdays and links on Fridays. This week, there were two pictures, and we could choose one or use both. I chose to go with this one.

I used TinEye to find more about the picture, even though that’s not necessary for the story. I found a blog called the Paris Hotel Boutique Journal that had some more information. Apparently the staircase is in the Musée Gustave Moreau in Paris.

Although the room is part of an art gallery, and is a large size, I imagined this staircase as being at one end of a grand ballroom. Perhaps the family’s children would sneak down the stairs to watch the festivities for which they were too young. Perhaps young debutantes would use the stairs to make a notable entrance.

Perhaps both…

He was staring at her.

So was everyone else.

She reminded herself that this was a good thing, she was dressed to inspire dropped jaws and double takes. She tried to look bored as she posed on the upper landing of the great spiral stair, pausing just long enough for a few people to begin to notice her, exactly as she had practiced with her mother and grandmother a hundred times in preparation for this very moment.

She felt terribly naughty as she left that upper landing, placing one slippered foot on the next step down into the ballroom. As a child, she had often sat on that landing late at night, after all her parents’ guests had arrived. Her governess had been indulgent, but strict. She could sit on the landing for a few minutes, watching the sea of faces and colors and fashion that was the ball of the year. But not one toe was to touch the next step down. Not even the hem of her dress should fall beyond that upper landing.

She fought down the nervous butterflies as she casually swept down the spiral, giving her audience a thorough glimpse of her gown and jewels from every angle. While her back was to them, she stole a quick glance at her own cleavage, well aware that she was padded and hoping no one would notice. She was terribly worried that if she relaxed her posture even the slightest bit, her breasts would fall out. But both her mother and grandmother had insisted that the fashion was exactly right for her.

Arriving at the lower landing, the buzz inside her head drowned out all the noise in the ballroom. So many faces were regarding her. Approval, disapproval. Admiration and unbridled lust. Curiosity.

She was still a head above the crowd. She had to fight not to make eye contact with him. How did he see her? Was he shocked at the little girl playing dress up? Or would he finally recognize the woman she had become?

She took a deep breath, and descended the last few steps, immersing herself in the ball, leaving her childhood behind.

On the stairs.

I've linked to the source site, there is incomplete attribution there..

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